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Feature Article

Prey Review In Progress

Simple mimicry.

Due to Bethesda's pre-release review policy, we're unable to provide a full Prey review in time for its launch. We recently acquired the game and, since it is quite lengthy, it may be some time until we can deliver our final verdict. However, having played it for close to 10 hours, we are able to offer some early impressions in the meantime.

And those impressions, at this stage, are mixed. If you've played the Opening Hour demo available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, you'll know that Prey starts strong. It leans on a big narrative twist that pulls the rug from underneath you, and it's very effective in sparking curiosity. We won't spoil the nature of this revelation, but suffice it to say that it plants a seed of doubt, forcing you to question everything and everyone around you.

Thus far that aspect of the narrative hasn't developed into anything of note, however. The lingering supposition of dishonesty has been the main driving force behind a story that has otherwise been quite uneventful. That's not to say it won't develop into something more interesting, and shades of nuance are indeed slowly revealing themselves over time.

In its early hours, Prey wants you to immerse yourself in Talos I, the space station where the game is set, and soak in the story its environments have to tell. Talos I is a wreck, with upturned furniture strewn around its rooms, corrupted companion robots marauding about its hallways, and raging fires enveloping its corridors. The station has been overrun by a sentient alien life form called the Typhon, and while it's clear they're the cause of all this, the exact circumstances of the outbreak are still shrouded in some mystery. Furthermore, there's also the question of who's to blame for it.

Similarly, Prey's gameplay feels like it is yet to develop into something unique, mostly because the more interesting abilities are deeper into the various skill trees than I've been able to reach. Up front, Prey is surprisingly generous with the Neuromod items that unlock skills, but so far I have only been able to develop a rudimentary playstyle. I've spent the majority of my points improving my health pool, allowing myself to repair broken turrets, and expanding my inventory space.

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This, in turn, translates to a vanilla combat experience. I'm using the GLOO Cannon to immobilize enemies, and then bludgeoning them with a wrench or emptying shotgun shells into them. In other situations--usually when I'm low on health or ammo--I have opted to sneak around enemies to avoid combat, using lures to manipulate enemy movements or methodically crouch-walking in between furnishings.

Developer Arkane Austin has promised players they will be able to take on challenges in a variety of ways, and while that seems to be true so far, the options I've been given have felt uninteresting. I've made note of numerous blocked pathways that will no doubt become available as my skillset improves, but as of yet, my path through the game has been fairly directed. Dishonored 2--developed by Arkane's Lyon, France-based sister studio--encouraged players to achieve their objectives through creative use of powers. My hope is that when more powers are available to me, alternative opportunities will open up and combat will allow me to be experimental.

A major sticking point for me so far is the behaviour of the Mimic enemies. As their name suggests, they have the ability to shapeshift into any object that is in their immediate surroundings. This means that you can walk into an ordinary, empty room and not know that you're actually seconds away from having a Mimic pounce on you. The idea behind this is sound--it creates a constant sense of tension--but in practice it has very quickly become annoying. Not just because a Mimic can attack when your back is turned and you're focused on something else, but also because the appearance of a Mimic is signalled by a sharp, shrill sound effect that--thanks to its overuse--soon grates. It is designed to create a jump scare moment, but since I was frequently looking in another direction and away from the Mimic, it often felt mistimed.

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There are other reservations I have with enemy behaviour and combat right now, but I'm hoping that, given some time, they'll click into place.

At around 10 hours, I've been acquainted with the fundamentals of the Prey experience. It all feels quite familiar at the moment, but I'm aware that these are also building blocks. I have just unlocked the ability to use alien powers, which introduces an interesting dynamic when you consider Talos I is littered with sentry turrets that attack lifeforms with alien DNA in them. I'm also moving into a brand-new area of Talos I and accruing side-quests as the world opens up, and with any luck it will start to coalesce into something worthwhile.

