Anyone remember Predator on the NES? Man, that was a real piece of crap. It was the loss of my digital innocence if you will. I paid $50 for it, took it home, started playing it and realized after a few minutes that the game wasn't even remotely playable. Up until that point I had been treating my fairly brand new NES system with games like Super Mario Bros 1 & 2, Kid Icarus, Metroid and other quality titles, so I wasn't prepared for this hard plastic stool that came in a fancy box. Considering I hadn't even seen the Predator movie nor had any interest in the license, I can only assume boredom was the catalyst for such an impromptu purchase. Predator the NES game was the first videogame I ever returned and demanded my hard earned money back. And got it. Had I paid for Predator: Concrete Jungle, history would have repeated itself.

Inexplicably you start the game in the 30's, no not the 2030's....the 1930's, looking for an Irish gang member. Once you dispose of this major threat, sarcasm mine, a terrific nuclear sized explosion will occur, which destroys the city, your spacecraft and oddly enough, just harms you a tad. Which is odd since you were just taking damage fighting a drunken Irishman. Anyhoo, you'll be punished for this indiscretion by the ruling class of Predators and banished to another planet for 100 years. Unfortunately, all is not well on Earth. Once the humans cleaned up the mass destruction left in your wake they discovered some Predator alien technology left behind from your fiasco in the 1930's. As humans are wont to do, they've reverse engineered the technology and are now using it against each other. You're sent back to Earth as further punishment to rectify the situation you initially caused by your carelessness. In a hilarious twist of fate, you're also punished by appearing in this nasty game, but because you can't recognize that "fourth wall", your onscreen counterpart will remain helplessly ignorant to the horrific use of its license. Unfortunately you won't, so now even you're being punished for this morons indiscretions. What a cycle of abuse.

When you arrive in the future, you'll be shock and awed (I was) to discover that it's not the military who have adopted the Predator weapons of mass destructions, but rather pimps, street urchins, hookers and drug addicts. Ain't that a kick in the pants...or whatever fashionable Predators are wearing this season. You will be assigned various mission objectives most of which involve locating the various gang members around town and doing away with their cerebral cortex so you'll have a trophy. Since your prey now possess your advanced weaponry, they can easily kick your ass so you'll have to be careful. You can't just hit the streets and start mowing people down; you'll have to rely on your Predator stealth. At times. The missions weaken what is already a ridiculous premise. Killing the head honchos makes some sense in the grand scheme of all things Predator, but killing low rent thugs, cops and muggers (because they robbed someone!) is just plain silly, especially the last example. Why does a Predator care that John Q. NPC just got robbed? Is he Batman all of a sudden? I'm reaching for the off button.....

But what pulls me just shy of turning off this turkey, is the violent ways you can dispatch enemies. It's kind of entertaining but unfortunately it feels empty and hollow because it's over too quickly. You can hang their corpses from the rooftops but that gets old after you do it a few times. So, instead, I focus on the platforming mechanics in the game. This involves jumping from rooftop to rooftop which turns out is easier said than done because you won't get a bearing on exactly where you need to jump. Do you jump from the edge or just before it? When you hit the ground, you'll instantly need to hit the camo button and turn yourself invisible - or in this case slightly invisible - before the gangs crowd around and make life miserable.

Speaking of miserable, how does one mistake and you have to start all over again sound? Yeah, I thought so. Most of the missions are entirely trial and error - memorizing enemy movement, security camera placement (which can see you even if you're cloaked if you get too close), platform jumping etc. It's frustratingly tough, even on the easiest level.

Visually this game isn't terrible but it's not much of a ladykiller if you know what I mean. Graphixwhores won't dig the bland textures and oddly wrapped faces, but if you're a big enough fan of the franchise you'll overlook it.

What this all comes down to is one question: How much of a Predator fan are you? If playing as the Predator in a 3rd person game is what you've been jonesing for, I could actually see some gamers getting into this. How long they play depends entirely on their love for the subject matter and their patience level, because once you've seen everything this game has to offer, there isn't much to stick around for. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm fresh off a marathon stint of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, one of the tightest games I've played in recent memory, that Concrete Jungle pales, but I don't think so. I think the developers have cloaked a budget title into the guise of a full priced affair, which is way worse than some thug stealing a dude's wallet. Watch out Universal could be the subject of the Predator's next rampage.

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System: PS2, X
Dev: VU
Pub: VU
Released: April 2005
Players: 1
Review by Vaughn