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Prey
Prey

PC | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Arkane Studios Official Site: https://prey.bethesda.net/
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Classification: TBC
Release Date:
2017
Prey (2017) Review
Review By @ 11:00am 08/05/17
PC
The problem I always had with Dishonored is that I couldn't ever imagine anyone living happily in that world. That's sort of the point — the steampunk Victorian-era vibe was designed to force a clash within the Industrial Revolutionary class struggle. World traversal saw you flitting through (or above) Dickensian cobblestoned streets which framed the soot-covered hovels of the average citizen. This made the rampant murder inside the beautifully appointed homes of the ultra-rich elite so much simpler. Still, I know where I'd wind up in such a world — probably gutting whales — and so I never wanted to live there.

Talos 1, on the other hand, is a place I'd love to live. Well, before the… unpleasantness anyway. That's how you know Prey is a 'Shock' game — because key to those games is a feeling of a paradise turned bad. System Shock — which is clearly the primary source of inspiration for Prey — and BioShock both show you a wonderful, captivating environment and then fill it with nastiness.



It actually touches on one thing I wasn't crazy about with Prey. There are times, after you've normalised the presence of murderous aliens, where Talos 1 feels too empty. It feels dead, when it should instead feel simply… terminally infected. This happens more often upon revisiting an area late in the game, when the function of Prey has changed from tense survival game into a playground for you to experiment within as a Neuromod powered god. Prey is at its best when you're creeping slowly through it, staring intently at everything.

That in itself is a risky concept. Prey makes players study every single detail, question every inconsistency. The mimics — the most basic of the Typhon aliens you'll come across — take the shape of regular objects, which means seeing one too many mugs might mean you're in trouble. For that to work Prey needs to adhere to a keen sense of internal consistency — and it does. The opening sequence forces you to question what is real and what is not, which means anything that occurs outside of the internal logic of the game comes under extra scrutiny — which is an awe-inspiring prospect in a game as ambitious and large as Prey. The level design is such that you are constantly staring at otherwise unnoticed areas of rooms to find hidden items — blueprints, contraband Neuromods, stashed food — which makes hidden areas of ingress that much harder to hide.

The attention to detail is second to none. It's tricky making a space station feel like it was properly lived in, but Arkane manage it beautifully. The scientists aboard Talos 1 were humans, doing human things. Playing Dungeons & Dragons, holding secret Robot Wars, using fabricator technology to create and perfect nerf-style blasters. Stealing from the company and smuggling in contraband. Getting into petty office disputes. Falling in love. The brilliant thing Prey does is it melds all of this into the act of gathering quest relevant information, which means the more informed you become about how things on Talos 1 work, the more you peripherally learn about those who lived here. It does this via emails and audiologs, which I know some aren't crazy about, but it does it in a way that never seems to overlap or overwhelm any other information.

Instead it feels like every area on Talos 1 had a purpose and had people working towards that purpose. The people in Psychotronics, who develop ways to study Typhons — they were committed to their goal. Those in the Neuromod Division had their own stuff to work through — and they did it in their own ways. Arkane created a paradise in space and then filled it with petty human squabbling, and it's perfect. To contrast it against BioShock — Irrational's undersea epic did something similar, but the nature of its inhabitants (elitist libertarians) saw their squabbling become grander, resulting in the likes of Sander fucking Cohen. Those larger-than-life characters don't exist on Talos 1 — despite being much, much further above sea level, Prey is a more grounded environment.

Speaking of grounded, Prey's treatment of electricity might be one of my favourite things about it. Power is a critically important element in Prey, allowing you to do everything from operate the recycler/fabricator systems which provide you with survival tools, to being able to see anything at all. Unpowered parts of the station can be lit up again if you can find and turn on the power unit, which for me lead to some tense creeping around well after I'd already felt I was powerful enough to roam unhindered through most of the rest of the station. What I liked about power, however, was being able to destroy junction boxes and then lure the Typhons into their shocking deaths.

A lot of the combat in Prey, for me anyway, involved creating traps for my alien foes and letting them get themselves killed. Using the gas mains running through the station to create gauntlets of fire, or repairing, hacking and setting up chambers of turrets before luring as many aliens as I could in to their deaths. The trick to a good trap is that once you have the aliens where you want them, you need to keep them there. The Gloo Cannon allows you to make that a reality, freezing enemies in place as you paint them with your white, sticky… Arkane made a cum gun. Gross.



Anyway, the cum gun is fantastic when you're using it to hold tricky Typhons in place, but it's even better outside of combat. I spent nearly as much time trying to construct intricate bridges to areas I wasn't supposed to access as I did killing aliens. Because things on Talos 1 need to exist within the confines of logic, there was almost always a support strut I could attach globules of Gloo to as I clambered towards a goal of my own creation. It didn't matter if there was anything on the other side when I reached it — the traversal itself was the reward. This ability to play within the space even became useful later when I needed to circumvent some particularly nasty baddies.

