The Predator universe is both revered and much-maligned as various producers and authors take their own liberties with the hyper-powerful hunter. While xenomorphs are pretty much tied to their ship/nest or wherever idiots decide to try and experiment with them, the Predator series has a wider range of territory to cover, as long as there is someone worthy of combat to fight at the climax.
Yet, wherever a Predator goes, it seems that an Alien or two-hundred is likely to turn up in their brutal cosmic tango. So, while this is focused on the burly, brawling, dreadlocked killing machine, expect a few guest turns from his acid-spitting sidekicks. That goes all the way back to the early films, the gripping graphic novels that interlinked both species, and general human interest that makes questions like “Is Predator based on a true story?” appear on Google.
This is shown across the many games that stretch from the 16-bit era to the very latest releases like Predator: Hunting Grounds, as well as the movies. Whatever the format, you can be sure of cool weapons, high-octane combat and a modicum of sneaking to broaden what is usually a paper-thin plot. However you got into the character, here are the best Predator games from over the years.
At the back of the list based on its near-impossible difficulty level, Predator 2 takes an Operation Wolf style approach to the Danny Glover movie with near-endless battles for long-suffering cop Harrigan against the drug dealers taking over Los Angeles. That’s before a final level where rafts of Predators take potshots at the hero, before a final fight against the big bad guy.
It is a big shame that it does so little with the many epic set pieces from the movie, with the vertical nature of the meat warehouse ignored for more horizontal scrolling. There’s also no obvious use of any of the other cool characters that made the movie more than a 1-on-1 battle (rights issues, apparently).
Worse, the sound effects from the movie only play during the intro scenes, with terribly bland music sucking the atmosphere out of the 16-bit game. That, along with the ludicrous difficulty and no saves, make this one to miss.
Developer: System 3 Publisher: System 3 Platform(s): Amiga
Based on the original movie, this game appeared at the end of the 8-bit home computer era, but the best version appeared on the Amiga with its greater visual and processing power. It saw a suitably buff pixel Arnie as Dutch wading through green jungle scenes, destroyed helicopters littering the trees, and bird calls breaking the silence.
Through side-scrolling exploring, Dutch has to avoid the Predator’s killer gaze while plenty of local bad guys need taking down as the hunt for the Predator steps up. There are a few hand-to-hand skirmishes with the alien between bouts of gunplay, but the game hardly makes the best use of the movie’s true hero.
Like so many other movie adaptations of the time, System 3’s Predator does a little with the source material but not enough to make it feel special, especially with its limp ending, making it hard to recommend today, even for retro game fans.
8. Aliens Versus Predator 2
Developer: Monolith Publisher: Sierra Platform(s): PC
Set on LV-1201, AvP2 is more of an update to Rebellion’s early PC effort. While AvP2 makes use of the latest PC graphics technologies (for the time) to deliver a better-looking game, it fails to deliver a greater story or sense of being “in” the universe.
On the plus side, the mood lighting is way better, weapon details and effects are improved, and there’s more speech to drive the narrative along. Unfortunately, it all feels more generic, and apart from some better use of assets like the dropship and troop carrier, everything else has a B-movie look and feel to it. Even the Alien lair levels somehow look worse than the 1994 AvP efforts, which is some going.
A fast-paced FPS, AvP2 is worth a blast, with an expansion pack adding more missions, but overall it feels hard to fall in love with like most of the other Predator (or Alien) games.
7. Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction
Developer: Xono Publisher: EA Platform(s): PS2, Xbox
Another leap away from normal service, AvP Extinction wraps this monstrous universe around the real-time strategy genre to give players something different. It does spare players the boredom of base or nest building, but still generating an army before sending them into battle.
Here, unit management, skills and combat selection are key to winning those skirmishes, but with the whole game bathed in a paint scheme of mud or darkness, it is hardly a setting to inspire enthusiasm.
Much is wrong with ExtinctionL there’s no real reason behind the name, the audio turns to mush whenever a few units engage in battle and the whole spirit of the Predator gets neatly tossed aside to shoe-horn them into this bad idea when the publisher’s management was clearly wondering what else those could RTS-ify.
On the positive side, seeing Xenomorphs spawn from whatever enemies you could impregnate through face-huggers is a clever touch, but it’s too little in what is a poorly packaged product with no multiplayer or extended-play modes.
6. Predator: Concrete Jungle
Developer: Eurocom Publisher: Vivendi Platform(s): PS2, Xbox
Predators turning up in mob-era Chicago? What’s not to like, especially when they leave some gadgets behind. This tricky intro sets the scene for the shamed Predator’s return to battle the mob’s descendant’s across a series of very familiar-looking PS2-era levels.
But the Predator leaps into the game with bombast and close-up action, building on the action with open world exploration and some neat little tie-ins to the wider Predator and Alien universes.
By trying to be a little different, the developers created a game that stands out from the rest of the titles here, with a focus on stealth over brutality (sometimes) and a spot of platform-style running. Concrete Jungle definitely plays to its generation’s arcade strengths with a unique plot, but also lurches towards simplicity over depth, and suffers from poor visuals.
