Here we go again with yet another first-person shooter. In this genre, it seems as if theres not much further you can go for originality, and nowadays, finding a way to wow gamers has a been a challenge. So what more can a developer do to make their game different from every other FPS out there?
Recommend this product?
You flip the world on its head.
Believe it or not, Prey is more than just another first-person shooter. You can go so far as to call this game an experience unlike any other in the genre. The story is about a young Cherokee named Tommy, whose reservation is attacked, literally uprooted and abducted in a surprise attack by an unknown alien force. Once he, his Grandfather, and his girlfriend, Jen, are taken, Tommy watches helplessly as his people are killed off and harvested. Tommy is freed by an unknown being, and then left to fend for himself onboard a living alien spacecraft. Driven by his love for Jen, it is up to him to save her, his people, and eventually, the world.
As for the gameplay, Prey is easy to pick up and play right out of the gate, and at first glance, it may come off to some as another clone similar to Doom 3 or Quake. It being a first-person shooter, and if youve played a few in your lifetime, you can play this one just the same. With that being said, there are a lot of areas in Prey that will come off as unavoidable clichés. But, even with the expected genre repetitions, the developers of Prey have thrown in some original touches that separate it from others.
As mentioned before, playing Prey is simple. The analog sticks move Tommy throughout his environment and make him look around, and the R-trigger fires your weaponsthe baseline controls for most shooters. These are just a couple of the everyday similarities Prey brings, but this is where those similarities end.
Where Prey stands apart from the rest is the genre is in the development and complexity of the environments you do battle in. Each stage is a puzzle, loaded with various gateways and portals that can either take you to another area on that stage, or in most cases, invert it, seemingly turning it into a gravity-defying combat zone. The player will have to overcome these obstacles through trial-and-error, and depending on your approach, this can either help you get through, or leave you in a difficult predicament. Its original, and from a gameplay standpoint, just as challenging as it is potentially frustrating.
The weapons in Prey, though few in number, are a definite twist from what you are used to seeing in your everyday shooter. These guns seem to be just as alive as the ship youre stranded on, with some even having a pulse and moving appendages. These characteristics dont help you in gameplay, but it is a touch that adds to the extraterrestrial environment. These guns also have primary and secondary modes of fire, giving you more attacking options. The flaw in the weaponry is the fact that there arent many to chose from, so youll be restricted to a small arsenal throughout the game. The upside to that is once you get the weapon, its with your for the duration, so you wont have to recollect it in the likely event you end up dead. As long as you collect ammo for it, that weapon is at your disposal.
A useful special ability Tommy picks up during his journey puts Prey in a league of its own. Early in your progression, you attain a power known simply as Spirit Walking, where Tommys aura literally steps out of his body and allows the player to move in stealth and negotiate various obstacles. While in this out-of-body experience, his aura is armed with a magically bow and arrow, the Spirit Bow, and he is able to see hidden bridges and walk through certain barriers. Using this power and firing arrows depletes your spirit meter, but killing enemies and collecting their souls replenishes it. Unfortunately, while in this state, his flesh body is left vulnerable to attack, and with this knowledge, the player has to decide when and where to use the power.
Prey takes another step forward in originality with its afterlife mini-game known as the Death Walk. When Tommy is killed, his soul travels to the afterlife, where it can regenerate his health and spirit meters. Speed and accuracy is paramount in this mode, so the more Wraiths you shoot in the allotted time, the fuller your meters will become once you return to your flesh body. The action then picks up from the point where you died. Now, a gamer can look at this as a positive or a negative; some may rather have a checkpoint system for the extra challenge, and others may see it as a method of keeping the action rolling at a decent pace. Either way, its an excellent addition to an already praiseworthy game.
With that said, where Prey falls a little short in gameplay is in the A.I. department. Some of the monstrosities you face attack mindlessly, which is understandable, but the humanoid aliens arent much brighter. Those that are armed with weapons tend to stand in one spot, allowing you to pick them off somewhat easily. Its not too often that they wise up and take cover, so in many cases, its nothing to clear out a room, but the challenge picks up in the moments where the room flips, forcing you to fire your weaponry at awkward angles. Fortunately, there are various levels of difficulty, so you can crank it up at anytime.
As for the presentation, Prey is disgusting, and I dont mean that in a bad way. Prey uses the full potential of the XBox 360s power in creating a visceral and visually disturbing atmosphere. You battle through what appears to be the entrails of a living organism, so throughout this game, the player will be tasked with maneuvering around fleshy, fluid-secreting ducts and orifices. You will likely drop more F-bombs than Andrew Dice Clay when something plops out of a puckered sphincter, hatches, then tries to kill you. Even the most squeamish of gamers will appreciate what Prey has to offer in graphics. Of course, Prey isnt all flesh and guts. When youre not sloshing through the innards, youre fighting in true spaceship-style surroundings, covered in rusted metal and gas-spewing grates.
The squishing of the organs, the drips of the fluids, your feet splashing in puddles of whatever unknown liquid youve stepped in-- its all there. Every sound you hear compliments your environment, and that just adds so much more to the gaming experience.
The online component is pretty good, but its not terribly impressive. Prey allows up to eight players in a single game, and there are only two modes of play: Death Match, which is the free-for-all mode, and Team Match, putting two teams of four at war with deathmatch rules. Online play isnt much different from the single-player campaign, except for the facts that weapons respawn at certain areas on each stage, and there is a limit of how often you can use your spirit walk ability. A leaderboard is also available to track your status versus other online players. Overall, playing Prey online, in relation to other games in the genre, isnt the best experience, but for replay value, it is still worth your attention.
The bottom line is this, if youre a fan of the FPS, or if youve slept in this game altogether, now is the time to get on it, especially with its respectable thirty-dollar price tag. Even if youre sick of FPSs, check it out anyway, because this is definitely not the time to turn your back on a game like this. Prey is a twisted take on the genre that shouldnt be ignored, that is, if youre not prone to motion sickness.