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 Gameguru reviews/specials archive                                        << back to the main page
(hx) 12:29 PM CEST - Jul,29 2006

Prey is a first-person shooter in which you enter a living spaceship which enslaves alien races and devours humans for lunch. To be more exact, you play the role of Tommy, a young Cherokee mechanic who wants nothing more than to leave the reservation that has served as his figurative prison for a number of years. The action kicks off in a roadhouse where Tommy's girlfriend Jen tends bar, and we're quickly introduced to his grandfather, who urges Tommy not to forsake his Cherokee heritage. After a brief scuffle with some local yokels, the roof of the bar is torn off by an alien ship, which proceeds to vacuum up everything inside. It turns out that Tommy's wish has been granted, but not exactly in the manner he had hoped. Instead of escaping the reservation on his own terms, he's been whisked onto a spacecraft - 'The Sphere', one that we come to find is preparing to harvest humanity as a food source. As Tommy, you'll be tasked with rescuing your girl, destroying the alien scourge, and saving the world!

However, Prey's strength doesn't lie in it's story (although it isn't really that bad for a FPS) but rather the two unique gameplay mechanics which take place on this rather freaky alien space ship. The first is Tommy's Spirit Walk mode which allows him to leave his body behind and pass through forcefields and other hazards, operate computer-like consoles to solve puzzles and shift levers remotely, or just go hunting for aliens with his trusty bow and arrow. As a spirit, Tommy's physical body stays safely where ever you leave it, and you can get into a fight knowing that you cannot be killed as a spirit it simply drains your spiritual power. You replenish this power by collecting the souls of enemies you kill. Another advantage of being in touch with his spiritual self is Tommy's inability to die he simply goes to the spirit realm to recharge by shooting down some fallen souls and then pops back into the physical realm, recharged and ready to go. Another two things that seem meant to separate Prey from other FPS are the game's liberal use of portals that bring you from place to place and a bag of gravity tricks that are meant to keep you wondering which way is up. Portals of all shapes and sizes pop up throughout the game, either as one-off portals allowing enemies to perform an ambush, or as permanent portals that might sit in the side of a crate with an exit on the ceiling of another room. However, the portals feel just like doors, you don't have a choice of which portal to go through, and the gravity walls don't do anything more than change what side of the wall you are walking on. Nothing more, nothing less. Fortunately, the gravity weirdness doesn't stop with wall walking, there are also gravity switches in some areas which can be shot, and will rotate the gravity so that surface becomes the floor, sending foes, barrels and of course, you, tumbling down toward the new floor. It will make you a bit dizzy, but the game never gets overly confusing, and the numerous puzzles are never too hard to figure out in more than a few minutes.

Prey utilizes the Doom 3 engine for graphics and you will be amazed with the level of detail the designers have put into each level. The game has nice lighting and shadow effects that really shine through when played on a good computer. I was running the game at 1024x768 on full settings, and the game looks impressive. Moreover, many of the items in the environment are interactive (you can flush toilets, change the channels on a TV, etc.), which is reminiscent of the Duke Nukem 3D game that this developer is famous for. In addition, the main character makes snide remarks through the game (just infrequently enough to be funny, and not overdone) just like Duke used to do.

No good FPS is without it's plethora of weapons. You can carry 9 weapons at a time - Wrench, Rifle, Crawler, Leech Gun, Auto Cannon, Acid Sprayer and Launcher. Most weapons have alternate firing modes which are different enough from the corresponding primary modes to basically turn each weapon into an entirely different one. There're various biomechanical weapons, which are literally alive. From the crab-like grenades to the machinegun that's crafted out of an enemy's severed arm, each one is memorable in its own way. One of the coolest weapons is the Leecher the ammo for which, unlike for the other guns, isn't found lying around but is rather present in the form of wall dispensers that can be 'leeched' with the right mouse button. The point is that that there are four kinds of ammo for the Leecher, turning the gun alternately into Plasma gun (fires fast-moving balls of energy causing moderate damage), Freeze gun (short-range attack which turns enemies into ice), Lightning gun (fires a bolt of electricity, one or two shots kill most enemies) and Sunbeam gun (a violently incandescent beam which cuts down most enemies almost instantly, as well as pushing the player back while firing). It's not the most ingenious weapon ever, but it does solve the design problem of how to provide ammo for boss battles.

