Preview: Prey 2 (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, PC)

At E3 this year Bethesda did a demonstration of Prey 2. The original Prey game had a long and storied development, much like the recent release of Duke Nukem Forever Unlike that game however, Prey had a more positive critical response. Here are some of the thoughts that I had during the demonstration of the game.

There is no HUD. I’m not sure if Prey 2 will be HUD-less when it is finished, but I hope so. It looked great with nothing cluttering up the screen. At times they scanned for bounties and then the screen would be highlighted with potential targets, distance markers and so on, but just walking around the screen was clear.

This is a different Prey, but it is still connected. Human Head Studios returns to the Prey universe, only instead of taking over development of a game that had been passed around by 3DRealms, they started this one from the beginning and they also appear to have a distinct direction that they plan on taking the series in. At first when they showed it, I thought that maybe it was going to be linked to the original title in name only. However they proved me wrong by talking about the different ways Prey 2 is linked to Prey. It’s cool to see them take it in a different direction without completely cutting off any ties to the first title.

Amnesia…really? Seriously, I don’t care how well this might work in the plot of Prey 2, I’m stick of seeing amnesia used as a plot device in so many video games. Please video game writers, can we go just for one year can we go without seeing a game where a character has amnesia?

Sci-fi Western Noir. Those are the words they used to describe the atmosphere of Prey 2, and as someone who likes Sci-Fi, Westerns, and Noir themes, it was like they were talking dirty to me. The more they talked about bounty hunting, alien races and how there were a lot of shades of gray, the more I wanted to check if they were charging me by the minute. If they said they were adding Kung-Fu, I might have made sweet love to the person giving the demonstration. I don’t think he would have enjoyed it.

You are no longer the hunted, you are the hunter. Prey was all about getting kidnapped, Prey 2 is all about tracking down bounties while figuring out what is going on. They showed off one particular hunt, and unlike how bounty hunts are depicted in other video games, this wasn’t just a simple catch-the-badguy mission. It was a chase that had several gunfights in different locations and sometimes scripted events would occur. The main character has several gadgets he can use to even the odds, like shoulder mounted rockets or cyberpunk looking bolos. There was a definite sense that you are doing more than just trying to survive in Prey 2.

The .45 pistol that the character was carrying at the beginning of the demo looked awesome. Often games don’t really lend to the sense of weight, kickback or power of a weapon like that, but the gun was extremely well designed and animated. Plus it sounded like a cannon going off. Like I’ve said before, how a team handles the small details says a lot about a developer.

The world is an Urban Jungle Gym. The world the game is set in is built like a huge vertical city where skyscrappers are built on top of other skyscrappers. There game features a movement system that takes advantage of this, climbing, jumping, and interacting with the environment in first person looked to a key feature of Prey 2. That’s not to say it is like the Mirror’s Edge parkour system, just that if the game controls as well as they demonstrated. It also means that you’ll be able to easily move around the city instead of bumping into things hoping they’re interactive.

Prey 2 also features a Dynamic Cover system. Most FPS games that utilize a cover-based system do so by switching to a third perrson view. Prey 2 sticks to the first person view. It looked pretty cool actually. You can slide into cover and the character’s body reacts to the situation perfectly. They will be weapon ready and the cover won’t completely obstruct your view while it provides protection.

Inspector Gadget has nothing on this guy. In the demo, the quick swap screen for gadgets showed only a couple as unlocked like the boladeros, a deployable shield, grenades, and an anti-gravity wave. There were spots for three more, and they said there would be twenty different gadgets in the final release.

Good guy? Bad guy? He’s the one with the gun. This is more than just a run and gun game. There are decisions to make everywhere, whether it’s to help someone getting beaten by some things, or if the bounty you just captured is going to be taken in dead or alive. They even showed some light torture of a captured bounty for information and a bounty trying to bride his way out of the situation. Each action appears to have a consequence. They staff mentioned burning a guy who gives you jobs might mean that they will ask for a favor later or put a bounty on you, but the full consequences of actions looks like something we will have to wait until the final game to see.

Of all the games at the show, this was probably my favorite. They’ve managed to combine nearly every genre I’m a fan of into a game that looks insane. I’m not even a fan of the original Prey game, I just thought it was okay. After this though, I’m going to actually go back and play it again just to make sure I get the story references for whenever this game is released.

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