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Prey (Windows)

82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Spartan_234 (422)
Written on  :  Jul 14, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

The best first-person shooter ever made, ever.

The Good

You already know that you're in for an awesome experience when you find out that Prey is the result of 11 years of long, hard work from 3D Realms and Human Head Studios. That's right -- 11 years. Sounds like these people sacrificed their blood and sweat to make the best game ever. Prey shows all of this long, hard work by providing perfect gameplay, outstanding graphics and audio, a movie-quality soundtrack, a deep storyline, and refreshingly imaginative game environments.

With Prey, 3D Realms shows us what a first-person shooter should be. Reloading your weapon has become a standard part of first-person shooters nowadays, and while reloading is realistic, it caused some frustration within players because their enemy shot them while they were reloading. This was especially irritating during deathmatch, where the action is super-fast and your enemy attacks you all the time. There is no reloading in Prey, which is less realistic, but more fun. First-person shooters nowadays have also presented us with environments that were realistic, but bland and boring nonetheless. In Prey, however, you're presented with alien environments that don't make much sense, but are very imaginative and engaging. "Wallwalk" platforms and "gravity switches" that change the gravity on the level make for environments that are more complex than I could ever dream of. (That being said, Prey is probably the most disorienting game since Descent. If you easily get motion sickness, then don't play this game.) Again, less realistic, but more fun. An auto-adjusting difficulty system also helps. If you keep getting better at the game, the enemies will become meaner and smarter. If you suck, the enemies will become dumber to suit your difficulty level.

Prey differentiates itself from other first-person shooters with unique gameplay elements that are related to its authentic Cherokee mythology. By Spiritwalking (spiritually breaking away from your physical body), you can pass through forcefields to get to areas that your physical body can't reach. If you encounter any enemies while you're Spiritwalking, just shoot them with your spiritual crossbow. If your spirit takes damage, or if you shoot your crossbow, you'll lose spirit energy. If you're out of spirit energy, you won't be able to use your crossbow anymore, but you'll always be able to Spiritwalk. Many of the game's mind-bending puzzles take advantage of Spiritwalking, but I can't spoil such puzzles here. Really, you'll have to play the game to find out for yourself. Your physical body is still vulnerable to attack while Spiritwalking, meaning that you should strategically hide your physical body in a place where there won't be any enemies. If your physical body takes damage, you'll be kicked back to your physical body to take care of what's messing with you.

The way that the game handles death is also based on authentic Cherokee mythology, and it's probably the most useful innovation of all. When you die, your spirit goes to a "spirit world" where you must shoot down the "dishonored spirits" with your spiritual crossbow. In the spirit world, you don't have to worry about spirit energy, so you can shoot the crossbow as much as you want. Shooting blue spirits will give you more spiritual energy when you come back to life, while shooting red spirits will give you more health when you come back to life. If you don't shoot anything in the spirit world, you'll come back with 50% health and no spirit energy. If you died from falling into a pit, you'll come back at the nearest "safe" location. All in all, the "spirit world" mini-game is an excellent remedy to the frustrating "load the previous saved game" process that first-person shooter fans are used to.

Weapons are mostly standard first-person shooter fare, but what makes them stand out is that (with the exception of your own wrench) they're actually living organisms that move in your hands. Most importantly, their primary and secondary attacks are all very satisfying to carry out.

Prey uses an enhanced version of the already awesome technology behind Doom 3, and boy does it rock. It now has the ability to create rips in space that you can see through to see where it'll transport you. Unlike in other games, when you walk through the portal, the transition is completely seamless. It's an amazing technological achievement, if you ask me. Like you'd expect from a game using the Doom 3 technology, the graphics are easily the best I've ever seen, and a smooth frame rate helps to further immerse you into the experience. The sound effects are top-notch, and the soundtrack by Jeremy Soule is simply the best video game music I've ever heard.

The Bad

Absolutely nothing.

The Bottom Line

You're still reading this review? You should be playing the game by now!