February 6, 2006

Plenty of Prey Previews Popping up

Well, it appears that some floodgates have opened in regards to Prey previews today coming from the press tour a couple of weeks ago. Last week we had the excellent 5 day series from 1up.com, and now we have half a dozen more Prey Previews available online.

We've got previews from Shacknews, two previews from IGN, as well as the sites Kotaku, Computer & Video Games, EuroGamer, & and Hexus. Make sure to check 'em all out. Let's get right to them, with some quotes from each.

1) Shacknews' Preview:

To some extent, Prey's protagonist was born out of a desire to create a strong contrast to Duke Nukem, the archetypal gung-ho buck-stops-here video game character. Tommy Tawodi is indeed an archetypal antihero.

This really wouldn't be Prey without crazy interspatial portals, the technology featured prominently in the original E3 videos. It's possible not only to see yourself in the interconnected portals (from varying angles) but to follow yourself, and even shoot yourself through the portals as well.

In a particularly inspired turn, the team actually hired Coast to Coast radio host and nationally known UFO theorist Art Bell. At various points throughout the game, Bell and his notoriously fanatical call in guests can be heard discussing the invasion.

The Escher-esque architectural design, the arbitrary gravity, and the spirit walking mechanics are very unique and seem well implemented. If the whole game delivers the constantly changing experience that's been promised, Prey should be one hell of a ride.

2) IGN's PC Preview:

Far from wanting to be humanity's greatest hero, Tommy just wants to find his lady and hightail it back to the planet one way or another. So begins the violent tale of young Tommy, an angry young man with a mission and a wrench.

We've seen this game before, but only in video form. What was shown at E3 last year was very impressive, especially since we weren't expecting anything so grand. Seeing it again only confirmed the fact that this game should be something special.

The Sphere is a disgusting place. It's alive and the game is played out inside of it. Therefore, you can probably imagine all of the slimy wet runny textures spread across the levels. Doors are like nasty sphincters (in fact, Chris called them sphincdoors), pimple like mounds on the ground vomit up juices and waste, health looks like misty spores out of smaller pimples, and some of the Sphere's creatures serve as anti-bodies towards potentially harmful invaders like Tommy.

Multiplayer is just plain wacky. Levels are specifically designed to take advantage of Prey's uniqueness. It's a bit disorienting at first. The act of simply getting from place to place can be an adventure on its own before getting a handle on which direction is up.

Prey is looking very good at this point. If the whole game is as jam packed full of odd little goodies as the demo was, first-person shooter fans are in for a treat.

3) IGN's Xbox 360 Preview:

As some of you might already know, the story of Prey centers around Tommy, a Cherokee garage mechanic who loves his girlfriend Jen. Unfortunately for both of them, something about their town really pisses off some aliens, so Tommy and Jen get beamed to their bizarre craft.

Human Head showed off little bits and pieces of the single-player campaign on a PC, and it's obvious that they're making use of their "living ship" concept. Enemies often sprout right out of the floor, you'll find some doors ("sphincdoors") bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a certain portion of the body, and many of the floors and walls will actually bleed when shot.

What's really cool is that the portals are not visible from behind. So if you walk around to the other side of the temporal door, it will seem as though nothing is there. You can even walk through the back of it to no effect, yet when you turn around it's still there.

We played several DM matches across three maps. Human Head is expecting to have between eight to 10 maps in the game, and those we got to try out seemed like an excellent variety of the game's unique environmental elements.

To prepare for its release, you might want to start getting used to the idea of checking the ceiling every time you enter a room.

4) Kotaku's Preview:

We told you last week that 22 first-person shooters would be released this year. By any measure, that’s a lot of games for one genre. Any developer brave enough to compete in this field better have a novel premise. Judging by one hour of play time, I think Prey has enough going for it to stand out in the crowded field.

As the game progresses, the hero, Tommy, gets more in touch with his ancestory and spirituality. By doing so, he gets help from the spirit of his grandfather who gives him crucial clues.

It’s been a long time since playing a shooter made me nauseous, but having your perspective constantly flip 90, 180, or 360 degrees really messes up your sense of balance (those of you who bought a big-screen HDTV along with the Xbox 360 better keep barf bags handy).

I also have to give props to the game designers for avoiding FPS cliches. When you die, you don’t just restart as if nothing happened. You enter a spirit world where you have to fight to get your spirit back into your body. It’s a neat concept. And I didn’t see any crates or exploding barrels, at least not in the demo.

5) Computer & Videogames' Preview:

A cursory glance in the direction of Prey would probably have you, understandably, dismissing the game as just another first-person shooter - after all, it's not like there's a drought of them on PC at the moment. However, five minutes with the game will change all that.

After your abrupt removal from the Earth, you're introduced to Prey's Dyson Sphere, which proves to be more of a dynamic, organic entity than your conventional spaceship - a frankly ingenious concept which offers up all manner of possibilities for the development team, in terms of unique gameplay features and puzzles.

As any FPS veteran knows however, a shooter's only as good as its guns and, thankfully, this is where Prey really excels.

Some of the coolest things we sampled: a flyable space shuttle section complete with lasers and tractor beam, low-gravity asteroid gunfights, an insanely interactive public toilet (complete with intergalactic condom dispenser), playable arcade machines and a jukebox featuring fully-licensed music. All of which are merely impressive embellishments on an already extremely solid and well-rounded shooter.

Combine Prey's excellent multiplayer features with its impressive looking single-player game and you've got yourself the ingredients for one of the biggest games of the year.

6) Eurogamer's Preview:

We're initally intrigued by the title screen, which reveals there are two difficulty settings: "Normal" and "Wicked".

Like all the cut-scenes in the game, the opening FMV is presented from Tommy's perspective - so you see through his eyes as he watches his loved ones being hauled around.

But much more interesting are the weapons which, like the ship, combine plain old technology with all sorts of organic weirdness. Take the Leech Gun, for example, which has four different fire modes. By attaching it to the various "leech nodes" you'll find dotted around, you can suck power out of the ship and charge it up.

These elements (portals) really come into play in multiplayer mode, as we found out when we got to go head-to-head in a deathmatch (the only other MP mode is team deathmatch; there's no point trying to capture silly old flags when the laws of gravity can change at any moment).

Who would have thought that a game about a garage mechanic trapped on a spaceship with only a dead Grandad and a talking hawk for company could turn out to be so intriguing?

7) Hexus Gaming's Preview:

Walking us through the as yet unfinished opening level, the first thing that strikes you about Prey is not the graphics (after all, these will be dependant on your machine to some extent) but the huge amount of interactivity built into the game. Simply put, everything can be fiddled with.

The thought put into the level design and mechanics of the game becomes apparent with the spirit walking when you see some of the later levels. Not only are there barriers such as force fields that can be crossed, but there are also bridges and gangways that just aren’t there in the real world.

This whole ‘alternate reality’ thing that Human Head have developed lends a superbly original puzzle element to Prey which, from what we’ve seen, lifts it way above a bog standard FPS.

Prey is shaping up to be something rather cool and refreshingly different. The storyline, though a little clichéd to start with soon pans out into something far more involving than the ‘loner saves the world’ stuff we’re used to and from what we’ve seen, Prey is going to have been well worth the wait.

Posted by Joe Siegler on February 6, 2006 at 5:10 PM | Permalink
News Categories: Prey