I couldn’t say I was expecting much with Prey 2. Human Head Studios’ first effort was earnest in scope but disappointing in execution and a sequel nearly half a decade later was the last thing I expected. Fear and judgments were slightly premature, as Prey 2 is shaping up to be a solid (if not surprising) title.
Prey 2’s narrative pieces required a significant leap of faith. US Marshall Killian Samuels survives a plane crash only to wake up some (possibly a lot of) time later assuming the role of an outer space bounty hunter on the world of Exodus. It also isn’t too clear whether or not Samuels had any recollection of his previous life or, really, anything before the game begins. It’s deliberately ambiguous, my suspicion is along the lines that he’s been abducted and sort of programmed into his new role, but surely the path of discovery is uncovered as the game progresses.
Exodus represents an open-world environment where Samuels is free to do what he pleases. The look had the grime of the bar on Tatooine along with the multi-species feel of Mass Effect 2’s Omega and then topped off with a Bladerunner filter. Human Head was throwing around the buzzword “alien noir” to describe Exodus and it’s not too far off the mark.
The interface also appeared to be completely HUD-less. Human Head made a point to deliberately not have Samuel’s gun always taking up a third of the frame; it’s drawn when needed and holstered otherwise. This also made for a few particularly amusing situations where Samuels would be speaking to someone and alter the mood and flow of conversation by simply removing his pistol. I asked if Prey 2’s lack of HUD would been consistent in the final retail release and the Human Head representative I spoke to was pure “no comment” but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it carried through to the full release.
Being a bounty hunter, Samuels was also host to a few cool gadgets and powers. When pursuing a mark he had some sort of visor that singled his mark out as a different shade of light than anyone else. The visor also tracked Samuel’s target through walls, so when his bounty fled the scene it was easy to run parallel and intercept. Furthermore Samuels could fire his gun at someone while simultaneously using rockets fired off his gear. Needless to say, the arsenal of bullets and other weapons fire was quite a site.
Concluding a mission was also quite a spectacle. Samuels, having captured his mark in some sort of energy ball, was free to interrogate him for further information, let him live for more money (and other consequences later). This also factors into Prey 2’s rep system, which affects not only how people perceive Samuels but also how Exodus’ own security system handles Samuel’s actions.
Prey 2 looks unapologetically ambitious and incredibly slick. Look for it in 2012.