By JimmyJackJones 3 Comments
All the information I've heard about Prey 2 has been enough to get me pretty excited about playing it whenever it comes out. Unfortunately, I seem to suffer from the Caravella Disorder of needing to play through games sequentially. That's why I shelled out $20 for The Darkness on Xbox Live a few weeks back when I couldn't find a cheap used copy in my nearby proximity. Of course, that game actually holds up fairly well today, all things considered. Sure, you have to be a little forgiving on some of its greater flaws, but I still found myself having a great time with it (Although I'll admit I played through it on Easy, thereby avoiding a lot of frustration that could have come from the combat). Now from all the coverage I've encountered, Prey 2 has very little to do with the original Prey, so I probably don't need to feel any real pressure to play through the original. But when I saw that my local Best Buy had a used copy of the game for $8, I decided it might be worth giving this widely unloved game a shot. At the very least, I might be able to understand the groans of those who are less than enthusiastic about the possibility of a Tommy appearance in Prey 2.
My first impression of Prey, even before the actual gameplay begins, is HOLY COW IS THIS EVER AN XBOX GAME. My exposure to the original Xbox was pretty limited. My brother owned one, but I doubt I've played more than 10 games on that console. But Prey's main menu and it's loading screens are very reminiscent of something I would see on a Load Your Last Save video. And you get ample time to study those loading screens. For a game that was clearly designed for the original Xbox, it sure does take a long time to load up on the 360. I haven't installed it to my hard drive, so I don't know if that would shorten the load times, but I'm not sure I want this game taking that much of my hard drive space. I already feel weird that my friends will see me playing Prey on the dashboard. Now to be fair, the graphics do seem better than most of the Xbox catalog, and I guess they are passable for an early 360 game. They are crap by today's standards, but put up against other early 360 games like Condemned: Criminal Origins, they seem OK. Still, Prey might be a good example of why there haven't been a whole lot of games developed on id Tech 4. There's just something weird about the way stuff looks (which was the intent here, probably). I'm seeing that Prey 2 is also listed on the id Tech 4 page, so hopefully they've learned a few new tricks with the engine, as that discovery does not exactly fill me with confidence.
As for the gameplay, I'm starting to see why people don't have fond memories of Prey. Your first introduction to the combat has you bludgeoning hicks with a wrench, but your wrench seems to have no impact. The enemies don't react to your blows with this blunt object that could easily kill a man. The only indication that you're actually hitting them is the red mist that appears from...somewhere. Now, compare THIS aspect with Condemned, and there is a world of difference between the two games. Sure, Condemned was built with melee combat as its focus, but MAN did they do an effective job of making your weapons just absolutely brutal. And that's the big problem with Prey: the combat just feels underwhelming. When you finally get a gun, the enemies seem just as indifferent to your bullets as they did to your wrench. You stand there and pour rounds into an enemy, and the only time they seemed affected is when they fall down dead. This just doesn't feel like a game that should be on a modern console. I'm only about an hour into the game, so maybe things get better as the game progresses, but Prey is doing very little to motivate me to find out. I'll probably get back to it this weekend, and I'll try to type up my further thoughts on it if I do, but for now I'll leave you with these random musings:
- The portal and traversal mechanics are kind of cool, and I remember them making me curious about this game back in 2006 (though I never picked up a copy when I finally bought a 360 a couple years later). Since Portal didn't come out until the next year, I guess you could say Prey was a bit innovative at least there.
- I don't mention the story above, as there's not much to say yet. Alien invasion, reluctant hero, mystic grandpa...OK, mystic grandpa sounds cooler than he actually is. Trust me on that. I'm mainly playing to see the universe they're establishing for Prey 2, so if the story doesn't get better, then I probably won't see it through to the end.
- When standing still to listen to a radio broadcast, I noticed my gun was moving. I think it's alive or something. This was initially cool, but got increasingly disturbing the longer I looked at it.
- Why do Native American heroes always end up discovering they have some inherent tribal magic? I mean, do they always have to learn to commune with the spirit world and go on spirit walks and stuff? I get that spiritual stuff is a large part of Native folklore, but come on, guys! You don't see Asian character always knowing Kung Fu! No, wait, bad example. Well, you don't see black characters always talking like gansta...hmm...man, video games can be pretty racist, can't they?
- The bar at the start of the game has video casino games that are fully interactive. It also has a pretty bad Pac-Man clone. These aren't great diversions, yet I still wasted more time than I care to admit on them. So score one for the developers?