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Prey Review

Prey pack shot
Developer:Human Head
Publisher:2K Games
Genre:First Person Shooter
Official Site:http://www.prey.com
Release Date:July 14, 2006 (UK)
Reviewer:Craig Dudley (Mani)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk (PC)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk (Xbox 360)

I still remember the original Prey announcement many moons ago, portals sounded fascinating and the prospect of hopping through one and automatically jumping between different areas was intriguing, I have a vague memory of portals possibly being used in multiplayer to move between servers but that would seems to have bitten the dust. As it stands, portals are a seriously impressive gameplay addition that combined with gravity control enhance this first person shooter no end. The changes of gravity will no doubt make some gamers feel a little queasy for a while but it is definitely worth getting used to, thankfully this does not take long.

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Level design is often the breaking of a shooter but that's very much not the case here. Prey has some of the most imaginative level design I've ever seen, the fact that changing gravity must have complicated the design process immensely makes it even more impressive. We don't just get your boring metal corridor style either as parts of the Alien vessel having a very organic feel as well as having many vast open areas in which my fear of heights became an issue at least once.

Of course Prey makes use of the Doom 3 engine so it does look a bit plastic and overly shiny in places. Artistically, Prey is top notch; some of the monsters for example are really quite bizarre, strange hybrids with multiple heads and half spiders that live in what seem to be pockets of flesh in the walls. I'd hazard a guess at a little HR Giger influence here and there, but that's probably true of most modern sci-fi art.

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Dieing is a new experience in Prey too, instead of having to re-load your last save game, you enter the spirit world where you must fight dishonoured souls with your bow, hitting one of the flying entities will give you back health or spirit power dependant on which colour of beastie you hit. You get a limited time period before your spirit is dragged back to the living world and your adventure continues, it's an interesting attempt to do something different but I was left unconvinced.

A refreshing change from a lot of other modern shooters is the competent plot, you pretty much know where the story is going from very early on but that's no bad thing in this case as it gives you a goal. Extra meat is added to the bones as the game progresses in a number of ways, several spirit meetings with Tommy's grandfather and a number of apparently telepathic but short conversations with your main adversary. Of course having a good story doesn't mean much if it's not acted well and fortunately the voice acting in Prey is superb. From Tommy and his bad language all the way the callers on the radio show you occasionally hear on active communications panels, top marks. Music is also of a very high quality indeed. Cinematic would not be a bad description.

The weapons are suitably sci-fi but thankfully not unbelievable or downright silly as some shooter's guns have been in the past. Each one has at least a passing similarity to a weapon that exists today and as such they are quite easy to relate to, a huge bonus for me.

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First person shooters pretty much always have puzzles of some kind to complete and Prey is no different, the puzzles themselves usually involve gravity in some way, which is different. As is the use of Tommy's spirit walking ability whereby he can leave his body and go places he can't reach in human form, perhaps operating a switch or opening a door. Frankly a great many of puzzles are a little simple if you can think in three dimensions but some can be frustrating until the penny drops, all are perfectly logical however. Several sections of the game will also have you flying around in a small shuttlecraft that has small energy weapons as well as a tractor beam which will be needed to move objects at times. These sections are generally fun and aren't overused, a welcome change of pace.

Still, my abiding memory is of combat with enemies who are running about on what appears to be the ceiling, most of the time it's really the floor and it's you who's on a gravity walk upside down shooting at bad guys above your head. Fortunately this fresh gameplay mechanic is pretty much equalled throughout the game, enemies will either already be in an area when you enter of in the case of some hunters will use a portal to enter your vicinity and attack.

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As much as I like Prey, it is unfortunately a bit easy, the fact that you don't really get penalised for dieing only exacerbates the issue. And while I understand the attempt to do something a little different, I'm not sure it really worked.

Multiplayer or 'multiprey' as it's called is fun as you might expect. It's a fast paced style of deathmatch or team deathmatch that's not entirely my cup of tea these days but it does have its moments. Gravity can play a huge part on many of the maps, jumping off walks and letting gravity have its effect can be a great tool for escaping attack. Shooting at people who are running around on the ceiling is also quite novel for a time. Spirit walking also makes an appearance here, collecting a medicine bag will give you that ability for a period of time but any damage your physical body takes will end the out of body experience. Good fun and shouldn't be discounted when making your purchase decision.

Not really of much use to most of us but interesting for owners of Logitech's G15 keyboard; Prey supports the keyboards programmable LCD, showing your health and spirit level and also a compass.


Other than being a little bit on the easy side, my one slight disappointment is that Prey is a tiny bit short. One extra section would have been cool, and if that section had been something a bit different to the rest of the game, we might have been looking at a great first person shooter. As it is, we just have an extremely good one and that is surely enough to warrant a place in any self respecting FPS fans' collection.

The bottom line
8.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Portals are cool
  • Gravity manipulation is also cool
  • Good graphics
  • Superb voice acting
  • Excellent Music
  • Good story
  • Lots of fun

Not so good stuff

  • A little bit easy
  • Tiny bit short

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