Stay tuned for our full review in the near future.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Tamz

Tamoor Hussain

I am your OG and I will be respected as such
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Avatar image for hotrod72888
hotrod72888

Tamoor just gave this a 6, my initial score as well. I almost agree entirely with their reviews. It seems the further you get in this game the more punishing it becomes. I have never seen so much potential wasted imo. It lacks the horror/ suspense I was so craving and expecting and being someone who beat Bloodbourne I find this game to be ridiculous in the fact that even after substantial upgrades I feel no more of an ability to overcome the enemies than when I started 15 hours ago. The speed and ferocity of the enemies are beyond my comprehension right from the start, ammo and psi are absolutely impossible to keep on hand, the gloo cannon/gun at least should have had infinite ammo, most games would have chosen to I believe, its not really a weapon to begin with, only an aid. I'm sticking with my score of 6 on this, theres so much to do and explore, a fairly huge playground if you will but you are hardly ever given an opportunity to truly enjoy its offering without dying every 10 minutes along the way, I think it is relentless in its effort to frustrate and ignorant to the fact that a game should be fun as well as challenging.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@hotrod72888: i can't quite understand how you are out of ammo all the time when you search every nook and cranny like you say. My gloo gun has around 1000 ammo all the time (i don't really use it often), i shoot some i find some. As for the handgun it runs out fast indeed, but i just craft handgun ammo every once in a while. i craft shotgun ammo as well, but more handgun ammo. I found the game hard in the 1st couple of hours, but then i unlocked the combat focus ability, increased dmg for the pistol and shottie and i haven't had a problem since. Even a nightmare spawning right next to me and being aware of me doesn't stand a chance at all (hard difficulty). i actually let it hit me once, because i wanted to know what the fuss is about.

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hotrod72888

@RaveNRolla: Its growing on me slowly, I think I went into this game thinking it was like every other of its kind but it is def different. I started over, made some better decisions and it has been a more positive playthrough. I was running out of ammo a lot but the 2nd time has been better, I'm a huge fan of the Dishonored games even though ive heard a lot of fans of the original didn't like the sequel as much, I was the opposite, I thought it was great. I found those games to be challenging but not as much as this right from the start. There has been a lot of players complaining about how difficult it was right from the start, which I felt was overwhelming at times myself but I'm not one to give up and I do like the graphics, story and endless side quests so far. I appreciate your input on my hasty review, I'm enjoying it more the 2nd time around, I never finished it the first time and decided to just completely start over with a different approach and seems to have been a good decision.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@hotrod72888: i'm glad you enjoy it more now. i sometimes do the same, play a game for a bit and once i get the hang of the mechanics and upgrades i restart and make better decisions ;) As for Prey i'm actually hoping for some more challenges in the endgame, as i said my upgrades just kill it atm. i didn't have time to play this weekend so i still haven't finished it.

i love dishonored as well and i too think part 2 is an improvement, as the levels each really have their own "thing" which makes it more interesting. Personally i was really happy that Corvo now has Daud's Blink, which stops time when you're not moving, which is such an amazing power. Overall i'd say Dishonored 2 is definitely more my kind of game than Prey, but i enjoy Prey nevertheless.

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hotrod72888

I'm playing on PS4 and have had 3 crashes/blue errors so far. As for the game, 15 hours in I still feel my character is as weak as in the beginning, even after upgrading my character a ton. This game had so much promise imo but falls short on so many levels. The frustration factor for me is at an all time high playing this, being a gamer who searches every nook and cranny, picking up each and every item along the way I'm constantly running out of ammo and psi. I want to enjoy the game and I never feel I'm able to really explore any of the areas for more than 5 minutes before I'm bombarded with injury/death time after time. It pulls you in to a point but the whole game has felt like a 1 step forward 2 step back approach, 15 hours in and I am only continuing this for the sake of the story and the fact I shelled out 52 bucks.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@hotrod72888: Next time... wait and see.

