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Aspyr Media
Release Date

January 11, 2007 | Michael Miller

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From a technology perspective, this is pretty amazing, and from a gaming perspective, Prey intends to force you to think outside of the box when it comes to going places and doing things.

Like, say, dying! Don't worry about it anymore, you can always just come back to life. Assuming your combat skills against evil spirits who want to drag you away to hell are up to par, of course. I hope your skills with a bow and arrow are good, because unless you can channel your inner Apache, your soul is goin' down, in an all too literal sense.

If you 'die' in the game - for example, I threw myself down a chute at one point, looking for the solution to a puzzle - you are sent whistling along a tunnel, headed towards the light. Once there, you are left in a ghostly rendition of a desert landscape, and the souls of the fallen swoop in. Successfully fending them off whistles you back through the tunnel and the next instant, you are standing back in your ressurected body, ready to do combat, or throw yourself down chutes, once more.

The combat is intended to be more story driven, so it's a far cry from simply launching yourself into Unreal- or Quake-style frenetic non-stop action. You progress on a fairly linear path, and dispatch the baddies as they come your way. Some are merely fauna that inhabit the area, while some are actively hunting for you. This is not a stealth game, however, and you are clearly intended to get involved in some in-your-face action. There are many cinematic moments where you might be involved intently in one task, only to stumble across something else ocurring and become thrust into the middle of a situation you would have preffered to avoid. Well, preferred to avoid if you weren't specifically playing the game with the goal of murdering everything in sight, but I'm speaking from the character perspective here, you understand.

Which leads us to the fact that, in the end, you are not always going to be just using spirit bows and arrows. You arm yourself with the weaponry you free from the aliens, which, just like the alien ships and the alien themselves, are a combination of biological and artificial elements. The very first rifle you lift from a fallen alien guard has an impressive zoom function which turns it from an assault rifle into lethal sniper rifle.

At times, you quite literally arm yourself with your fallen opponents, something I will leave to your imagination. They don't even have to be fallen - small crabs scuttle across the landscape, and you can scoop them up and use them as homing grenades. Many people feel that FPS games live and die on how interesting and varied ones weaponry is, and Prey obviously has goals to satisfy that perspective.

These are all just hooks in the game, examples of a studio's attempt to make a character driven FPS that forces you to deal with the environment and challenge the way you think about how you are interacting with the game. There is a multiplayer function as well, which promises to incorporate some of the same mind bending gravity and spatial tricks that the single player campaign does, but unfortunately I was unable to test it.

Prey is a game that has been long in the offing, and considerable buzz was generated in the PC world both when it was first announced, and then resurrected and actually released. That is an interesting story in and of itself, but it becomes far more interesting when it comes to Mac, as it is, very very soon. Look forward to a full review from IMG to find out whether it delivers on the big promises it's been making.


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