Prey - PC - Review
Tommy is fed up, he's been working as a mechanic on his tribe's reservation for too long now and wants to get out. Problem is his longtime girlfriend has no desire to leave her people and home. Tommy's grandfather keeps trying to instill a sense of pride and wisdom on the young Cherokee, but Tommy is not buying any of his meanderings and openly defies his elder. But those with the biggest chips on their shoulders are often the ones who must bear the most responsibility. You see, aliens have started an all-out invasion, not the subtle "Only I know what's going on" type of invasion, but rather the kind that's being broadcast on CNN. Tommy, his girlfriend and Grandfather have been sucked up into the belly of a spacecraft and along with countless other humans, are being turned into chum. Through an unexpected twist, Tommy is freed, finds some weapons and begins using some of the skills he picked up in the army on the plentitude of nasty aliens he begins running into. But it's his innate abilities that run through his native American blood that will prove more useful then anything he learned in the military.
"Yes, I am that mean."
Prey is a first-person shooter that has an interesting take on the genre. First of all the storyline and the character of Tommy are more than your standard fare. Having a Native American as the hero is refreshing and quite frankly needed. Not only does the game benefit from the Cherokee heritage, it embraces the plight of many young Native Americans who feel as if they are goal-less and have no means to escape the reservation. In other words, it's nice to see the hero as someone other then the standard white guy. Next, the game uses real Cherokee legends and philosophies in order to move the game along. Tommy, while handy with a bio-mechanical machine gun, finds that because of his heritage, he has other powers that are an effective tool against the aliens and in some cases, actually frighten them.
The folks at 2K games, decided to go in a little bit of a different direction when designing the look of the game. The alien ship for instance, seems as much alive as anything. Strange tentacles wiggle out of the floors and walls, fleshy tubes plop out strange egg like things that can be shot to explode. The game makes you feel a little uncomfortable with it's presentation (which is totally on purpose) since you are in an alien environment. Other disturbing visuals include seeing your fellow humans being pulverized into itty-bitty parts and in one disturbing scene a small child being killed (tough to watch). But it helped me as the player better understand the savagery of the alien invaders, they don't want us as slaves, they don't want us imprisoned, they want us dead. Still, the game is a serious Mature title and the language that Tommy uses is probably pretty accurate given the set of circumstances. I won't let my little ones in the room while playing, period.
"How many times have I told you kids to not play with the sacred fire pit?"
Prey controls very nicely, like so many other FPS's, the controls can be tuned to your liking and the key configuration is totally adjustable. As with most games of this genre, the environment has differing degrees of interactivity. Prey is no different, if you come across an item or a button/switch, Tommy's left hand pops on screen to let you know that if you press the fire button, he will merely press the desired object rather then shoot it. You have to do a bit of experimenting when it comes to finding the new alien weaponry and more than once I ended up fragging myself because I didn't know what I was doing. But all that aside, the game is very tight and has a smooth control flow to it. Jumping around and dodging enemy fire is simple enough and the game's designers added a learning curve to the alien A.I. that matches how well you play. If you are kicking a bunch of butt, the game recognizes that and starts making things a bit tougher. Likewise, if you constantly are being railed by the bad guys, they become easier to deal with. It's a subtle, yet noticeable game function.
The graphics are top notch as well, very clean and distinct. Items are easily recognizable and the line of sight is strong. The ethereal spirit mode uses a ghost-like view when engaging it (you leave your physical body and venture forth as a spirit) with it's white-light ambiance and airy feel. Doing this mode allows you to engage switches that are otherwise impossible to get to, and since you are channeling your inner Cherokee brave, you are armed with a bow that shoots spirit arrows (quite effective actually) and are prone to take damage so be careful how you tread.
The levels are surprisingly different with their walkways that defy gravity and portals that open up to other parts of the ship. And this being alien technology you can actually get shrunk down and engage in combat on small models, it's weird in a way but given the flow of the game seems to fit nicely. I personally enjoyed the scene-stealing graphics that popped up during play, for example, at one point you activate a switch which opens up an enormous window allowing you to see space and the other space craft invading Earth. It's breathtaking.
"No! I will not give you my number!"
The audio that Prey features is pretty decent as far as sound effects go, I enjoy the strange noises alien technology has to offer and even some of the aliens make some guttural and disturbing grunts. The most sinister sounding is the female voice that can be overheard while in spirit mode. When she first realizes that you can understand what the aliens are saying is truly creepy. If anything, Tommy is lacking that true panic in his voice; yeah, he swears and says things that most of us might say given the circumstances, but he still lacks that full-blown emotion of the situation. I don't care if you've seen all sorts of strange things in your life, aliens turning people into garden mulch is a terrifying prospect and one would easily be able to sense heavy doses of panic and emotion in your voice. Grandpa on the other hand sounds wise and spiritual; I enjoyed the weight his voice brought to the character.
Review Scoring Details for Prey
Tight, fully customizable controls, running and jumping with relative ease, the weapons you find involve some trial and error, which makes perfect sense given the foreign technology.
Wow, you need a pretty beefy graphics card to fully appreciate the level of detail placed on this game. Otherworldly devices, nasty looking monsters/aliens, cool lighting effects, inspired level design, the game just does a good job of hitting it's marks when it comes to the visuals.
Everything sounds great with the exception of the lead character's lack of true fear and panic in his voice.
Can be beaten in a weekend by those with the drive to do so. The A.I. adjusts to your playing whether good or bad and makes sure that the challenge is always there. Whenever you are killed you can fight your way back from the afterlife and continue to kick some butt.
The whole alien first-person shooter is nothing new, but factoring in true Cherokee legend and then implementing it into the game's story and play deserves some credit.
At the time of review, the game had not been released yet.
I like Prey, the game is one of the better FPS's I've played in a while and the game deserves some serious props for its innovation and attention to graphical detail. I suspect this will be a big seller and I suspect the sequel will be made; here's hoping they can improve on a couple of those little things so it will be a full blown "must-have" title.