Prey is a game produced by 3D Realms, the creators of the famed Duke Nukem series and other quality games such as Max Payne. It had been in development for over 10 years, and has finally been released in 2006 for PC and the Xbox 360.
The storyline puts our hero, Tommy, being abducted along with his grandfather and girlfriend, Jen, from their Indian reservation into a large spaceship. He must learn to use his Cherokee blood to overcome the obstacles which he comes across in the enemy ship, in an attempt to save his grandfather and girlfriend. He’ll also have to use some pretty cool guns, stolen from the bodies of the dead alien species.
The single player game features a variety of weaponry, starting with the wrench which you have on you when the abduction strikes, and includes more strange weaponry such as the leech gun, which can absorb different energy nodes to change the guns firing mode. All in all, you’ll use a total of 9 weapons over the course of the campaign. This is a rather low number, by FPS standards, but the variation is enough to keep things interesting. There are also alien shuttles which you can control later on in the game, and they will appear in multiplayer as well on a couple maps.
Those who have played the Quake or Doom series will be at home with how the game runs, as it is built using the same engine. The difference that Prey brings to the table is through gimmicks such as wall walking, gravity flipping, portals, and gravital fighting. You’ll find yourself walking up wall ramps, and thus, find yourself on the ceiling dozens of times throughout the campaign. At some locations, you’ll have to flip the entire room’s gravity to get to where you need to go. Throughout the game gravity can also throw you for a loop while on the small planets.
As far as Cherokee powers are concerned you’ll come across 2 in the campaign. One is the spirit walk, which involves you meditating and sending a ghost of sorts to reach places where you normally couldn’t go in your usual body. You may also fire spirit arrows which will drain your spirit meter with each shot fired. When you die in Prey you go into “Death Walk” mode, where you must shoot small flying birds with your arrows to regain health and spirit. The flaw here is, you start at half health when you go into death walk mode, meaning that even if you didn’t hit one bird you would still come back at half health. It is, essentially, impossible to die after the opening parts of the game.
Graphically, the game impresses at times and seems toned way down at other times. Some instances really made me go “Wow, that looks amazing” and other times I questioned which generation console I was playing on. Enemies are animated very well, and the gun sounds are just about perfect. The games soundtrack is excellent, featuring epic pieces and also mixing in some old 80’s favorites on jukeboxes throughout the game. Overall, the campaign was an extremely enjoyable experience. Lasting at just 16 hours, however, it is quite short and will leave you wanting more. You may choose to go through the game again on “Cherokee” difficulty or head over to “MultiPrey” on Xbox Live.
Prey supports up to 8 players via Xbox Live in Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch only. You’ll have all of the abilities from the single player game with 2 exceptions: No Death Walk, and Spirit Mode only drains when you take damage with your ghost. The maps tend to highlight one feature of Prey, such as gravity flipping, wall walking, the portal system, etc. They are some of the best maps I’ve seen while playing on the Xbox 360, and will make for a lot of fun playing with friends.
But that is where the issues start. The game has horrible connectivity problems, and once everyone is in a room, it will lag terribly unless you are playing with less than 5 people. Even then, anyone who isn’t host will have a consistent lag and complete framerate freezes at times. With anything 5 players or above you will hardly be able to move, and the host will have free reign to kill you all over and over. The lack of being able to handle large games makes almost half the maps irrelevant, due to never being able to find anyone else.
Prey features an excellent campaign with a great storyline, fun weapons, and great multiplayer maps. However, it’s falters strike mostly in Multiprey with horrid lag and framerate drops, poor connectivity, and a distinct lack of gametypes. Death Walk making it impossible to die in campaign is a great thing for casual gamers, but more serious gamers will be a little annoyed.
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