Circumventing baddies is the best way to go about approaching combat in Prey. It's not bad, just tough. Arkane's latest prides itself on being a survival game, challenging players to make their way through the station on whatever scraps they can find. The recycler and fabricator allow you to construct Medkits, ammo for your weapons and other assorted goodies, but I rarely felt I had the resources required for a fabricator to be the solution to my problems. And there was never one around when I really needed shotgun ammo anyway.

One thing I appreciated about the scarcity of resources was the fact that it forced me out of my comfort zone. In most games I'll just adhere to whatever it is I find to be most efficient — in The Witcher 3, for example, that means I Quen, Dodge, Chop, Repeat. In Prey I found the most efficient strategy to be a Gloo Cannon/Shotgun combo or to Q-Beam big nasties to death from afar. Thanks to repeatedly running out of ammo for everything above, however, I was forced to experiment. I took down one particular scary alien by throwing objects at it — I'd used all ammo for everything (except the Boltcaster) and all I had access to was my Wrench and some Neuromods. I used the Neuromods to buy the ability that allowed me to throw heavy things, and that's how I made progress. At other times I found myself specifically circumventing fights by using the Gloo Cannon to climb up and around them.

There are definitely balancing issues. This never gets me many friends, but — like The Witcher 3 — Prey is better played on Easy. Prey doesn't modify difficulty based on tactics or numbers, just health pools and damage. This means on harder difficulties Prey's enemies just hit harder and are harder to kill, which can be tedious when you're also trying to manage resources. Dropping the game to Easy lessens the burden on resources, but never fully alleviates it.

Still, the combat is really a sideshow for Prey. Neuromods, by design, are supposed to make you feel like a badass the further you go in which makes dropping the difficulty more justifiable (in my opinion anyway). Eventually the difficulty spikes and the decision to drop it to easy makes even more sense.



The real star is that sense of exploration, that idea of an epic playground. The first time you head out into space, into zero-g, is phenomenal — but what's better is when you return to the confines of the station and realise you're not exactly restricted. Sure there's fall damage, and reaching the edges of the play area requires a bit more work, but in a lot of ways that enhances the feeling of exploration further. Nearly every upgrade I committed to focused on heightening my ability to reach areas I felt the designers didn't want me within. I upgraded my strength so I could stack large boxes, my jumping to reach new heights, my hacking to get through the toughest door locks. And I acquired the alien power to become a mug, telling myself it was so I could squeeze through small gaps, but mostly because I really wanted to become a mug.

The story can't quite compete, though it is fantastic — full of twists and turns as you eke out the details of what went wrong aboard Talos 1. There are known quantities — you are Morgan Yu, voiced by Sumalee Montano as a female Morgan and Tim Kang as the male version — an Asian-American overachiever who at some point decided to be their own guinea pig for a highly experimental procedure. I played as the male Morgan, mostly because Tim Kang's Kimball Cho is one of my favourite characters in any TV show ever, and the voice acting by everyone in the game was pitch perfect. Benedict Wong plays your brother, Alex Yu, and he shares the bulk of the narrative (alongside a robot with your voice) as you ping throughout the station. There's an air of unreliable narrator involved in everything that happens — as an amnesiac in a hostile station, the only person you can really trust is yourself. Everything else feels suspect, and thanks to spot on writing that feeling never lets up (until the end).



It also nails the way it uses the medium of games to tell its story — other games in the immersive sim genre have done it better, but I don't think any have created such a well-realised world for it. The blend between what Morgan experiences and what you think about rarely splits, forming a bond between player and player character — and that's an essential part of what games bring to the table in my opinion.

I'd say 99% of the time Prey manages to get away with all of this without any missteps. A few glitches spoiled the illusion a little. One major one that sticks with me — a high traffic area at the end of the game would routinely spawn me inside the level geometry, and if I hadn't found a way to squeeze back out again I'd have been unable to finish the game. Still, Prey operates mostly flawlessly. One area, under heavy action and admittedly massive, saw me drop frames — the only time I'd notice the game dip below 60fps my entire playthrough. A few times I wasn't able to traverse in the manner I wanted because the slippery geometry was being inconsistent. In many ways those geometry glitches simply enhanced the challenge of exploring, but I'm not going to pretend they were on point.

