Originally planned in 1995 and shelved around 1999 PREY has had a long journey to consumers. Resurrected in 2001 the talented designers at Human Head Studios working with 3D Realms undertook the challenge of making the vision of PREY a reality.
Since the scope of the game and concept was considered to be to ambitious for the technology of 95 PREY has benefited from a highly enhanced version of the Doom 3 engine and technology that has allowed the original vision for the game to be achieved.
Players are cast as Tommy, a Cherokee who is desperate to leave his tribal Reservation and take his girlfriend Jen with him. Jen who runs the local bar is hesitant to leave her ancestral land as she believes they should stay with their people and that Tommy should not turn his back on his culture and people. This is a view also shared by Tommy’s grandfather whose pleas largely fall upon deaf ears where Tommy is concerned.
All this changes when a bizarre light comes over the bar leading to the abduction of Jen, Tommy, and his Grandfather aboard a gigantic space vessel. Tommy is able to free himself, but soon sees the utter carnage around him and sets off to save his loved ones from the horrific fate that awaits them.
As Tommy battles his way through the gigantic ship, he will face all manner of deadly and bizarre obstacles where he will often be forces to rely on his brains rather than firepower to prevail. In a nice twist, Tommy is forced to tap into his ancestral power and at times, leave his body to Spirit Walk to resolve a puzzle or return to his body after death. This is a very unique touch that PRE Y includes as once a player dies, they must enter a mini game to hunt in order to restore health and spiritual energy.
Aside from being a new wrinkle to the genre it allows players to concentrate on health and spiritual energy or a mix of both. There were a few times in the game where I found myself needing more spiritual energy and killed my character in order to reload on spiritual energy. Energy can also be collected from the remains of vanquished foes as well all of which adds to the game strategy.
Another nice wrinkle the game ads are the inclusion of altered gravity and wall walking. Simply put, players will find themselves battling enemies and obstacles on various levels to them. For example, a player may enter an area and find themselves under attack from enemies on the ceiling or at angles opposite them. What is up for one is down for another and players must pay attention to a full 360 environment.Another feature of this is the ability to walk up walks along bending pathways that defy gravity, in order to reach certain map areas, or combat attackers.
Another new twist is the inclusion of portal technology where Tommy as well as enemies can appear out of this air to press home an attack only to retreat back through a portal. While games in the past have allowed players to teleport into an area before, rarely have they been able to appear out of thin air above or below the player and provide an exit for the player once combat has been resolved.
With some amazing visuals and challenges PREY is a spectacle to behold as it pays attention to little details such as a workable jukebox in the bar where players can select a number of rock classics to workable poker and other gambling games which show up throughout the game.
As impressive as the game is visually, PREY is not without some issues. For starters the game is loaded with puzzles some of which may frustrate the average gamer who are looking for a more run and gun adventure. Many times during the game, the action came to a dead stop as I was forced to resolve one puzzle after another to make the game progress. I appreciate the designers desire to avoid the trap that ID often did which is to create a visually impressive but generally basic 3D shooter. That being said, there is also something to be said for the adrenaline rush of this type of game, which can quickly be sapped by the steady stream of puzzles the game presents. Another issue with the game was that despite the impressive setup of the game, it ultimately did not fully grab me as I found myself at times grinding through a level to get to the next one rather than becoming truly hooked by the story and action.
Part of this may rest in the fact that the voice acting in the game is not very strong as in segments it comes across as painfully bad which greatly undermines the emotions that the game is attempting to convey.
The final main issue I have with the game is the A.I. as it does not offer more than simple attacks towards to the player and rarely do enemies attempt to take cover. This is not to say that it is by any stretch of the imagination bad, it just lacks when compared to recent games such as F.E.A.R.
On the plus side, the graphics and sound of the game are amazing, as everything from shuttles, to gravity and physics have been carefully crafted for maximum benefit and the inclusion of organic weapon was a nice touch.
PREY also offers Multiplay mode called MultiPrey which gives playersthe ability to take the game online and challenge other players to various forms of action. There are the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch as well as other variants.
Despite some issues such as the ones I named above, PREY is a solid shooter that should delight fans of the genre.
4 stars out of 5