Prey Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The FPS genre may be a bloody, intense, spectacular and explosive one, but something it can’t put on its CV is “inventor”. It’s a genre that has very few games that boast any unique traits besides the new ways that enemies fall over. As Prey was announced a whopping 11 years ago, there’s definitely some things in here that the game can rightfully call its own.

This is a game that has had a turbulent life since it was announced way back in 1995, as most of you will probably know that the majority of games don’t take over a decade to go from the early planning stages to the reality of the shop shelves. In this way, we have got to wonder why the finished title isn’t a somewhat better product, as some of the design decisions are bordering on downright sloppy.

You may wonder why we have concluded the review almost at the beginning, but you would be mistaken to think that we have nothing but disdain for the game in question, as it’s certainly a likeable enough shooter, but ideas aren’t realised to their full potential and others just baffled us.

Prey’s major hook is that of being able to manipulate gravity, in which turning the world upside down is a regular occurrence. We warn you not to play Prey if you have recently had lunch or are feeling a little queasy following the night before, as you’ll probably paint your pearly white 360 another colour courtesy of your stomach contents. The back of the box does claim that it’s a game that will mess with your mind, and experiencing sudden lurches and having your head pointed towards the ground every now and again is sure to cause some people to lose their bearings for a second or two. Disorientation is the name of the game, and it’s a successful trick that gives Prey an identity all its own.

Portal doorways also give you a great sense of a parallel world, but we do feel that more could have been made of this as well as the use of gravity. There’s few ways you can use the levels against your enemies for example, and this would have given you many ways to to send the nasty alien race packing, by committing alien murdering crimes, such as dropping them from a large height, as a result of turning the gravity walls off. The possibilities would have really been quite endless and undoubtedly it would have been sadistic fun to throw enemies around like rag dolls by using the levels to our advantage. We hope our wishes come true in the follow-up, but for now we can only dream about the vast possibilities that this would most definitely present.

It may sound like it would be a game that would baffle you with perplexing puzzles at every turn, but this could not be any further from the truth. When we did find ourselves at a loss at what to do next, it was simply a case of regularly finding out that we had missed a switch located on the roof or some other place that we failed to scope out properly. The hardest thing about Prey is simply to remember the games mindset, as tipping and turning the levels isn’t exactly commonplace in gaming.

In fact Prey isn’t difficult at all, to get from the beginning to the end is always going to be a reality whatever your skill level. When your energy is depleted you simply find yourself underground, where you are in spirit form and armed with a bow and arrow. Here you can fill your spirit and material power up by being accurate with your arrows, and hitting blue and red coloured flying wraiths respectively. To put it simply, game over screens just do not exist on Prey, and to die is to return to the point where you fell, which is pretty pointless to say the least. Yes you heard us right, we’re not exactly thrilled with the prospect of not being able to die in our games, and would have been much happier if a good checkpoint system had been in place.

Tommy (the Cherokee lead character, who cares little for his heritage) can also leave his body at any time, which helps in much of the puzzle solving. This spirit walk allows you to get through barriers that Tommy‘s material body cannot, and in some instances bridges appear for your spirit to cross that are not visible in your material form. Most of these puzzles involve you finding a way to get your “armed to the teeth” physical self to progress past certain points, and again there’s nothing earth shatteringly difficult to contend with, but it’s a nice break from all the shooting all the same.

Online options are skimpy, with only death matches (solo or team based) available for up to eight players. It’s pretty standard stuff, but as you can climb upside down on some of the levels as well as spirit walk, it does make for a pretty refreshing experience. With that said, it’s not the smoothest game we have played online, but when it’s stable it’s enjoyable enough.

If Prey played as good as it looks (the game uses the Doom 3 technology to startling effect) then it would be a classic, but when all comes to all, this doesn’t reach the heights that were promised, and is therefore not the FPS of the year as advertised. It’s a good game that is perhaps best experienced from your local rental store or at a knock down price, as we find it difficult to recommend as a full purchase, although one way or another this is definitely a game that is well worth experiencing. Hopefully the sequel won’t take another decade to arrive, and it will also turn out to be everything that this should have been.