Prey: PC Versus Xbox 360

Having trouble deciding which version of Prey to get? We break down the differences between the PC and the Xbox 360 versions.

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By Staff - posted July 19, 2006

Prey Platform Decision 2006

In the past, the PC versus console debate has boiled down to a few points that almost always end up favoring the PC, especially when it comes to first-person shooters. The mouse-and-keyboard standard simply offers more refined control than a gamepad. And typically, the graphics gap between the console and PC versions used to be awfully substantial. At this point in time, though, the Xbox 360 is doing a pretty good job at keeping up with the pack, and now, more than ever, the line between platforms is quite blurry.

Here, we'll take 2K Games' Prey and break down the differences between the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game in an effort to help you decide which version is for you. Since the gameplay is pretty much identical in the two versions, the little differences here and there (and the quality of your PC components or your desire to upgrade, if needed) are going to be the deciding factor. Let's start with a quick summary of the good and the bad about each version.

Prey for the Xbox 360
+ Solid performance
+ Utilizes the platform's addictive achievements system
+ Contains Dolby Digital 5.1 sound
- Retails for $10 more than the PC version
- Can't use any user-generated content

Prey for the PC
+ Cheaper retail price
+ Looks better than the Xbox 360 version on higher-end PCs
+ Has more potential for additional content via user mods and maps
- No native support for widescreen resolutions
- Multiplayer designed to only officially support eight players

The PC version is the better bet if you've got a high-end machine, but the Xbox 360 version offers a guaranteed level of performance that's a better choice for people unwilling to upgrade their PC, especially if you already have a home theater system and an HDTV.

Let's Talk System Requirements

Before we get much further, let's talk about the sorts of PCs the developers of Prey had in mind when making the game. Here are the game's official requirements.

Minimum System Requirements
- Windows 2000 or XP with latest service pack installed
- 512MB System RAM
- 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
- 8x CD-ROM drive (or DVD-ROM, in the case of the collector's edition)
- 2.2GB free hard disk space
- DirectX 9.0c (included)
- 100 percent DirectX 9.0c-compatible 64MB video card
- DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
- Keyboard, mouse

Recommended System Requirements
- 2.5GHz Intel Pentium 4 / AMD Athlon XP 2500+ processor
- 1GB System RAM
- ATI Radeon X800 series or higher video card
- Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi series sound card

At the minimum system requirements, Prey runs pretty good--but only on its medium or low-end settings. The recommended system requirements will get you up to the higher levels, but really, there's still even more improvements to be had if you go above those limits. We ran the game on a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 with 2GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon X850 when working on the PC game review, and it ran quite nicely.

As for the Xbox 360 version, all you really need is the 360 and a TV. But let's face it, you're not going to be getting the most out of the game on a standard-definition television. A widescreen TV is going to give you a bigger chunk of the action, and once you start getting into high definition, the overall visual quality really starts to pick up. Additionally, you'll need an Internet connection if you want to play online on the PC, and you'll also need a paid Gold-tier Xbox Live account if you want to play online on the 360.

Sound Options

The system with the better sound comes down to your hardware. The PC version of the game supports OpenAL and has a surround-sound option, but the Xbox 360 version has Dolby Digital 5.1 support. Plus, you're probably more likely to have a full surround-sound setup hooked up to your TV, rather than to your PC. The surround-sound audio is used about as well as you'd expect from a first-person game, which can give you a bit of a tactical advantage in multiplayer, since you'll be able to hear people coming up behind you.

The game still sounds fine through a standard two-speaker setup, but the experience isn't as rich as it is on a full surround setup.


Which version of Prey do you think you'll get? Do you plan on playing Prey online
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Xbox 360 Versus Low-Spec PC Comparison

Keeper Fortress

HD Xbox 360 image shown. Mouse over the image to see the PC version.

No Caption Provided

Prepare for a host of disappointments if you try to play brand new games on less than stellar PC hardware. A budget 4-pipe video card will require you to disable several graphical features in order get decent frame rate performance. We disabled high-quality specular, sharpened bump maps, high-quality particle effects, glow, high-quality skinning, set texture quality to "low," and set shader detail to "medium" for our Low-Spec PC.

Harvester Complex

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The texturing, lighting and ambient effects all take a hit on the Low-Spec PC in this shot. Check out the noticeable lack of piping detail. If you look closely at the far side of the room, you can see that the Low-Spec PC doesn't have that fine environmental mist that's present in the Xbox 360 version. Heck, you can't even see the second wall indentation on the left side at all.


