Prey Update - Inside the Mothership
You'll be playing the demo in a few hours, but we already got to check out even more of Human Head's highly anticipated shooter. Ha!
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Just about anyone reading this should know by now that a demo for Prey, the long-awaited space-warping shooter from 3D Realms and developer Human Head Studios, will be premiering on GameSpot in just a few short hours. Soon you'll get to find out for yourself how the nearly completed game has turned out, and we were fortunate enough to get to see some of the later levels from the game this morning, as demonstrated by project lead Chris Rhinehart. If you're just chomping at the bit to find out what's included in the demo, don't miss last week's preview with gameplay footage included.
Last time around, we detailed all the crazy wall-walking, portal-hopping, and spirit discovery you'll engage in throughout the game, in addition to the core shooting action. But we've gotten to see some more-interesting elements of the gameplay that you'll encounter as you progress deeper into the alien mothership. We've mentioned how main character Tommy will gain the ability to read the aliens' text displays, giving you clues as to what they're up to. You'll notice a number of alien handprint locks in the demo of the game, and later on you'll be able to start opening them by literally cutting the hand off a fallen enemy and carrying it around with you, using it as a makeshift key and gaining access to new areas.
We also got to check out the fight against the game's first boss character, a heavy bruiser who wielded a seriously punishing arm cannon. Most shooters--even some we've played in the last few weeks--like to make you unload nearly all of your available ammo into a boss like this to take it down; but that wasn't an effective way to take down this boss, who could unload on us with its weapon when it had a direct line of sight. We don't want to give away the method of beating the boss (because, hopefully, you'll all be playing the final game in just a couple of weeks anyway), but we can say the solution involves creatively using the environment to your advantage and turning the boss's considerable firepower on itself. We're hoping later boss encounters in the game feature similarly unique solutions.
Though most of the gameplay is of the run-and-gun variety, Prey will feature some vehicular combat, which we finally got to try out for ourselves today. Specifically, you'll find a number of antigravity shuttles with 360 degrees of movement that you'll use to take on enemies on the ground, some of which use the same kind of shuttle you do. The vehicle is equipped with a standard cannon and a tractor beam, which you can use to fling minor enemies around and move objects to clear paths and solve puzzles. We also saw an obstacle course of sorts during one section of a level that takes place on the outer edges of the ship. This sequence required the player to navigate a series of slowly revolving electrified discs and then make it through a series of tunnels that were quickly aligning and then misaligning themselves. It looks like these flying sequences will help add some variety to the on-foot stuff you'll be spending most of your time with.
Later in the game, you'll see some striking evidence of Human Head's modifications to the Doom 3 engine. In one later level, Tommy was walking down a series of hallways in which the room at the end appeared to fade into darkness. Approaching this darkened doorway triggered a startlingly impressive animation of the geometry of the entire room flying together, such that the walls and everything contained within were literally assembled before our eyes. It's an effect that's more easily appreciated when you see it, but alas, you'll have to wait until you play the game for that. In any event, the Doom 3 technology is still among the most impressive on the market, and we're interested to see what else Human Head has done with it later in the game.
Prey continues to look like a promising shooting experience, with a lot of unique elements and enough variety to compel you to blast all the way through. Don't forget (yeah right) to check back tonight for the premiere of the demo. Then take a look at some new gameplay footage from the later levels, and stay tuned for our final thoughts on the release version of Prey when it ships in early July.