Prey is the heir apparent

by Kenny Lindsay

In the beginning there was Doom. Then came Doom II, followed by an enormous genre of first-person shooters that are just as legendary as the foundations they were built on. Half Life, Halo and, the most recent installment of the Doom series, Doom III, have all set what is now considered the industry standard for kill-’em-all multi-player games. There have been countless titles released in an attempt to keep up with these great predecessors. Some do well, but many are complete failures. Our new game, Prey by Human Head Studios, just may have a crack at keeping pace with the competition.

It’s obvious that game makers are not going to be successful by continually spewing out titles that consist of just running around, jumping, skipping and shooting other players in the head with big beefy weapons. There has to be something more palatable for our generation. Prey takes a swing by coming up with a concept that is a little different, adding a twist to the usual stew of violence. I couldn’t help but imagine the conversation the folks at Human Head Studios had before beginning production.

“What would have made Doom III a better game? I got it! Why should a player be limited to just the floor? What’s wrong with playing off the walls and ceilings?” Thus they went to work.

So here’s the scenario: Your character Tommy, his girlfriend, his grandfather and countless other humans have been kidnapped by extraterrestrial goons to be used as food. Yummy! By the grace of some elusive rebels who are aboard a gigantic spacecraft orbiting the earth, you are set free only to find yourself in a desperate struggle to rescue your grandpa and lady friend and return to your home planet. Being exposed to terrifying mutilations, grotesque creatures and the sound of screams and torture, you quickly begin to lose hope and sanity. After a few moments into the game, your old man is discovered strapped to a huge machine in a crucifix type manner. For a moment there is hope, but it is quickly swept away. The old man assures you not to worry, for he is going to the spirit world where he will become more useful and that you, Tommy, should hold onto your Native American roots as they will help guide you through these treacherous times. Now for the good part: The machine closes with long, hypodermic fixtures protruding outward, and grandpa is violently turned into a delicious protein shake for your enemies.

If that’s not disturbing I don’t know what is. The story continues with similar cut scenes, one of which includes a creepy little girl who becomes possessed and will continue to freak you out mid-way through the game.

The quest goes on in an attempt to rescue Tommy’s girlfriend and, just as a heads up, if you think the old man’s rescue was bad, it only gets worse.

Some of the key features that made this game stand out are, again, the dizzying effects of walking on walls and ceilings at given times throughout the game. Gravity switches, portals and warp chambers also enhance the confusion. This has a great impact on the challenge factor and at times becomes so discombobulating that your character actually blows chunks.

Another feature that plays a vital role in the game is Tommy’s ability to leave his physical body into a spiritual state of being. Soon after the slaying of his grandfather, you are transferred temporarily to the netherworld where Gramps will teach you the ways of your Cherokee warrior decedents.

The details in the graphics are astounding and one of my favorites is the weapons. Instead of the usual M-16 or space blaster, your arsenal is actually alive and moving. The primary main weapon is comprised of little claw-like hands that hold and reload the ammunition as well as the occasional adjustment or check-up to the outside of the gun.

The various environments throughout the game are also very organic and seem to come to life by making sounds now and then that, in real life, are usually followed by an “excuse me.” Walls and ceilings will at times resemble human anatomy. At points later in the game there are giant half-human/half-scorpion creatures that come out of what appears to be refrigerator-sized vaginas. These creatures are a pain to take down as they dodge back into the huge orifice and quickly return out of another only to continue their attack.

I was very impressed by the ease of control, considering I’m not the biggest fan of using a mouse and keyboard when playing high-action games on a PC. They were easy to get used to, and simple enough to keep your fingers from searching for a key while watching the screen.

Prey is rated Mature for Tommy’s reputable potty mouth, gruesome scenes and the pair of bouncing breasts that appear on the goddess that is to be defeated at the end of the game.

The biggest downfall I found to Prey is it’s incredible ease of play. Time permitting, the game could be beaten within a day or so and I don’t see any replay value in it at all, aside from the multiplayer aspect. The enemy characters can at times seem very mundane as well. Prey boasts of extremely challenging puzzles, but I have to say that they are not. It’s pretty much a matter of flipping some switches and backtracking. If it were not for some of the unique and different enhancements that are unusual to this game, I would have given it a thumbs down, but altogether this title makes for a respectable contender amongst it’s class of competitors and this paleface is looking forward to the next installment of the series.

PC provided by Marc Lerner, “The Gadget Guy” of Fox 8 News and Tweeter.

Catch his show every Friday on the morning news.