Let us Prey?

By Kieron Gillen on March 30th, 2008 at 4:15 pm.

Prey!
I admit, I never got around to playing any more of Human Head’s shooter than the demo. However, I return from London Town to see that if I had any spare time, now would be a good chance to change that. For this weekend – and this weekend only! – it’s on sale on Steam, for a mere $4.95. And for Europeans, that means it’s at least seven ultracheaps. It divided critical opinion upon release - I know Jim was a big fan of the physics-warping levels, but it was critiqued even more than Bioshock for its repawning system. Those who’ve played it: Worth five dollars? Seriously, how could it not be.

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31 Comments »

  1. Bozzley says:

    Ah, I loved Prey. So many nice touches and details, a couple of “HOLY FUCK DID YOU SEE THAT?!” moments, and the most ridiculous boss battle ever devised. It’s generic in a thousand ways, but whenever it tries something different, it hits more than it misses. For me, anyway. And it’s well worth a playthrough for $5.

  2. Turin Turambar says:

    Great shooter, with a good feeling of adventure (good voicework, weird and alien setting, rescue-your-girlfriend plot basic but well used).
    Some really good moments, from mind warping stuff to really big scale and spectacular vistas, to epic boss battles.

    Some people complained that in the end the portals were only just a different doors, unlike in Portal. It’s true, but it’s not that important, the portals, like the rest of things, were to give the game a distinctive, weird, eerie-like feeling, and it was succeful in that regard.

  3. Matt says:

    There were a lot of nice little details. Some really cool moments. My favorite parts all had to deal with the Art Bell call in radio show. I continued to play the game just to hear those segments.

  4. Alex says:

    A mediocre shooter that does most of its best stuff in the first hour or so and slowly becomes more and more tedious after that.

    Everything about the artistic design seems derivative – you’ve all seen it before and probably done better.

    The story has more plotholes than there are portals in the game, including silly plottwists and equally silly dialogue. The rescue-your-girlfriend plot is only mildly motivating and, in the end, gets quite badly botched.

    All that said – $5 is a fair price, although I really wouldn’t pay a lot more than that.

  5. Guido says:

    @Alex – your post leads me to dangerous assumptions about your piracy gameplay habits…

  6. yutt says:

    I grabbed Prey when I saw the sale on Steam this weekend. I thought the respawn system was simply genius. You never are taken out of gameplay with a irritating loading screen, and it makes sense in context of the game.

    I can only imagine people who complain about these things (including Bioshock’s) are old school elitists who are angered each time a game deviates from the Atari era life ticker system. In the same breathe they complain that a game “lacks originality” they’ll bitch because it isn’t formulaic enough.

    *sigh*

  7. Flint says:

    Yeah, the respawn system was great. Can’t see why stuff like that is criticised so much.

    I liked Prey. It’s not anything spectacular but it’s still very enjoyable. Has some great moments in it. Plus I just liked the whole plot setting, instead of saving the world you’re just trying to find out what the hell is going on and where on earth is your girl. Well, until it did turn a bit towards the saving the world kind of thing. The gameplay itself was really fun, it got a bit meh towards the end as the levels just got filled with non-stop shooting galleries as if the developers had ran out of ideas. I liked the spirit gimmick as well.

    My biggest gripe with the game is my usual gripe about the setting: I just can’t stand these generic dark and gritty hallways (with gratuituous random leftover torsos from experiments here and there) that much anymore. It’s not menacing, it’s not atmospheric, it’s boring and dull.

    But still, well worth five bucks.

  8. SwiftRanger says:

    There is nothing wrong with trying to get rid of the old quicksave/quickreload habit because the latter has become a bit tedious yes. Prey’s alternative though isn’t really better imo, it’s the same “shoot-blue-and-red-ghosts” mini-game for the whole duration of the game (about the only thing that changes is the presence of some extra rocks and pillars in the ghost environment when you are further in the game). And you’re not really punished for dying, you are actually rewarded. You can argue that a reload is also unfair but it’s not as advantageous as dying and reviving on the spot with near-full health and spirit power. There are just not enough consequences attached to it.

    Aside from that, Prey is like Quake 4 (most decent oldskool FPS of the last few years) with some nice oddities in it. MultiPrey is completely wacko, in a good way. Definitely worth that new low price yeah.

  9. Elyscape says:

    One of my favorite aspects of the game was the weapons. Specifically, I enjoyed how all the weapons were partially or fully biological. It made things so much weirder.

