Last week I reviewed the movie Predator. Now I’m reviewing the game based on it. Maybe I should have this sort of arrangement more often. Or maybe not. Because movie licenses have a price tag and the game developer wants to get the game done soon enough to release it alongside the movie, movie-licensed games don’t have high standards. If you don’t believe me, take a quick glance at the popular “angry game” subgenre of reviews over at Youtube. You’ll be amazed how often licensed games are attacked.
Predator, alas, is no exception. On the contrary, it is very representative of bad games based on good movies.
Plot: 3 out of 10
This is something that makes me wonder if the developer, Activision, even tried. First of all, the text in the cutscenes is really bad. It’s not only uninspired, the game often runs out of space so sentences cut off and are picked up in the next set of text.
It’s a few stages before you have your first of numerous battles with the Predator. You’re fighting humans and animals before that. This would seem to imply that the game begins with you storming the camp where hostages are being held by terrorists. Except that the first cutscene explains that the Predator has already killed everybody but Dutch. What’s up with that?
Graphics: 3 out of 10
What gets me is how undetailed everything is. The sky is just a bunch of black, while rock formations are just two or three rocks copied over and over. Sometimes they’ll change the color of some rocks to make them look different. Other than that, Predator is one of the most artistically monotonous games I’ve ever played.
Character designs are just as bad. Dutch’s gun and hair look more like photoshop outlines. Plus, I have a hard time believing that he’d wear pink on a jungle rescue mission. Enemies don’t look too bad, but they’re below average.
Sound: 4 out of 10
This I can deal with. The songs are actually quite acceptable. Pity the sound effects are lousy and unmemorable or this would have an average score.
Gameplay: 2 out of 10
Dutch handles awfully. You won’t notice it right away, but when you have to start making tricky jumps, you’ll be falling to your death because you’re used to the controls of other games. You know, the ones that are worth a shit!
The problem is that Predator is kind of like the 2D Mario games if you glued down the run button. Oh, wait, there’s truth in the graphical ends of land in Mario games. My bad. Between the hypersensitive controls and bad hit detection, you’ve got to be extra careful about every jump. Otherwise off the screen with you.
By Stage 3 you’re pretty sure that the gameplay can’t possibly get any worse. Have a little faith. Remember those cave areas in old games like Zelda II that had the floor protruding up to represent a rise? They’re in the cave stages of this game as well. Only you can walk clean through the walls between floors to your death. That’s right — you can walk right through the walls and fall. So you’ve got to keep reminding yourself that the walls are not walls.
I guess that’s the end of the really bad shit. Oh, wait, it’s not. You have three weapons: Machine Gun, Lazer, and Grenades. Actually, there’s not much substantive difference between the first two weapons, they’re just doing a graphical touch-up on one weapon to “create” a second. Except that you need the Lazer to beat the Predator at some points. The real problem is that Grenades take awhile to activate. So skip them? Trouble is, the game forces you to use them. For instance, one stage is full of enemies too low for you to fight without Grenades (you can’t punch while ducking).
So why not a 1 or even negative score? Because there is a type of stage that puts the shooting center-stage and constantly scrolls forward. The graphics in these stages are just as horrible as the rest of the game’s (hence, no mention of them in that category). Still,, they play just barely tolerably.
Challenge: 0 out of 10
Don’t be fooled. This game is hard. But not because of ingenuity. No, it’s hard because, as noted, it controls like an explosive plane crash. With a totally unqualified hero, you’ll likely die a lot. And although there is an option to “Continue,” that still starts you completely over.
If you think that the lack of continues implies that Predator isn’t that long, think again. there are over thirty stages. You should be careful about having that many for a good game, never mind a shitty one with no continues. If many of today’s games are extremely lenient with checkpoints, this is the opposite extreme.
Overall: 2 out of 10
Easily one of the worst games on the NES. Alas, the majority of games based on movies back then were not all that much better. They have significantly improved since then, but a popular license is still something that should provoke suspicion and not optimism.