I bought Prey PC DVD Saturday afternoon at about 4ish in the afternoon. I had played the demo and thought the puzzle aspects of the portals and gravity changing stuff might have potential. I’ve always wanted to design a tesseract into a FPS. I used to use them in my AD&D campaigns after reading about how it work in an issue of Dragon Magazine back in the early 80's. I even managed to work one into my old live action game. There isn't one in Prey, but with their engine there could be one. So anyway sometime just about midnight I finished the game. One night that was it. I’m going to see if somebody at works wants to buy the very slightly used copy off me.
I don’t really fault the game for being short. I remember a good number of years ago when everybody was raving about the first Max Pain game saying it’s only flaw was that you could finish it over a weekend. I thought that was a good thing because a weekend is really the only time had between work and (at the time) raiding in Everquest.
It is why Prey is short that bugs me. I really feel that the designers dropped the ball on the game. I think the biggest problem was that you can’t die. Well you die but then you go to the spirit world, shoot some ghosts that fly around you, and then you are resurrected right back where you left off. This means there is no point trying to figure out how to get through a difficult level because you just blast away until you die, you resurrect, continue, rinse and repeat.
Because of this “no dying” thing the designers were allowed to get away with building some really bad boss encounters. I cannot believe they designed those encounters without expecting you to die, die a few times, to get through them. I’m sure if some really good, twitch-master, 14-year old FPS video game ultra-expert sat down he could do it, but me… I died a few times. There was a little thinking involved with finding the ‘trick’ to killing some of the bosses but nothing that stumped me for more than half a second.
I can almost see the designers doing a little creative thinking and coming up with some cool ideas for bosses… and then just putting them in as is with little follow up or additional tweaking. I’m just speculating here but I really didn’t get the feeling they spent much time on how the player is supposed to fight the boss. They didn’t seem to put in other things in the area that the player can use to avoid the boss when he charges, or shoots his barrage of missiles, or whatever. Most boss fights felt like you were just supposed to go toe to toe with the mob, die, shoot some ghosts with your spirit boy, resurrected and continue where you left off.
Another problem with Prey is the horrible script and voice acting. I certainly didn’t feel like the main was a Cherokee warrior reconnecting with his cultural heritage. I thought he was a doofus, a complete dork. I can certainly see why Jen, his girlfriend, didn’t want to leave the reservation with him. Starting back at the beginning: He is disillusioned with the whole reservation thing, doesn’t believe in any of that spiritual nonsense, and wants to leave and start a new life. Okay, I get that. But then Aliens abduct him (notice I don’t associate myself, the player, as being the main character), his girlfriend and the grandfather. The aliens kill his grandfather in front of him and then when he should have died in a fall to his death suddenly finds himself in the spirit world where he meets his grandfather again, gets the spirit of his childhood hawk pet as a companion, and learns to separate his body from go spirit walking. You would think by this point he would be open to new things, start to sit up and pay attention to what the old (dead) guy is saying. But no, next time he goes back to the spirit world he is the same stupid doofus.
I love lines like, “I have to find Jen! She has to be close by!”
Does she? Does she really HAVE to be close by? She wasn’t by the way.
The back-story, the story germ itself was okay. It just failed in its execution. Getting Art Bell for the radio bits was cool though.
In conclusion I thought the game was just okay. Great technical aspects and good artwork but the design let me down. Multi-player might be really good but I have World of Warcraft and Battlefield 2 taking up that time. I also downloaded The Ship from Steam last night too. At $20 bucks I figured it was worth a shot. I only got to play the offline version for 10 minutes today before we went out so I still don't know if it is any good or not.
Oh if you do spend a evening playing Prey, watch through to the end of the credits for a short sequel set-up. It’s nothing great but you might as well squeeze the last drop out of the game.