Illfonic has become well known in the multiplayer game space with its surprisingly enjoyable adaptation of Friday the 13th: The Game, where one player takes on the role of the unstoppable Jason Voorhees while the others are hapless campers simply trying to escape his grasp. So, naturally, they’re an ideal team for bringing the Predator to the gaming space, right?
We’re talking about the sci-fi villain first introduced in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film of the same name from 1987, who has since gone on to star in a few lackluster sequels, and mostly forgettable games (save for the rad Alien vs. Predator adaptations we’ve seen over the years). So, yeah, done the right way, a Predator game could be aces in our book. And that’s just what Illfonic tries with Hunting Grounds. The real question, though, is if they capture lightning in a bottle again. Well…
Is It Time To Hunt?
If you’re looking for a single-player experience, Hunting Grounds, sadly, isn’t it. You’re stuck hopping into online-only sessions against other players, with one taking on the role of the alien hunter and the others playing hapless commandos that use whatever weapons they can muster to try and bring him down. It seems like a balanced affair at first, but then you begin noticing the little things that detract from the experience.
I mean, how hard would it have been to throw in a single-player story mode with both perspectives? One side playing as the soldiers hunting after the Predator, and another from a Predator’s point of view, perhaps introducing him to the hunt in general. It’s a sorely missed opportunity.
Alas, as it stands, the game seems to lack balance. The Predator side of things is a thrill to play, especially with his numerous weapons and tools to use to his credit. They’re ripped straight from the films, so everything, from the claws to the shoulder-mounted cannon to the various heated viewpoints, are fair game.
However, if you’re playing as a human commando, the experience just isn’t quite the same. That’s because along with having to try and communicate with your team (which doesn’t work as well as expected), you also have to deal with secondary objectives that just don’t make sense. Dealing with enemy soldiers is one thing, but having to flip switches and get other things done – it just wears on you. We’re here to hunt, not build up to a hunt.
Then there’s the hunting itself when the Predator finally enters the picture over the course of one round. This is where Illfonic shows off what magic it can do, as match-ups can be fun at first. Playing as the Predator, as we said, is quite satisfying, especially if you can bag a couple of kills in a row.
However, the commandos seem a little empty-handed. You’d think that they would have some kind of advantage as they enter this lopsided match-up. Alas, you’re stuck firing blindly, hoping to get a Predator out of the mix. That said, we didn’t experience a single match where the humans came out on top. We’re not sure if it was intended this way or not, but a little more balancing could’ve gone a long way here.
Plus, the Predator can climb to the high ground and actually gain a new perspective on things, all in wonderful third-person. The commandos, well, don’t, and it makes it feel like the other players are shut out of the experience. Not to mention that none of them have the benefit of the awesome invisibility cloak.
Not to mention the fact that Hunting Grounds is painfully short on content. Without any sort of offline mode, there’s only one general hunting mode to choose from, across three maps. This game could’ve easily been loaded with more content. This one is painfully shorthanded, even for the discounted price.
A Lopsided Presentation and Poor Leveling Up
There’s additional equipment that you can unlock on both the human and Predator sides of the game. Unfortunately, they don’t change up the experience much. Sure, you may bag a couple of extra “cool” kids for your trouble, but outside of that, it just doesn’t go to new heights. It feels like the Predator continues to have the advantage, no matter what. If only we had more Predators to hunt each other, instead of the other way around.
On top of that, however, Hunting Grounds also runs into trouble with its visuals. They can be sharp at times, especially playing from the Predator’s side of things. But there are also troublesome glitches and all-out crashes that can hamper a match-up relatively easy. It also doesn’t have the fastest frame rate, even on a PS4 Pro.
That’s sad to see because the audio is about spot-on. The commando jabber is about on the level of the film, and the sound effects and music cues are truly authentic.
Also, there should be something said about cosmetic appearances within the game. It is cool to pick up new skins and weapons using in-game currency, but it can take a while. Surprise, there is an option to use real cash to unlock it. That’s right, loot boxes appear to be back in droves. Take that news as you will.
The Thrill of the Hunt Is (Mostly) Gone
I really wanted to like Predator: Hunting Grounds on the same level as previous good games featuring the character. It’s a novel concept, and in the hands of Illfonic, it could’ve easily done no wrong. Alas, with its short amount of content, lacking visuals, and lopsided gameplay, it’s not quite the killer hunt that players were expecting. There are some good moments here, but they’re drowned in cheesiness – and not even the good kind, like the films.
Predator: Hunting Grounds has time to bleed, but not in the way that many fans are expecting.