The story isn't without its faults though. Many players have expressed concerns that Humanhead may have "blown their load" on the first few levels of the game and that the full version will offer nothing new. These fears may not be unfounded. Inside sources tell us that shortly after the demo portion of the game things slow down considerably. Tommy discovers secret alien tax return documents and realizes that they are not fully minimizing their tax liability. Tommy spends the rest of the game itemizing deductions to save Earth and mankind.
Gameplay: The demo starts in the bar's restroom. The level of interactivity here is incredible. You can play with the faucets, press a lever for soap, dry your hands with a blow dryer, flush the toilet, and turn the lights on and off. I've always said video games are great because they let you do things you can't necessarily do in real life.
The asshole physics are not as impressive though. Sure you can knock boxes down the stairs but no one really minds. Still, you can always pretend to be an asshole. Just wait until they see these boxes that I left "this end up" that end down!
There isn't much gameplay to experience in the bar section aside from beating to death a few barflies. The real gameplay doesn't start until you hit colon.
There is a theory called the Kardashev scale that attempts to classify how technologically advanced a civilization is by observing how much energy it can harness in its environment. For example, we are a type 0 civilization because we have not yet harnessed all the power of Earth and we suck. A type 1 civilization has harnessed all the power of Earth and can build space elevators (don't get me started on that space elevator music). A type 2 civilization has harnessed all the energy in the sun and can lift stars and so on.
Open sesame!" alt="" src="http://i.somethingawful.com//sasbi/2006/06/acetone/06-28-06prey3s.jpg" /> The aliens in Prey are obviously a type 4 civilization and have harnessed all of the energy in the universe to develop the ultimate technological advancement, sphincter doors. Scientists have theorized that the most efficient method of entry and exit control is the sphincter. Similar to the way the human anus can identify both turds and farts (sphincter failure leads to sharts), the sphincter doors in Prey allow Tommy entrance or act as a barrier depending on how they are programmed.
Weaker sphincters are also used as a delivery system for explosives that Tommy can use against the aliens to blow holes in their spaceship. An alien law passed recently by the alien congress dictates that spaceship personnel provide these explosives to give humans a chance to blow up their spaceships. And you thought our politics were idiotic. If this is the extent of puzzles in Prey then I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I don't want to have to think when I play these games. Figuring out that the things that explode can be used to open a door or something is enough for me.
Much has been made of Prey's gravity effects and portal technology. Shoot a gravity pad and it changes the room's gravity. Walk onto one of those glowing walkways and run up walls. Portals are constantly opening up with enemies jumping out of them. These things take an otherwise simple first-person-shooter and turns it into a baffling ordeal. I have trouble shooting things right-side-up. Do they really expect us to worry about aiming up-side-down? I can't imagine what kind of crazy ass portal puzzles they're going to put us through in the full version.
At one point during the demo you encounter a portal to a room you're already in and you can actually see yourself walking into the portal. The first time I saw it I thought my character in the portal was actually an enemy and I shot it and died. Raise your hand if you were as stupid as me and did this as well. I thought so.
Gravity effects also put a whole new twist on deathmatch. For the first time ever we can shoot rockets at each otherís feet, but on the ceiling!
As you explore the ship further you eventually you get sucked into a spirit world where you're introduced to some more gameplay elements that justify the whole Native American theme, but it isn't that interesting. Basically a hawk tells you where to go when you're lost and you can shoot a bow and walk through force fields. You know, Indian shit.
The rest of the gameplay is your standard run-and-gun affair BUT WITH PORTALS WEEEEE!
Graphics: Having been built on the Doom 3 engine I expected the game to look like I actually blew my load on it. Doom 3 was a semen covered shadow stenciled mess that looked completely unnatural. Yeah Prey still has some glaze on it, but it doesn't look completely absurd.
Prey takes the engine and does Doom 3 right. It's like they sent someone in there with a cum rag and cleaned everything up. A lot of publishers turn on the bullshit and put things like "a breathtaking cinematic experience" on the back of the game box. This is one of the few games that can actually say that.
The ride through the spaceship looked like a movie. They should have made the whole game like that. Just put the player on rails and let them look around like they're on a ride at Disney World. The shooting and running around just gets in the way.
Bottom line: Prey is gaming's Summer blockbuster. The story is kind of lame and the dialogue cheesy but it's got trippy gravity effects, explosions, doors that look like anuses with alien shit coming out of them, and a genuinely creepy atmosphere. I expect 3DRealms to contact me shortly asking for my permission to use my quote, "gaming's Summer blockbuster" on their box art. My glowing recommendation of Prey can mean the difference between a million seller and the bargain bin.
It's been a long time coming for this technically impressive demo, but are we going to want to smoke the peace pipe with the full version come July? I don't know but probably! With nine years in development, one cancellation, and one dead lead programmer left in its wake, Prey is the game Doom 3 should have been.
That's it for this year's PC game review. See you next Summer!
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).