Avatar image for hotrod72888
hotrod72888

@Gelugon_baat: I def will my friend.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

IGN's reviewer is frustrated with the PC version of the game. Here is IGN's coverage of the bugs which are hitting the game, with the worst progress-wiping ones occurring past the 30-hour mark.

Also, these are not the only problems around. If you would check the Steam discussion board on the game, there are players who are reporting glitches that occur past the 10-hour mark, especially frame-rate issues.

Always wait and see, people. Only fools rush in.

(P.S. Yes, I am aware of the paradox that there have to be fools who trip all those traps so that the wise who wait will know about them. Thanks the stars for fools, for they are great cannon fodder.)

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

At least Arkane Studios is cool with people exploiting the refund policy on Steam.

Seriously though, if you want to check out this game, there are always blind playthroughs on YouTube.

Avatar image for airman20012001
airman20012001

Gamespot is ridiculous for not having this game reviewed yet.

Personal reflection after 10 hours is that this game starts slow, your character is severly underpowered and it almost plays like a hide and seek game. That said as you gain neromods and the map opens up you start to see the complexities imvoled and start to realize that prey is a great game. Strong graphics, combined with the everpresent danger of dark aliens, makes for a good atmosphere. Gamespot will give it at least an 8, maybe more.

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hotrod72888

@airman20012001: I'm 15 hours in and still feel overwhelmed, even with a ton of neuromods installed. As well, I find no creepy factor whatsoever, with the space station or enemies ive encountered. The graphics are strong and a fairly decent story but I myself wouldnt give more than a 6, it had so much potential imo but just doesn't live up to the more intriguing recent titles ive played ie. RE7, Dishonored 2 and the latest Deus Ex. Glad you like it and I only wish I felt the same.

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airman20012001

@hotrod72888: Its a hard game, I dont like that enemies respawn after you clear an area, makes backtracking tough. I agree with you I dont think its creepy, I think its tension based on the hidden enemies but it lacks a gore factor that might hace enhanced the creepiness, 6 I felt was low, the lowest score by a repatable reviewer yet I think. I think it had a lot to do with the game bugs he encountered. Like the name if its a throw back to Rodimus.

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hotrod72888

@airman20012001: I guess 6 is low but I def wouldn't go more than 8, just way too many times I'm overwhelmed with no ammo or psi and I conserve as much as possible. I recently exited an elevator and got swarmed before I even had a chance to react and died within seconds, ive considered playing on easy but I'm a lifetime gamer and I honestly think in some ways this is harder than Bloodbourne, one of my all time favs. It just seems ridiculous at times and again I haven't been able to actually enjoy exploring much because every time I turn around theres an enemy in wait. With Bioshock I could wipe out all the enemies and then enjoy the fruits of my labor for a time, that's not happening here for sure. My characters abilities haven't amounted to much in all this time, upgrade after upgrade I still feel overpowered even with the smallest of enemies when in significant numbers and the wrench is pointless with their speed. Neither Dishonored games were like this, they were tough but fair, I'm really trying to enjoy this one but unfortunately after almost 20 hours I think its just not going to make my top 10 sadly. Thanks for the reply and again, I'm glad you like it, I do hope to see more games of this genre in the future, not enough good horror/fps being released imo.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@airman20012001: Also, there is that issue of save-game corrupting problems on the PC version. I, for one, know that the UK branch of GameSpot has a tendency to favour the computer versions over the console ones.

I wouldn't be surprised if Tamoor started with the PC review copy first, hit the same bugs as IGN's reviewer had, and had to restart on other copies of the game.

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airman20012001

@Gelugon_baat: That very well could be the problem, and I wouldn't fault gamespot for a slow review based on a corrupted save file. I do have this strange feeling that they might be making the point to Bethesda that if they don't want to give out early copies of games they may have to wait a couple weeks for a review. Seems childish but other review sites seem to be making an issue of Bethesda's no same day as release review policy.

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Gelugon_baat

@airman20012001: Last thing that I want GameSpot to become is another Polygon. Polygon rushes their reviews, and then make so many changes as the games get patched and such.

