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'Prey' Review (Xbox 360)

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If there is one genre I adore more than any other it is sci-fi. And it's a given that I'm a hopeless romantic, so when you throw a love story in there then I'm sold. Prey brings together those two elements into an amazingly touching love story, which tugged at my heart just as much the enemies made me tug on my gun's trigger. Die alien scum…there is a Cherokee on the warpath and his name is Tommy.


Tommy is Cherokee but hates his heritage. Tommy wants nothing more than to leave the reservation and take his girlfriend Jen with him, but unlike Tommy, she appreciates and basks in her Native American heritage. After refusing to go with Tommy and leave the reservation, Tommy defends Jen's honor at her bar when he beats the tar out of two rednecks. In a manner of seconds the bar's electronics are malfunctioning, lights pickup a car outside, and suddenly Jen's bar is being taken, piece by piece, as it is sucked up into a spaceship and aliens appear from portals that appeared out of thin air.

Once on board, Tommy, Jen, and his grandpa are taken on a wild ride through the belly of their abductor's ship, until a renegade prisoner sets a bomb, causing Tommy to break free. Tommy has only one thing on his mind – saving the people he loves…specifically Jen. And from here begins one of the best love stories I've experienced in a game for some time now.

The storytelling in Prey is solid and is absolutely the best part of the game. By just going through the opening portion of the game, I already found myself getting attached to Tommy and his plight, and all I wanted to do was save the girl I love. It's your typical "knight in shining armor" story, but it is the presentation that makes it work so well. Throughout the single player adventure, Tommy (unlike other FPS heroes) actually says what he is thinking. He'll talk to himself about how screwed up something is, he'll yell when the aliens keep his girlfriend away from him, and he'll get vengefully angry and cuss when he gets seriously pissed off; it makes the game much more interactable and really helps pull the player into the world.

And though the love story is the heart of the matter, there are a few twists and turns to keep you guessing, but for the most part it is a really well done story about one man in love with one woman and the things he would do to save her.


The single player game is the story of Prey. The reason you'll want to play the single player is so you can experience this wonderful story. Right from the moment you start controlling Tommy, it feels very natural and he reacts in a pinpoint precision like you'd hope. I've experienced a few first person shooters where aiming felt initially iffy or downright unplayable (Perfect Dark Zero went back to the store after two days because of this exact reason), but Prey has a smoothness that makes lining up shots a thing of ease.

The controls are as such: the bumpers cycle through your weapons, the right trigger is your primary fire, the left trigger is for your secondary fire, the thumbsticks are your usual movement and camera sticks, clicking in the right trigger uses your lighter to see in the dark, A-button is jump, B-button is crouch, X-button throws your Crawler grenade, and the Y-button is for your Spirit Walk.

As for the weapons, they are very alien in nature, but are for the most part representations of the usual variety of weapons you'll find in any number of first person shooters. Your rifle is your typical rifle, but with a secondary function that acts like a sniper rifle. Crawlers are grenades. The arm of one of your enemies doubles as a machine gun and grenade launcher. The acid gun acts like a shotgun. And the Leech Gun works differently depending on what ammo you power it with: red (rapid fire machine gun), blue (freeze spray), white (electro bolts), orange (heat ray). There are more (a wrench, a rocket launcher, and Spirit Bow) but those are the main ones you'll be reaching for more than likely as you fight the enemy scum. You've also got a personal ship you can fly and shoot, but it isn't used all that much except for one longer sequence.

Sadly, said enemy scum is one of the worst features of the game. For one thing, the enemies are not varied enough at all, as you'll find yourself taking on the same enemies time and time again. The Hunters are the main fodder ripe for the killing, as they are numerous as they pop in from out of nowhere by using one of their portals. Besides the Hunters you've got actual Fodder (mutated dog like things that don't pose any challenge), Hounds (hulking behemoths that run at you), Hunters that are partly spiders, Hunters that hover in the air and blast you with rockets, mechanical drones like those seen in The Matrix movies, possessed children (yes, you kill children in a manner of speaking), and Centurions (I think that is what the game called them) that are these giant walking creatures with machine gun cannons for arms (you get one of their arms as a weapon actually). The other main problem is the enemies are simply too stupid; the Hunters and Fodder more specifically. The others can be a thorn in your side, but there is absolutely no reason to worry about them, which leads into one of the game's other flaws.

