Among so many other FPS titles being talked about, this one might not be on many gamers' minds, but Human Head's Prey 2 probably deserves your attention. The sequel to the massively underrated Prey seeks to provide a fresh take on the FPS genre in much the same way the first Prey did. However, it's more of a spiritual successor, as the gameplay that defined the original game has been dropped, and reinvented.
Prey 2 starts at the same time the first game did. This time however, players will be getting a totally different experience, playing from the perspective of Killian Samuels, a U.S. Air Marshall who's been caught up in an alien attack and now finds himself on an alien world called Exodus. Most of this backstory can be seen in the Prey 2 reveal trailer.
New details on the story of the second game are available, as well as some explanation as to why the developer has decided to abandon the gravity-bending portals that made the first game so intriguing.
"Portals and gravity were functions of The Sphere itself. So, the way we used them there was tied to The Sphere. That is not part of Prey 2."
Those are the words of Human Head co-founder and Prey 2 project lead, Chris Reinhart. He continued to describe the team's goals for Prey 2.
"We wanted to take players to some place new again and have them experience something new in the world. That was a big thing with Prey. We took players to The Sphere and gave them gameplay they hadn't seen before in a first-person shooter, although afterwards I had a number of people come up and talk to me and say, 'This is interesting, why has someone not done this before in a game?' We want the exact same thing with Prey 2. "When people see this and they play the open world shooter we've created, using the different gadgets and player abilities, I want people to come up to me afterwards and say, 'This is interesting, why did someone not do this before?"
While some people may be disappointed that the portals don't appear to be making a return in this game, you shouldn't worry. Reinhart is committed to bringing us a unique FPS, and that means, staying true to the spirit of Prey, if not delivering the exact same experience.
Part of the new experience is a flashy new open world. Human Head readily admits the Blade Runner influence on the game's environments, and one can easily see the stylistic cues from the 1982 cult classic in several of the screenshots. Bright neon lights, massive skyscrapers, flying cars, dark skies, and a layer of grime all contribute to pulling off a distinctly cyberpunk setting.
The similarities don't stop there; Stranded on this new world with no memory of how he got there, Samuels decides to become, you guessed it, a bounty hunter. During the half-hour demonstration, the developers showed off the open-world, the emphasis on player decision, and the mission fluidity.
The game world is populated by many different aliens, some of which are seedy, and others which are just innocent bystanders. Interacting with these aliens is interesting in itself, but we'll get to that later. For now, let's mention the vertical aspect of the city. With all these tall buildings, one wouldn't expect our protagonist to just run around on the ground, would you? Here we are introduced to Prey 2's parkour system, which is a bit like Mirror's Edge, but would be better described as a first-person rendition of the climb anything that looks climbable gameplay of Assassin's Creed. Aside from giving Ezio a run for his money (those darn pickpockets...) Samuels is also quite comfortable with the regular range of shooting acrobatics, sliding into and between cover, vaulting, and firing over top of cover as well.
As stated above, interacting with the citizens of Exodus can be interesting, and makes for a unique approach to gameplay and player choice. If the player comes across a mugging or some other instance of a baddie beating on some defenseless victim, the player can choose to become directly involved in the conflict, saving the victim, or even killing everyone and looting the bodies.
Samuels, being a polite guy, walks the streets with his gun holstered. However, if you need to intimidate a beggar into giving up his cash, he has no problem whipping it out to show how serious he is. The element of player choice and consequences to said decisions, makes for an interesting gameplay feature. It shows that Human Head has been playing games like Mass Effect and taking notes.
The developer also seemed to take a page from Batman: Arkham Asylum, as our hero is outfitted with a visor that helps him to do things like identify hostiles, see through walls, track criminals using DNA, and probably a lot more. Prey 2 has about 20 upgradeable gadgets and from what we can tell, they will introduce a lot of player control to how missions can be completed. This hearkens back to the ideals of Crysis, which emphasized that gamers approach the game in whichever way they want to. The combination of Prey 2's gunplay, parkour, creative mission and level design, and a healthy commitment to keeping control of the character in the player's hands as much as possible, create amazing gameplay moments.
An example of this is a huge on-foot chase with a teleporting kingpin that must be taken alive. Among the obstacles Samuels must free run over, are a pair of trains. Hollywood-inspired moments like that will make Prey 2 a game to look out for. And for fans of Tommy, the first protagonist, don't fret, he still matters, but Prey 2 is Killian's story.
Human Head has released a few screenshots to keep us happy, showing off the unique blend of artistic styles in the game, and showing graphics that aren't amazing, but aren't bad either. How many of you are excited for this game, it's a long way off, due out in 2012, but how many will be keeping this in the back of their mind, even as they deal with the massive titles dropping this fall?
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