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Gelugon_baat

@airman20012001: I find release-day reviews to be more ridiculous. Reviews that don't include a wait-and-see perspective are not reliable.

Avatar image for GT_APE
GT_APE

Why isn't this review finalized? Is it related to the Prey ads on the site? Duh. Of course it is.

Avatar image for hotrod72888
hotrod72888

I totally agree with the review thus far, after 6 hours in, I am very disappointed to say the least. I am a huge fan of both Dishonored games and was eager to play this title as well, but it simply doesn't live up to my expectations. There is absolutely no fear factor and the entire game has been bright, colorful and Disney like imo. The enemies are more of a nuisance than a scare so far, so many great ideas but Bioshock this could never be. I will continue to play merely for the story but its gonna be a resale on Ebay the day its beat. I don't believe it could be any more entertaining, even with another 20 hours of play. Sadly it seems thrown together for a quick sale and it will generate quite a lot of money when everyone compares it to the likes of Bioshock and Dead Space to buyers looking for another great horror/ space fps. I would absolutely not recommend this to anyone expecting a decent clone of either of those classics. RE7 had me hooked in minutes, ive given this only 6 hours but I think that's enough time to judge a title fairly and its ability to keep me coming back for more. I hope others are entertained more than I am, but this title is a major letdown for me after playing Dishonored 2 not very long ago, I still cant believe this is what the same company came out with, unfortunately, I will be much more hesitant in future purchases from them after this one.

Avatar image for Dark_Matters
Dark_Matters

If Bethesda didn't have this idiotic moratorium on reviews, we would have had a full review by now, probably one that's a bit more favorable.

But instead we have this unfavorable impression that's posted for days leading up to the release of the game, and making me more indifferent to the game literally by the hour.

Bethesda makes some of my favorite games, but they deserve this.

Avatar image for Dark_Matters
Dark_Matters

@Dark_Matters: I was excited for this game, but now even if the review turns out better, I'm already highly disappointed.

I'll wait until it's on sale now.

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focuspuller

Hey guys! solid pre-review! I've asked this before and I'd love an answer! I'm curious, what music plays towards the end of this video?

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

This from IGN reviewer hahaha this is just to good. This is the worst policy for reviewing a game ever. Just read what happened over at IGN hahah:

"I'd intended to get a final review done today, but right now it looks like that might not be possible. After more than 30 hours of rock-solid stability and excellent performance, the PC version of Prey has started crashing on me every time I try to load a new area, completely halting my progress. I also had it eat my three most recent save files - one crashed every time I tried to load it, and the other two said they were not compatible with the current version of Prey (which is weird because there doesn't seem to have been an update yet) and wouldn't even load them. I then went back to the most recent working save file and tried to work my way back, but that's when I ran into the current problem of it crashing right and left."

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Legend_of_Link: Sounds like a case of instability.

More likely, it was not playtested past the 30-hour mark.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@nibbin1191: I'm seeing more people on Steam saying they're running into the same issues.

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Bearclaw9286

@nibbin1191: Considering the glitch and corruption of saves has been confirmed, I would also say it sounds like a broken game.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

@nibbin1191: sounds like a broken product

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

@nibbin1191: I have no problem with Prey what so ever. I have a problem with Bethesdas review policy... it also does not help that there are reports of the game having game breaking bugs. I am happy you like the game and have not had any problems.

Avatar image for Salt_AU
Salt_AU

@Legend_of_Link: Just don't buy their products if it upsets you so much and move on in life. Problem solved.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

@Salt_AU: I like to vent my frustration online. Sorry if my views on their review policy bother you. I'll try and avoid posting on your threads

Avatar image for springdaddy
springdaddy

I can't believe the review isn't out yet. I understand that there are embargos and many reviewers want to be thorough with games nowadays, but this should have been posted by Sunday evening, in my opinion.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@springdaddy: That's the weekend, man.

