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Prey Review

        Tech | Video Game Titles

Playing Prey

One of the most groundbreaking aspects of Prey is its portal technology. Portals were conceived very early in the game's development and were one of the main concepts that 3D Realms insisted stay in the game. Portals are exactly what they sound like: gateways, in this case to other areas of the alien ship. However, unlike normal games where players can only walk through the portals, in Prey, portals function exactly like in real life. You can look through them and actually see what's going on on the other side, and if you see aliens in there, you're free to fire away and take them out before stepping through the portal. Of course, aliens can fire through these portals, too.

Another fun aspect of the game is the way it uses gravity, or actually doesn't use gravity. Some of the areas of the alien spaceship have very little gravitational pull, which results in Tommy leaping across the area like Superman. Other places warp gravity, causing Tommy to end up running along the walls or the ceiling. You may find yourself under attack by aliens standing on the underside of a stairwell or shooting from a door that opens up in the middle of the wall. These areas are a lot of fun to play through and look amazing.

The alien spaceship graphics are wildly bizarre, with fluorescent colors and odd geometry giving the entire game a very strange, very alien feel. When this is added to the fact that some of the walls actually attack Tommy, you get a game full of suspense and thrills.

While Tommy relies on his spirit powers and Talon to do a lot of damage to enemies, he also relies on something much more tangible: lots of big guns. These guns, like the setting, are very alien-like, both in look and in action. Each has several different modes or uses. One biomechanic rifle can function either as a normal gun or as a type of nail gun, while an arm gun can include an automatic mode. Some of the weapons don't even look like guns; tiny alien spiders can be used as grenades or stuck to the wall like a explosive.

And, of course, what sci-fi game would be complete without some high-flying action? Tommy gets behind the controls of a small probe ship and explores the area surrounding the mothership. Aliens follow him into space, and you have to maneuver the ship, aim its single laser cannon, and dodge meteoroids and other space debris all at the same time. Puzzles follow Tommy out into the void as well, and solving them requires just as much thought and patience as solving the puzzles inside the ship.

Most of this article has focused on the single-player mode, but the multiplayer mode promises to be just as much fun. Here, you can play with up to eight other players via Xbox Live in what is easily one of the most challenging deathmatches ever. The odd level designs and changing gravity are in play in the deathmatch arenas, so you never know where your opponent is going to be. While this takes a bit of getting use to, once you have played a few matches you'll have no trouble taking out enemies on the ceiling, the walls, or the floor. To help keep you oriented, each surface you can stand on is clearly marked, and ammunition only appears on the real floor. Portals are in play in multiplayer mode as well.

How to Succeed in Prey

To succeed in Prey, you have to be on your toes at all times. The environment, unlike that in some games, is a danger to Tommy, so you have to watch for attacking walls. Likewise, you've got to look out for portals. Aliens on the other side of portals will take aim and fire at Tommy if they see him. In addition to walls and portals, you've also got to keep an eye out above you. With gravity functioning differently than it does on Earth, there's no telling where an alien may be.

Another tip for surviving in the world of Prey is to master Tommy's spiritual powers. You need to spirit walk fairly often to find the enemies before they can possess any innocent humans or aliens in the vicinity. This power is also necessary to solve many of the puzzles in the game and to open other areas of the spaceship for exploration. You also need to master using Talon to open doors, change the gravitational pull, and perform other actions in areas that Tommy can't reach.

Finally, the puzzles require you to think on your toes and to take notice of everything in the area. The solution to some of these puzzles is obvious, but some are a bit more difficult. If you find yourself stuck, look for portals to explore, places to change the gravitational pull, or a probe ship to pilot. Also, listen to the radio broadcasts from Art Bell, the famous conspiracy theorist/radio host. He often drops hints about what to do.

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