The Predator is one of the most classic monsters in cinema and one of the most grotesque and violent figures to show up on the big screen. It is also a creature that has been going through a terrible phase that, in reality, is even bigger than the time when its productions had quality; a sadness for fans who know that the alien hunter deserves and is capable of much more.
Predator: Hunting Grounds is not only a proof of this, but, on the contrary, perpetuates the terrible phase that the bug has been going through. From a good idea, with which it had questionable success in a Friday the 13th adaptation for consoles and PC, the developer IllFonic now presents a new asymmetric multiplayer, this time more focused on action and even more on violence, with shooting , beating, blood and blades.
In theory, a combination of the most interesting ones, after all, we finally have the ability to control the Predator and use all its technological apparatus to hunt down soldiers who, no matter how elite they are, are no match for a very sharp blade. The reality, however, is not so deliciously violent, and the alien's greatest enemy will be precisely the technical problems that plague the experience.
Starting with matchmaking, time consuming and with serious stability problems. During the FreeGameGuide review process, carried out after the official launch of the game on PlayStation 4 and PC, we were paired with players from Latin America and the United States, with the high ping indicating the absence of local servers. The result, of course, was an extreme and unacceptable lag in a game that requires quick reflexes and a sharp trigger finger.
In asymmetric multiplayer, a certain delay is to be expected, especially for those who want to play with the villain, usually the star of 4v1 titles. As the numbers indicate, there are fewer seats for them and more people wanting to control them. But no one turns on the video game by quietly accepting a 15-minute wait for a miserable game.
And when the action actually begins, it is also not as beautiful as the idea makes it seem. In charge of the Predator, we do have access to the entire apparatus of the monster while we are released in a random location in the forest, with no indication of where the soldiers are. Jumping through trees and using vantage points, we must use the hunter's own skills to find the way from sound vibrations and thermal signals, mainly.
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It is a gameplay that resembles the inFamous series, to a certain extent, with the alien having a fast movement and being able to practice great jumps, using the advantages of the terrain to defend and attack. The Predator covers great distances quickly, although, in the branches, an advance based on pre-programmed trails can end up taking the player in the other direction, causing him to get lost in the green maze of the forest.
The forest is closed and it is difficult to see what is in the distance, with the thermal display being essential in these hours. It is also he who makes the game run with a certain quality in his eyes, since outside the alien's technological vision, what we have before us is a festival of serrations and falls in the frame rate, especially when there is a lot happening on the screen, harming the most tense and decisive moments of the matches.
The soldiers do not have the same movement speed as the Predator, but at least they respond well to attacks and arrive well armed on the battlefield, with enough supplies to face NPCs and kill the monster, if they know how to coordinate their offensive. Ammo and energy boxes guarantee the necessary support for the scenarios, but they can also serve as bait for the Predator, generating an interesting sense of risk and reward.
Each side has clear objectives, with soldiers having to complete missions that take them to different points in the scene to destroy equipment or steal data from computers, forcing them to move and stay long moments in the same area. For the Predator, of course, the goal is not only to kill human soldiers and their hunting objects but also to collect opponents' skulls as trophies. It is important to know when to do this, as the process takes time in which the alien will be completely exposed to the shots and explosives of humans.
The alien has isolation sensors, which show how vulnerable a soldier is to an onslaught, while the fallen soldier can tell his companions the location of the Predator to be saved. Even after dying, requests for reinforcements can resurrect comrades and turn the balance of combat, which ends with the extraction of soldiers or the death of all of them at the hands of the hunter.
Humans must know how to use the scenario in their own favor so as not to lose precious energy facing NPCs and fire down with everything about the alien, which is strong, but is not invincible. For the Predator, it is important to know the time to descend from the trees, attack, flee and use skills, which consume an energy bar quickly if they are activated all at once.
There is no automatic life regeneration, and while soldiers can recover from points scattered around the map, the Predator has a limited-use syringe, which should also be used sparingly. The ideal, most of the time, is to act on the sly, since the hunter's green blood can also serve in favor of the soldiers, drawing their attention more easily even in the middle of the forest. Skill and patience are the watchwords in this hunt.
Here we have an accurate balance and, mainly, the notion that IllFonic gets it right where it was most difficult. The Predator is much stronger and more resistant than the soldiers, of course, but unlike what happens in other asymmetric multiplayers, it is a good balance applied between all of them, making the military have an effective chance of winning the fight, if they know how. what to do, and don't feel like facing a walking candy sponge.
Drawing on vagabond napkin
It is tragic that bugs and flawed gameplay elements, in addition to the aforementioned low visual quality, get so much in the way of this balance. During our testing period with the game, Predator: Hunting Grounds crashed a few times – the first being as soon as we started the game to start work – in addition to exhibiting some difficulty in keeping games running until the end, especially when players PS4 and PC are joined in them.
During one of the rounds, the game simply did not recognize the action taken by the soldiers, freezing the objective and preventing us from moving forward. This also put us at the mercy of the Predator, but not for long, since without time limit and with full lives and ammunition, it was easy to end the alien still in his first attack, since the opponent also did not know very well the what he was doing. None of the players, however, reaped the credit for this victory, after all, time is up and the mission cannot be completed due to bug reasons.
While the alien has all his functional and fully usable equipment, the feeling is that the soldiers are mere heaps of pixels and cannon fodder to be torn into the woods or simply press the triggers to win.
It would be asking too much for the presence of original characters from the films, it is true. The absences of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Danny Glover or even newcomer Boyd Holbrook would not be so much needed if the rest of the title were well-finished and had a feeling worthy of the original 1987 film. The original soundtrack is in Hunting Grounds, it's true, but also in streaming services, and you don't have to go through that to hear the monster's classic and sweeping theme.
The lack of polish is perceived in all aspects of Predator: Hunting Grounds, while the perception is that the care with the material had limits, whether due to lack of budget, skill or, simply, care of the developer. And of an interesting possibility, supported by the bases of other games that use the 4v1 style well, this game ends up being a scribble full of potential.
Launched without fanfare, the title arrives to confirm the already very low expectations that had been left by the open Beta, which makes it not even disappointing, as the bad result was already to be expected. For fans of Predator, the moment is still to resort to nostalgia, whether in the original films or in the beat'em ups of the past, which disfigured the character, but have plenty of fun to compensate.
Predator: Hunting Grounds was analyzed on PS4, in a digital copy kindly provided by Sony to FreeGameGuide.