Konami’s “Predator 2” PC Review

The Los Angeles Police Department
has the unenviable task of
keeping peace in a virtual war
zone. To add anything else to their already
overburdened capacity would be
like pouring a fresh pot of coffee into
an already full cup. So, when a
strange alien creature comes into
town on a hunting spree, the force is
hard-pressed to hunt it down. Indeed,
they face particular difficulty because
the creature is chameleon-like, able to
camouflage itself in virtually any setting,
as well as having the capacity to
move at a speed beyond comprehension.
In Konami’s Predator 2, players
have the opportunity to take on the
role of Detective Mike Harrigan in a
four-level arcade style free-for-all.
Players view the action from over
Harrigan’s shoulder as he walks down
the street and blows away almost
everything and everyone in sight with
any weapon he can get his hand on.
One thing is certain — the game
doesn’t suffer from lack of action.
Konami Gun Exchange
There are five different weapons available
to Harrigan, from a .45 magnum
automatic pistol (we don’t
know whether it is the Grizzly or
Wildey model) through the Mark
III rifle (somewhat better, but
with the trade-off of firing at a
slow rate), a Mark II shotgun
(which fires a bit faster and more
effectively), a Mark I assault shotgun
(the most effective and rapidfiring
weapon) and onward to an
M-203 grenade launcher (only
fires once, but destroys all
enemies currently on-screen). In
this reviewer’s gunsight, the best
all-around weapon for players to
use is the Mark I.
Players will quickly learn that
the key to the game is to constantly
pick up fresh ammo, just
like one gobbles power pills in
Pac-Man. The reason for this is
that all the weapons cycle
through the available ammo at a
fairly brisk clip and there is a stiff
penalty for players who run out
of ammunition. When one does
run out, the program immediately
issues a weapon rated one
level lower than the player-character’s
current weapon and five
fresh ammo magazines. This
can, of course, significantly
hinder the player’s progress in
the game, but it should not happen
very often (if at all) when the player
manages to keep one eye on the
ammo and continually acquire ammunition
magazines as they become
available. Ammunition magazines are
acquired in typical arcade game
fashion by shooting them as they appear
on-screen. Players should be
aware, however, that shooting the rocket
icon more than once will immediately
set it off and one just might
want to time its activation a bit more
carefully for optimum efficiency.
Predators, Two
The Amiga version is beautiful, incorporating
excellent graphics and
awesome action. In fact, the graphics
intentionally add to the difficulty of
the game as well as the look. This is
because the same color-schemes are
used for innocents, as well as
criminals. Hence, the fast-shooting
player is forced to look at the icons
rather than just glancing around the
screen and picking out targets at random.
This makes for a type of
“Hogan’s Alley” (F.B.I. shooting/training
range) effect and adds to the challenge
of the game. If the player
shoots too many innocent
people, he loses a life. Fortunately,
the game designers
allow for a lot of “accidents,”
so the player doesn’t have to
be too careful.
In addition, the “You lost,
buddy!” screens have a strong
cinematic appearance. (We’ll
wager the alert reader wants to
know how we know about
those!) Depending on how the
player loses, by running out of
lives or shooting too many innocent
people, there is an appropriate
animation of either
Harrigan being carried away in
an ambulance or being called
into the captain’s office for a
disciplinary interview which
results in the player’s suspension
from the force.
The crosshairs line up very differently
on the C-64/128 version.
It is extremely disappointing
and must be so stated,
even though this reviewer
knows as well as anyone how
badly Commodore owners
desire software support — but
support like this is very inadequate.
The game takes forever
to load, even with a fast-load
cartridge. Splotchy icons dot the screen
with pictures that can hardly be recognizable
as enemies.
Protection Racket
The Amiga box indicates that there is
no on-disk copy protection, but that is
not entirely true. Once into the manual,
Amiga owners are surprised with the
message: “Attention Amiga Users. Due
to the nature of this program, the disks
have been specially formatted to ensure
minimal disk swapping while maintaining
fluid game play. Therefore, conventional
back-up copies and hard disk install
is not available. Contact Konami’s
customer support for details regarding necessary back-up
copies.” Upon contacting Konami’s customer support line for
more information, this writer was greeted with, “Hey, dude, I was
trying to get ahold of you all day.” Upon responding that this
was highly unlikely, since this was an initial call for information
and the technician had no reason to have ever heard of this
writer (after all, even the prodigious fame that surrounds CGW
reviewers was unlikely to have preceded this modest scribe
without benefit of introduction), his response was, “Oh, wow
dude.” After asking for details on back-ups, he said, “Oh, dude…
just send in your original disks and we’ll send you some that can
be backed up.” To say the least, the customer service people
were far from professional. The consumer is not getting what is
advertised on the box and the only way
to get it is to send in the original disks
and wait for the “unprofessional” service
department to correct the problem.
Bargain Basement?
If Predator 2 were a “great” game, it
might be worth the wait. The game is
tremendously frustrating, however. For a
computer game not to offer a “savegame”
option, at least upon the conclusion
of each level, suggests that the
development team is out of touch with
today’s market. Players are forced to
begin anew on the initial level after each
loss, as though there were some
mysterious virtue in traversing the same ground incessantly. This
tends to reduce the game to the point of becoming a digitized
treadmill rather than an exciting arcade experience.
On the positive side, however, Predator 2 offers enough action
for even the most bloodthirsty player. At the same time, the
game design makes at least some attempt to distinguish between
innocents and enemies in this exercise in killing or being
killed. So, at the much lower-than-average computer game price
at which Predator 2 is offered, the game may be a satisfying
choice for those who cannot get enough super-macho challenges.
All in all, however, as in most areas of life, one gets what
one pays for and Konami’s Predator 2 is no exception.

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