Google Play App Roundup: Microsoft Edge, Into the Dead 2, and KickAss Commandos

By Ryan Whitwam

Undead commando browsers.

Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

Microsoft Edge

Internet Explorer was a staple of Microsoft Software for many years, but it was replaced by Edge with the release of Windows 10. With Microsoft focusing on other mobile platforms so much, it was only a matter of time until Edge branched out from the desktop, and now is that time. Edge is currently rolling out for iOS and Android, but these two versions are slightly different.

On Android, Edge is based on the Chromium project, which itself serves as the base for Google's Chrome. On the desktop, Microsoft has its own EdgeHTML engine, but that's not designed to operate on Android. The iOS version, meanwhile, uses Apple's WebKit engine as required by Apple's developer guidelines.

Chromium is open source, so Microsoft has been able to make ample changes to the way it looks and works. However, some of the basics are the same. Upon opening Edge, you get a search/URL bar at the top of the screen and some frequently accessed sites right below that. Scroll down further, and you have a feed of top news stories. This is similar to Chrome, but it's all tied to your Microsoft account.

You don't have to sign in with a Microsoft account to use Edge, but it adds to the experience. Down at the bottom of the screen is a "continue on PC" button. That sends your current page from the phone to one of your synced devices. However, this feature requires the new Fall Creators update on desktop, which is still rolling out. Your bookmarks, history, and reading list also sync across devices in Edge.

Pages load quickly in Edge, and it keeps multiple tabs in memory well. The navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen allow for quick access even on large devices. Speaking of larger devices, there's a dedicated tablet UI that moves some of the controls up to the top more like a traditional browser. If you want to access a site without saving it in your account, there's built-in private browsing mode, too.

Edge is still in beta, but it's a perfectly capable browser. If you're deeply tied into the Microsoft ecosystem, it's something to check out.

Into the Dead 2

The original Into the Dead came out a few years ago with fairly simple but compelling gameplay. It was an endless runner played in first-person, and the sequel is similar. However, this time there's a story, levels, power-ups, and more. Oh, there are lots of in-app purchases, too.

Into the Dead 2 is a first-person game where your character runs (sprints, actually) from one end of the level to the other. Between him and the exit are scores of the undead. You can angle one way or the other to avoid most of them, but you're also packing heat. You just don't have a lot of ammo, and there sure are a lot of zombies.

To control the direction of your sprint, just drag left or right on the left half of the screen. You can only angle so far, so make sure you remain aware of where the zombies are up ahead. There is no way to control your speed. To fire your weapon, tap on the right half of the screen. There's also a button over there to switch between weapons. There are a few other control schemes, but the default is best.

The levels only take a few minutes to complete, but they can be quite challenging. There's a wide area you can traverse to reach the end, which is technically just a set number of feet from your starting point (there's a counter at the top of the screen). Just beating the level lets you advance to the next one, but there are also challenges like shooting a certain number of zombies or picking up ammo crates. The more stars you get, the faster you unlock loot crates.

Ah, loot crates. Everyone loves those, right? Okay, not really, but it's becoming table stakes in mobile games. After each level, you get some loot. There are also larger loot crates available for purchase with premium currency. You can also get some loot from watching video ads. The goal is to find valuable weapon parts and perks to make your character more formidable. Some of the undead require more than one pistol round to take out, so you've got to keep upgrading.

So, I'm not very into the monetization, but is Into the Dead 2 fun? Yeah, definitely. It's a sort of stressful fun, though. I find myself physically leaning to the side when I'm not sure if I'll be able to skirt past a zombie, and it's frustrating when you can't quite make it and the undead pile on to eat you. It's quite the animation, and realistic. The visuals are tight, and the animations are smooth. There's no aliasing visible, either. The game also does a good job of keeping the environments fresh even though most of them are some variation of a rural farming landscape.

Into the Dead 2 is free to play, but just keep a tight hold on your wallet. Spending a few bucks isn't a terrible idea, but this game seems like it could end up being a money pit.

KickAss Commandos

With a name like "KickAss Commandos," you know it has to be good. Well, you can hope, and in this case it is! KickAss Commandos has just arrived on Android after making waves on Steam. This title is a retro 8-bit-style shooter with frantic gameplay and unlockable characters.

KickAss Commandos is a top-down game, and the controls are about what you'd expect for such a thing. There's a virtual thumbstick on the left for movement, and another on the right for aiming and firing. I like that both these input elements are floating, so you don't have to worry about where your fingers land. Movement and shooting are really all you have to worry about—it's a pure run-and-gun adventure.

Before each level, you can choose between several different commando units. You actually start with one, but more are unlocked after you complete the various rescue missions. They are all upgradable as well. Experience points earn them promotions complete with skill points that you can distribute as you see fit.

Of course, a mission is more likely to be successful if it's a team effort. Thus, you'll come along captive commandos in most maps, which you can pick free and add to your fire team. All units fire in the same direction as you, but they might be using different weapons. Each team member has his or her own health, so it's possible to lose commandos during gameplay. You can keep them going with the ample health pickups scattered around the level. There are also special weapons that give you added firepower for a limited time. The game can get pretty crazy as your cycle through rocket, grenades, and rapid-fire power-ups in the space of a few seconds.

There's a surprising amount of gore for being an 8-bit game. In all honesty, this game is a bit more visually advanced than 8-bit, but the style is consistent with games of yesteryear. The animations are buttery, and there are some good particle effects when things (or enemies) explode.

There's a lot to like about KickAss Commandos, and I've saved the best for last. This is a regular premium game. Pay $2.99 and KickAss Commandos is all yours. There are no in-app purchases, and the asking price is much lower than the $9.99 price on Steam.