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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Prey (Xbox 360)

I've been playing the Prey Xbox 360 demo, which became available on June 30.

Prey is one of the most anticipated First-Person Shooter (FPS) titles for this year, and has quite a history -- 10 years on the making. And overall, the demo is pretty slick.

Built on the Doom3 engine, the lighting and bump-mapping are spec(tac)ular, and despite concerns about Human Head's PC version running in higher resolution than developer Venom Games's Xbox 360 version, the console version looks great.

I haven't tried the online or system link multiplayer yet, so I'll comment on that later

The single player is fun, innovative, and may make you nauseous. There are some neat gameplay mechanics and nods to other successful franchises (game avatar Tommy's wrench is Gordan Freeman's crowbar), and stuff like the Zero-G ability to walk up a wall and onto a ceiling is cool, disorienting, and (played to close to a 100" screen) seriously vertigo inducing. Can't wait to try it in multiplayer.

And the spirit walk gimmick (kind of a tangible version of Psi-Ops mindwalk gimmick) is pretty nifty.

Perhaps coolest is the way they handle dying in the game. Rather than "game over" or restarting at the beginning of a stage (a la Halo), you go to a spirit world where you use your bow to try to tag as many spirits of fallen foes as you can -- the more you tag, the better your health and spiritual levels when you jump back into the game. Kind of a mini-game with a purpose.

There's also a decent amount of humor and attention to detail in the game (in the opening bar scene, you can turn the water on and off, flush the toilets, work the hand dryer, cycle through the jukebox, play video slots and blackjack, etc.).

The game is also dark. I think calls it a "serious, dark story, based on authentic Cherokee mythology."

So what doesn't work? Sometimes, the humor doesn't juxtapose well with the dark stuff. Also, Tommy is a bit chatty. But my biggest grip is the load screens. Akin to Perfect Dark Zero, they provide gaming tips that knocked me out of the mythos moment. I seriously don't know why developers do this.

The bummer is there's no way for publisher 3D Realms to get feedback annd make adjustments to them game. I wish more companies would do like Capcom is doing for Lost Planet -- putting out a solid demo in 2006 for a 2007 game, and soliciting feedback from gamers for adjustments to the title. Nice.

But, overall, Prey is a fun demo, and I'm looking forward to the full game next week. Since it just went gold on June 30, other than the PC download version, we'll have to see if the 07/11 release date also includes the physical media versions.

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