Two days after finishing it, I'm still having Prey dreams. I'm still thinking about the ending, still wondering about the places I went to, the things I did. I'm itching to talk about the things that occurred within it and similarly knowing I can't because nobody I know has yet finished it. It took me 24 and a half hours. I loved every minute of it. I woke up early to play it and went to bed late because I didn't want to stop. Play it now so we can talk about it.
What we liked
  • -Exploration
  • -Beautifully realised world
  • -Nailed all the overlapping systems
  • -Great voice acting
  • -You see Ronnie, his dick is the Gloo Cannon
What we didn't like
  • -Difficulty system which only increase health pools and damage modifiers are a waste
More
We gave it:
9.5
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
rrrocket
Posted 12:31pm 08/5/17
Hmmmmmm

tempting!

Anyone know the cheapest site? G2A? Nevermind I'll have a look and report back :)
KostaAndreadis
Posted 12:38pm 08/5/17
I'm almost 10 or so hours in.... and loving it.... I agree that it's world feels more inviting than Dishonored, and is more exciting to explore.... even if it's all scary af now

Tho Joabs, question.... are you finding it difficult at all? The combat to be seems really hard.... and that's on normal mind you.... now i'm not the best at shooters but i don't have problem with bioshock on hard so to me the balance seems a bit off....

But then again giant mimics should probably be avoided as opposed to trying to take each one out and send them back from wence they came
KostaAndreadis
Posted 12:43pm 08/5/17
as per your review i'll probably whack it on easy.... :)
WirlWind
Posted 12:44pm 08/5/17
I've watched a bit on YT, it certainly looks interesting enough.

Kind of gave me Dishonoured vibes.

The only real complaint I had about it was how long it took to scan stuff. It seems to be something you have to do to progress and unlock things, yet it's like 5 seconds of standing still each time...
Joaby
Posted 01:06pm 08/5/17
lol Kosta yeah, just knock it to easy.

And scanning can take time. It's not really that bad though, it's designed to increase tension, risk/reward style. You need to sort of weigh up your options because sure you could unlock the next level of electric fingers by standing there and staring at the baddy for 5 seconds, but that's 5 seconds you're not spending defending yourself efficiently.
Psycho
Posted 05:28pm 08/5/17
I'm thoroughly enjoying it right now, more so than I did Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Definitely one of the better single player games I've had a bash at over the last few years.
BladeRunner
Posted 10:56pm 08/5/17
I have not been following this at all but I checked wikipedia on it. It sounds more interesting now. Big open levels in a space station. G2A has the standard version for $52 dollarydoos. So I might pick it up.
Psycho
Posted 01:04am 09/5/17
The only real complaint I had about it was how long it took to scan stuff. It seems to be something you have to do to progress and unlock things, yet it's like 5 seconds of standing still each time...


You can install enhancements etc...to greatly reduce your scanning periods...but the trick is to scan the f*****s when they don't even know you're there.. I love how the game, in a lot of environments, gives you 'other options'...or and 'UP' option if you get my drift... :) * some times its a DOWN option as well......

Had a very Half Life moment just about ten mins ago...electric environment...had to figure out a way across...and damned if I dint think of HL. Sometimes, you will have a System Shock moments as well...its a good game. A f***-ton of side quests...I'm going to have to play it three times i reckon...
Joaby
Posted 09:52am 09/5/17
I know that area Psycho. Would love to know how you got across
Psycho
Posted 01:02am 12/5/17
I know that area Psycho. Would love to know how you got across


Part ceiling monkey and using some *Lures to get some Typhon's to come cop some serious power, as I then ran like hell to the next exit. :)

I just finished the game tonight...so far easily my GOTY for 2017, single player. WHAT A GREAT GAME. What a great universe these talented people from Arkane created for us. I really felt like I was on this huge Space Station. Just a great game. Got to play it again, using different Nuromod decisions will be cool. Kept getting a somewhat 'System Shock' vibe from the audio logs discovered etc but I guess the similarities in the games will do this, the size of the installation and the brilliantly laid out levels and map design...this thing looks like NASA could use the plans to build s*** in the real world.

Also for those that might be playing it and suddenly getting horrendous frame drops, and it happens on any ninja machine apparently. I just slapped in a fabulous GTX1080ti Aorus extreme and in some of the big Powerplant maps and such, initially I was copping some terrible frame drops?.

I found a site that explained that a couple of things are ON by default and also other stuff. Also setting your favorite FOV as well.

Originally, I changed my Maxfps in the config file to 165 to reflect the refresh rate of my monitor...BUT that was ok for a while but in some areas (water cooing plants and big arse power plant rooms etc), fps still dropped terribly, THEN I read that if you unlimit your fps by making the value 999 things get real good, real fast.

