Prey 2 Preview - February 28th 2012

Prey 2, developed by Human Head Studios and to be published by Bethesda Softworks, is the spiritual successor to Prey, which was released in 2006. Prey was a first person shooter in which players took on the role of Cherokee Domasi "Tommy" Tawodi who was abducted from earth by an alien ship called the Sphere. Utilising innovative exploration techniques such as portals, and the ability to become a spirit in order to solve puzzles, players were tasked with making their way through the alien ship in an attempt to uncover the truth behind the unfolding events.

My use of 'spiritual successor' is more than just a bad pun in reference to the original games' gameplay mechanics. Prey 2 also isn't a sequel in the conventional sense; there's a new protagonist (U.S. Marshal Killian Samuels), different setting (the alien world of Exodus), and a resolute ditching of the original's innovative gameplay mechanics. You could be forgiven for thinking that the developers might as well have ditched the Prey moniker altogether in favour of another title. However, Human Head Studios seems to be putting a refreshing new spin on the overused sequel formula, focusing more on the predator-prey relationship as the link between the two games, rather than just cannibalising parts of the original for sake of it.

Player choice is an important aspect in this sequel.

In the first game you were the prey, hunted by an alien race, but in the sequel you play the predator, a ruthless bounty hunter tasked with bringing in the scum of Exodus - for a price. Fans of the original needn't worry though as the developers have stated that Tommy, the original protagonist, is an important part of the Prey universe and you will be meeting him at some point during the game.

The original flipped things on their heads, literally and metaphorically, with its innovative gameplay mechanics. Having dropped these, what does the sequel have to offer that will make it stand out from the oversaturated FPS market? Prey 2 seems to be championing the idea of variety above all. Variety in your choice of bounty, who you will chase, how you will do it and whether you bring your prey in dead or alive. In the gameplay footage shown at E3 2011 for example, players were tasked with chasing down an alien with the ability to teleport. This lead to a frantic game of cat and mouse as you chased your target over rooftops utilising free running moves as you climbed and slid over and under obstacles, dispatching your quarry's henchmen along the way.

Prey 2 is asthetically very different from the original.

Another example of the variety that Prey 2 seeks to offer players is in its weapons selection. As a grizzled bounty hunter you will have access to a plethora of weapons and gadgets whose numbers and variety will steadily increase throughout the game. These range from your standard rifles, to shoulder mounted rockets and a grenade that suspends its targets in a zero gravity field ripe for the picking. As aforementioned, player choice seems to be an important part of Prey 2. Not only do you choose what contracts to take on, but you also get to choose how to deal with your prey once you have caught up with them. Do you accept their offer of a bribe and let them go? Maybe you should interrogate them for important information? Or maybe you should just act professionally and send them to your client as ordered... the choice is yours.

A release date for Prey 2 hasn't been announced, other than that it is hitting stores sometime in 2012. When it does finally arrive, it will be interesting to see if the game can live up to all the early promise and/or entice more developers to play around with the conventional notion of a sequel. Either way, colour me intrigued. Keep your browsers pointed at TGSN for a review of Prey 2 when it hits stores later this year.

Alex Goodenough

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Bethesda Softworks
Human Head Studios
Q3 2012
PC PS3 360