  10. Theory says:

    The only thing I’ve really liked about Prey has been the fiction. But what a fiction! Every time there was a window looking out into the sphere I’d stop and gaze through it for a good few minutes. The planetoids and gravity-switches were genius too. The visual style is brilliant too – not exactly a new idea, but it’s very well executed and performs well until you get outside (damn you, Doom 3 engine!).

    It entertained me enough to finish, but I don’t think I would have wanted to pay more than a tenner for it. Now I’ve seen it all there’s not much more to do…for £2.90 though, I’m very satisfied indeed. :-)

  11. Gwog says:

    There is a story here, somewhere… this big AAA shooter that was at least somewhat successful, the flagship release for the Triton download service which immediately went tits-up, now the first actual good deal available on Steam.

    My idle guess; 3DRealms approaches Valve about partnering up, and Valve holds their feet to the fire a little to make them pay for the whole Triton-era situation by forcing a crazy low price.

    This price is just such an anomaly, and so counter to the Steam approach of selling everything at top dollar. Curious why.

  12. Kieron Gillen says:

    Oh, Steam has had weekend sales before, I think. I suspect it’s a “We fancy putting it on the front page of Steam again and are looking for a good reason”. They figure if people play it and like it, it re-enters conversation and more people decide it’s worth paying for down the line.

    KG

  13. Cigol says:

    It’s one of those games that will be forgotten in the passage of time – and it being so cheap increases frivolous sales on price alone. There’s nothing sinister or truly calculating going on. It’s also not the first good deal on Steam, more likely the cheapest.

  14. datter says:

    If you have to ask if a game that undoubtedly took many millions of dollars to develop is worth $5… it likely isn’t.

  15. Larington says:

    Or perhaps is simply that if people haven’t payed at or near full price by now, they probably aren’t going to for the foreseeable future… So why not generate extra sales of the moment. That said, FIVE DOLLARS!?

    Didn’t feel much for the whole rescue the girlfriend thing either, but thats because A) her introduction was too brief, B) I never saw/got a reason to like her character and C) all I ever heard her do was yell for help, pray or generally whimper even towards the end. I did however regard the whole looking out into the world/sphere/earth thing as very impressive visually, and the spirit world resurrection thing was rather nice even if it was only a minigame.

  16. Radiant says:

    What amazing boss battle?

    This game was mediocre.
    A litany of half realised ideas squeezed into a corridor shooter.
    Plus the story had more dropped threads then a one armed man in a yarn factory.

    Dead Native American’s Ghost: “You must complete these 7 trials!”
    Game: “On second thoughts never mind! Just ignore that dude”
    You: “I MUST RESCUE MY GIRLFRIEND!”
    You a bit later: “Whoops!”
    Game: “Look Alien breasts!”
    Game: “Ok then how about Ghost breasts?”
    Game: “Actually… forget I said anything lets just end the game”

  17. Radiant says:

    Actually I bought this on the 360 does it differ much on PC?

  18. Theory says:

    Dead Native American’s Ghost: “You must complete these 7 trials!”
    Game: “On second thoughts never mind! Just ignore that dude”

    Hah, I’d forgotten he said that.

    Disagree about “Whoops” though. It’s not like there was much choice in the matter. I thought that was one of the better bits, story-wise.

  19. Scandalon says:

    Yea, they did the firesale for cheapskates like me who picked it up because it was $5 – I certainly wasn’t going to pay full retail for it, and even if I had, it was much too late for it to make a difference – they wouldn’t have seen any money from it. The demo was intriguing enough that I was interested, but not “Go to the store/order online” interested. This way, they get a bit, I get the game, along w/ Doom3 Engine editing (without pirating it) in exchange for not gettting a fast-food combo meal. Oh, and I tell at least 2 other people about the deal that certainly would never have bought it before, who may pick it up…

  20. Wickedashtray says:

    Other than the moronic end-boss battle (think the end boss of RtCW x10 in terms of goofiness) its was a really fun game with plenty of “oh wow” moments.

  21. Alex Hopkinson says:

    So far it’s definitely worth the £3 for 1) fighting beasties on the walls and floor whilst you stand on the ceiling, and 2) getting shot at by a beastie on the ceiling, turning off the gravity strip and watching him fall to his death.

    Plus I got to turn the human-pulping machine back on by “mistake” and consign my neighbours to their bloody end!

