Prey (2006) Xbox 360 Game Review

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3 years ago

Prey is one of those games that have undergone a chaotic development, started in 1997, suddenly cancelled and then finally taken back in hand, it still manages the feat of being one of the most anticipated FPS when it was released on the Xbox 360.

Overview

The player plays Tommy, a Cherokee Indian, not comfortable with the traditions of his ancestors. He is in love with Jen, but she does not want to leave the reservation and abandon the tribe. Their little argument will quickly be interrupted by some rather specific events. Indeed, the roof of the bar in which they are will be disintegrated and, themselves as well as the grandfather of Tommy, Enisi, are sucked by light beams coming from a massive space shuttle.

Tommy will have to deliver his muse in an inhospitable environment. Indeed, the aliens aim to exterminate humans in a chain. Screams, machine sounds and his grandfather reduced to a pulp before his eyes. The interior of the ship (here called the Sphere) is organic, metallic but above all, unhealthy. Aliens are very hostile, and their reception space reflects their intentions. The Doom 3 engine is very well optimized and offers splendid effects and textures. No doubt, the game technically ensures and does not infringe the capabilities of the Xbox 360.

Gameplay

The game impresses at the beginning, first by its graphics and its atmosphere worthy of "the war of the worlds" then by the very particular mechanisms of the Sphere. Indeed, dimensional portals and anti-gravity rails are on the menu to bring variety. It is therefore effortless to find yourself on the ceiling or on the walls to shoot enemies on "dry land". They also very often appear through portals allowing them to move more quickly in the Sphere. Some can be borrowed by the player having previously seen what is on the other side. This detail is essential since some puzzles are based on this observation, and these portal passages are done without any loading time. Other surprises of this kind are waiting for you.

Besides, Tommy also has unique abilities inherited from his ancestors, including that of disembodying his soul from his body, to activate switches previously inaccessible for example. A spiritual energy gauge, therefore, accompanies the traditional life gauge.

However, past these surprises, the game quickly shows its limits: total linearity, AI without surprises, languid start, little variety of bestiary. The first hours of the game are quite dull as such. The weapons are not very original nor very numerous but have the merit of being very well balanced, all useful and beautifully modelled. The animations on these are excellent and reinforce the very organic side of the universe.

After this sluggish start, the pace of the game takes off and manages to stick the player to the end without releasing the tension. Unfortunately, this final comes far too quickly. The game is not fundamentally short, but its exaggerated ease makes the progression exceedingly easy (apart from a few rather devious puzzles). And here we come to the biggest flaw in the game: you can't die! Once his life gauge has fallen to zero, the hero's soul is at the border of the realm of the dead, and all you have to do is shoot a few critters to recover life and spiritual energy and presto, as by magic we find his body where we had left him. Game-over is therefore impossible, and the challenge is considerably reduced.

Conclusion

Prey is ultimately a small disappointment: even if it is full of qualities (top graphics, exciting gameplay mechanisms, excellent atmosphere, gripping adventure spent the first hours of play), very annoying design flaws mar this excellent performance (no challenge, any AI, enemies too little variety, too short lifespan, multiplayer mode ransacked by untimely lags and jerks). In the end, if you like first-person shooters, Prey is still an excellent investment of the players time.

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Avatar for patientgamer9
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