Saturday, July 31, 2010

VGR Predator: Concrete Jungle

Here's...a surprise, I guess.
You weren't expecting this one, right? :P

After doing all those Predator movie reviews, I was going to move on some Predator comics...but thought, hey! why not check out one of the few Predator games available~

VGR: Predator: Concrete Jungle
From Eurocom and Vivendi Universal Games/Sierra/Fox Interactive
Played on Xbox
Also available on PS2

Type Action/Platformer/Brawler
Year 2005

Around the 2000s came a rather strange surprise for Alien and Predator fans, in the form of an original non-movie related game nor a sequel to the AvP FPS franchise.

Predator Concrete Jungle was an arcad-ysh 3D action game developed for the Xbox and PS2, named after a well liked comic book series from Dark Horse but offers a 100% original storyline instead of adapting any other media. And I like this kind of expanded universe media over your usual dull adaptations, there's always some place to surprise and try new directions that way~

1930, New Way City. Same old same old~

The game opens in 1930, in the fictive town of New Way City. A Predator goes up against a mob boss.
He kills the boss, Bruno Borgia but lets his wife Isabella and son Hunter leave... After getting shot!
The Pred tries a desperate escape and finally tries to blow up his ship and himself with it... and fails!!

The Predator loses his honour... He revealed himself to humans and failed to take his life with his self-destruct system...
The other Predators exile this one, now bearing a scar on his eye, on a remote alien planet (with what I think are the creatures from Straship Troopers..!? crossover-cameo-reference??)

100 years later, it is revealed that in his fiasco, the Predator leftover technology helped the humans evolve rather quickly.
There's gang wars everywhere. People developed new technology such as flying machines, invisibility for troops, created the very first exosuits to fight ramping crime in the streets and even use plasma guns!!

Scarface can use tons of wonderful toys and neat gadgets~

The story is told in a non-linear way, which might confuse some gamers.. but I really dig it!
Every now and then, there's some great quality CGi scenes telling the story, under a mysterious voice narrating the events.
It pretty original! The story isn't your usual good guy vs bad guy, concluding with a final showdown...

It was created by comic book writer Grant Morrison, and partially based on both the original Concrete Jungle comic book series and the Aliens vs. Predator: Eternal mini-series featuring similar concepts.

Instead it jumps every now and then from New Way City 1930 to 2030!
It reveals very few in the beginning and then moves on both timeline to explain what exactly happened. It's a revenge story from Hunter (the mob's son) against "Scarface" the Predator.
Back in 2005, this game didn't get very fair reviews in my eyes..
People were expecting a Splinter Cell-ysh game (since it was so hype back then) and they got a more simple experience than that...

The game is a 3D third person action game. With some light platforming sequences and lots of brawling, you know, like old school beat 'em all games!

Of course, as what you'd expect from a game starring a Predator, you can use a lot of neat alien arsenal.
The game starts out with only the basic weapons, but along the way, you add a lot of new toys and upgrades to your weapons. The claws get longer, you obtain the smartdisc, upgrade to a shuriken-like disc, find the plasma cannon, you also have access to bombs, mines, etc..
There's a lot of weapons to explore and use!

Plus the Predator can use lots of technology, straight from the movies and more!
A thermal vision, an electrical one and more!
You can switch to a first person view to follow and analyse your prey.
Scarface (yes, the pred) can use a medical kit..
You can also play with your stealth, going invisible, using the vocal mimicry to call or frighten your enemies or just use a plain loud roar!

This may happen or not in the game. Try it for yourself if you wanna know....

The problem with the game is that it doesn't really play on the stealth part. In the end, it's still a pretty basic beat 'em all!
But I wouldn't call that really a problem! It's pretty arcad-ysh! The levels go pretty quick and with all the things to find, collect or try, you'll want to go back to some levels in the end!

The game is pretty long, I don't have the number exactly, but it's probably over 30 levels or so~
The 1930 levels are pretty straight forward and fun, and the 2030 quite harder.
Oh and there's some nice replay value, that is, if you're a fan of the Predators! You'll unlock and upgrade many weapons like I said before and new Predator-skins! You can play with the Predator 1 or 2 Pred' (yay!), some original ones inspired by the comics (a Bad Blood Predator,..) or the AVP one (huh..).
 The Pred can make stealth instant kills and collect heads. Upon that, there's also special kills to make and "Trophies" to find and collect as well!
All the weapons and trophies can then be viewed on the ship, from the game's main menu.

The game tries also to connect the Alien movies, the Predator movies, the AVP flick and the Dark Horse expanded universe into one singular universe!
And I really think they did a great job be it in the design/visual easter eggs of the game or simply the script!
It's because of the Pred technology that humans evolved quickly (to explore space in the Alien franchise later on), it inspired their AI programs (MOTHER in Alien, which is also a pretty important plot-pont in the game). It connects the Yutani Corporation with both franchises (and Weyland, used in the AVP movies).
And...there's a very neat surprise near the end about the Xenomorphs...
In one sentence: It ties into the overall franchises pretty well.

Overall, it's a pretty fun game. Maybe a bit simplistic for some (haters) tastes, but I like it!
The game isn't "Game of the Year" material, if that's what you're asking, but I find it pretty fun.
The gameplay needs a bit of practice at first, specially if your used to more complexes game.
You'll die easily without some training first!

It's a game that really deserves a chance, even if it may not sound super original, gameplay-wise.
Both PS2 and Xbox versions are pretty close, though the Xbox version seems to be the superior graphic-wise.
I played it originally on the classic Xbox and later on the Xbox 360, where it plays pretty fine (only some minor problems on some CGi scenes..).

There's a lot of materials to be found, if you're fan of the franchise or are just trying to enjoy and learn a bit of the Predator. The game makes you feel quite the predator with all the gadgets, his strength and overall presentation.
And woow, does a Predator jump high!

The script, specially for a game, is pretty surprising good! It sure is better than the 2 AVP movie attempts...
It plays with the Predator mythos, it's a bit closer to the spirit of Predator 2 than 1 (turf wars, etc..) and for something called Predator sure likes to use elements of the Alien franchise!

I'd say, if you like scifi, simpler but funnier games or just to have a look at an underrated last-gen title, give it a try!
Well, if you're a fan, you better already have it!!

I give it:

 2 / 3 Quacks!


  1. Go figure he'd go kill the father of a guy who hunts him down and just happens to be named Hunter. The Irony~!

  2. Still, I really dig this game's plot!
    Original and twisty!
    Would have made one helluva better movie than the AVP movies themselves!

  3. And it's from a Predator point of view, meaning something quite unique and different than usual~