Hands-On: Prey 2017 is Every Video Game Except Prey 2006 - Geek.com

In 2006 there was a video game called Prey. You played as a Cherokee dude shooting aliens in first person on a big space station. For years developers tried and failed to make the sequel the original ending teased. Meanwhile, Arkane Studios started developing its own game about shooting aliens on a big space station in first person, and because Bethesda owned the rights to the Prey brand, we’re finally getting a new Prey by sticking the name of this game. While Prey 2017 may be just a spiritual successor to the original at best (like Final Fantasy for sci-fi shooters) the ideas it’s synthesizing from other games give me some faith.

Hands-On: Prey 2017 is Every Video Game Except Prey 2006 - Geek.com

If Dishonored was Arkane Studios basically making a new Thief, Prey is the team’s attempt at making a new System Shock, along with the other sci-fi immersive sims that classic inspired. The demo I played limited me to one section of the haunted, haunting alien-infested space station. But it was a fairly dense and scientific environment where I could test how the systems interacted with each other, and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of the results.

Along with standard shotguns and Half-Life wrenches, I also had a big gun that could shoot balls of sticky glue at things and harden on impact. I discovered that I could use glue to do everything from patching up fire and electrical hazards to briefly immobilizing enemies and landing some free hits. Meanwhile, previously hardened glue in other spots of the map could be shattered leading the way to new paths.

Hands-On: Prey 2017 is Every Video Game Except Prey 2006 - Geek.com

The demo was full of neat little “Aha” moments like that. One particularly nasty alien could reanimate corpses left in a test chamber. You have to fight at least one but if you manually dragged more corpses into the chamber, you could up the challenge and farm more crafting materials like alien tumors. I also stumbled across a prisoner, and by choosing to free him instead of murdering him, he gave me access to a powerful armory. I probably spent more time exploring than fighting, which just made combat more tense. The full game even lets you turn into a cup, which I, unfortunately, didn’t get to try for myself.

Player choice like that is appreciated, but it’s also very much in vogue these days. The Prey demo, while not necessarily generic for a AAA game, still constantly reminded of other video games. Neuromods introduce light RPG upgrades out of Deus Ex or Fallout like hacking turrets or unleashing psychic blasts. The inventory screen full of items of different sizes to rearrange gave me Resident Evil 4 flashbacks. The horror in space vibe should satisfy fans of Dead Space or, I guess, the original Prey. You even find a scanning visor for some Metroid Prime action. The final game promises a single, interconnected world, not unlike the beloved Nintendo series.

Hands-On: Prey 2017 is Every Video Game Except Prey 2006 - Geek.com

Those are great influences, but it leaves the game itself a little lacking when it comes to personal identity. That also describes the main character, who suffers from typical video game amnesia and has to rely on questionable guidance from other survivors and past, BioShock-style recordings to untangle the extraterrestrial plot. In case the inspirations weren’t clear enough, the demo was followed by a screening of the original Total Recall at the Alamo Drafthouse theater.

Hands-On: Prey 2017 is Every Video Game Except Prey 2006 - Geek.com

If you haven’t played the new Doom, you should play the new Doom. But if you’re looking for another Bethesda space shooter, maybe one with more brains than brawn, consider the new Prey when it comes out May 5. Or maybe wait a few days later thanks to Bethesda’s asinine ongoing reviews policy. Wait long enough and you might even get to play a better looking version on Xbox Scorpio.

RIP old Prey.

Hands-On: Prey 2017 is Every Video Game Except Prey 2006 – Geek.com

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