Also it seems that motion blur is on as a default and you have to add the relative line in the config to stop it. (r_motionblur = 0) These tweaks alone mad a HUGE difference to my enjoyment. NO slowdown or fps drops in ANY huge environments. So I can highly recommend a new player set some or all of the relevant settings in place for their gaming enjoyment. The page is over here. Finally , all I can say is get into the game, the voice acting is great IMO, the world is brilliantly laid out and the 'ball-slapper' at the end is worth it, 100%. :)

last edited by Psycho at 01:02:56 12/May/17
trillion
Posted 03:56am 12/5/17
yeah awesome Psycho, just don't go posting any spoilers alright ffs :)

I've got my box apart for some GPU water cooling luxuriousness; putting an ekwb block and backplate running from a small pump/res tucked under the ps shroud and a slightly too big 180mm rad on the underside because I miss ordered, oops :/

my mistake in planning; not ordering the fittings, seems that stock of non kit parts are difficult to find without waiting for shipping from EU

can't wait, last time I played on the weekend I was having fun replicating parts in the recycler with that subdivision? glitch in the game's programming heh

ravn0s
Posted 08:26am 12/5/17
IGN gave the game a 4/10 because of a very rare save corruption bug.
Khel
Posted 08:41am 12/5/17
I ordered a whole bunch of ekwb parts recently and didn't have much problem, try pccasegear, they had all the stuff I needed. Only thing I had to wait on was the 1080ti waterblocks, but that was more cos they were brand new out. They even had the monster quad 140mm rads I wanted, which I'd imagine aren't a terribly common item.
Eorl
Posted 09:40am 12/5/17
Joaby why do you so this to me. I already have Zelda to waste my time and now Switch Minecraft but no, now I need Prey. Is it as "BioShock" as everyone keeps saying?
ShamefulManny
Posted 10:27am 12/5/17
Joaby why do you so this to me. I already have Zelda to waste my time and now Switch Minecraft but no, now I need Prey. Is it as "BioShock" as everyone keeps saying?


I would say it's much more like system shock. Bioshock removed the inventory management, crafting and skill points of system shock and slimmed it down to a fps. Trying to play Prey as a straight fps will likely get you killed because your character is quite soft and it doesn't take much to kill you. Bioshock also removed the need to search for door/computer codes etc. You'll spend a lot of your time (well I have) in Prey creeping around, trying to find every last password/code for doors/safes etc. I would say Prey feels much more like system shock 3, despite the name.
trillion
Posted 11:49am 12/5/17
yeah Khel, pccg have it down pat when it comes to shipping. a prior order I did with them arrived by coury something like 3-4 days later.

I did compare their ekwb prices to umart and went with a local pickup for these ones. I was kind of hoping to get it all done and back together for the weekend, but none of the components actually come with inlet connectors in their boxes. I dunno why I thought they would, it makes sense if I'd thought about the inside/outside width of the tubing and then ordered to match those. Oh wells

are you seeing good drops in temp pushing it for long tests compared to the fan cooling?

I was thinking if I don't and it's more of an aesthetic thing, I've got an aquarium chiller that I was thinking could be looped in by running some longer pipe outside the case. it's got a fairly big sump though and I'd have to run a pump to get it back inside to the waterblock



Joaby
Posted 12:41pm 12/5/17
IGN gave the game a 4/10 because of a very rare save corruption bug.

Complicated topic. I have the highest score on metacritic for this game, but I actually think Stapleton was right to slap it with a 4/10. In his experience, they released a game that was f***ed by the end. What else can he do? The bugs aren't just that one either, I have friends who are having some other doozies like s*** in their inventory is disappearing as the game continues. And if I hadn't been able to work my way out of the geometry I'd have been similarly boned by the end of the game. I stand by my score, but if you're having an experience that f**** the game for you then you only have one option.

Joaby why do you so this to me. I already have Zelda to waste my time and now Switch Minecraft but no, now I need Prey. Is it as "BioShock" as everyone keeps saying?

As Manny said, it's more System Shock. BioShock was 'what if System Shock was a shooter?' but this one sticks closer to the SS roots. Fun fact - it feels that way because they wanted to make a System Shock 3.
Psycho
Posted 05:52pm 12/5/17
Complicated topic. I have the highest score on metacritic for this game, but I actually think Stapleton was right to slap it with a 4/10. In his experience, they released a game that was f***ed by the end. What else can he do? The bugs aren't just that one either, I have friends who are having some other doozies like s*** in their inventory is disappearing as the game continues. And if I hadn't been able to work my way out of the geometry I'd have been similarly boned by the end of the game. I stand by my score, but if you're having an experience that f**** the game for you then you only have one option.


I only experienced that 1 quest bug but found a youtube vid that showed where the object was located, everything else in the game was fine...I must go read this IGN review. I'm going to play it thru again but try using different tactics and nuromodifications this time, maybe not try and kill some many entities. :)
Psycho
Posted 09:12pm 12/5/17
Steam just installed a 510m patch addressing the issues mentioned in the IGN piece.
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