Review: Prey (2017)
Developer: Arkane Studios
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
It’s a bit weird on most occasions when you hear that something is going to get the reboot treatment. You’re torn between wanting to give it the benefit of the doubt, and allowing it to progress into its own game to eventually surpass the game it is supposedly rebooting. But at the same time, it’s hard not to be apprehensive about such things, as historically, reboots haven’t really done a great job of improving original experience. The last Prey title was released in 2006, developed by Human Head Studios and published 2K Games, which garnered a rating of 83 on Metacritic.
That puts over ten years between the original release, and the reboot title that this review pertains to.
Before we begin with the review, we’d like to point out that the next handful of paragraphs contain some early game spoilers, so if you’re not keen on losing that element of surprise and suspense, I’d suggest either closing the review or skipping to the review summary at the bottom of the article.
You are Dr Morgan Yu, a lab scientist at the TransStar labs in San Francisco. Your family name and Chinese ancestry play a huge part in something science related — at least according to your brother Alex who meets with you as you’re starting the game.
At the start of your game, you’ll be given the choice to start as either a male or female version of Morgan Yu. You see both genders side by side peering into a mirror, looking at a bloodshot eye that you have.
After selecting one of the two genders, you start your day waking up to some catchy tunes from your alarm clock and checking what appears to be a mobile phone with all sorts of wiring and circuitry attached to it like some sort of makeshift device. In your apartment, you find a handful of electronics materials like copper wire, and circuit boards, so it’s entirely believable that Morgan bastardised the handset.
You put on your body suit and take a helicopter for a short hop across the San Francisco bay area in a short but pretty title cutscene sequence. After the chopper lands, you head straight to the lab testing where the tutorial begins.
It’s here that you start to discover that things are seriously wrong as one of the scientists is attacked by something you can’t explain. After which you’re knocked unconscious and wake up in your apartment to do it all over again, except this time, you can’t help but feel that that part of a bigger experiment.
You find yourself aboard the Talos I orbital space laboratory, where most of your colleagues have been… mummified. Armed with a wrench, you set out to find some answers about what you saw in the testing labs, and thus begins your story.
As you progress through the game you’ll collect a variety of weapons to aid you in your mission. Such weapons include the GLOO Gun which creates gelatinous moulds that solidify into hard structures or modified the molecular biology of enemies, effectively turning them to stone temporarily. You GLOO Gun’s primary function is crowd control, then you can beat the snot out of your enemies with the aforementioned wrench.
To carry out your objectives, you’ll often be required to decipher some well disguised puzzles, use stealth to avoid the big enemies (unless you Rambo it like I do), and find your way around keeping an eye on every inanimate object lest it jump out at you.
The combat of Prey will certainly feel familiar to fans of games like Bioshock. In amongst the shooting of enemies, you also can search practically anything that could be used to contain loot, such as drawers, cupboards, and yes, even corpses. You’ll acquire items such as food, health packs, and scrap that can be recycled at various recycling stations all over the place. This allows you to get parts to make new things like ammo, weapons, and more.
Prey mixes in a bit of player customisation in the form of skills and abilities that you unlock through the use of Neuromods. Neuromods are items that appear occasionally and act like skill points allowing you to unlock new abilities and upgrade tiers. They are actually a product of TransStar labs under the supervision of your brother, Alex.
The various skills you acquire are sorted into three categories: science, engineering, and security. Each category contains a set of skills that broadly fit that area, such as science allowing you to gain more health from the use of each medpack and so on. This allows players to customise their Morgan character and play how they want to, which then provides multiple ways to complete an objective.
Along the way, you’ll also gain blueprints to create various items at the fabrication station. Similar to the Recycling stations, the fabricator takes your items and turns them into various items from your blueprints, such as an extra wrench.. Items need to be recycled first before they can be used in the fabrication process.
Arkane Studios has done a great job of making Prey look absolutely gorgeous. There is a fantastic amount of detail in each area, with a variety of different visual effects to suit each location in the game world.
Textures increase in fidelity on the fly so that the game can load faster, however, the only drawback with this on occasion is that you may get some lower quality textures which load instantly and don’t change until the object comes into focus, creating the pop-in effect. This doesn’t really affect the game performance at all, but it does breaks immersion, especially when you’re staring at the object with the low-resolution texture and it takes 10 seconds to update. Thankfully we’ve not experienced this too much.
The character design in Prey is another thing with a bit to be desired. The enemies, known as “Mimics” look fantastic and are genuinely frightening, however human characters… not so much. Human characters look as though they’re attempting to go realistic, but ended up with a clay-animation model and now look like a hybrid cartoon realism.
As far as sound design goes, the audio is crisp and clear with ambient music and sound effects to suit each occasion. Mimics – the most common enemies in the game – will scurry around which is a bit disconcerting when suddenly there is this dark crash and you’re not able to locate the enemy. It’s frightening and suspenseful.
Voice overs are recorded well, with great dialog to match for the most part. The only gripe I have with the voice acting here is the Male version of Morgan, which reminds me of my problem with MaleShep from Mass Effect: in short, the female voice acting is far more enjoyable to play through with. Male Morgan sounds like your typical cookie cutter hero, while Female Morgan sounds like a bit of a hard ass who’s seen some real horrors.
Prey is a good game with a fairly interesting narrative, great visuals and sound design, and okay gameplay even if it’s not exactly groundbreaking. What I mean by this is that you’re not going to see similar games borrow ideas from Prey, but it holds its own for those who like offline shooters with an objective.
|Prey is a good game with a fairly interesting narrative, great visuals and sound design, and okay gameplay even if it’s not exactly groundbreaking. You're not going to see similar games borrow ideas from Prey, but it holds its own for those who like offline shooters with an objective.||3.9 3.9 ( on 5 rating)|