Prey

I’m amongst those who just bought the game during recent “holiday sales” (which once again further exposed the stupidity of censorship, with Prey being uncensored, while Max Payne isn’t for sale at all – keeping in mind, that both are comparable in violence). But it wasn’t just the price that sold this game to me, rather that I always wanted to play it and only didn’t cause the sheer mass of titles let it slip through my fingers. There is no such thing as a downtime for good games (even considering one continuously invests enough time in playing and feels like it) – I would even claim that there are now only lots of mediocre games with a few genre giants (and very few horrible products), instead of many bad games players can pass over easily (deciding what to play and what to ignore thus becomes a sad necessity). A possible byproduct of so few gaming companies still around (compared to the nineteen-ninties, where “every title” came from another joint), although those seasoned developers, that keep games from sucking completely, probably also introduced the spreading of more generic game experiences.
However, back to Prey… This action title IMHO really puts the 3D in 3D-shooter, much more than the usual ego perspective game does.

The surroundings often feature walkways on the opposite wall the player is currently walking on and there really is no longer a single walkable path in maps (at least in several places). Even those ideas are maxed out! Gravity walkways need to be powered and are often deactivated at first, until the player pushes a button. As soon as the player moved a certain distance on them, new enemies can show up and will power down the path again, making the player fall down, back to the former level. Prey really let’s the player quickly evolve beyond disorientation from such events, just the fun stays at the same high.
Apart from the mentioned walkways, which are still (through their location) somewhat fixated, some areas have “gravity switches”. By firing upon those, the player is relocated (by falling) to their gravitational alignment. Now imagine a room with gravity switches on ALL walls! Situations can arise, in which the player is attacked from the (current) roof, the side walls and the “normal” floor…

More conventional, but still nicely done, are portals (yes, before Portal really made those a killer app!) and crates (when walking up to them, it’s possible to look through AND past them at the same time…), that classically teleport the PC wherever…

Shuttles, small player-controlled crafts complement this intense atmosphere; not all areas can be reached on foot.
As if this wasn’t enough, to set this game apart from elements players are used to, Tommy (the PC) has the ability to become an astral spirit which is often needed to access seemingly unreachable places (and is always accompanied by talon). This is also frequently used for small riddles, when 2 buttons have to be pushed almost at the same time (the body stays where the player went astral).

Though the game (after the great intro) is mostly reduced to a normal shooter, when it comes to story development, Tommy finds monitors receiving radio programs from earth and the moderator has interesting and funny talks with his callers… I always stayed there to listen to them in full length.
All in all I gotta say, that Prey is the best game (I know of) done in the Doom 3 engine. Oh, and – as in many games, it pays off again, to wait out the entire outro/credits at the end.
There was only one thing that… uh – blew my mind: Who had the idea to build in these “door thingies”, which seemed to be of the kind that would bleed (like every month or so)… Yeah, and there you thought I wouldn’t have the nerve to address this… WRONG!

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  2. 2 Prey | adrift

    […] Prey is most similar to. It has such an odd genesis, resulting in having nothing in common with the other Prey, which is fine, I […]

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