The first Predator game I ever played was on the original Nintendo (NES) in the mid 90’s. You played as the hero Dutch (Arnie – “Get to da choppa!”) and it was as much a weird movie tie-in to the 1987 film as one could expect from the console. For some reason, Dutch wore bright pink pants in this game and as this was and is my favourite colour, I loved it – despite it having no relevance whatsoever to anything remotely Predator.
Jump forward to 2005 and a friend bought me Predator: Concrete Jungle – in which you take on the role of the alien creature himself and jump around a terribly designed city landscape killing and being a general badass. Both these games were fairly mediocre but certainly entertaining enough to pass the time. Unfortunately the reasonably low bar that was set by its predecessors, is barely met by the latest game in the Predator universe.
Predator: Hunting Grounds is an asymmetrical online multiplayer game where you take on either the role of one of the four ‘Fireteam’ members (a generic soldier) or the title character ‘Predator’ (a predator). As a member of ‘Fireteam’ you are randomly matched with 3 other players and have a random set of menial tasks to complete on a fairly generic map while the player controlled Predator tries to stop you from completing said menial tasks.
A few AI soldiers are also thrown into the situation creating a team based triangle of violence. I couldn’t help but thinking that removing AI entirely and adding two different Fireteams fighting to complete objectives would have been way more exciting – especially given how lame the AI are.
The main menu of the game immediately tells you how long (roughly) you have to wait to play as Predator or Fire Team and these times weren’t too bad overall – up to 7 minutes for Predator and only 2-3 minutes for a member of the Fire Team. While you are waiting to play you can customise your characters with a fairly easy-to-use customisation menu.
The unlocking system is pretty familiar – every time you play, you earn points and in-game currency to unlock further customisables for both Predator and the human characters. These are a mix of both cosmetics (a pink baseball cap) to unlock weapons as you progress. This function adds a certain desire to keep playing and I liked the fact that you didn’t have to spend real world money to get in-game currency.
Graphically the game looks a little bit last gen. I was playing on my 65” 4K UHD tele with my PS4 and it felt as though the game couldn’t manage being displayed on such a large screen without looking a little bit rubbish. In terms of gameplay, Predator: Hunting Grounds is let down at just about every turn. The human AI characters are incredibly stupid for such a new game so add little-to-no challenge to you and your team and as such are no more than cannon fodder.
The tasks you have to complete themselves are pretty monotonous – get data from this computer, protect this folder, kill this scientist, escape in this helicopter. The unique element of being stalked by a Predator adds moments of tension and playing as the Predator has its moments of being fun. Jumping through the trees with a stealth coat on, firing rockets at human-controlled players is certainly enjoyable but again doesn’t really offer more than small moments of exciting due to how repetitive the gameplay is.
Overall, Predator: Hunting Grounds isn’t enough of an experience to be a stand alone game. Perhaps if this was just the online multiplayer part of a much more interesting single player campaign it wouldn’t feel so dated. As it is however it doesn’t provide enough to make this a stand alone game worth purchasing. The brainless approach to the gameplay may be true to the source material but it doesn’t make for very exciting gameplay in the long run.
To summarise – Predator: Hunting Grounds is disappointing. Playing as a human provides absolutely nothing new or special and is just like every other generic shooter from the last 15 years. Some people might dig playing as the Predator, but given the lack of variety in each match, this too becomes very repetitive, very quickly. The in-game currency and “loot” system of unlockables adds some variety (and you don’t have to spend any real money here!) but overall this feels like part of a game – not a complete one – and at $69 you would be far better off buying the Predator Boxset if you want to relive the iconic 80’s action film.
– Ashton Brown