Alien vs. Predator Review

Alien vs. Predator could have been an inspired mobile action game with only a little more outlay; instead, it struggles to keep your attention for more than an hour or two.

Like it or not, movie-licensed mobile games usually fall into one of two categories: shovelware, which is characterized by unabashedly lazy design, poor graphics, little replay value, and a pervasive aura of despair; and those rare games that leap up out of the stew and attempt to use their shiny new intellectual property for good instead of idleness. Playing through Alien vs. Predator gives you the impression that its developers ardently wished to make that second sort of game but maybe didn't quite have the resources to pull it off. The game cleanly escapes the first bin by virtue of having three appreciably different playable characters, several different types of weapons, and clever level layouts--however, it misses the second due to its numerous game design issues, dull background graphics, and complete lack of sound. The result of this strange mixture is an average action game that could have been a lot better.

The three races in Alien vs. Predator aren't looking to exchange pleasantries.

Alien vs. Predator gives you front-row seats to a titanic battle between humans, aliens, and predators for control of a gigantic ziggurat somewhere in Antarctica. You play first as an intrepid human explorer who must rescue his companions from their cruel fate as hosts to alien young. Secondly, you inhabit an alien's chitin as it roams the pyramid impregnating humans and growing into maturity. You spend the final sequence as a predator warrior hell-bent on ridding your sacred temple of human and insectoid vermin. Each of these chapters features five playable levels, which are filled with ladders, platforms, power-ups, and plenty of the other two races to kill or avoid as necessary. The levels advance when you reach a certain race-dependent goal--rescued comrades for humans, deposited young for aliens, and skulls collected for predators, respectively.

Alien vs. Predator's gameplay varies according to the protagonist. Humans are the slowest and weakest of the three factions. They are unable to jump very far laterally and will suffer acute damage from falls. On the other hand, humans start out with a ranged weapon (the relatively wimpy pistol, which has unlimited ammo) and can use powerful guns like flamers and rocket launchers, although they run out of ammo at a rapid clip. Aliens are much faster than humans and have the added advantage of being able to clamber across background walls in pursuit of their human prey, obviating the need to hop on platforms. Your alien will also grow from level to level, which will increase its damage capacity and effectiveness in combat. Unfortunately, aliens can't use weapons of any sort. Predators are quite a bit larger than humans and can sustain more punishment before collapsing. In addition, their size allows them to jump a lot further, and they are impervious to falls. It's fortunate that predators are so resilient, because their weapons--claws, spears, and razor disks--don't hold a candle to human hardware. All three classes of belligerents can make use of the medical power-ups that are scattered throughout the levels to replenish their health.

This diversity in gameplay is a very promising foundation for Alien vs. Predator, but the platform-jumping itself is fairly prosaic and contains several noticeable blemishes. For instance, any jumping character can clear the game's gaps without having to worry about head room, because their sprites will simply pass through the bottom of the ceiling as necessary. This looks absurd and takes much of the challenge out of jumping. Another damning foible is the game's hit detection, which is decidedly on the shaky side. As a human, you're supposed to walk over your fallen teammates to free them from the clutches of the facehuggers--however, if you fall off a ledge in proximity to a prone human, you'll save him anyway thanks to poor sprite-on-sprite collision detection. The melee weapons are also noticeably deficient in this regard, as you'll have to be extremely close to score a hit. Finally, the CPU enemies are moronic. If you're an alien approaching a human equipped with a deadly rocket launcher, you can simply stick to the wall above him and run back and forth. The befuddled meatwad will loose all of his ammo as if you were on the ground, draining his launcher dry and making him an eager candidate to wet-nurse your young. These dents stand out against the rest of Alien vs. Predator's gameplay, which is generally of high quality--especially the level designs, which force you to plan your route carefully between med kits and enemies.

Alien vs. Predator's graphics on the LG VX7000 aren't necessarily a liability, but they don't add anything to the gameplay experience. The game's color palette is a little darker than it needs to be, and the background graphics are dingy and unattractive, featuring repeating montages of skulls and the like. The character sprites that populate this Antarctic shrine move with an acceptable degree of animation. Nevertheless, they aren't detailed enough to be particularly evocative of the characters from the movie. Alien vs. Predator's sound is awesome, assuming you're a reptile and can sense the vibration coming off of your handset. In other words, the game has no sound at all, so vibration is all you're going to get from this game in terms of nonvisual feedback.

It makes little sense to design such an ambitious game and then fail to follow through on several important details. Alien vs. Predator could have been an inspired mobile action game with only a little more outlay; instead, it struggles to keep your attention for more than an hour or two. Diehard fans might appreciate the game's faithfulness to the grand, tripartite xenocidal conflict. Others should steer clear.

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Alien vs. Predator (2004) More Info

  • First Released
    • Mobile
    Alien vs. Predator could have been an inspired mobile action game with only a little more outlay; instead, it struggles to keep your attention for more than an hour or two.
    Average Rating28 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Alien vs. Predator (2004)
    Developed by:
    Published by:
    3D Wireless Games
    Platformer, Action, 2D