Game title: PREY
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: PC and X-Box 360
ESRB Rating: Mature
Developer: Humanhead Studios and 3D Realms
Release date: July 11, 2006
Overall rating: 8/10
Prey has what is probably the longest developement time in the history of games. It was first introduced more than 10 years ago. It impressed many people with it's promised innovations and eventually vanished. It was picked up years later by Humanhead Studios with many of the original innovations still in tact. Well, in July of 2006, the game finally saw the light of day. With 10 years of hype an d expectation on it's shoulders, would the game fall flat or stand tall?
Gameplay - 8.5
With it being a first person shooter, you know what to expect. As you progress through the game, you will obtain bigger and more powerful weapons. AS you obtain bigger and more powerful weapons, you run across weapons that get progressively harder to take down, and more of them to fight off. PREY does follow this typical format. However, it also has various innovations that break the typical first person shooter mold.
First off, the game introduces pathways where gravity can be controlled. This means that you can walk wherever hte pathway leads. If it leads onto a wall or the ceiling, you walk on the floor or the ceiling. This also means that enemies can walk on the wall to your left or right or above you. This takes some getting used to, especially when you are attempting to figure out where you are being shot from. Once you get used to it, it is actually fairly cool. There are a number of puzzles in the game that require this gravity control to solve them. Most of them just involve shooting a gravity control panel to transfer to the ceiling to get over a large pit or something similar. While this is a cool innovation, it could have been better implemented than this.
PREY also has an innovation called Spirit Walk that is my personal favorite. Spirit Walk essentially allows your spirit to leave your body. When in this mode, you get a bow called hte Spirit Bow which you can use to kill enemies. It is a fairly powerful weapon and can kill many enemies in hone hit. However, your arrows for it are limited to how much energy your spirit has. With each shot, your spirit's energy drains a bit. You can increase it by taking the spirits left behind by enemies you kill. For the most part, Spirit Walk is used for puzzles, which is a cool idea. However, it is, again, mostly used for extreme simple puzzles. The majority of them are as simple as using spirit walk to walk through a forcefield and turning hte forcefield off so that your body can walk through it. As cool as this innovation is, it could have used better implementation than that.
There are also portals in this game. Portals are nothing new, but in this game, you can see everything that is on the other side of the portal. This is really cool. You can see enemies and plan out your attack before you enter the portal. You can also shoot THROUGH the portal, which allows you to shoot enemies in another room before you are even in the room. This is extremely well done and very cool. It is also very useful at times.
Last, but not least, there is another innovation called Deathwalk. When you die, your spirit leaves your body and enters the otehr plain of existance (or whatever you would like to call it). While you are there, you shoot these creatures that fly in circles arround you to gain your life back. Red creatures gain back your life, and blue rays gain back your spirit energy. You only have about 20 seconds to do so before you return to your body, though. While this is cool, it does mean that it is technically impossible to get a game over once you obtain this innovation.
The innovations are cool and are fun, but they are not extremely well implemented. They do raise the gameplay score up about a point. The shooting itself is not all that exciting. It is fun, but the enemies could be more fun to battle. Their AI isn't great. The gameplay is decent, but HAlf-Life it is not.
Graphics - 9
PREY is built intoop of ID Soft'ware's Doom 3 engine, which, in the minds of many, marked the begining of next gen, atleast for PCs. If you have played Doom 3 or Quake 4, then you know exactly what to expect from this game. It looks fantastic. The level of detail is very high, and hte lighting effects, while not as good as they were on Doom 3, are excellent. The Doom 3 engine is, however, showing his age, so, while this game does look very good, ot doesn't look as good as something like Gears of War.
In alot of games now days now days, there is more to the graphics than just how good it looks and it's level of detail. There is the art of the game, and this game does have a distinct look. The look of this game is fairly morbid, however. The weapons are alive. Many of the enemies look like they were assempled with technology and parts of various human and alien creatures. The rooms are, quite often, similar. They are built out of luving tissue and technology, among other things. All of this leads to the game having what is probably an aquired taste.
