Prey [360]


Review by Milesh Bhana


  1. An animal hunted or caught for food; quarry
  2. One that is defenseless, especially in the face of attack; a victim
  3. A game about kicking some alien ass

In Prey, you play Tommy, a Cherokee mechanic who (along with his girlfriend and grandfather) gets abducted by aliens. Apart from the first chapter, the entire game takes place on a really massive alien spaceship called “The Sphere”. It’s up to Tommy to embrace his Indian heritage in order to save his girlfriend and eventually, the world.

At a glance, this game looks like Doom 3, which is not surprising seeing that it’s built on the same engine (idTech 4). Compared to Unreal Engine 3, which seems to be powering every other game, it does look a little dated, but you’re not left feeling like you’re playing a previous-gen game.

After being freed by a mysterious man, he begins his adventure and quest to save his girlfriend. The ship is disgustingly beautiful, with most things being a combination of a machine and organic material, including the weapons. As the story moves on, you’re introduced to a few characters, other abductees and the beings behind the control of the ship and your abduction.

Prey is a pretty standard First Person Shooter with one or two twists to keep it interesting. So if you’re an experienced FPS gamer, nothing is really going to surprise you.

The weapons look really cool but when you ignore the funky organic designs you’ll realize that it’s almost a carbon copy of the arsenal found in Unreal Tournament. You’ll get a wide variety of weapons each with two different firing modes. The pistol doubles up as a sniper rifle, the rocket launcher is also a shield and the machine gun has a grenade launcher. Grenades can be used as mines too.

The ship does add some interesting challenges to the mix by its use of portals and gravity. The portals were probably a cool idea at the time but after playing Portal in the Orange Box, you’ll probably not be impressed by the fact that you can’t create your own. The enemies will often use them to sneak up on you. There are a few cases where they are used creatively as a part of puzzle, but more often than not it’s just a cool novelty that doesn’t get used to it’s full potential.

The liberal use of gravity and the puzzles around it are the thing that makes this game really stand out. The are pathways that will run up a wall and along a ceiling that you can walk on and rooms with switches that can change the direction gravity works. This makes for some cool puzzles, but nothing difficult enough to make you scratch your head. A little bit of looking around (hint: always look up when you’re stuck, often the solution to the puzzle will be right above you) and you’ll figure it out. There were times where I felt a little disoriented, wondering which way was up.

Early in the game Tommy’s Cherokee heritage comes into play and he learns the ability to leave his body. This can be particularly useful for sneaking around in spirit form instead of just walking into an ambush. This ability is mostly used for walking through forcefields and switching them off from the other side so your physical body can move on. Again, a cool ability to help with puzzles, but with puzzles that easy, you won’t be stuck too long. They actually leave a symbol to indicate “use spirit walk here”, just in case you don’t figure it out.

This ability also allows you to “death walk”. Basically, when you die, you leave your body to a spirit world for about 20 seconds. In the spirit world you can shoot there wraith-like spirits, the more you shoot the more health you have when you come back. Dying is now a simple mini-game and you respawn exactly where you die. It’s cool to keep you in the game, but you tend to be much more careless in frantic fights.

As for the fights, you’ll encounter a decent variety for enemies, some easy to kill and a few large scary looking aliens where you’ll need to be a little smarter. The enemy AI is pretty rudimentary, they will dodge when needed and throw grenades when they don’t have line of sight, but will seldom try and flank you or do anything particularly clever.

The levels are short and linear, but there is a nice variety of corridor crawls and really big wide open spaces. At some points in the game you’ll get to these really big rooms where you’ll need to use a shuttle to get around. The shuttle is more like a jet pack and it makes a nice break from the run and gun gameplay.

The music and atmosphere of the game comes across very effectively and you feel like you’re a part of some epic saga at some points and a little scared and creeped out at other parts. The sound effects and voice acting are good but not brilliant. The story has a few twists and turns and is interesting enough to keep you through the game, but it’s certainly not memorable.

Prey tried many cool ideas. I’ve seen many of them before, but not all in one game. The mix of puzzles and combat kept the game interesting and fun. It’s a pity that the concepts they introduced were not fleshed out better as it’s really what separates a good game from a brilliant game. Prey was simply good and is not a bad way to waste 10-12 hours to get through the single player campaign.

Prey 2 is currently in development, let’s hope they are able to build on the good ideas in this game and make an excellent one.

Verdict : 3 Stars
Prey was pretty good at the time, but just a little better than average by today’s standards.

Release Date : 14 July 2006

Usually we tell you where you can buy the game cheap here, but retailers don’t appear to be carrying new stock… (Some retailers are still trying to sell this game at the original retail price of R499) but there are plenty of second hand copies floating around.

Zaps (2nd hand) – R169

Approx 2nd hand price on – R80-R120


5 Responses to “Prey [360]”

  1. ikebana Says:

    Prey is really thrilling!

  2. CattleBruiser Says:

    Dude, seriously, what’s with the giant alien vagina in the first pic?

  3. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    I implied in my review that some parts were disgusting. I purposely looked for that pic to make my point 🙂

  4. eyesuc Says:

    its a shame nobody is playing this on live anymore. got a second hand copy myself and thoroughly enjoying it, but sorely lacking the deathmatch goodness

  5. milez_away@budgetgamer Says:

    yeah, it never really took off on XBOX Live. I played it a little on PC LAN and it was loads of fun.

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