The majority of the enemies faced in Prey are Hunters (intelligent biped alien types). They don't actually take cover or show any kind of tactics, but it doesn't matter since they can only take a shot or two from the weakest gun. In addition to the Hunters, the later game introduces a few of the freakier, more powerful aliens, from pure monsters like a cross between a bird and a pig. There are also some truly massive enemies like a floating gasbag with a nasty sting, and huge goat-headed creatures with machine guns. Smarter creatures are intelligent enough to hide behind objects, and jump to cover as you fire upon them. Others brainlessly amble towards you, and can be dispatched easier before they can rip you to pieces with their claws. The aliens themselves are pretty unremarkable and generic, but the atmosphere is pretty good. As is the standard for this genre, there are the inevitable boss fights, and they're generally well done. The first is particularly memorable and extremely satisfying to defeat, and the later bosses aren't too bad either.

In terms of multiplayer, Prey ships with a deathmatch mode and maps that make full use of wall walking and the ability to rotate rooms. Combine this with the varied weapons and the 'spirit walk' mode and you wind up with some very interesting and intense matches, but I was somewhat disappointed that this was really as far as multiplayer would ever aspire to be. Yes, it's unique, but only in that it feels like a cool Quake 4 mod. They should've added some more, such as capture the flag, which would be interesting with the gravity and wall changes. At the very least, the online play is stable and features appropriate anti-cheat support.

Despite being somewhat short (~10-12 hours), very linear and unremarkable in a few areas, Prey is a great game. It has more than enough unique moments to separate it from the rest of the FPS on the market. Altering gravity, walking on walls, the various puzzles combining the two and other things are all fresh things in a generic FPS world. So, if you're looking for a good-looking shooter to get you through the hot summer days, hunt yourself down a copy.

related links: demo, dedicated server Win32, tweak guide, walktrough, cheats, trainer +10, trainer +14, get CDROM, get Prey Limited Collector's Edition DVD

System requirements:
Minimum: Intel Pentium 4 2.0Ghz / AMD Athlon XP 2000+ processor, 512MB system RAM, 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 64MB video card*,  8X CD-ROM (standard edition), DVD-ROM (Limited Collector s Edition),  2.2GB of uncompressed free hard drive space, 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 16-bit sound card
Recommended: Intel Pentium 4 2.5Ghz / AMD Athlon XP 2500+ processor, 1GB system RAM, ATI Radeon X800 series or higher video card, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi series sound card, Internet: Broadband internet connection or LAN required for multiplayer

* Supported Video Card Chipsets: ATI Radeon 9600, 9700, 9800, X300, X550, X600, X700, X800, X1300, X1600, X1800, X1900 series, NVIDIA GeForce3/Ti, GeForce4/Ti, GeForce FX 5800, GeForce 5900, GeForce 6200, GeForce 6600, GeForce 6800, GeForce 7300, GeForce 7600, GeForce 7800, GeForce 7900 series, or better.

snd: 4/5 - juicy sound effects, decent voice acting, cool/funny radio transmissions, aliens speak English?? ;)
gfx: 5/5 - great-looking (enhanced Doom 3 engine), good models, environments, and lighting effects, levels are surprisingly different
playability: 4/5 - pretty good, portals, gravity puzzles, interesting bio-mechanical weapons, runs well on 2-year-old hardware, cheap combat, basic multiplayer (DM/TDM up to 8 players)
genre: sci-fi first-person shooter
release: July 2006
developer: Human Head Studios
publisher: 2K Games
Overall: 84%

last 10 comments:

yhancik(01:08 PM CEST - Jul,29 2006 )
Kotaku posted a video of the 1998 Prey :

just if you're curious ;)

djRom(02:22 PM CEST - Jul,29 2006 )
Prey 98 would've been sick if they released it...Hmm I wonder if anyone has that laying around. LoL, 3d Realms should give it out for free.

xxxx(05:13 PM CEST - Jul,31 2006 )
Well not sure why they didn't release it back then, by the looks of it it would have kicked serious butt. The Prey they released now though is pretty damn fun game and it's been a long time I've had real enjoyment playing something. A little disappointed in this review. This is an original game that is very entertaining. This game alone give Doom 3 engine any credit. Damn fine optimized game with next to no bugs, or I certainly didn't come across any.

To me Prey is a 9/10 easy. If you want a fresh NEW storyline with a lot of things to do, Prey is it. It's not some upchuck like Crysis with poorly optimized gfx and a game that exceeds near everyones specs. And Prey isn't just running around, you can get in different type pod ships and fly around lag free in space or indoors while dusting the bad guys or even jump out of your skin walking through forcefields. The use of those pods was just so well done. Hats off to 3D Realms for at least putting out an original game that isn't some cheap clone of another game. We've already seen Valve trying to rip their ideas of portals..Yeah thanks Gabe! :roll:

3D Realms is still God in terms of PC Gaming and it's fantastic to have them back. Can't wait for DNF.

Sawnoff(12:23 AM CEST - Aug,05 2006 )
Well done,good to play a game that has been finished so well before release!
I will be looking for the next episode, with money in hand.Good Job..

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