I suppose it’s hard not to attract comparisons to the Aliens franchise when you pit a futuristic gun-heavy Marine against mindless, scurrying xenomorphic drones. The latest ad- and IAP-supported title from French studio Bulkypix revels in this comparison, though. It dives head first into oozing pools of acidic alien blood and splashes around playfully while shooting a pulse rifle in the air and yelling “Let’s rock!” over thudding gunfire sound effects.

So if you’re an Aliens fan (who hasn’t yet hung up your facehugger over the nonsense of Prometheus) Soldier vs. Aliens [Free] should probably be the next place you choose to land your digital drop ship.

Okay, that’s enough Aliens referencing for now. At least until we get started on the inevitable Spunkmeyer jokes as we approach the bottom of the pop culture barrel.

It wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to equate this game to Space Invaders, actually. You take control of the heavily armored space Marine on the left-hand side of the screen and attempt to repel the army of insectoid aliens as they hurl themselves at you from the right. Simple and classic.

Your range of movement is deliberately limited, with a slide of the finger running your shooter up and down the screen, but without any left or right. Tapping within the right-hand portion of the screen – which is anywhere outside of the slim movement area – shoots your gun toward your finger. It’s a great aiming mechanic that makes it difficult to miss your targets, although the limited shooting arc means you still need to scuttle up and down the room to fire into the corners.

While the movement system is incredibly easy to grasp, I find I’m sliding off the edge of the touchscreen a bit too often, suggesting the Marine could be a little fleeter of foot so it doesn’t feel quite so much like stirring alien treacle with your finger. Similarly, the bullets regularly appear to cut right through the approaching invaders, yet somehow go wide of the mark. It’s not that the game is broken, so much as a fraction sluggish.

Still, this is a game that’s built on upgrading everyone and everything, and matters definitely improve as you gradually supe up armor and weaponry. The increasingly aggressive aliens balance things out, of course, but at least your Marine begins to approach his duties with a bit more enthusiasm. This upgrade system is also the cause for much of the consternation that can be heard ringing through the forums, however. Free games do tend to lean on the in-app purchase and ad-support crutches rather heavily, and not everyone’s comfortable with the hard sell tactics these marketing tricks employ.

And Soldier vs. Aliens makes extensive use of cross game promotions, with full screen ads sneaking in during start up (which must be manually dismissed), and ads squeezing their way into the menu screens. Rest assured, however, that the action itself is unscathed by either, and I’m pretty comfortable with that trade off.

I’m also willing to take the game’s side when it comes to the upgrade system, which allows you to buy credits if you want a shortcut to the power ups. I’ve never been a fan of this idea anyway, though not (just) because I’m an old fashioned Yorkshire bloke with piano wire for a purse string. It’s something I find distasteful as a gamer, and much prefer to earn what I buy rather than idly swapping it for old pound notes.

Fortunately this is one freebie title that supports just such a conscientious / cheapskate attitude, and doesn’t set the credit requirements so high that you can never possibly hope to earn them through a hard, honest gaming obsession. Sure, you might have to replay a few levels, or pick up all of the alien-infested rooms on your way through the maze (rather than sprinting down the shortest route to the end) to get the credits needed for a kick ass new gun or pink helmet, but it's an enjoyable chore.

If you’re adamantly opposed to IAP or ad support, Soldier vs. Aliens isn’t going to change your opinion on the matter, but its quick-fire action is quirky enough and intense enough to give shooter fans plenty to do on their coffee breaks. Maybe you won’t be playing it this time next year, or even in six months, but for a bit of fast-firing Alien-esque mayhem that takes no cerebral toll, look no further.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarNoneNone
  • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

    You didn't understand Prometheus? I thought it was pretty simple. But then again, I am a certified genius.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/rekzkarz#a0df5 REkzkaRZ

    Apparently 3 stars = sucks...?

    • graffitiwriter

      Not at all -- I thought three stars was a very respectable score. Four would be great, five would be unmissable, putting three at the mid-position sweet spot.

      A three star freebie is a good game that you should definitely try, in my opinion.

  • Fabiano Morais

    Maybe we're seeing too much 4 / 4.5 stars for games that deserve a 3 star rating at the most. I for one think that a game should be really something special to deserve a 4.5.

    • AcneVulgaris

      I don't think they bother to review anything that would be under 3 stars.

  • JBRUU

    This is a video game review, not a place to post your opinion on some movie. That comment about Prometheus was quite out of place and irrelevant.

    • iHatePlayToWin

      Put your hand back in your pants and leave the man alone. He made a joke and did not spam it, you crazy fool!

  • Thot11

    Love this game

Soldier vs. Aliens Reviewed by Spanner Spencer on . Rating: 3