The first Prey was highly enjoyable, and for many people, came seemingly out of nowhere. Development delays meant that the game was fast approaching Duke Nukem Forever territory, but unlike Duke, Prey earned itself a cult following after its release thanks to its interesting gameplay mechanics, compelling story and a protagonist who stood out from the crowd of muscle-bound meatheads. For the sequel, which was all but promised at the end of the first game’s credits, that’s a tough act to follow, and the developers knew that they had to try something different to allow Prey 2 to shine on its own. Putting the player in control of an entirely new character is a good start, but the developers didn’t stop there – they changed the gameplay mechanics entirely.
Here’s a quick recap for those who haven’t been following the development of Prey 2: You’ll play as Killian Samuels, an air marshal on board a flight that was sucked into the alien Sphere ship that you encountered in the first game. Inside the Sphere, ruined structures, vehicles and debris from Earth are strewn all over the ship’s massive internal structures and organic matter. Killian awakens and attempts to fight his way to freedom but is knocked unconscious. Fast-forward an unknown number of years (the words “several” and “a few” are used to describe this time-span) and Killian finds himself on the planet Exodus. He has no idea how he got there, but he knows some time has passed that he cannot recollect. He also knows that he’s earned a name as a bounty hunter, apparently putting his marshal skills to use rounding up alien outlaws and claiming cash for their capture or heads. He’s in the planet’s capital city of The Valerie* – a sprawling, cyperpunk metropolis with a variety of alien races living within.
Without having a clue as to what is going on, Killian does what any good amnesia sufferer does and gets back to work in the attempt to piece together his past and try to figure out how and why he is where he is. The game will take on the form of a sandbox shooter, with Killian able to move freely around The Valerie by making use of his agility and, we’re guessing, long hours spent on the monkey bars as a kid. Killian can climb up certain surfaces, mantle over objects, leap great distances, slide under obstacles and preform all the other first-person platforming tricks you’d expect these days. This is important because a bounty hunter’s prey tends to be wily. If they decide to run instead of standing their ground for a good old-fashioned shoot-out (which will happen), then you’d better be able to catch them if you want to earn your keep.
As well as his Olympic-grade athletics abilities, Killian will have over 20 weapons and gadgets at his disposal to help him kill or capture his targets (the electrified bolas works wonders), or to move around the city a little easier (hover boots!). Finding his targets is as important as dealing with them, so Killian will have a scan ability that sends out a pulse, identifying NPCs as neutral (they’ll be highlighted in green), cautious (yellow) or hostile (red), as well as highlighting your current bounty if they’re nearby.
As you go about your business, you’ll encounter scenarios like supposed criminals being detained by the police, beggars asking for spare change, or aliens who you might have pissed off in an earlier mission. It’s important to know who to trust and who wants to fill your face with bullets, so that when the bullets do start to fly, you’re able to slide to the nearest cover point and make use of the popup/blind-fire cover system. If there’s nothing nearby, you can easily drop down a portable shield. Since much of the combat takes place out in the streets and walkways of The Valerie, it’s important to stay mobile and take advantage of the environment. Enemies can be pushed over edges to fall to their deaths thousands of metres below, and Killian will be able to perform almost all of his moves while shooting.
Prey 2 is certainly different from its predecessor, so much so that it’d be easy to write this off as a licence cash-in rather than a true sequel. To those people who’d do so, I have just one thing to say…
*I cannot 100% guarantee that this is the city name, but I’m pretty sure. The presentation was pretty noisy and even after listening to the audio recording dozens of times, it still sounds a little funny. Apologies for that.