Publisher: 2K Games
Available for: Xbox 360, PC
During the summer months, the gaming industry practically becomes a ghost town for new titles. Presumably, this is because everyone is outside having fun, and so when a decent game slips through the cracks, it quickly becomes an instant hit. It’s an even rarer occasion, however, when a great game like “Prey” is introduced into the fold, and though most of us should probably be outside enjoying some much-needed fresh air, this is one summer title worthy of maintaining your pasty-white complexion. Featuring an epic story to go along with its solid gameplay, “Prey” delivers all of the usual tricks that come with playing a first-person shooter, but also trumps its predecessors in the process with an innovative spin on the genre. Oh, and there’s slime. Lots of it, too.
The player takes on the role of Tommy, a Native American mechanic whose suddenly abducted into an alien spacecraft called The Sphere. With the help of a stranger, Tommy is freed from his restraints, but his grandfather (Enisi) and girlfriend (Jen) aren’t so lucky. Even worse, these aliens aren’t very friendly, but instead use the boarded humans for slavery and experimentation, so when Tommy witnesses the death of Enisi before his very eyes, he sets out on a mission to rescue Jen before she suffers the same fate. Tommy isn’t afraid to stir up a little trouble, either, and after zonking the first enemy on the head with his faithful wrench, the rest of the game is spent blasting away the baddies with their own weapons; all of which are super-cool upgrades of the standard fare.
The weapon selection has a very organic feel to it, with a majority of the artillery relying on some kind of natural (or alien) element to make it function. For instance, the standard grenade in the game is actually called a Crawler, a little bug creature that explodes when you tear off its legs; though, regrettably, you can’t bite ‘em off and spit ‘em out. Other weapons include the Leech gun, which draws energy from randomly positioned nodes throughout the levels (offering either plasma balls, chain lighting or a freeze beam), and a simple hand cannon that looks more like the dismembered body part of a slug than a gun.
The real draw of “Prey,” though, are the objects you can interact with in the spacecraft, including gravity tracks that allow you to walk on walls and ceilings, and portals that open into undiscovered sections of the world. This is the first game to ever offer such a unique perspective of true 3D, and while there’s a slight learning curve involved with using both, it makes for a much more enjoyable experience. It’s not like you don’t have all the time in the world to practice, either, since you never “officially” kick the bucket at any point in the game. You can thank your Cherokee blood for that one, which allows you to visit a spirit realm after dying and earn your place back amongst the living.
On the flip side, however, is the dreaded Spirit Walk option, a Cherokee ability that enables the player to leave his body at any time and perform a specific task like, say, walking through a force field to access a computer. Unfortunately, the player is required to participate in this ability - even if he doesn’t want to - and it quickly goes from cheesy gimmick to monotonous chore in a matter of minutes. Still, there’s hardly room for complaint with a game this good and a script that’s better than most circulating around Hollywood. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Play the game first. Then we can talk about a movie.