The dilemma for the designer is clear: if your game is based around the most fearsome warrior in the universe, how on earth can you create an experience that gives the player ample opportunity to enjoy being fearsome while also being challenged?
It's particularly difficult in the case of movie tie-in Predators, which places you into the armoured dreads of a killing machine, equipped with stealth cloak, thermal vision, plasma gun, throwing disc, spear staff, net gun, and razor-edge wristblades.
The answer from Angry Mob Games, developer of the twin-stick shooter Guerrilla Bob, is to break down the action into 23 constrained levels based around specific challenges. These range from tutorials to survival missions and mini-boss levels, which very loosely tie into the plot of the film.Mission critical
Such encounters revolve around the film's ensemble cast - sniper Isabelle, heavy weapons guy Nikolai, Navy SEAL Noland, etc - who you have to kill in certain ways. You can also unlock an endless Survival mode in which you can see how many troops you can kill before succumbing to the long sleep yourself.
Predators isn't going to impress you with innovative levels, but technically it's good in providing you with a virtual killing zone to dismember as many enemies as possible. Although this becomes repetitive over time, the game isn't without subtleties. For example, some enemies will lose it and cower in terror if they see you killing a nearby soldier.
The wider issue, however, is that until you get to around levels 18 and 19, you're a bit too powerful. The combination of a generous health meter that recharges when you're not being attacked and an energy system that lasts a bit too long and recharges a bit too fast means you're rarely in danger.Intelligent life
Unless you go Rambo and attack large groups of soldiers, it's fairly easy to pick off a couple at a time and then move to another corner of the map, and start the process all over again.
It's only in the later levels, as the different types of troops are unlocked and added into each challenge, that the enemy becomes a real threat.
This is thanks to some decent artificial intelligence, which combines knifemen, who run directly at you, with various types of machine gunners, mini-gunners, and snipers who stand off and fire from range. This forces you to act in a sneakier, more predatory manner, and makes the game more tense and hence enjoyable.Tap me up
Movement is carried out using a virtual stick that appears wherever you place your left thumb on the screen. Actions are controlled on the right, with an 'attack' button and thermal vision and cloaking and weapons selection. This is split into energy weapons - plasma, disc, and net - and blades - wrist and spear.
Selecting the energy weapons results in an auto-aiming system that locks a red triangle on any target in range. Bladed weapons see the addition of a B button, which enables dash jumps, and which you can use with the A button to grab enemies. You can then tap the buttons to launch combos to slice enemies in half or behead them for a trophy kill that gives you the points to upgrade your weapons.
In this respect, Predators is the sort of game that does exactly what its source material requires. Each trophy kill results in the camera zooming in so you can see the bloody gore and dismembered bodies, with the Predator performing his characteristic battle roar.
And once you unlock and get the hang of the disc weapon, you can line up multiple targets, cutting them in half on the disc's outward and backwards trajectory - perhaps the most satisfying part of the whole experience.
Predators certainly isn't the most fearsome game on the App Store, then, but for a couple of hours of slicing and dicing, its edge is sharp enough to hold your interest.