Predators is the kind of game I want to enjoy, but ultimately cannot. I start this review on a down note because in spite of the brief moments of joy I experienced in Predators- the game is largely a flop. If you aren’t a fan of hyper-violent beat ‘em ups or brawlers like the God of War franchise, Predators won’t change your mind. Even if you do enjoy the God of War games, or other similar action series, you may walk away from Predators disappointed. This review is intended for the readers who do enjoy the more bloody action games, and I hope by the end you will at least understand my aversion towards Predators.
Predators fails in several major areas: mechanics, story, and structure. Story and structure are often closely knit, but Predators warrants that we look at both. The game is structured as an arena fighter, each stage pits the player against many enemies in a fight to the death. There is little variety in the mission layouts, and while they may have different premises each stage usually boils down to, “kill enemies until the game says you are done.” The majority of the game is structured intentionally to be a tutorial as a part of the premise of you fighting in these arenas. Unfortunately, Predators doesn’t make the tutorial aspect of the game fun, and relies on forced repetition to teach very simple concepts. These dull missions take place inside of equally dull environments. Playing on the iPad, the only key difference I noticed is that the larger screen highlighted the muddy textures. You play in the first environment for fifteen levels straight- and all without any interesting story to push the player along. The only story in Predators is the pre-mission text prompting the player to kill for glory, and fight with honor. With such bland structure, environments, and story, the game would have to have incredible mechanics to make it worthwhile.
As you may have guessed, I also take issue with the game’s mechanics. The occasional special move looks flashy and can be satisfying, but the game provides little to work with in terms of combinations and control refinement. After fighting hundreds of enemies, I noticed that Predators doesn’t give the player an effective method of crowd control. You might think that as a Predator you want to leap in, kill one person, and then dash away with your cloak, but the game makes this a rarity. If one wants to kill an enemy with any sort of expedience, a dash will likely be performed when approaching. The dash works well enough, but any combination following a dash usually involves impaling an enemy. While an enemy is impaled, a lengthy animation plays out and the player is often swarmed. Sometimes I was able to kill the enemy mid-animation and take a swipe at my assailants, but the majority of the time I was nearly (or actually) killed.
The game tries to make up for the lack of variety in melee moves with the addition of projectile weapons, and two special abilities. Thermal vision is one such ability, and one that I found to be entirely useless. The game already highlights where enemies are at the edge of the screen, so having them glow when you catch up to them is pointless. The player also receives the ability to cloak, but only in dry environments. Immediately after receiving the cloak and learning how to use it, the player is placed in rainy maps until level fifteen (meaning the cloak is useless.) Projectile weapons sound like they could add a fun twist, but the mandatory lock-on makes using the projectiles frustrating. Each time the game implements lock on, my patience is worn as it usually does not target the enemy I am going for and often opts to target the enemy behind me.
Predators lacks compelling story, structure and mechanics. I found the game to be dry, with the exception of the rare moment of happiness after pulling off a successful killing chain or “brutal cut.” If you are dying to play a brawler on your iPhone or iPad and don’t care that the game is highly repetitive and lacking control refinement, the three dollar entry fee may just be worth it for you. For the rest of us, I recommend staying away from Predators.
Predators is available as a universal app, meaning it works on both iPhones and iPads without the 2x scaling, for $2.99
The game was tested on a 2nd gen Touch and an iPad.