by James Fisher
Activision Inc
Crash Issue 51, Apr 1988   page(s) 100,101

Producer: Activision
Retail Price: £9.99
Author: designed by System3, programmed by Source

It's a typical Arnold Schwarzenegger role, familiar from Conan The Barbarian, The Terminator and Commando: and it's the same all-action Arnie who stars in 20th Century Fox's recent movie Predator, closely followed by System 3 for this licence.

The game starts as Major Alan Schaefer (Schwarzenegger in the film) and his small force of mercenaries rope-slide from a hovering helicopter and begin their hunt for missing VIPs in a dark, uncharted jungle.

Schaefer is the last to make it into the undergrowth. He finds the VIPs'crashed chopper with no survivors - yet no bodies either.

Then he realises his team has vanished - but as he moves further into the jungle's depths, he discovers his fellow mercenaries one by one, mutilated and very dead.

Armed with grenades and a powerful machine gun, Schaefer runs through the horizontally-scrolling jungle setting, using all his wits and weapons to survive guerilla ambushes and the attacks of vultures. He can soon find other weapons, obviously dropped by his murdered colleagues - and though they're helpful, an uneasy feeling starts to roll around in the back of Schaefer's mind.

Schaefer had been briefed to expect guerillas, and they can be disposed of quickly with his scalpel-sharp reflexes and ruthless firing. But can the horribly mutilated bodies of his colleagues really have been the work of guerillas, or is there something far more mysterious and malevolently powerful lurking in the jungle?

To reinforce this notion, a telltale triangular laser sight occasionally appears and tracks Schaefer...

If he survives long enough and beats the countdown clock, the mercenary leader might find out - and use all his military skills and power to destroy the sinister creature, the strange alien predator in the jungle.


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: superb character animation, but a poor 3-D side view of the action
Sound: the meagre 'Schaefer running'sound is out of sync with the sprite's movements - hardly scary
Options: two keyboard layouts

Predator is mostly a waste of time: after just one go I could get through levels 1 to 4 by simply running along and hardly shooting a thing! There are some excellently-designed backdrops, and some tough enemies, but the terrible colours spoil things all the way - on some levels you find yourself chased by a box of chocolates. And the 'horribly mutilated' victims of the eponymous predator are nowhere to be seen.

Using joystick you can't throw a grenade or pick up a weapon, and to add confusion to difficulty the inlay is very unhelpful; instead of telling you straight what you've got to do it consists of obscure hints and tips.

Predator's a good idea for a licence, and there are a few powerful graphics. But the best entertainment you'll get out of it is reading the atmospheric blood 'n' guts talk of the inlay!

The movie is atmospheric and frightening, but the only part of the Predator game with any suspense is the inlay - well-written, but not very helpful.

The loading technique is a farce. First you have to load an unimpressive demo, then you have to load in each play area (and none seems very different from the others), and finally you have to rewind the cassette back to the first level (situated 'somewhere' in the middle of the tape - the game is to find it)!

When everything's finally loaded you're subjected to a 10-second opening sequence (every time you play) and then hidden behind it all is... the game.

Predator has few addictive elements - the basic 'get them before they get you' instinct is the obvious one - and though the graphics hold it together for a few games, when their appeal has worn off you're left with a very boring, repetitive and infuriating piece of software.

Presentation: 72%
Graphics: 75%
Playability: 66%
Addictive Qualities: 58%
Overall: 66%

Summary: General Rating: if only the game lived up to the inlay...

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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