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Predator: Hunting Grounds review - fire and forget

By Richard Wakeling. Posted

The titular monster in Predator: Hunting Grounds is decidedly tame. It only loses to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original 1987 film because it’s bored and fancies a challenge. The iconic alien has already cut through the rest of Dutch’s squad at this point, blowing off heads and ejecting hearts with all the ease of a technologically advanced hunter. By the time Dutch has covered himself in mud and set up a bunch of traps, the Predator decides to make things interesting by sparing his life so they can have a climactic fist-fight.

By comparison, the video game version of the iconic monster never manages any climactic fights, with fists or otherwise. Balancing a multiplayer game is a tricky thing to get right, especially for an asymmetrical one that pits a four-person squad of gun-toting humans against a single Predator. In this case, however, developer IllFonic would have been better served by leaning into the Predator’s inherent advantages, much like it did with Jason Voorhees in 2017’s Friday the 13th.

When you’re playing as part of a human fireteam, each match begins with your squad dropping into one of three indistinguishable maps. Your aim is to complete a few bland objectives – such as pressing a button on a thing, standing by a thing, or blowing up a thing – before “getting to the choppa” and making it out alive. AI combatants populate the strongholds spread out across each map, but they’re too dumb to put up much of a fight, opting to simply charge in straight lines instead of doing anything one might consider strategic. The Predator is, of course, the main threat to your survival and the completion of your mundane checklist of tasks, but even that’s a stretch.

The shooting is serviceable, if only because enemy heads like to explode in an over-the-top display of crimson gore.

Playing as the dreadlocked menace is marginally better than playing as a human, mainly because your lone objective – to wipe out the fireteam before they can extract – is slightly more engaging than anything the soldiers have to do. You have access to all the familiar tools of the trade, such as heat vision, stealth camouflage, shoulder-mounted Plasma Casters, and deadly Wrist Blades, but the problem is that objectives rarely ever give the fireteam a reason to split up or separate. A hail of bullets from four humans is more than enough to drain your health in a hurry, and with the AI posing no threat or distraction, your only tangible option is to dash in for a few quick attacks before running away to heal.

Being stalked by the Predator should be a terrifying ordeal, but as long as you stick together, the overwhelming numbers on your side will leave it face down in a pool of its own blood more often than not. There are occasional outliers where you’ll come across someone who’s an expert in the art of maiming and killing, but these matches are rare, and even if you’re successful as the Predator, there’s no glory in victory because the means of achieving it are so tedious. Ultimately, Predator: Hunting Grounds lacks the tension and depth to make it worth playing.

The Predator uses what the game calls ‘Predkour’ to get around, which makes it easy to glide from one tree to another.

Highlight

The sound design in Predator: Hunting Grounds is fantastic – at least when it comes to the Predator, anyway. You’ll hear that signature alien mouth-clicking when traversing the tree-line, and it lets out a fearsome scream after healing that would be bone-chilling if the Predator posed more of a threat. 

Verdict

A shallow game of cat and mouse with no reason to stick around. 

38%

Genre: FPS / Asymmetrical multiplayer | Format: PC (tested) / PS4 | Developer: IllFonic | Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Price: £31.99 | Release: Out now

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