Transporting the action from cheese-laden, homoerotic jungle romp to urban thriller, the Predator 2 film opened up a whole new world of prey-stalking possibilities for the crab-faced killer. Concrete Jungle takes this city setting and runs (or rather leaps) with it as a setting for the alien's second Xbox adventure.
A stunning FMV opener (after the obligatory, enlightening Training level) explains why the elite hunters are back on our pitiful planet. A botched hunt 100 years ago left behind some of the Alien's weapons, and as a result humanity has rapidly evolved using this technology, leaving the butter-fingered butcher to return to Earth once again and make these hunting grounds sacred. It's a shame this cinematic quality doesn't reflect the game proper, as the rest of the cutscenes look decidedly shoddy and rough in comparison.
And so off we set, slaughtering anything that moves. Well, not quite anything, as only honourable kills count (those with weapons, and therefore able to fight back), but since this applies to 95 per cent of the game's inhabitants there's really no need to worry. Targeting foes in third-person mode is fairly simple (Left trigger), yet a camera that's crazier than Howling Mad Murdoch himself makes frantic melee combat difficult. It's somewhat frustrating to be scrapping away with a bad guy down a narrow alley, only for the camera to violently, and at random, swing around and get stuck in a wall, costing you buckets of green blood in return. This puts a real dampener (read massive bloody downpour) on what could have been a very enjoyable gorefest.
But that's not to say Concrete Jungle is all mindless slaughtering, because the game actually boasts some really great touches. Flick on your invisible camouflage, and your suit crackles into life just like in the film - get wet and it'll malfunction for a while, rendering you visible for all to see. Funny face also has three different vision modes; Thermal, Neuro and Tech. Although the first two allow you to identify enemies and also see their state of mind, the latter is the only one you'll really use - as in, virtually all the time; our angry alien is always on the lookout for power sources, spotted through this mode, to replenish his ever-dwindling energy meter. Switching between vision modes elicits the familiar, hauntingly distorted electrical sounds, and once you hear the Predator speak using your ace vocal mimicry gadget, you'll get chills down your spine like an Eskimo streaker.
Yet again, the game runs into confusion. You're expected to use your impressively large bag of extra-terrestrial tricks to carry out certain stealth missions. However, due to invisibility rapidly draining your energy meter, you'll ultimately get spotted. In fact, you'll ultimately get spotted anyway, by cannon fodder using the same technology as you. A few leaps later and you're out of trouble, yet there's no repercussion for your carelessness - just charge back in there and do the same thing again. This clumsy execution prevents what could've been a great feature of the game, that ultimately descends into the same generic run/kill/jump mentality.
Concrete Jungle is one of those classic 'if only' titles. A great licence (we'll forget about the recent black sheep), full of neat touches, but ultimately flawed. Faithful to the films in terms of character, the game is a victim of its own ambition - too clumsy to be a stealth 'em up, and too generic and monotonous to be a credible actioner. Shame. Now, where's that thermonuclear device...?
Loads of fun for the first few hours, then the repetitive action and frustrating camera kick in. Disappointing.