'Prey' Is a Very Good Sci-Fi Shooter You've Played Before (So Far)

May 05, 2017

Happy Prey day. Here's a launch trailer to get you in the mood, since studio Arkane's sci-fi mind-bender for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is now available.

I've only been playing since Thursday, given Bethesda's recent policy switch to withhold early review copies. The game says that adds up to just over 12 hours, about which all I can tell you at this point is that it feels both derivative (see Bioshock, to make the low-hanging, dead obvious comparison) and immaculately crafted, if you're in the mood for a space station crawl informed by the Dishonored series' "one problem, multiple solutions" approach.

Standard ballistic weapons are present but optional, and the game's bag of tricks is reasonably deep. Do you want to take out the spooky tentacular aliens by lobbing conveniently overrepresented explosive tanks at them? Straightjacket them momentarily with what amounts to a freeze ray? Lure them near broken panels snapping with lethal Tesla-style plasma arcs? Or just deploy turrets to do what turrets typically do in these kinds of games?

Subversive it's not, or at least not so far. I am assuming, given how many notches I have yet to fill in the character upgrade trees, that I have miles to go. But it has some modestly novel takes on this "Lone amnesiac in an orbital tin can versus things that go boo" genre. I'm definitely into the way it looks, all alt-futuristic tech wrapped in ropy metallic protuberances and exposed cabling gilded with gleaming brass edging.

Whether it's going to eventually pull the rug out from under my assumptions about its familiar design sentiments, who can say? But I'm ready, and hooked. And for the first dozen hours, that's been enough.

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