E3 2011: Prey 2 First Impressions
This year at E3, Bethesda showed a live presentation of Prey 2 at its booth. The first Prey game was your standard linear campaign shooter, but the sequel does a complete 180. The new protagonist this time around is U.S. Marshal Killian Samuels, and the game takes place right after the ending of the first one. After waking up in a destroyed ship, the player finds a gun and attempts to escape.
Combat has been revamped to include a cover-based system, but in the first-person view. It might seem like a silly idea, but the mobility has been simplified to a single button, and you won’t have to worry about exposing small pixels of your body just because you didn't move that hair inch closer. Although it’s in the first-person, players can still see slightly above or around their cover, and coming out of cover to shoot and falling back is just as smooth as any other cover-based game.
Eventually, through a scripted set of events, the player gets overwhelmed, is shot and taken hostage. The demo then fades and jumps several years into the future, where Samuels has apparently settled in and re-established himself with friends and various other contacts on a planet called Exodus. It’s here when the game shows it has taken a whole new approach to its predecessor.
From what was shown, Prey 2 is an open-world game, and for whatever reason, Samuels has taken it upon himself to use his previous military experience to become a bounty hunter. In fact, that's all he knows, as Samuels can't seem to remember what exactly happened during his capture or how he got out. All he knows is that he's on the alien equivalent of the Red Light District expanding into an entire city. In other words, Samuels has the perfect job.
In any open-world game, it’s a must that the player be able to traverse the world quickly and efficiently. Mirror’s Edge fans might feel a bit at home here -- Prey 2's travel methods are similar. Samuels never rode a vehicle (which were all flying) in the demo, but it’s probably because he doesn’t need to. He can jump, climb, slide, glide, and even hang on ledges while shooting at the same time. No wall-running was shown, but I wouldn't be surprised by it.
Just like any GTA game, random NPCs roam the word, and the player can decided whether or not to rob them of their hard-earned cash by holding them at gunpoint. Of course, being the kind of place it is, Exodus is a bit lazier in enforcing its policies than other such games. The player shoved an alien off a ledge, and a security bot appeared, yet it didn't do anything. This was more or less a warning to the player, something that isn't very realistic. If you're feeling more chivalrous, you can save people from thugs instead.
If you’re looking for more legitimate reasons to do your dirty deeds without the police bothering you, you can choose to complete bounty missions. At any time, players can bring up the “Bounty Wire” and choose a task. Targets can be in secluded or even social areas, such as night clubs. Bounties can be turned in, dead or alive, although live captures are always worth more money.
None of the bounties that were shown in the demo were aware of the player’s intentions (but it doesn't mean that all bounties aren't), which gives players incentive to canvas the area to figure out just exactly how to proceed. Such encounters can play out differently, such as the target running away and calling for backup.
Sometimes you'll have to find someone else who knows where the bounty is hiding -- if you’re willing to pay the price. In the demo’s case, the player didn't want to pay and instead blew the head of the leak’s henchmen who was just sitting by idly. Options, options.
Once a bounty starts fleeing, the chase is far from easy. Bounty targets tend to be as agile as the player and can even drop mines in your path. If things get too hectic, you can use “Lunarsight,” allowing you to see through walls. Once you capture a bounty, you can either choose to interrogate him, (which, we were told, advances the story) before sending him off to the client or send him on his way. Sometimes bounties will even bargain with you, yet another option the player may be faced with. Unlike other games, bounties need not be dragged back to the client and can instead be thrown and teleported instead.
Bethesda apparently wasn’t keen on showing much of the story -- it focused on core game play instead. I’m not going to lie; it caught my attention, although I get a little tired of seeing only aliens and being the only human on the planet. Perhaps there are more cities with humans or other races, but I’ll guess we’ll see in the future. The game may not take off if bounty hunting is all it's about, but the game is too far off to make any conclusions. Prey 2 is looking at a release date in 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.