GAMES OF SUMMER: I “PREY”-ED AND I LIKED IT

If you’re a crazy avid gamer like me, then you know that summer is the deadest season for gaming. So dead that it makes most gamers go absolutely ape-shit crazy from the lack of fresh and new digital stimuli and fiend for even the shittiest games out there. Why publishers and developers utilize this bruised formula for not releasing new titles during the summer, I have no idea. One could only speculate. What I do know, in fact, is that summer is a great time to catch up on all the games I started and didn’t finish as well as buy a shit-ton of games on demand or from Steam that I don’t need.

Just the other day I performed my usual morning ritual: I woke up, got out of bed, hit the couch, laid back down on the couch, and turned on my Xbox. Much to my surprise, a bundle of games was on sale that was too cheap and too good to pass up. One of those games was Prey, and on sale for only $2.99. “Fuck it,” I thought. How bad could this game be? I mean, it’s only $3. That’s like 3 collect calls. That’s less than 1 gallon of gas. That’s only 3-$1 menu items from any disgusting fast food chain.

I had played this game before but thought it was uber-lame and turned it off after a half hour or so. My digital palette hadn’t been refined enough to enjoy this tasty morsel of a game. I was too enamored with military shooters and other various superficial games to care about a game that was trying to do something creative and different such as Prey. Basically, if I couldn’t shoot Russians, then it wouldn’t hold my interest. So, I returned the rented Prey and didn’t shudder to think about it for the following years.

Enter Microsoft’s Summer Sale. Prey was mine, again, and this time for keeps.

I started Prey and instantly I identified with the angst-ridden and anxious Native American protagonist, Tommy. Not because I’m Native American or angsty, but because of the cynicism and foul language he radiated. I could have sworn I voiced it.

After a few minutes of character development, messing with the jukebox, and playing on the in-game digital gambling machines, Tommy, his girlfriend, and grandfather were bathed in a green hue and swiftly teleported through the butthole of an alien ship. This is where the game gets super weird and super good.

It isn’t the shooting or the combat or the story that makes Prey good. It’s the tone it sets. Tonally, Prey is a strange game that blends Native American spirituality with the likes of demented alien abduction and torture, all the while narrated with a laughable and oddly relatable dialogue by Tommy as he navigates his way through the alien vessel.

Prey was released in 2006, and it shows. This is a straight linear shooter that still touts a ‘no reload’ shooting mechanic. However, the uniqueness about Prey is that the game is always putting you upside down and on the walls of the normal oriented room. So, for example, you may enter a portal or portal box and end up in the same room but now on one of the walls or on the ceiling. This mechanic is simply implemented to help you get from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B.’ A mundane, yet oddly refreshing and rare implementation.

Another tonal subtlety was the dialogue produced by Tommy. As you get abducted into and through the bowels of the alien ship, others have been abducted as well. At times, you get to interact with these NPCs. Either you’re accidently pressing a button which in turn brutally impales them or you ‘accidently’ pull on the right trigger of the controller that ‘accidently’ shoots them in the face. Upon where Tommy usually utters an apologetic, “Ah fuck,” or, “Oh shit. I didn’t mean to do that. Fuck,” and where, strangely, the game shines for me. It’s the small comical nuances that really play into my funny bone.

For a game that is 7 years old and $3, this is a must have. Why I didn’t allow myself the time to really get into this game earlier is beyond me, and quite frankly, irrelevant. Prey is great for what it is: a solid corridor shooter that employs unique mechanics that is basked under the glow of some comical dialogue moments. If you read this before the Microsoft Summer sale ends (which at this point is only a day or so) and live in North America, purchase this game. Maybe then Bethesda will finally get going on the recently submerged sequel.

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10 Sign You Game Too Much

10. When you sweat, your pores secrete digitized sweat. Imagine Minecraft sweat.

9. You start to learn and speak all alien and foreign languages from all the games you play without realizing it. Thanks, FEZ!!

8. When holding conversations with friends and family, you start to check your dialogue tree in your mind to come up with the best dialogue option.

7. Texting and phone calls are a thing of the past. The only verbal interaction you have with people and friends is through Xbox Live, PSN, or Ventrilo.

6. The ONLY interaction you have is through Xbox Live, PSN, or Ventrilo – and if you really want to go out of your way, Video Kinect.

5. You have devised and manufactured the couch-toilet. No more pausing for bathroom breaks.

4. You have replaced all the light bulbs in the house – but mostly the room you game in – with UV bulbs due to the fact your skin has become pale and almost translucent from lack of sun exposure. Gotta get that vitamin D, son!

3. When – and if – you leave the house, you start rolling around and hiding behind walls and cars pretending you are in a video game. Pew-Pew!! That’s the sound my hand-gun makes…pew-pew!

2. Your pants are now infused with the couch/chair for which you play games on. Ugh…

1. You have somehow managed to escape reality and are now living with in the games themselves. Similar to Emilio Esteves in 1983’s Nightmares tale, “The Bishop of Battle.” If you’ve never seen it, stop what you’re doing and go YouTube it. Phenomenal.

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