The PlayStation Portable sold a decent 80 million units over its lifespan, attracting all sorts of games and interest. Requiem sees developer Rebellion cram their PC efforts onto a portable screen, with a touch more exploring and adventure to overcome the handheld’s limitations for intense action.
Playing as the Predator, you have to seek and destroy any trace of Xenomorph activity taking place in the town of Gunnison, Colorado, while trying to avoid detection by the meat bags. The Predators earn honor points by taking actions that follow their code, such as protecting innocent humans. The visuals, especially in Predator-vision, look great.
It is a bit of a simple game, with bite-sized missions and limited weapon slots keeping things slimmed down. Yet, Requiem has some interesting ideas that other developers could run with on more powerful hardware.
4. Aliens Versus Predator
Developer: Rebellion Publisher: Fox Interactive Platform(s): PC
Long after their Jaguar outing, Rebellion had regrouped and took another shot at the AVP series with the power of PC 3D graphic processors to deliver more of a visual punch and 3D world-building tools to create a more immersive environment.
This version ticked all the boxes in terms of fast-paced action, playing as all three species, with more varied (if familiar) missions to undertake in the wreckage of LV-426 and other familiar scenes from the Alien series.
In this version, the Xenomorphs race across the levels with amazing fluidity while the Predators have a sturdy solid feel to them, with the meat bags somewhere in between. All the familiar eerie and unsettling sound effects are present, rendered in high-quality audio, adding to the sense of immersion and while more recent AVP and Predators games have upped the visual fidelity, few get the sense of urgency and violence right across the different stories for each species.
With two of the galaxy’s most feared brawlers, it was natural that a side-scrolling beat ‘em up would appear at some point in the canon. Fortunately, Capcom’s arcade team was on hand to deliver with all their fisticuffs experience. This version never got a home port, but it can still be experienced if you’re lucky enough to find a Capcom Home Arcade that features 16 classic games.
Fighting with up to three players as a mechanically augmented Major Dutch Schaefer, Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa (a Capcom character who has appeared in various games) or a Predator hunter or warrior, you take on the Alien horde with spears vs their whipping tails and use the iconic disc to slice through eggs and face-huggers.
Some elements are a bit out of place, like breaking crates to find meals for health, but this was in the early days of the Predator’s lore. So, they use shotguns and there’s a guest appearance by bad guys in mechanical loaders, all done with crisp pixel visuals and a meaty selection of sound effects and music. And with a massive Queen as the final battle, it is well worth tracking down in some form to enjoy.
2. Predator: Hunting Grounds
Developer: Illfonic Publisher: SIE Platform(s): PC, PS4
The new kid on the block, Predator: Hunting Grounds (again) isn’t some award-winning epic game. But it does offer something different with its four-against-one multiplayer.
Looking beyond the turgid in-app purchases, four meatbags–sorry, an elite fireteam, try to take down the Predator in a series of familiar-looking jungly environments, mixing in some hide-and-seek and outrageous amounts of firepower.
The problem is coordinating the human effort against the Predator is often tricky and leaves the battles feeling lop-sided or easy to escape and regroup from, which kind of isn’t how it happens in the movies. The Predator’s Plasma Caster and other weapons give him a theoretical advantage but in what feels like vanilla and typical FPS action, it doesn’t quite live up to the ambition.
But, among the many plusses, there’s also the excellent movie soundtrack and effects, decent visuals, and highly detailed killing grounds with a Predator capable of massive leaps, nimbly doing his own version of parkour (Predkour) across branches and between the trees to navigate at speed. Which, combined with the best-looking Predator in gaming, make this a decent number two when it comes to the best Predator games.
The original AvP first-person shooter might not be the best game featuring a Predator. But at a time when developers were starting to stretch their legs and creative minds into the 3D era, it showed what was possible on a cheap little console from the dying Atari brand.
AvP stood out like a beacon of hope for fans, even with a tiny team of 15 credited contributors on the project. Gamers were looking for that next-gen hit as the developers crammed in Colonial Marines, Aliens and the star-turn Predator with very different skill sets and hunting techniques in the battered and gloomy marine training base Golgotha.
From the nails-down-the-blackboard opening soundtrack of dread to the grim chuckle of a Predator, the game loads up on atmosphere. Missions were simple but made use of the early 3D, crawl spaces and clever room design to create tricky battle scenes. From wading through Alien cocoon nests to praying for some extra pulse rifle ammo, AvP is a game of high tension.
All of which made the Predator’s mission of killing the Queen one of the most challenging, venturing into ever-harder sub levels, even with his invisibility feature and mix of ranged and melee weapons. Short and challenging, AvP was one of the few reasons to own a Jaguar, and is still worth seeking one out today.
Not only was AvP ahead of its time, but it set Rebellion up as the go-to guys for Predator and Alien games well into the future, as you can see from some of the other entries on this list. Paving the way for what was to come, Alien vs Predator’s influence cannot be underestimated, making it the number one Predator game and creating a legacy beyond the mere code on the Jaguar cartridge that us up for the great games to come.
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