Sound - 8
The sound in PREY is, overall, fairly good. The voice acting is decent, but not the best. Iti s deffinitely passable, and it doesn't make you laugh or anything like that. There are many lisensed songs in this game that you can listen to towards the begining of the game when you are in the Casino. Among the tracks featured in this part of the soundtrack are You've Got Anotehr Thing Coming by Judas Priest and Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent. All of these classic tracks are fun and cool to hear in a video game, but they are pretty much only heard at the begining of the game. There is one more lisensed track during the credits, but I could not tell you the name of it.
The music throughout the game is made up of various symphonic tracks from Jeremy Soule, whop did music for Oblivion and Guild Wars. The soundtrack is notable, and can, on occasion, even feel epic. All the music is perfectly placed and timed very well. Everything really helps to enhance the situation and give everything a much more powerful feel to it. Mr. Soule did an excellent job here that is surely on par with his work on Oblivion, which was also very good.
Story - 7.5
First person shooters are not generally known to have great stories, nor do they need to have them to be great games. FPS games are all about the gameplay. That being said, there is a story in place here, and it is not all that bad, if a little cliche. Everything starts out with reports on the radio of strange lights being spotted all over Oklahoma and Texas (Just a side note, but I recognized every single town name they mentioned in this game, and I have been to the majority of them). Shortly thereafter, the strange lights come to your Indian reservation. Tommy (the main character), his grandfather and his girlfriend are all sucked up by these lights and find themselves on a massive alien sphere.
The story takes off from here, and it spends most if it's time with you chaasing after the girl. Tommy finds himself loose on the alien sphere after a resistance onboard sets him free. As the story plays out, you will run across various plot twists thyat are all fairly typical. There should be no big surprises in store here, but the story is told fairly well. Although it is all told through Tommy's eyes, he is not a typical silent protagonist that you see in many first person shooter games. HE does talk, and he does have his own personality. He also changes as the unnatural world arround him affects him and everything begins to sink in. By the end of the game, he is not the same man that he was at the begining of the game, so he does progress. This is nice to see in an FPS, and I would not mind seeing it in future shooting games. His having more personality than most other FPS leads may make it so that you can really get into the story more. On the other hand, the silent protagonist kind of allows the player to make up their own personality for the character and get into the world and it's story in this way. It all ends with the game setting itself up for a sequel in what the developers hope to turn into a series.
Replay value - 7
Prey is fun the first time through, but I do not see much point in playing it more than once. The innovations are cool, but that is not enough to make you play through it more than once, really. The story is, also, not good enough to warrant a second playthrough. The game is linear, so there isn't a variety of paths that you can follow and, once you figure out it's few challenging puzzles, there isn't much left for you to revisit. That being said, there is a multiplayer mode. IT is fairly standard, but it will keep you playing it for a while. It won't replace Counterstrike Source any time soon, but it is fun to play with a bit.
Final Thoughts -
With 10 years of hype an expectation built arround this title, there is virutally no way for it to live up the standards in the crowds of the PREY hopeful. The game is, by no means, a bad one, though. Shooter fans should deffinitely give this one a play through. The innovations presented in this game deffinitelymake it worth playing. That being said, the innovations could have been put to better use, and the enemy AI could be better. PREY promised alot. It delivered what it promised, but not as well as people had hoped. This might result in it being a disappointment to many, but don't overlook it. This IS a cool game, and it does have my recommendations. At about 15 hours in lenght, one could probably fight their way through the entire alien sphere in a rent, so, if you decide to not buy this one, atleast give it a rent. It is worth your time.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Various gameplay innovations are not used to full potential, though they are still cool. Enemy AI could be better ,but this game is fun
Graphics - 9/10
This game isn't the best looking game on the market, but it does look extremely good with a high level of detail and the Doom 3 engine's trademark lighting effects
Sound - 7.5/10
Great lisensed tracks and a good musical score. The voice acting is decent, but not stellar. The symphonic music is where this game shines.
Story - 7.5/10
A typical and straightforward story that is told well, and it throws a few interesting, if clishe, things at the end. It leaves the game open for a sequel
Replay Value - 7/10
The game has multiplayer that is worth a look, but the single player mode is a one time through thing.