Having developed the underrated and overhyped Prey back in 2006, Humanhead Studios started work on the sequel immediately. Six years on and Humanhead will release their sequel, however TGH were lucky enough to get a sneaky peak at how the game will work and how it all fits in within the world of Prey. From the gist of the game alone you can see that it is a much more ambitious title than its predecessor and even though it ultimately has the same theme in the story it plays completely differently.
In Prey you played as Tommy a Cherokee Indian who was abducted by aliens along with his father and girlfriend, the game revolved around Tommy trying to discover who he was through such a turbulent time. This time you play as Killian a U.S. Marshal who gets abducted at the same time as Tommy in Prey, as he was onboard a passenger jet that got sucked into the Sphere. Prey 2 starts right after this incident, but then very quickly jumps forward in time to a time where Killian finds himself on an alien planet called Exodus, and somehow he has become a Bounty Hunter in this world. In Prey 2 it is all about Killian’s story and about Killian trying to discover what happened to him, we aren’t quite sure how bounty hunting will solve this but plot will eventually come into play later on in the actual game, for now we can enjoy the sights of todays gameplay session.
The game all takes place in one large open city on the planet of Exodus. Exodus is a tidally locked planet, so one face of the planet is always facing the sun and another is always in darkness, the city that Prey 2 takes place in is right in between the two and so is perpetually in twilight. This perpetual twilight lends itself perfectly to creating an amazing visual spectacle and giving the game a gritty noir feel, like Ridley Scott’s fantastic Blade Runner. Bright neon lights cast beautiful shadows across the futuristic cityscape that stretches off into the distance, and when night vision is switched on to illuminate darker areas a yellow hue comes over this incredible world making it easier to see but taking nothing away from its striking style.
Inside this striking world are people and events that all happen of their own accord, it’s a living, breathing world and your actions can change how it works too. By default your weapon is holstered as this is a city with rules and it would seem jarring to allow you to wander around with your gun waving, even characters react accordingly. One example we saw was a beggar who sees you and begins asking you for money, or for belongings, for anything really, after a while of listening to him we see Killian pull out his gun and aim for the head, at which point the beggar immediately retracts back into the corner he came from saying that he will be quiet and leave you alone, he didn’t want trouble he isn’t one for dying. Later we see a group of three beating up another alien, you can choose to help them, help the alien or leave them all alone, you never know what could come from it, you could have ended up severing a lot of sidequests by not saving a potential quest giver or in saving him have closed off quests from whoever those guys may have been working for. Prey 2 seems to really be a multi-layered game and this permeates it all the way through as a semi morality system comes into play too when dealing with some bounties.
When it comes to bounties you also have completely free choice whether to take them or leave them and on how they can play out. Using a scanner overlay which lights up and identifies where the quest point is, thus eliminating the need for a compass or map onscreen, and it highlights characters in the world around you too. If someone is highlighted green they are friendly, someone is coloured yellow they are quest points, reds are threats (which doesn’t necessarily mean they will attack you) and finally blue means the person is your bounty target. Thanks to this overlay its makes hunting down exactly who the target is in a crowded nightclub that much easier, and if they decide that yielding to your threats is not what they want to do, it makes chasing after them easier too. You could waltz in there and shoot them straight away and create a scene, you could just capturer them there and then and avoid most of a fight or you could try and get them to come willingly, the choice is very much yours. In this instance the target ran and was very quickly caught and captured using some humane capture device, however as retribution for being shot at the player shot the target and took in less money for the bounty. Later in the sitting we witnessed another bounty chase, this involved scaling buildings and ducking and diving under and over obstacles to finally pin the target. Once the target had nowhere left to go he then began pleading for his life, even offering a bribe that was higher than the money we were paid as a bounty. Choosing to let him go could mean that you can get missions from them later or instead they may just come back to haunt you later, you cant tell. In this case he opted to not take the bribe and capture him, whilst on capture you can then choose to interrogate or send him off. If you interrogate you can gain information on why they committed the crime or indeed point out someone who they work for, but if you interrogate too much you can risk killing the bounty and then suffering the consequences.
Now although everything there sounds pretty awesome, and was incredible to see happening around you, it isn’t what makes Prey 2 so special. There is one massive feature about this game that has just been glossed over so far in this preview and it is by far the most impressive addition. Before we mentioned that in a chase Killian had to duck and dive up and over obstacles, well it goes beyond that, in Prey 2 you can climb and jump and hang all in first person. Working on a system maybe similar to Brinks, we weren’t told how it works, you can dive into cover and then vault over it with ease and can jump and grab ledges and pull yourself up. However it goes one further than that, you can fully scale buildings, moving forward your arm naturally reaches out and then you can jump and grab on to the next ledge or grababble object, we watched as Killian climbed up the side of a building, turned his head and jumped to grab a ledge to the left of him, and all in first person. You can even shoot from these hanging positions too, so perfect for stalking a target and taking them down silently with little fuss. And to make it even easier to come back down without killing yourself Killian has hoverboots so you can glide down easily or even traverse large distances.
Prey 2 is shaping up to be one impressive offering, it is vastly different from its prequel in so many ways and because of that it is potentially all the better for it. Now there are no portals at all and by removing Tommy from being playable could have also really alienated some of the fans from the old game too, it was a risk but a risk that clearly seems worth it, and for fans of Tommy he does star in the game later on. The demo we watched being played was happening on an Xbox 360, which is extremely promising as the PS3 version should look better thanks to not being compressed and the PC version can only be unbelievably beautiful when it launches next year.