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Predator: Concrete Jungle (PlayStation 2) artwork

Predator: Concrete Jungle (PlayStation 2) review


"That’s not to say you can’t have fun. Killing people is a time-honored tradition among the average gamer, and nobody kills people better than a Predator. "



It sucks to be a Predator.

Oh, you wouldn’t know it to look at the movies. They make it look so cool; going around killing people, bitch-slapping Danny Glover and Arnold Schwarzennegar, collecting human skulls and screaming at the top of their lungs after every kill.

But, in real-life, the Predators (which are officially called Yautja in comics and books and such) are a bunch of hard-asses. Just ask the one you’re playing as in Predator: Concrete Jungle.

He comes back to his ship after a human hunt goes wrong, and instead of comforting him like family ought, what do his fellow Predators do? They dump him on hostile alien planet, give him a spear…one lousy spear…for protection, and leave him there alone, letting him fend for himself as dozens of very large and very hungry aliens come bearing down on him.

Nice.

But he’s tough; he rolls with it. He’s the personification of annihilation, the embodiment of disembowelment, and he’s not about to just roll over and die. His brother’s come back after a few decades, and guess what? He’s still breathing, still in one piece, and still doing fine without their candy asses.

Turns out they’ve got a job for him, a way to win back his honor. Turns out that the last time our hellish hero was on Earth, he left some of his toys behind. Turns out that some humans found his stuff, modified it, and turned it into war weapons.

Turns out that somebody needs their ass whipped and their skin stripped. They know just the badass to do it.

Time to hunt.

The game puts you in the shoes of this unnamed ass-kicker from another world and drops you in the middle of a sprawling city. At first you might think this is another one of those sandbox games, like Grand Theft Auto with aliens, a free-roaming world to hunt and maim and kill…which, of course, sounds like a bitching idea.

Unfortunately, you’d be 100% wrong. Things aren’t quite what they seem; as you leap from rooftop to rooftop, you’ll notice that things are limited. You can only hunt in specific area, only explore sections of the city with each mission, and there’s never any down-time: You’re given objectives to complete, complete them or wander around endlessly in what little space you have.

That’s not to say you can’t have fun. Killing people is a time-honored tradition among the average gamer, and nobody kills people better than a Predator.

You think you’ve seen violence in videogames? You think headshots are the pinnacle of polygon pain? Think again.

You haven’t seen shit until you’ve seen a human skull ripped out with one sweeping motion, spine and all.

You haven’t seen shit until you’ve seen a human body stripped off flesh, hanging on a billboard like fresh meat…which it is, in a way.

And you really, truly, honestly have not seen shit until you seen a Predator grab someone by the legs and head, raised them above his head, twist them at the waist, and break them in two pieces like a rotten twig. You can slice and you can dice; you can maim and you can maul, but you can’t do that all the time and it won’t always be easy: You’ve got to employ a little tact.

Being a Predator’s not just about killing people, it’s about sneaking around and then killing people. Stealth missions with invisibility. Easy.

Or at least it would be easy if the invisibility worked when you needed it to. Chances are, when you come to that all-important mission where you don’t want to be detected until you want to be detected, your stealth abilities hit the fluke, forcing you to sneak around the old-fashioned way. And since you’re an eight-foot-tall alien with dreadlocks, being subtle isn’t the easiest thing.

It’s not the end of the world if you get caught once or twice, but you have to make sure not make much noise; the louder things get, the closer it gets to game over. Too many wrong turns, a witness left alive…done.

But it’s not like every mission is an exercise in stupidity, a good chunk have you doing just doing what killing machines are meant to do. This is when the game’s at its best; you leap from building to building, scaling stories with each bound, hunting down your enemies. You could just drop down; take them head on…but where’s the fun in that? No, the best hits are the silent ones, the ones that kill them before they even know they’re being killed. You drop down, hide in the shadows, activate your invisibility to blend in with the darkness, walk up behind with steady steps, he turns at the last moment…

The last thing his eyes ever see is his own headless body, slumping to the ground. Nasty.

It’s some fucked up shit, I’m not denying that. But that’s what the whole Predator experience is about: unabashed hack-and-slash. Those with weak constitutions and dominant moral values need not apply.

Rating: 7/10

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Staff review by Zack Little (December 23, 2005)

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