Prey is the first game I ever bought for my Xbox 360. As such it holds a soft spot in my heart, and I have beaten this game numerous times. For nostalgic reasons, which basically translates to: For some unknown reason, I decided to play it again. Does it still hold up? Read on to find out.
For a game like this, that went through development hell for as long as it did, I’m surprised that its story managed to stay intact. Sometimes with different publishers, and dev teams the story can start off good, but then become a mess. Luckily this is not the case with Prey.
The story centers around Domasi Tawodi otherwise known as Tommy. He is a Cherokee that lives on a reservation with his grandfather Enisi, and his girlfriend Jen. He wants to leave the res and his family wishes to stay.
In one of the greates game intros ever Tommy kills a couple of drunks with his wrench and the three get abducted by aliens as Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” plays in the background.
From there Tommy is taken to a space shift called ‘The Sphere.’ The rest of the game takes Tommy through different parts of the craft as he searches for his girlfriend. Early on Tommy’s grandfather is killed in a gruesome manner. This fuels Tommy’s need for revenge.
The story has a high focus on spiritualism. Early in the game Tommy has a near death expereience which takes him to the Land of the Ancients. Here he meets with the spirit of his Grandfather as well as a pet hawk from his childhood named Talon. This makes it so that Tommy cannot fully die, and Talon acts as a guide if Tommy gets lost. I’ll get into their gameplay effects in just a second.
The story takes a few twists and turns that make it truly interesting to see through to the end. Tommy meets a group of people that live on the Sphere called the hidden. They were brought to the Sphere to be harvested but are currently resisting.
This brings up the major problem, and big plot hole in the game. There is a character in the story called the Mother. She turns out to be the final boss of the game. She is connected to the sphere. Literally. She always knows what’s going on. She can open up portals anywhere, and her soldiers are completely loyal. So there shouldn’t be a resistance. If Mother wanted to get rid of them all it would take is a portal and a small army. Which she has access to.
That aside it is explained why she doesn’t bombard Tommy. His spirit energy, and resilience is appealing to her and she wants Tommy to come to her. So she taunts him and sends minimal resistence to him.
Overall the story to Prey is very good aside from that one plot hole. It’s well written, the characters are interesting, and the final confrontations are emotional and well done. On the flip side, the pacing suffers at points, and the sub boss isn’t given much in the way of development. As such the story for Prey gets a 34 out of 40
Prey’s gameplay is deceptively simplistic. The controls are fairly easy, but there are so many different actions you can take to complete an objective, there are times that you don’t know what to do.
This game isn’t just a first person shooter and then calls it a day. There are a bevy of puzzles in this game. They can be solved by a myriad of different methods. For example there are puzzles that can be solved by; adjusting the gravitational pull of the room, using a spirit walk to get past barriers, using the spirit to create new paths, using a portals, destroying blockages in the environment, and walking on the walls. Just to name a few different options.
This is good because it adds a much needed variety to the game, but it hinders it in that there are times where you’ll be standing in a room not knowing where to go and just throwing everything you have until you figure out which of the many different methods you have completes your objective.
Earlier I said that Tommy’s near death experience adds a couple new gameplay mechanics. Well only one of them is actually worth while. The useful one is the sprit walk. You’ll use this a lot throughout the game. Upon getting it, a new meter is added to the heads up display. This is the spirit bar. When enemies are killed Tommy absorbs their spirit and uses that energy to fuel his longbow. Tommy can also use this spirit to get past barriers to flip switches and access ammunition that he couldn’t have done otherwise.
The other thing that Tommy gains is Talon the sprit hawk. Talon follows you through the rest of the game. He is supposed to act as a guide, but he must be blind, because he never really points you in the right direction. He usually just lands on a perch and stares at you. Most of the time the perch isn’t even close to the direction you’re supposed to be going. Talon does sometimes help you in battle. If there are far off snipers he’ll fly to them and start attacking them. He doesn’t do a lot of damage though, but he’ll get enemies out of cover so you can snipe them yourself.
Let’s talk about the gunplay now. Once again there are so many different weapons in this game it’s crazy. There are about 10 and Tommy has access to all of them at any time as long as they have ammunition. They do fall under the basic weapon structure seen in most shooters though. Theres an assault rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, and rockets. However they are made more interesting thanks to their alternate functions. For example the shotgun is actually loaded with acid. When fired it shoots a burst of the acid at your enemies. If you use the alternate fire it fires the entire vile at the enemy.
One of the most interesting guns in the game is the Leech gun. There are terminals throughout the Sphere with different elements in them like Fire, Ice, Lightning, and a Heat Beam. The leech gun absorbs the elements and you can fire them at enemies. Fire is just little fireballs, ice will freeze the enemy solid, lightning fires a controlled burst, and the heat beam is just a super laser.
Overall the gameplay is so full of things to do. Its like throughout development the dev team had so many ideas but instead of cutting them, they decided to add them all in. It bloats the game. Sometimes this is a good thing, because it causes the player to think, but it drags the pacing of the game down. It takes a while to scroll through all these weapons, and backtracking is a common occurrence. So I give prey a 37 out of 40.
It’s impressive when a 360 launch title can still hold its own 7 years later. Prey still runs off of the Doom 3 engine but modifications were made that makes it look that much better. The lighting in the game is fantastic. When it’s lit. There are a lot of parts that are too dark to see, but when you are looking for small items it doesn’t help to not be able to see.
What the engine does well is the living environment. Almost everything you see is alive. From the walls, to the weapons you use. Anyone squeamish shouldn’t play this game. Every bad though will come out in this game. The doors look like anuses, and there are mounds that spray poisonous liquid that is like a stomach. You can shoot these areas and make them spit out blood geysers. Being cynical myself, I was unaffected by this.
The only thing that doesn’t look good in this game are the character models themselves. They all look plastic-y. They try to follow the players movements but there feet don’t move when this happens making them robotic. The music is really good in this, and the voice acting is top notch.
Overall everything in this game works. It’s just the small problem with the character models that take this game down a peg. I give Prey a 18 out of 20 for its presentation.
So in the end Prey gets a
34 out of 40 for the story a
37 out of 40 for the gameplay and a
18 out of 20 for the presentation equaling a
89 out of 100 or a B+
See you next time