Here's a fun Predator story for you. When I was in my early teens, Predator was on TV late at night. I was over-tired, but I just had to stay up and watch it. About 45 minutes in, I noticed that the jungle had actually started to sprout out of my TV set. My room filled with loops and spirals of jungle foliage, and I could feel a searing heat. I was drenched in sweat, surrounded by weird, psychedelic leaves, and burdened by the terrible notion that something was watching me. I then had a massive seizure. This week we review Legendary Encounters: Predator.
LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS: PREDATOR
Ever since that night, whenever I watch Predator, I have this terrible sense of dread about halfway through. It's genuinely a mental trauma, a scar left behind after one of the few occasions when I had weird seizures as I made my way through puberty. Hey, what other board game review page over-shares quite like this?
So I have a weird relationship with Predator. Yeah. I love it. Love it. But I kinda feel the need to hold someone's hand at the halfway mark. Was I going to buy the card game based on this strange relationship? You're god damned right.
You'll remember that I reviewed the first Legendary Encounters game not so long ago. In fact, it was my Game of the Year last year. That one was about the aliens out of the film Alien and the sequel Aliens and the terrible Alien 3 and the weird and messy Alien: Resurrection. Those aliens. You know the ones. The ones with the capital A in “alien”.
This Predator edition of the game covers just the first two films, thank fuck. Predator is wonderful, and I have a soft spot for the wackiness of Predator 2. There is no Aliens v Predator nonsense here – at least not in any sense that connects to those films. There's still a – well, we'll come to that.
BASICS: In the standard co-operative mode, this game plays just like the Alien deckbuilding game did. You play through scenarios tied to the first two films, dealing with the Predator threat, building decks that will save your skin by buying new cards. You start the game with a deck of low value cards. These cards let you attack (weakly) and recruit new cards. As the game progresses, you buy stronger character cards for your deck, allowing you to fend off the Predators as they descend upon you, and helping you to complete scenario-based objectives.
There's some lovely stuff in here to twist the game towards the story of the films. Killing the Predator is considered a major victory in the game. You can also win by escaping from the threat when the GET TO THE CHOPPA objective comes out. In these games, a lot of the fun is in that little geek thrill you get from seeing things from the film click and connect in game form. When Dutch and the boys all team up in one big card play to blast the shit out of a Predator you can just visualise those gorgeous big muscles glistening. Have you seen the muscles in that film? It's like looking into a mirror at times, I swear to god.
Okay, so if you want to know what the co-op part of this game plays like, just go read the Alien review and put the word “Predator” where “Alien” is.
BUT WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Well, there's an excellent competitive game in here too. In this game, every player is a Predator, and you're hunting the human characters this time round. Every kill you make is a trophy, these award points, and you can build your deck to tool up and become an alien slaughter-machine from planet wherever-it-is. The cool thing about this game mode is that you can also attack each other. You can mess with the other players, bringing them dishonour (which loses them points) and basically being a blooming nuisance by just hitting them with traps and stuff. About three quarters of the way through the deck you're all fighting against, an ULTIMATE HUNT TROPHY will pop out, and whenever that gets hunted – GAME OVER. Then everybody tallies their scores and finds out who the bestest Predatorest is. Of course, the game can also end if a Predator dies. Yeah, if one of you dies, get this cool stuff – they activate their mad self-destruct thing (from the film, remember?) - and all other players get only one more round to grab points and get the hell out of the place before all goes boomboom.
This mode is dynamite. It's funny, fun, gruesome. It's GREAT to be a Predator, hunting stuff and firing spears into your pals' necks. And this mode isn't in the Alien version of the game. So – heavy cool, says me.
Okay, now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking - “Rab, can I mix my Predator stuff with the Alien stuff to create some big Alien v Predator game, like we've all dreamed about?” And I'm all like - “Well, I'm not sure why everybody was so obsessed with those two worlds merging anyway. They both come from entirely different places. The gothic, psycho-sexual haunted house elements of Alien are a terrible fit with the war-veteran, fear of the exotic, more narrow action-genre themes of the Predator franchise. But whatever tickles your fancy, ya great galoot.”
And you can mix them, to an extent. You can take your Predator characters, or your Predators, into the Alien scenarios and mix it with those beasts. And with a little wriggling, it feels so good.
Look, here's what I'm saying. If you buy the Alien game and this one, you have two different games. You have a fun, dark, creepy thematic CLASSIC in that Alien game, allowing you to play through the movies. With this Predator game you have some more of the same, in a different flavour. But you also get a great competitive mode that has you challenging each other for kills and honour. When you consider the fact that you can mix the sets?
I love these games. I love the game system. I love the settings. I love the work they've done to make the cards really sing. I love the laughs and thrills these games provide.
Alien fan? Get Alien. Predator fan? Get Predator.
Game fan? Get both.