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Prey (Xbox 360) artwork

Prey (Xbox 360) review

"This review could be start by telling you that Prey was originally shown at E3 95. But you’ve heard and read that story plenty of times by now. So a better way to start this review would be, “Prey is an enjoyable first-person shooter, which leaves some untapped potential on the table”. So, Prey is an enjoyable first-person shooter, which leaves some untapped potential on the table. Prey runs on the same engine as Doom 3 and Quake IV, so it looks pretty. Yet, unlike the other two games, Prey trie..."

This review could be start by telling you that Prey was originally shown at E3 95. But you’ve heard and read that story plenty of times by now. So a better way to start this review would be, “Prey is an enjoyable first-person shooter, which leaves some untapped potential on the table”. So, Prey is an enjoyable first-person shooter, which leaves some untapped potential on the table. Prey runs on the same engine as Doom 3 and Quake IV, so it looks pretty. Yet, unlike the other two games, Prey tries some new things instead of being a run of mill shooter, and even has a story worth caring about. Prey’s concepts aren’t utilized to their fullest, but it’s still one of the most enjoyable shooters on the Xbox 360.

You will probably never find yourself trapped on Indian reserve that you want to desperately escape or abducted because of alien invasion. For these things you should be thankful. Yet, it is these circumstances, combined with lady troubles that we meet Tommy. He’s a Native-American, which here means someone who ancestors didn’t immigrant to the land currently known as the United States of America. Not only is he abducted, but accompanying him are his grandfather and girlfriend. He manages to escape, and plans to help save them and return to life as normal. It would be lovely to tell you this isn’t a cliché story of saving the world from destruction, but that would be lying.

At some point in your life you parents told you to never lie, but at times it’s a necessity to lie. If you’re playing poker or planning to creep out of your house to a party, lying would be needed for success. However, a videogame review is no place for lying as it would be misleading to the consumer, which is a terrible thing. Tommy is great example for reviews, as he doesn’t lie, and so if you’re a non-liar you should feel at home with Prey, which puts in Tommy’s body-which here means you see the world from his perspective not you physically enter the body of an Indian. It also seems like the game is lying to you about Tommy, as he from Indian reserve has the inordinate ability to accurately wield and aim alien weapons. Even stranger is that the guns all fire like standard earth weapons. They fire like human projectiles, but look distinctly extra terrestrial, which makes a great first impression about the graphics.

Now first impressions are often wrong. For example if you saw someone nude on the street, your first impression of them would be they are a mad nudist. This is probably wrong, as they most likely got their clothes sucked off them by a large vacuum. Prey’s visuals are an oddity in this rule, as they make a great an excellent first impression, but have some discreetly hidden idiosyncrasies. The interesting weapons for example, are placed throughout some repetitive levels. The entire game takes place on a massive alien spaceship, so you can’t expect a ton of variety while aboard. Most of the time you’re in corridors, which are well lit unlike what you’ve might have seen in Doom 3. Everything in Prey has a great artistic style to it, which means the guns, characters, and aliens all have a nice imagination and design to them. The frame-rate is stable and the game looks good. Prey’s biggest graphical flaws are its similarity to every other corridor crawl game on the market, which here means games where you spend to much time moving through one way corridors. Thankfully, spirit mode adds some nice blues and glowing whites to the screen, and the Spirit Walk throws new enemies and weapons at you as well.

Death is an interesting idea, the concept that your body dies, but your soul lives. You’re likely to believe its like going to sleep and waking up in someone else’s bed, not knowing what happened or how you got there. Death is one of Prey’s most interesting ideas, as you never truly ‘die’ even when your character has lost all health you’re simply sent to a spirit realm. For a short time, you’ll shoot different colored wraiths for health and ammo, before being transported back to where you perished. It makes Prey a little too easy, and definitely needs working out. Yet, it does have potential, and is much more interesting and fun then a game over screen. Another intriguing idea in Prey is the use of portals. Generally, if you ever encounter anything walking out a portal, it’s best that you run away. That creature probably isn’t human, and if Star Trek teaches you one thing, it’s that non-humanoids-which here means things that aren’t homo sapiens- don’t come in peace. This is true in Prey, but like Captain Kirk he fights the aliens. The aliens will use the portals to move around you, but because of the linear tone, the portals eventually feel like doors.

When you hear the words ‘tricks up its sleeve’ you think of a magician. But in this case ‘tricks up its sleeve’ refers to two other gameplay twists. There will be no voodoo cursing in Prey. In certain areas you’ll walk on walls ignoring Isaac Newton and his laws of gravity. It’s weird to enter a room and now know whether you’re on the roof, wall, or floor. You’re constantly walking on walls to reach the exit, all the while blasting foes out of your way. Another fascinating idea is that one has no belief in something, but can gain its power. As is the case in Prey, although Tommy doesn’t buy into mysticism he still Spirit walks. This power allows you to leave your body and walk through force fields to advance through the level. During this time you wield a bow and arrow, which is oddly stronger then a gun. Despite this oddity, it’s fun and satisfying to zap an alien with an arrow of death.

The word “fun” by definition it means “a source of enjoyment”. So if Prey doesn’t fully capitalize on its ideas, what makes it “a source of enjoyment”? First off is that you can walk on walls and flip gravity, which allow for nice puzzles- which here means a way to advance, not something pieced together with bits of cardboard-. Secondly, its portals and spirit walking prevent you from quitting due to repetitive syndrome. Also it feels like something you’ve never played before. It combines simple puzzles with great firefights and unique gameplay. It’s unfortunate that Prey only lasts six to ten hours, but the unlockable “Cherokee” difficulty brings a welcome challenge. Plus there is a sneak of a Prey sequel, so expect to see it in 2017.

The saying when one door closes another opens is generally about life. It’s used to cheer someone up, and you might say it when a friend didn’t get that acting job, but his other door would be in adult entertainment. However, in this review it refers to the completion of single-player before moving onto the multiplayer. This is most advisable to prevent yourself from getting owned in your first few matches. Prey’s multiplayer falls in the same category as Quake IV’s in that its kind of fun, but not all that exciting. It only has deathmatch and team deathmatch modes, which can be repetitive. Some excellent maps designs using the walk on walls and gravity ability are fun though. Watching an enemies gun ‘fall’ upwards is disorienting, and makes multiplayer exciting…for at least a few rounds.-

When one first hears the word alien, we associate green skin, black eyes, and that X-files theme song. Although there is no such song for prey, it still sounds rather nice. The guns have a nice pop to them and so do the rest of the effects. Prey’s menu has a really good soundtrack, but for some reason these songs aren’t available during the campaign with the exception of custom soundtracks. The in-game soundtrack is a light orchestral soundtrack, which fits the mood well. Yet, the voice acting is pretty weak. The Aliens sound dumb once you learn to understand their language. They do reveal their strategies, but it sounds terrible and subtitles would have been better.

If you were to sum Prey up in two words, they would be “mixed bag”. In this case mixed bag means an assorted amount of things both good and bad, not a bag that has been stirred in a bowl. It’s pretty to look at, fun to play, and has an interesting story. But all these positives could have been much greater if it had tapped into potential. Some parts of Prey feel a tad rushed, which is ironic after eleven years of development. Still, Prey manages to deliver a fun shooting experience that fans of the genre are sure to enjoy.

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Community review by ghostyghost (August 21, 2006)

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