Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Prey is fun

After several weeks of intermittent playtime, I finally got through Prey. Now I'm not usually in the business of reviewing games but I really have to make an exception here:

This game is so freak'n fun!!




(What do you mean "Is that it"?)
(You want to know why it's fun? Umm, can't you just take my word for it?)
(Geez, fine, ok, but I'm telling you, I'm not good at this review stuff.)

Ahem ahem. Prey is fun because...

Innovative elements

  • Portals: These are little rips in space that transport you around the game. (Think Rand al Thor... What? You don't read Wheel of Time? Nevermind.)
  • Gravity: It's not a law, it's all relative in Prey. Ceilings are floors are walls are ceilings again.
  • Death: Not a problem, it just slows you down but you're right back at it in a few seconds.
  • Story: Hey, there is one, it's not Shakespeare but it worked.
How it all fits together

I'm not usually a fan of first-person shooters. I find them to be mind-numbing. Most FPS games require me to strap on horse blinders and only pay attention to what's in front of me. In Prey, I was immersed in the environment, all x, y and z of it. I constantly found myself craning my neck over the horizon, trying to get a glimpse of what I'll experience next (I'm being figurative, if I did crane my neck, I'd see the office couch behind my monitor). I credit this immersion to the visuals and game design, which leaned heavily on those innovative elements. The portals threw level predictability out the door, you never knew where you would end up. The casual gravity made you pay attention to everything around you; goodbye FPS blinders.

This analogy is often over-used but I truly found the game to be a roller coaster ride. One of the most interesting design elements is that you never really "die" in the game. Instead, your character is taken to a "time-out" where you gather strength and come back exactly where you fell. In practice, this means that I don't ever have to "redo" any part of the game. Dying is still frustrating in that I'm taken away from the action and feel the sense of failure but I never leave the game world. Let me repeat that, you could play this entire game through without ever seeing a save or rez load screen.

The final element is the story. It's not a award-winning but it's well-seasoned with captivating moments. Two examples of good story experiences: You have full visual control during cut-scenes so you can look wherever you want, thereby making you feel like you're there. In certain areas of the game, you overhear a radio show that talks about the main plotline, although this has no direct impact in the game, the show adds a great sense of realism.

In summary, this is one that will satisfy your urge to frag things while also tickling your sense of wonder and excitement. Definitely worth the money and the time.

For some more professional reviews, hit IGN, FiringSquad, & GameSpot

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