Prey

| Reviews

Reworking an Old Formula
Despite the fact that the first person shooter genre makes for about the best selling title on any platform, certain risks are present in designing this kind of game. If itis been done before, the title can be dismissed as routine, typical or boring by the player base.

Prey by Human Head Studios manages to avoid these problems and has created something genuinely new for the genre. The title, which takes typical elements of the first person shooter, manages to introduce some new ideas as well as include an interesting story line, good vocal work and unique weapons.


Original Beginnings
Unlike most first person shooter titles, Prey focuses on its story up. Log in and the player first sees the mirror reflection of the main character, Tommy, a Cherokee native and Army veteran running an internal monologue in his mind as to being discontent with being stuck on the reservation, unsure of whether he can tell his girlfriend Jen how he feels about her and doubting the basis of his ancestry.


During the opening moments of gameplay, Tommy walks through a bar, discusses his doubts with his grandfather and confronts two bar patrons whoive begun harassing Jen when an alien craft known as The Sphere emerges in synch with radio reports of unidentified activity in the southwestern skies to teleport the everyone in the bar aboard an unknown space ship.


From here, the plot and mood of the game unfold, the aliens processing kidnapped humans by impaling them and siphoning their blood, Tommy escaping from a hovering conveyor device and beginning to pick his way through the ship, gathering weapons and fighting aliens he happens across while vowing to save his grandfather and Jen.


Human Head worked to set a creepy, foreign mood and pulled this off admirably with a blend of levels that combine both a techno-steel look with pulsating organic fixtures that rival anything found in the Quake or Doom series. The overall creepy/biological feel of the game is enhanced by picking up weapons that are essentially organic in nature. Small, crab-like aliens become grenades while tentacle-like appendages attach to an arm to become powerful weapons.


Where game play is concerned, Prey throws in some cool new elements such as a spirit form and "gravity tripping". With the spirit form, Tommy can learn to voluntarily leave his hovering body and walk around as a spirit form, equipped with a bow and arrow for weaponry. This helps move beyond otherwise impassable obstacles and provides a cool new way to think through a puzzle when necessary.

Gravity tripping was advertised as one of Preyis main bells and whistles and genuinely makes the game that much better. Simply fire at a gravity switch and the playeris relative gravity will shift. While this doesnit help with fighting unless the player makes an effort to do so (suddenly being able to walk on a wall can offer new firing angles, etc.), this does offer new ways to traverse obstacles and work through a level.


Room For Improvement
Unfortunately, there are a few places for improvement. Like most first person shooters, the game arrives with a multiplayer mode, this one offering standard and team death match options. Even though the multiplayer mode works correctly in single player mode when a player sets up their own server, finding opponents turned into a nightmare, as the server browser kept returning nothing but empty servers with no one to play against. In the best case scenario, I was able to find a single server with two players to fight against, the server forbidding entry when it claimed my copy of the game couldnit download the necessary map files to join the game.


Human Head included an extremely original idea with spirit walking in the game, but this also provided for a strange downside; your character is essentially invincible. After the spirit walk ability has been gained, the player doesnit die, but instead heads to a spirit realm where they have to defeat several dishonored dead spirits to be resurrected back into the human world and continue fighting. While this removes the need to save as frequently, itis a little strange to find that your character has an alternate version of infinite lives.


"M" for "Mature"
Prey is rated "M" for a reason and between casual swearing from Tommyis end, several 50-gallon-"Evil-Dead"-style-blood-sprays, a generally high level of violence and realistic, gritty graphics, the title isnit for younger players. Still, the game proves to be engrossing and fun, Preyis story drawing the player in while a range of increasingly larger and more vicious aliens keeps the players on their toes, using grenades and cover to their advantage and becoming that much harder should you choose a more difficult setting when you begin the game.


The Bottom Line
Human Head has put together a good, original game thatis a worthy addition to the Macintosh first person shooter library thanks to a capable port by Aspyr. With a few bug fixes to the multiplayer code, the game could become a better value. Until then, the title is interesting, fun and engrossing and can be played briefly for 15-20 minutes at a time or played in hours-long sessions. Itis not perfect, but Prey is off to a good start and worth your consideration.

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
  • CPU Processor: PowerPC G5 or Intel chipset
  • CPU Speed: 1.8 GHz
  • Memory: 512 MB or higher
  • Hard Disk Space: 2.5GB free disk space
  • Video Card (ATI): Radeon 9600
  • Video Card (NVidia): GeForce 6600
  • Video Memory (VRam): 64 MB
  • Multiplayer: Internet (TCP/IP) and LAN (TCP/IP) play supported, requires a broadband connection
  • Media Required: DVD Drive

SUPPORTED VIDEO CARDS:

  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600, 6800, 7300, 7800
  • ATI Radeon 9600, 9650, 9800, X600, X800, X1600

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

  • CPU Speed: 2.0 GHz
  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.4.8
  • Memory: 1 GB
  • Video Memory (VRam): 128 MB
  • $49.95

Product: Prey

Company: Human Head Studios

List Price: $49.99

Amazon Price: $44.99

Cons: Multiplayer server browser needs critical code fixes.

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