Essentially a 300lb ninja with shades of Batman, the Predator should be ludicrously satisfying to use in multiplayer. In the game’s current state, the potential is clear, but the realisation is only halfway there. And comparisons with the aforementioned vigilante of vengeance are part of the problem.
It’s not that the Predator is crap. On the contrary, his weapon-set is all kinds of kickass and his up-close brutality is a beautifully visceral sight to behold. It’s just that with the ultra-slick gameplay of Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum already having an aerial-focused, stalk-and-strike angle similar to AvP’s Predator, old claw-face feels a little on the stiff side.
While his cursor-targeted jumping theoretically provides the same sort of environmental navigation as Batman’s grapple gun, the current twitchiness of its lock-on and a vague lack of clarity over which platforms should be in range make the process a little cumbersome. Throw in a just-too-long delay between landing and regaining control, and the athletic brutaliser starts to feel a tad awkward.
But while his physicality feels a little too clunky to be fully enjoyable in multiplayer, the fact remains that he is the Predator, and thus has an awesomely cool repertoire of killing. His iconic shoulder-mounted laser cannon is a pyrotechnic death-joy provided you can hold your target long enough for a full lock-on (though you can fire it freely for a weaker shot), and the throwing disc can be steered with mid-air after touch for a good long while, to turn tight bottlenecks full of enemies into quivering piles of steak.
As such, mixing up surprise melee attacks with sniping currently seems to be the best and most satisfying approach. The Predator’s invisibility cloak deactivates with every attack made and must be switched back on after every kill, but far from being an annoyance (except to forgetful players), this actually adds a nicely methodical “set-up and execute” pace to using him.
This becomes particularly apparent when playing the Predator Hunt game mode, in which one designated Predator stalks a team of marines, with regular kills necessary to avoid the role being passed on to another player. The experience is similar to Arkham Asylum’s stealth challenge rooms, only over a much wider area and against human prey. Remaining cloaked and moving around the treetops in search of lone targets to shoot down or pounce upon certainly evokes the same sense of stealthy empowerment, made all the more interesting by the need to balance a pacey kill streak with a calculated strike and safe getaway. It’s almost rhythmic at times.
If pressed we’d currently question whether the invisibility cloak may be a little too effective while active – at one point we freely ran around amongst a tightly packed group of Marines without a hint of detection – but this could again be a symptom of crap human opposition rather than unbalanced abilities. Provided that’s the case and Marine players develop some solid squad tactics, this mode could be a definite hit online.