RELEASED: March 1988
AVAILABLE ON: Amiga, Atari ST, C64, MSX, NES, PC
DEVELOPER(S): Activision (Amiga, Atari ST), Source (C64, PC), Pack-in-Video (MSX, NES)
PUBLISHER(S): Activision, Pack-in-Video (MSX)
John McTiernan's Predator arrived in theaters in 1987, and although critics' reception to the film was mixed, sci-fi, action and horror fans embraced it as a classic on arrival, a fine spiritual sequel to the first two Alien movies. As the years have passed by, Predator has become an iconic movie across several genres, and is still considered one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's finest. In 1988, the success of Predator spawned a video game - a bad one.
Get to the choppa!
Major Dutch Schaefer of the Special Forces is hired to lead a rescue mission in a Guatemalan jungle. He soon discovers that the rescue mission is all but a ploy, but the nature of the mission is the least of the worries of his whole group, as they start getting hunted down, one by one, by an invisible extra-terrestrial killer.
|Those rocks are up there to keep the dumb |
bastard from running straight into a pit.
Overall, the graphics are not exactly horrible, but the character and enemy design is amazingly bad. Dutch leaves me downright speechless in his appearance. Besides the Predator himself, the rogues gallery consists of guerrillas with zero A.I., all sorts of animals from scorpions to sea horses (?!), some flesh-eating plants that spit out fireballs, and as the cherry on the top of the cake, ghosts or at least some ghost-like creatures. A movie with one villain that wasn't even actually seen before the end of the movie wasn't a good base for a video game - but apparently one had to be made just to teach developers this fact the hard way. To my surprise, the music is actually quite good and there are a lot of different tunes. I feel like the music was one of the only reasons for me to keep attempting to beat this ugly motherfucker.
|All we need is some freakin' fish flying about.|
Doesn't sound so bad, huh? Well, let me tell you a few things about the game. First, the controls are bad, no huge surprise there. The laser rifle (don't ask) is the only decent weapon in the game, and the only weapon that seems to work on the Predator... and of course, rare as a good comedy flick by Arnie. The grenades are useless. Even your basic punch works better, and you cannot change back to it if you pick up grenades. The first couple of screens in the game are almost legendary: you start off on high ground, and are given the option to jump down to a lower ground level, pick up grenades and use them to blow up a wall in the other end of the stretch to be able to proceed. If you don't pick up the grenades, there's no way for you to continue if you decided to jump down there in the first place. Well, even if you do pick up the grenades, there's no way for you to proceed - see, blowing up the entire wall is impossible. You can only blow up a tunnel you could pass through if crawling was possible in this game, but it isn't. Basically, this is a trap, placed in the second damn screen of the game - but it was probably not meant to be one. Apparently testing a product before letting consumers have at it wasn't part of Activision's M.O., especially if the product happened to be merchandise spawned by a blockbuster movie. What stands between Predator and all other Pack-in-Video movie licenses of the time (some of which were published by LJN, by the way) is that the game succeeds in being mild, generic fun with good music, despite the usual flaws in gameplay... up until you realize just how faint your chances of survival are.
|The first Predator fight, and I ain't got a chance.|
Predator is definitely one of the more entertaining video games commercially tagged with the name Schwarzenegger, but that ain't much of a compliment since most of them are utter garbage. At least the music's fair enough, and upholds interest a little while longer.
GRAPHICS : 6.2
SOUND : 7.5
PLAYABILITY : 4.8
LIFESPAN : 5.0
CONCLUSION : 5.0
a.k.a. Predator: Soon the Hunt Will Begin