On Friday, we’re finally getting a new game starring the deadliest poacher in the galaxy in the form of Predator: Hunting Grounds. Is the galaxy ready for another asymmetric multiplayer game wherein your primary objective is to get to dah choppah? No clue yet! What we do know, is that gaming without the Predator is like lips on a duck beak: It makes no sense and we can’t even imagine it without violently vomiting.
Ever since he decloaked in the 1987 film in which he debuted a face that answered the age-old question of what Vagina Dentata would look like if it was real, that ugly-ass mother-lover has been the subject of many a video game. Some were good! Some were forgettable. Others saw the Predator forced to share the spotlight with that damn Xenomorph and a fleshy Colonial Marine. But for the first time in a decade, the Predator is ready to once again ready to resume its hunt.
So join us, as we take a tour through history, platforms and crossovers that chart the rise and fall of a franchise which refuses to stay down.
Only a single game managed to escape the video game jungles of the 1987, and that one was the titular movie tie-in game that didn’t have you in the boots of an intergalactic hunter. Instead, players assumed the role of a mass of pixels that vaguely resembled Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character of Dutch, as they braved a hostile frontier filled with all manner of dangerous obstacles. Like bullet-sponge birds and stuff, before they even got to the Predator. It was…it was alright at the time, but it’d be a good couple of years before a good Predator game made itself known.
1990 – 1994
The first Predator game in the 1990s…wasn’t that promised exploration of the deadliest hunter to ever exist. Instead, 1990 saw an official tie-in to Predator 2 that was an on-rails shoot ‘em up. Playing as Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, you’d fill the screen with lead as you took down drug cartels and sometimes even fought the Predator! But like, barely. No wonder the game was banned in Germany at the time, not for its violence but because it was just so damn lame.
1991 didn’t break the bad game streak either, as fans could grab a SEGA Genesis and Master System tie-in that looked like Diablo with guns, albeit in a format that was the very definition of paint by numbers game design:
And then finally, it happened. Someone wondered what would happen if they took the beat ‘em up genre, applied actual polished gameplay and allowed players to not suit up as a human, but as a Predator as well. Someone took that concept, added all of the Xenomorphs in existence to the formula and blended it together to create the greatest crossover since the combination of cheese and onion potato chips.
A crossover that also extended to the Gameboy with Alien vs Predator: The Last of His Clan and on the Atari Jaguar with a surprisingly atmospheric and strategic game from Rebellion. A name you’ll hear more of soon…
The end result was 1993’s Aliens vs Predator on the SNES, an idea so good that Capcom would take it and use that foundation to create the greatest arcade game of all time in 1994. It was colourful, the action was worth every single token you threw into the machine and the balance between characters as they tore through hordes of Xenomorphs made it impossible for you to not grin from ear to ear. The good times, were finally here!
And by good times, I meant a five year gap between arcade glory and a legendary PC revival. Rebellion Games had already proven that they could combine story, graphics and solid gameplay into an attractive package with their Atari Jaguar Aliens vs. Predator game, and they went all in in 1999 with a game that saw three of the most lethal organisms in existence cross paths.
Aliens vs. Predator was groundbreaking at the time, offering players a campaign of carnage for each species and plenty of firepower with which to experiment with. Xenomorphs were highly agile nightmares, Predators had an arsenal that would give Space-Michael Bay a boner and Colonial Marines were resourceful Swiss-Army Knives equipped with counters to each species. If the 1990s and a century of progress were coming to a close, Aliens vs. Predator was a hell of a high note to end the decade on.
2000 – 2004
Monolith Games would continue the franchise that Rebellion started in 2001 with a sequel, which by all accounts was just fine in terms of gameplay but had a deeper plot to follow. A 2004 mobile game would pit the Predator against the Xenomorph once again, but seeing as how no footage of it exists I can only guess that it must have been so bad that it has been removed from this timeline entirely, along with the solo Predator game released that year as well.
2005 – 2008
For most of the 1990s and the 2000s, the Predator had shared the spotlight with the Xenomorph, hunting an adversary that was more primal and ruthless in design than the big game in which it had first made a name for itself. Concrete Jungle returned the Predator back to familiar hunting grounds, albeit this time in 1930s New York as it stalked the mobs of the Great Depression era and a far-off future polluted by its abandoned technology. This was a game where the Predator not only sought to earn honour in the sacred hunt, but also redemption.
The rest of the 2000s didn’t have much more to add to the Predator franchise. Amidst a sea of mobile and online Flash games, the hunter retreated back to the shadows and waited for its moment to strike…
2010 – 2020
That time would come in 2010, with SEGA and Rebellion reviving Aliens vs. Predator for yet another go at eternal hunting glory! Much like the previous games, this reboot on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 had you following one of three distinct campaigns that all eventually merged together into one explosive climax. Despite a mixed reception, the latest Aliens vs. Predator game still sold plenty of units, buoyed by a multiplayer option that fans couldn’t get enough of. The future, once again looked bright for Predator.
Or so you’d think. The rest of the 2010s were an absolute wasteland for new Predator content, propped up only by an endless stream of mobile games and a pinball tie-in from Zen Studios for their Pinball FX suite of games. Ten years later, and that dry run is finally being quenched with Predator Hunting Grounds, a game which looks more moderate in scope but intriguing in execution.
Can it be the latest entry in a classic franchise which does the mighty hunter justice? We’ll find out tomorrow when the servers go live. Now look alive Private, we’re in some serious crap here. Time to bug out!
Last Updated: April 23, 2020
April 23, 2020 at 15:39
They have some serious FPS issues in Predator Hunting Grounds.
Really hope they fixed it before launch.
April 23, 2020 at 19:17
That 80’s Predator game, I played it on my C64. I can tell that you have never played it because of your description of it. It was the worst POS I ever played on the C64 with no clear instructions on what to do. You just kept dying and dying and dying. I finished the first level once and never reloaded it again.
I do however have fantastic memories of the first AvP game at LAN’s when Creative speakers were making a huge impact with surround sound setups. I distinctly recall a very good Quake player only lasting 5 minutes before he said “I only do this game 5 minutes at a time!”. Thank you motion detector for creating the scariest experience I have still ever played.