There is no challenge in Prey…or at least not in the shooting variety, which you would think would be the challenge in a FPS. Instead, the challenge comes from solving the environmental puzzles that have you trying to find the right portal to use, using your spirit to walk through force fields, turning off laser grids, navigating upside down rooms, and other such challenges. The reason the combat isn't a factor is because you can't die. Once you die, you automatically jump to a minigame with you in the spirit realm, using your bow to fight floating apparitions in order to regain your spirit meter and health meter. And while the game isn't challenging because of this reason, it at least eliminates practically all load times, as the only ones you'll ever experience are when you move from one level to the next. It is a neat feature, but one that I hope can be improved upon should the developers do another Prey, which I certainly hope they will.

So if the game is devoid of challenge then why play it? Because the story is that great in my opinion. Actually, not once did I play the single player game to experience what shooting match I'd get myself into next, but instead I played to see and hear the story. And though the game isn't too long (took me a couple days with 2-3 hours of play a day) you can always come back and play on a higher difficulty to unlock that achievement.


Once you get done with the singe player (or even before it if you want) it is time to jump onto Xbox Live and frag some people. I've never been a big fan of multiplayer online, because it just isn't my scene apparently, but Prey was a game whose multiplayer grabbed me and made me want to play. I actually want to climb up the ranks of their leaderboards.

I've heard many complaints about the lag, but I haven't experienced that problem all too much out of the countless matches I've played; maybe only 3-5 games have suffered from lag for a considerable amount of time and forced the game to drop us all. Otherwise, I'm running everywhere, trying to find all the power weapons, and searching down all my enemies.

The Prey multiplayer isn't perfect, but it is certainly fun and has a lot of room to grow. When you get a real good game going on, there is constant battle, tons of laughing, and it's just a grand time to be playing. Running up walls, jumping through portals, hiding your body in the darkest place you can find so you can let your spirit go chasing down other players – a blast!

As of now, there are only two modes of play (deathmatch and team deathmatch), and so I'd love to see a few more modes of play be included in future downloadable content or something to that nature. Also, there needs to be more maps - simply aren't that many.


The graphics of Prey are pretty dark, so a lot of the detail will go unnoticed, but as a whole the graphics are extremely well done. The alien nature of the floating sphere means a lot of organic textures, dripping with goop, and actually moving as if the ship is breathing. There are also some techniques used throughout the game, which I have no idea how they made happen; the portals for one thing, which are flat when you walk around them, but take you into a whole other part of the world, and there is one point later on where the levels actually pop and build themselves in midair right as you approach them.


Great voice work. The lines never feel like clichéd offerings or an actor reading from a script, but rather they sound like actual dialogue from people experiencing the game, and the emotion the characters should be feeling are reflected well based on their line readings. The music is also wonderful – very sweeping and touching for some tracks while others have a menacing quality thanks to their more reserved and silent nature.


Prey comes as a standard edition game and a limited collector's edition. Since I absolutely fell in love with the game, the collector's edition was an easy justification in my book. The game comes in a collectible metal tin about the thickness of two or three Xbox 360 game boxes stacked on each other. In one section you'll find the game, but in the other you'll find two pewter figurines (Tommy and the Hunter), The Art of Prey illustrated booklet (hint: don't flip through if you don't want spoilers), and a coupon for a free download of the soundtrack from off the web.

The figurines are nice (I got a special third for preordering), the art book is interesting to see the sketches, but the selling point to me is the soundtrack. I've yet to download it, but the game's music was so spectacular and beautiful I can't wait to grab it.


If I could just spout my love for the game I'd give it a five and be done with it, because it is one of those games, though flawed, I can't help but love it. Beauty doesn't always come from the divine and perfect being. With that said, I have to acknowledge the shortcomings and mark down for it. So even though the game is a five in my book, the critic in me must ultimately reward it lower. Still, a great FPS for the Xbox 360 that I absolutely hope you will buy…namely because I want a sequel.

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