If someone were to describe Prey 2 to you as “it is like the original Prey mixed with Blade Runner”, they didn’t even do it justice with that description. When we were demoed Prey 2, I was really hoping for a core change in the gameplay mechanics as the first game’s didn’t really do much for me. It just felt pointless and the whole thing was kind of hard to understand. Prey 2 tries to remedy all that by making a game so bad-ass that you don’t even care why it’s happening.
The demo was started with our presenter showing us a bit of the urban traversal that we have come to associate with Mirror’s Edge. Run up to a ledge and the character will run, jump, and climb the ledge. This opens up the world to so many different ways of taking on the gameplay. You aren’t confined to one linear path. For example, at one point in the demo, our player was supposed to meet someone on the balcony of a building but instead of going in through the front door and walking up the stairs, the character jumped from roof to room until he landed on the balcony, surprising the enemy. That said, Prey 2 is a surprisingly vertical game, something that I certainly wasn’t expecting.
The game picks up immediately after the plane crash during the original Prey as the player shifts to Killian Samuels, a US Marshall that was on the plane when it went down. It starts as Killian is attacked by the aliens as he leaves the wreckage of the plane, he must fight them but is soon overtaken and knocked unconscious. He wakes up on the distant planet of Exodus, populated entirely of alien races. He assumes that is he the only human, until he meets Tommy that is.
Now that the backstory is out of the way, let’s get down to the goods, the gameplay. Killian uses the skills that he learned as a US Marshall to be bounty hunter on Exodus. Smart move if you ask me, it is really the same job, he just gets paid more now. The section that we were shown is about 25% of the way through the game, so it was at the perfect point to show off the open world aspect of the game. His job as a bounty hunter factors heavily into the gameplay and actually makes for a pretty neat mechanic that you don’t really ever seen done right in games. As a bounty hunter, Killian doesn’t work for anyone, and when he does, he can betray them just as easy as do the job right. There are times where a captive will offer to bribe you right before you send him off to the person that paid you for him, at this point, you have two options, double cross your boss and let him go or just send him off. Both have their consequences. E.g, if you decide to let him go, your boss could come after you, but say you don’t and he escapes, he is now coming after you. It’s all up to you which way things go.
We were only shown a small area of a densely populated city but the concept came across really well. The player can pull up a scanner that shows outlines around each character. These outlines are either green, yellow, or red, representing friendly, neutral, and hostile terms respectively. While someone in yellow won’t bother you, it may be a situation where intervening will lead to the best possible outcome. During the demo, we saw two people outlined in yellow, one pointing a weapon at the other. This time, we decided to intervene, but before we could, the man with the weapon shot and killed the other one, prompting us to fire upon him. We then found the bodies off all the others that he had killed. If we would have stepped in earlier, the outcome would have been different. Something that you don’t see very often in games these days is that your gun isn’t always out; it takes a conscious effort to pull your weapon out. This was done with good reasoning behind it, if your weapon is out all the time, people should be scared right, that’s the whole reasoning behind it. If you pull your weapon on someone in Prey 2, they go from whatever conversation that they were having with you, to cowering in fear begging for their life. It makes the whole thing a bit more realistic.
Going back to the reputation system, if there is a character outlined in red, you know something is up with them. You can take a bounty offer on them or just run up, pull out your weapon and see how they react. When the player has a bounty contract out, there are many ways to handle it and each enemy will react differently. For instance, in our demo when the player approached his target, the target spotted him, started firing a gun and took off running. Not all of them will do this, some will just give up, and others will start a shootout. There is nothing in the contract stating that the enemy has to be taken alive but it severely affects the game’s reputation system. The reputation that you have will affect how people view you and how they act around you. The player has a large amount of equipment at their disposal to capture these enemies and whether it is guns, shoulder-mounted rockets, or hover boots, there is something for almost every situation. When the enemy is finally captured, they are trapped inside this glowing orb that will take them back to the person that organized the contract. Often before they are sent, they will try to make a deal with you offering services, favors, or goods in exchange for release. This could be beneficial in the short term, such as getting more money than the contract is worth, but anyone that you double cross can come back and make things very unpleasant for you.
Prey 2 is looking to be a huge improvement over the original and has made something interesting out of a beautifully crafted open-world. I am genuinely excited to see what comes out of this Blade Runner-esqe bounty hunter-filled universe crafted by Humanhead Studios. We look forward to the game as its 2012 release date approaches.
You can pre-order Prey 2 here (PS3), here (PC) and here (Xbox 360).