If I had been around back then, I'd have been defending Predators too.
Hell, I enjoyed both AVPs from a first viewing as well. Though over time I'm enjoying AVP:R less, but still enjoying it. I really try to like things and look at it from a bright side. And it does work, I have 850 hours in A:CM somehow... That's why the predator caught me by surprise and not in a good way.
I know the genetic engineering is originally from Predators and they were smart enough to scrap that concept. So weird that they reused that scraped idea. It can be done of course, but you have to be careful how you utilize it and how you design the creature. If Predators had done the same thing with it as The Predator did (human DNA?), I would've disliked that part the same. Though that's just one part of why I don't like the movie.
I'm glad some people like it and it saddens me that I'm not one of them.
And I think you're right actually, I forgot how "cheap" Predators was. A lower budget forces you to be more creative and the predator doesn't explicitly need futuristic sets.