At E3 2011, we found ourselves in front of Bethesda's booth, which displayed trailers for some upcoming games. One in the reel stood out; it looked like a badass shooter in an alien noir style that, while impressive, appeared to be one of those typical "not representative of gameplay" trailers. It showed an awesome-looking bounty hunter chasing down criminal aliens in a strange, grungy world, complete with awesome vision modes and some free running. This trailer turned out to be for Bethesda's upcoming Prey 2, and not only did the trailer look like a fun and radical departure from the gameplay of its predecessor, but the gameplay also backed it up.
While the game has ties to the original Prey in terms of plot, the gameplay is vastly different. You play as Killiam Samuels, a U.S. Air Marshal who was on the commercial jetliner that you see getting attacked during the course of the original Prey game. You wake up on the sphere ship of the aliens, and armed with your Colt .45, you briefly fight your way through the ship and learn the gameplay basics before the numerically and technologically superior aliens aboard the ship beat in your face.
At this point, the presentation jumped forward a bit in the gameplay to a point where Samuels finds himself gainfully employed as an impressive bounty hunter on the world of Exodus, a grungy planet that is locked in a geosynchronous orbit around its sun, making only a narrow band around the planet inhabitable. The overarching plot has Samuels attempting to find out why he was abducted and taken to Exodus, but that serves as merely a backbone for the open-world gameplay. Missions in the sprawling alien metropolis can be tackled in any order, but many of them involve you tracking down and bringing back a criminal, dead or alive.
In one mission, Samuels is tasked with tracking down an alien that has been spotted hanging out in a local strip club. Upon spotting Samuels, the smart criminal immediately bolts, and he gives chase as the criminal runs and sics his goons on you. The game emphasizes agile gameplay that always allows you to shoot, so even as you vault over or slide under objects, you can always fire your weapon. This extends to hanging from a ledge and shooting over it, as well as more conventional means of taking cover.
After blowing through the criminal's hired guns, Samuel doesn't exactly have an easy time catching the guy. Some criminals in the game are called superfreaks, and they have numerous advantages over your standard perp. This particular criminal can teleport, which makes the standard electrical bola snare something that he can escape by merely teleporting. For this one, Samuels must use an antigrav grenade to make the target helplessly float around in the air, at which point he can be easily captured. When a criminal is captured, he is held in a powerful electrical stasis awaiting teleportation into custody, at which point he can be interrogated by increasing the electrical charge. Doing so too often will kill him and reduce his bounty, but you can get some pretty choice information from the perp by doing so.
Tracking down lesser criminals is usually far more straightforward but no less satisfying. The game features quite a few bounties that you can take via the bounty wire, which may not advance the plot but certainly comes with other rewards. To help you catch bounties, Samuels has access to a special vision mode, showing detailed information about his surroundings or specific information about the individuals you meet. Just by walking down the street, you may use the mode to learn that a random guy has a bounty on his head and choose to take him down right then and there, without ever going through the wire to get the mission.
While we didn't get any hands-on time with the game, Prey 2 was certainly very impressive. The combat and capture mechanics were very fluid and entertaining, and the incredible noir elements gave it a unique sci-fi flair. Though the first game certainly wasn't bad, it did feel generic at times, and the upcoming sequel is anything but. Keep an eye out for more information on Prey 2, which has a projected release date sometime in 2012.
Greg Hale also contributed to this preview.
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