Prey

Review

posted 7/26/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360

This spirit area isn't the only thing that makes Prey seem too easy, the enemies themselves are usually no trouble at all.  For one thing you rarely have to fight too many enemies at once; there are usually only one or two enemies to deal with at a time.  And to make things even easier, the enemies tend to engage you with weak weapons that just aren't that effective.  The game gives you control over a number of powerful weapons, so this battle feels pretty uneven (to the point where you almost feel back for being so much stronger than the aliens you are attacking).

Speaking of weapons, Prey gives you control over seven different alien weapons.  Actually, it's only six alien weapons and the trusty crowbar you pick up at the bar at the beginning of the game.  While the weapons all have a funky alien look to them, you will be dealing with a lot of guns you've used before in other first-person shooters.  For example, there's a shotgun-like weapon that shoots out acid (and is especially effective up close).  You will also get an alien missile launcher that controls exactly like the human variety.  There's an automatic rifle that also doubles as a sniper rifle, which even goes as far as to highlight your targets.  Perhaps the most unique weapon in the game is a leech gun that allows you to suck various elements out of the alien spaceship, including fire, ice, electricity, and so on.  The weapons are effective, but considering that we're dealing with alien technology I was a little disappointed that they weren't more over-the-top.

Although you are stuck in the alien spaceship for most of the game the areas keep changing and stay interesting for the most part.  There are a lot of little touches that keep the corridors unique, including a few effects early on that will keep you glued to your television for the rest of the journey.  You'll see young kids die, school busses that used to be in better shape, and even an airplane crash.  And it's not just the extra bits, the enemies themselves are really fun to look at and gun down.  While there are more than a few giant creatures you'll have to slay, my favorites were the smaller enemies that continued to attack you long after you've shot their heads off.  The aliens are very creepy, and along with the amazing effects around the levels, they go a long way to set the atmosphere.

Unfortunately this is all over too quickly.  The game is split up into 22 different levels, but not all of those stages are very long (some are only a couple minutes long) and chances are you will blast through the game in under ten hours.  While ten hours is about the average for this type of game, the fact that you never die makes this adventure seem too easy and much shorter.  Another problem is that there isn't a lot of story packed into the ten hours, throughout the whole thing there's really no more than ten or fifteen minutes worth of story, and even then it's not that interesting.  Most of the game is you listening to Tommy refuse to believe in the ways of his ancestors … even after those ways have saved his butt from certain death.

Like most first-person shooters, after you've defeated the aliens and saved the world you can take the guns online and go up against real players.  Prey allows up to eight players to join a room and fight it out in either a deathmatch or team deathmatch mode.  Eight players seems awfully small considering that most of the last generation first-person shooters were giving us the ability to play with sixteen different gamers, but the levels are small and perfect for the player count.

When it's good the online mode of Prey is a lot of fun, maybe even more fun than the single player adventure.  Each of the levels feature the various innovations you saw in the single player game, such as portals and gravity manipulation.  In that regard Prey is unlike anything you've ever played before on a console, there are a lot of spots where you will be upside down shooting at people under you and on the walls.  You will also be able to use Prey's one vehicle, a smaller spaceship that forms around you (and offers some of the worst controls I have ever seen).  These online games really stand out and show the potential of a game like this.

But that's the problem; all you get here is the potential.  While the levels are unique and offer a lot of cool ideas, there aren't that many of them.  Prey comes packaged with only eight areas to play online, and several of them look and feel the same (thanks in large part to the backgrounds graphics they seem to recycle).  It's also a shame that there aren't more game types; it's hard to believe that Prey doesn't come with some sort of Capture the Flag variation.  I can only imagine how cool some of those different game types would have been given the addition of portals, gravity tricks, and spirit walking.  With only the two basic modes this online game just feels barebones, a real disappointment when you consider all of the innovations the game includes in the single player portions.

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