  22. Seniath says:

    I picked it up on release, and enjoyed it as a no-brains shooter with a couple of interesting gimmicks. Yes, portals have been done better now, but I still feel, for the price of a Subway you can’t really go wrong.

  23. Caiman says:

    Prey left me feeling that it was the game Doom3 should have been. But perhaps that’s because Prey was so transparently using the Doom3 engine, it felt more like an expansion pack at times. Still, it looked fantastic (still does in fact) and really tried to step outside the FPS-paradigm at times.

  24. timbo1138 says:

    Really wanted to get into this, but no, 2K’s Steam games aren’t available in Australia. Arbitrary restrictions like that make me really angry, and I’m forcing myself not to get into my regular rant about it. Gr.

  25. Krupo says:

    The Australian games block thing is WEIRD. Perhaps my friend’s theory that “Australia doesn’t actually exist” is somehow proved true by this, but I’m not sure how.

    The moment I saw the sale, I thought, “hmm, there will no doubt be a discussion at RPS about this” – thank you for confirming my assumption. :)

    Now here’s a question I have for you: why is Peggle Deluxe getting updated this weekend too?

    And why did Peggle Deluxe (on sale), end up costing TWICE as much as Prey?

    Let’s see which one is more fun now.

  26. Andrew Farrell says:

    Perhaps they’re making a statement that they can afford to sell games this low, because without a box or shipping, it’s still basically all profit.

    Or perhaps they’re not making any statement, just counting the money.

  27. Irish Al says:

    @Radiant

    Yes, it differs insofar as you can use mouse and keyboard and as such it will be controllable. :)

    It’s probably worth 5 rats just for the opening sequence.

  28. andreas says:

    fuck!
    the weekend, it is gone

  29. Evan says:

    There’s so much that is wrong with Prey, and there’s so much that is right with it. In fact, whether you say “it sucks”, or you say “it rocks”, you are right. This is because it both sucks AND rocks in equal measures.

    The art direction is incredibly generic. Painfully generic. The baddies look like Doom 3 + Halo 3 – Coolness.

    The setting and story are so tedious it hurts. ALIENS ATTACK THE PLANET, AND ONLY YOU CAN SAVE IT!!!

    Finally, the weapons are really generic as well, although I liked the idea of ‘living grenades’.

    Still, the game mechanics rock. Some of the gravity puzzles really had me scratching my head for a minute or two. The ‘puzzles’ are just hard enough that you feel good when you figure them out.

    Also, the main character is pretty unique. Beyond the fact that he is Native American, what really made him cool is that his powers were derived from a religious/spiritual source (as opposed to him having a ‘super suit’, or being genetically enhanced). This gave the game some interesting religious overtones, but not in a cheesy way.

    … anyway, that’s my view of the game. Equal parts good and bad. Definitely worth $5.

    Like one of the metacritic reviewers said, Prey is the game that Doom 3 should have been. After all, at least Prey has 2 new game mechanics where Doom 3 had none.

  30. Omelette Of The Damnned says:

    I couldn’t resist buying this for $5. I’m partway through it now.

    It seems rather uneven.

    There are some weird and wonderful portal and gravity-based puzzles and some glorious, dazzling vistas.

    There are also loads of portals that could perfectly well just be ordinary doors. A lot of alien territorry looks good but unimaginative, like outtakes from Doom 3. A few scenes look downright dated, like they were lifted from some much older game.

    One thing that kind of bugs me is Tommy’s reaction to … everything. Tommy’s grandfather points out that Tommy is more-or-less invincible, that he can walk through walls, that he can see invisible things, and that he can kill aliens with his mind. Tommy pretty much says “Dammit, old man! I don’t have time for this crap! Gotta find my girlfriend!” When the impossibly shapely and almost-naked alien babe Elhuit tells Tommy that the bad guys have enslaved her entire race (implying that humanity itself is likely in grave danger), Tommy’s reaction is similar: “Whatever. Have you seen my girlfriend?”

    What’s the lesson here? When greatness is thrust upon them, some people shrug it off?

  31. Krupo says:

    The first time I encountered a mechanical portal thing, I didn’t realize at first I was dealing with a mechanical portal thing.

    Cue 5 minutes of running back and forth through the portal thing, trying to figure out where the heck I’m supposed to go.

    At one point I finally left the portal room when I exited in the new/”different” area.

    Oops.

    Tommy’s attitude is amusing enough early on. Let’s see if it becomes grating over time.

    I mean, I love that “worst Indian casino ever” line.