App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Rejoice with me, fellow strategy game fans! The 2.0 update is live and it's fantastic! In one fluid upload Leisurerules has made Aliens Versus Humans into the game everyone has been hoping it would be. The graphics have been enhanced with new aliens and environments as well as a bit more of a refined look to the sprites, but the real big change is everything else. Now in addition to the classic AvH mode of story missions there's the new Onslaught Mode. Onslaught is the real meat of the game now with a Geoscape, base building, research, manufacturing, hiring, ordering, responding to alien encounters and all that other stuff that was missing from the original build. The only thing missing at this point is shooting down UFOs, and honestly that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make if it means getting everything else. If you haven't checked out Aliens Versus Humans yet, now is the time.
Ask any armchair general who's at least a couple of decades old and doesn't shy away from sci-fi themes what their favorite strategy game is and I can almost guarantee more than 50% of them will mention X-COM: UFO Defense (a.k.a UFO: Enemy Unknown). It's just that good. The game put players in charge of a company (of sorts) employed by pretty much every government on Earth who's sole purpose is to study and combat an encroaching alien threat. There was base-building, management, research, development and lots of tactical combat with soldiers who would improve as they successfully completed missions. Provided they didn't die, of course. This is the strategy game that most other strategy games wish they could be, and one that many feel has been long overdue for some sort of re-release/port. And no, the upcoming FPS doesn't count.
Aliens Versus Humans tries very, very hard to fill that void left by the long-forgotten franchise's fans. Players take control of a squad of soldiers and attempt to combat a number of alien menaces over the course of 20 missions. Each character has their own stats for accuracy, throwing accuracy and so on. Also, much like the original game there's a big emphasis on Time Units, which are required to do anything from firing a gun to kneeling down in order to present a smaller target.
Each mission will undoubtedly please fans of the 1990's classic. The visual style is similar (although the character and alien designs are noticeably different), the UI is recognizable and it can be ridiculously tough to not get everyone murdered. But as much as I'm honor-bound to love Leisurerules simply because they've attempted that which no one else seems to want to attempt, I'm honestly impressed by how well they've adapted the over 20-years old interface to the touch screen.
Disappointment starts to set in once the realization hits that these missions are all there are. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy playing through the various (and randomly-generated!) stages, earning new equipment and keeping my squad in one piece, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking about how it would be even more amazing if I could do some of the other stuff. Stuff like allocating research points between sorties to research and possibly learn to use alien tech, or manufacturing laser rifles en-mass in order to turn a small profit. I realize it's unfair of me to complain about Aliens Versus Humans not being X-COM, but it's something that will no doubt nag at the back of many a player's mind.
Still, to write this game off because of what it isn't would be foolish. Aliens Versus Humans is a solid turn-based strategy game based on a cult classic PC title. It is involving and rewarding. And it is well worth a look.