key review info
- Game: Prey
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
The game has been announced in 1995 along with Duke Nukem Forever and we all know what the chances of Duke launching in this lifetime are. I don't know if I'm crossing the line here by saying that 3DRealms isn't a serious company and they're just a bunch of guys sitting around and doing nothing, but this is the way it is. But hey, that's just me! I wonder where Prey would be today if 3DRealms would have managed the development process themselves; lucky for us they served the project to Human Head Studios, better known for Rune, a Viking 3rd person slicer.
The project hasn't really been officially terminated and we even had a presence at 1997 and 1998 E3 shows showing us the marvel of portal technology and the magnificent graphics. I have to admit that six years ago I would have been utterly impressed by the endeavor. Nothing even came close at that time to what they had in mind. Half-Life would have been a poor forgotten game with no chance of a sequel, but that is not what happened. Valve had a working game and a damn good one. 3DRealms had a dream and some small exclusive demo but not the real deal. In 1999 the game was canceled but not completely.
In 2001 3DRealms commissioned the game to Human Head and bought the engine from Id Software. A long and arduous road begun, although the ground work meaning the story, concept, characters and weapons had already been developed. In case you haven't noticed this is 2006 and Prey has an unofficial launch date of July 10, hence the demo and preview.
The game is somewhat shocking because is not a usual FPS or not a today's FPS. The graphic engine may be up to date but the game is made for a different era. This is the main reason we hear so many complaints about Prey that it isn't really a traditional FPS and we get game examples from 2-3 years ago. We have to realize that the game industry has changed and not entirely in a good way. There a lot more games produced than 10 years ago, but most of them lack the proper quality, being in most cases just a commercial excuse and not a form of entertainment. This is how FPS's used to be, not like Half-Life 2, Fear, Far-Cry or Quake 4. They used to be fun and most of the players today can't remember this mainly because they don't remember things from kindergarten. I'm not trying to be mean with the young gamers and especially not patronizing, but they don't have a base of reference when it comes to quality games. The entire demo seems like a déjà-vu from the days gone by. Some of you could think I am a little too melancholic for my own good and that it affects my objectivity, but playing a game like Prey is an opportunity that comes once in a few years.
The story had to be about a one man army because in the old days that's how it went, no backup, no party and no useful NPS. Just the hero and his gun. The hero is Tommy, a Native American that has some problems with his legacy; mostly he hates being an Indian forced to live in a reservation with no prospect for his future. He is of course in love with Jen and she's probably the only reason he's considering staying. Anyway, none of this really matters because the bar, Tommy, his grandfather and Jen are lifted in a huge ship that transports them in space to the Sphere. At first it might seem like an alien invasion but is in fact just a pits stop for this giant Dyson Sphere.
For those of you that aren't watching too much Discovery Science, a Dyson Sphere is a self sustaining aggregate with a small sun at its core. Around the sun there could be planets, asteroids, satellites or some kind of a material that encompasses the sun entirely. Its existence is purely theoretical but nonetheless it's an enough reason to be taken seriously. The purpose of such a mega structure would be unlimited power. It could have the possibility of harvesting all the energy of a sun and support trillions of creatures. In this case the sun is surrounded by what appears to be a semi organic cover. The intentions of the Sphere are not clear but its arrival concurs with an old Indian prophecy which leaves no room for interpretation: the annihilation of the human race.
Right from the start the grandfather of Tommy is processed and killed and Jen is taken further away in the installation. From now on the sole purpose of Tommy is to find Jen and save her. His journey through the sphere will also be the journey of discovering his true nature as a Cherokee. This second road is taken when Tommy dies in a fall. He wakes up in some mountains where his grandfather awaits him. This introductory part is the producer's way to introduce a great gameplay feature because from this point on he gains the ability to leave his body and collects the souls of his enemies. The ramifications of this possibility are enormous because he can use his spirit to solve puzzles (like walking through shields) and even kill.
Another cool feature is the fact that Tommy never really dies; he gets to another plane of existence where he has to battle some flying creatures until the doorway back is opened. The player can use the quick load button but this way is much more interesting.
As I was saying earlier, the graphical engine is top-notch. Prey is built on an engine that has almost five years and is still one of the best on the market. The portal technology used looks fantastic, with mirrors that go to other parts of the level without any loading screens and some physical effects that I can't even begin to describe. The gravity of the rooms can be reversed or you can use some special sidewalks that defy the laws of Newton. I know that waiting so long has its price but it also has a lot of benefits, one of them being the playability on middle to low end systems. Any system that can run Doom will run Prey without any problems even if it's optimized for ATI and not Nvidia.
I only got to experience four weapons: a wrench, a machine gun of alien design, a sort of heavy gun and organic hand grenades that are in fact little animals you can find on the floor. They seemed to be well balanced the AI handling them was more than decent.
The demo even has multiplayer and it comes with two modes, Deathmatch and TeamDeathmatch. It's actually a lot of fun and one map reminded me of Alien vs. Predator because you could climb on every wall and use this as an advantage.
Prey is from a breed of games that aren't made anymore. I know that waiting for this game will be hard but if they keep their promise and deliver a long and satisfying title, I have no doubt it will become one of the best FPS' ever. I believe this is the start of a beautiful franchise.