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Xbox 360 Versus Mid-Spec PC Comparison

Keeper Fortress

HD Xbox 360 image shown. Mouse over the image to see the PC version.

No Caption Provided

Jumping up to a decently equipped PC with an 8-pipeline video card in the $200 range really helps graphics on the PC side. We enabled most settings, maxed out shader detail, and turned up the texture quality on our Mid-Spec PC, but we left high-quality particles and glow disabled because those two settings eat up significant frame rates. Visit our Prey Hardware Performance guide to find out more about how Prey's various graphics options affect frame rate. Increasing texture settings and enabling anisotropic filtering helps the mid-range PC exceed the 360's texture quality, but we still have to skimp on the lighting effects if we want to raise the resolution to a respectable level.

Harvester Complex

No Caption Provided

It's easier to see what the Mid-Spec PC loses in lighting effects here in the Harvester Complex. The Xbox 360 has extra light diffusion from the green lights on the screen, and the room also has a pleasant mist missing in the Mid-Spec PC shot. Note that a Mid-Spec PC provides a lot more freedom to mix and match graphical settings, but compromises must be made between frame rates and graphical quality. You can make Prey's graphics on a Mid-Spec or even a Low-Spec PC look just as good as the Xbox 360's graphics, but actual frame rates will degrade accordingly.


Which version of Prey do you think you'll get? Do you plan on playing Prey online
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Xbox 360 Versus High-Spec PC Comparison

Keeper Fortress

HD Xbox 360 image shown. Mouse over the image to see the PC version.

No Caption Provided

We equipped our High-Spec PC with Intel's newest Core 2 Extreme processor and a 24-pipeline GeForce 7900 GTX GPU. For the purpose of the comparison we kept the resolution at 1280x720, but the hardware can easily handle resolutions of 1600x1200 and higher with full anisotropic filtering and antialiasing in tow. Prey definitely looks better on a High-Spec PC with everything enabled, but keep in mind that a single GeForce 7900 GTX costs as much as a premium Xbox 360. Check out the razor-sharp texturing, and even the additional detail on the outside floor.

Harvester Complex

No Caption Provided

The main difference between the High-Spec PC and the Xbox 360 shot involves lighting and texture detail, which you can see in the shot in the piping and the weapon. Lighting effects add more substance to the scene, and enabling antialiasing helps to soften up the jagged edges.


Which version of Prey do you think you'll get? Do you plan on playing Prey online
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Saving and Loading

Who needs to save games when you can deathwalk?
Who needs to save games when you can deathwalk?

As you'd expect from a PC first-person shooter, Prey uses keys for quicksaving and quickloading, which will let you inch your way through the game, if you'd like. It also autosaves at set checkpoints, at the start of every level, and you can also just manually save anywhere you like. The Xbox 360 version lacks quicksaving and loading and only autosaves at the beginning of each level, but you can manually save anywhere here, too.

It's all a moot point, though. The way the game handles death actually makes all of the game's save options obsolete, since dying doesn't actually set you back at all. After a short stint in the deathwalk minigame, you're back in action, regardless of the difficulty setting. So the only time you really need to save is when you're going to stop playing for awhile.

Controls

Ultimately, the control differences in Prey come down to a matter of preference. Yes, the mouse-and-keyboard setup of the PC version allows for more precise, refined control, but the game's single-player opposition doesn't include any fast-moving monsters. So playing with a less-precise gamepad doesn't have any negative impact on your ability to draw down on bad guys and pull the trigger.

In multiplayer, though, things get a little more jittery, making the mouse and keyboard a better choice. In fact, the PC version is just a bit smoother, overall, online. Many Xbox 360 servers seem to lag, especially in a full eight-player game.

Special Features and Modding

While it's possible (in fact, we'd call it probable) that official map packs and other life-extending add-ons will make their way to the Xbox 360 version of Prey via the Xbox Live Marketplace, the PC version of the game is already being modded by players using the game's built-in editor. With enterprising modders already out there working on things like new maps or a pipe wrench mod that lets you manually open portals anywhere you like, the PC version is likely to have a longer, more interesting life span than its console counterpart.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this short guide has given you a better idea about the differences between the two versions of the game. But ultimately, many of the answers can only come from within. Are you hopelessly addicted to achievement points? Then the 360 version of Prey, with its relatively easy achievements, is going to hold sway. Is your PC already great, or are you just looking for any excuse to upgrade? The PC version of Prey might just be the catalyst you're looking for. Either way, you're going to get a solid first-person shooting experience with a few interesting new twists.


Which version of Prey do you think you'll get? Do you plan on playing Prey online
or downloading add-ons?


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