Avatar image for bearclaw9286
Bearclaw9286

@springdaddy: Add in that some reviewers are running into late game saves being corrupted and loading earlier saves keep running into crashes I would say that it's completely believable that there aren't any full reviews out yet.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

@springdaddy: blame Bethesda not gamespot. It is their review policy. All of this could have been avoided if Bethesda just allowed early review copies for critics.

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springdaddy

@Legend_of_Link: Yeah, I agree. I've become weary of companies that do this ... usually embargos or not supplying reviewers early review copies is a good indicator that the game is less than stellar.

Avatar image for Lach0121
Lach0121

I find it funny that everyone wants reviews out for them to read before the launch of the game, or any patches (despite how major) are never even considered in reviews.

"Professional" Game reviews these days are just an extension of marketing for a game.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@Lach0121: If that were true, I doubt Gamespot would be taking its time on this review. Or saying that their first impressions were mixed.

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Lach0121

@Mogan: No no, this is one of the few games this isn't happening, sorry for the confusion.

I was posting on people being use to games being reviewed even before launch, or right at. (which happens on this site, and others quite a bit) That they get angry when a review doesn't pop up instantaneously. Read at the comments below, and you will see what I mean. I was speaking on the perception of the user that is use to getting reviews asap. Its just more marketing for them, an extended commercial if you will...

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Mogan

@Lach0121: Ah. My bad then.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

Fun game. Very big on exploration, which for me means the 1st playthrough is probably gonna take me 40-60 hours. I played somewhat around 25 hours now and just unlocked deep storage with the voice sample. There are whole parts of the ship available to me (bridge, life support) that i haven't checked out, because it became too much for me at some point. I'm also trying to do all the side missions, which keep piling up. WHERE DA HELL IS THIS JOSH DALTON GUY?!?!? i searched all over for him in the shafts, costing me at least an hour and several deaths. Anyone found him?

One thing i found very weird is that the game doesn't introduce you to the Alien powers in any meaningful way, besides "oh yeah you can unlock these now", which is why i still haven't purchased any yet (bioshock usually gives you a few powers for free on the way because you need them to progress). The human powers which i already spent quite a lot of mods on seem to be more directly useful in the world with the ability to hack, repair, upgrade your weapons, upgrade your HP, FP (i mean PsiPoints), stamina and such, upgrade your suit with inventory slots or make crafting more efficient. Also i don't feel like i need any of the Alien powers. The one human power that slows down time and increases your damage along with the Shotgun and Pistol are really all i need for anything i came across so far (on hard difficulty).

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DakinReal

@RaveNRolla: not sure if you'll see this reply, but Josh is in the micro gravity place before the Aboretum under a pipe. The best way to find him is to go to a security computer, and search for Josh in the computer. Select his name and voila you'll get a dot exactly where he is

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RaveNRolla

@dakinreal: i did that beforehand, but even with the location marker i couldn't find him. must be a hole in the wall somewhere...

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DakinReal

@RaveNRolla: he is under a set of pipe. On YouTube a guy show exactly where he is

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Mogan

@RaveNRolla: I haven't bought any alien powers either, but that's mostly because of January's vague concerns about how I might become a bad person if I do. Also, I spent sever points on repair so I could use turrets, and I don't want to have wasted those.

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

@Mogan: you can hack hostile turrets to be friendly to you again. i assume this is what you can do when you invested in so much alien power that they become hostile. i haven't tried it though as i decided to do a human powers only playthrough and try the alien powers on my next one, but i have hacked a few hostile turrets overtaken by technopaths in the game.

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Mogan

@RaveNRolla: I ended up taking a few alien powers, and yeah, if I hack a turret it just says it isn't sure if I'm an alien or not and doesn't shoot me. Of course, turrets totally suck and can't reliably kill anything bigger than a mimic or cystoid, so I'm mostly just leaving them broken anymore. : (

Part of me wishes I'd stayed totally human, but on the other hand, some of these higher end enemies are much easier to deal with when I've got Psychoshock.