The general rule of thumb is that any game based on a movie is likely to be a rushed, sloppy affair designed solely to cash in on celluloid success and turn a quick buck. For this reason, I approached Chillingo’s iPhone adaptation of Robert Rodriguez’s Predators – itself a tiresome and utterly pointless rehash of the original flick, if you ask me – with extreme caution. Happily, Predators (out now, $0.99) shatters convention, and offers up a heady mix of brutally violent action, gorgeous visuals, and pitch-perfect controls.
Brought to vivid life by indie devsAngry Mob Games who having previously unleashed the critically acclaimed Guerilla Bob on the App Store know a thing or to about putting together an explosively enjoyable actioner; Predators‘ wisest move is to sideline the movie’s roster of cliched grunts into supporting roles, and instead cast players as one of the titular bloodthirsty extraterrestrial hunters.
This gives scope for an incredibly authentic Predator game, replete with access to an arsenal of iconic alien weaponry and hi-tech gadgets, including razor sharp wrist blades, plasma castor, combi-stick, smart disc, and, of course, that bio helmet with on-board cloaking device and heat vision. Everything a planet-hopping psycho could wish for in other words.
Viewed from a top-down perspective, the game looks fantastic – the rain-streaked, jungle environments capture the movie’s murky palette of greens and browns well, while highly detailed character models do both the Predator and Adrien Brody and co. justice.
The game’s controls are also bang-on, with Angry Mob drawing on their dual-stick shooter expertise to craft an intuitive set-up that allows for both fast-paced gunfights and fluid combat. A virtual d-pad takes care of movement, while two multi-purpose action buttons handle fighting moves and shooting. Your cloaking device and thermal vision can be toggled on and off using well positioned onscreen icons.
So far, so good, but honestly it’s the visceral and very (very, very) violent gameplay that steals the show. As you progress through levels, your Predator picks up new skills, such as the ability to perform “body splices” (ripping enemies in two) and “trophy kills” (decapitating foes, holding their head aloft, and uttering a bloodcurdling primal roar). If you hadn’t already guessed as much, Angry Mob have pulled no punches when it comes to portraying the movie’s more graphic moments.
Beyond looking incredibly cool, executing these special moves earns you honor points, which can be used to unlock and upgrade your fearsome collection of blades, guns, and gadgets. Handy for when you go up against boss enemies such as the samurai sword wielding maniac, or twin-pistol toting drug lord.
For the best part, slicing and dicing your way through a planet’s worth of tooled-up mercenaries is utterly thrilling. Sadly, however, the 20+ levels do start to get a bit repetitive and predictable, rarely straying far from the kill a set amount of puny humans, bring their leader’s head home on a stick schtick. Rather than a lengthy array of arena style levels, perhaps a mission based structure that took cues from the film’s set pieces would’ve made for a more consistently gripping experience. All in all, though, I had a blast with this title. Predators looks bloody great, plays well, and thanks to the honor points system provides a decent amount of re-playability as you strive to sample each and every weapon in your repertoire.
Who’d have thunk it? – The rather pedestrian Predators has spawned one of iPhone’s best movie-to-game adaptations to date.
iFanzine Verdict: A slick, stylish actioner that far outstrips the movie it’s based on. Predators’ blend of stealthy thrills and all out hacking ‘n’ slashing makes for an incredibly exciting experience. For fans of the film franchise, this offers any amount of wish fulfillment, so feel free to add a star to our score.