There were several factors which led to me not being excited about "Prey 2." One of the biggest was that the first game was, well, fine. Not a bad game by any means, but far from spectacular. When I finished the game, no part of me was saying, "Damn, I can't wait for more of this!" The second contributing factor to my lack of enthusiasm was this image. Not only was the first game just "fine," but now the sequel is starring a "Black Ops" wannabe. Things did not look good.
And then I saw the game and I was totally sold.
A DIFFERENT WORLD
Apart from the fact that it's a first-person shooter and that it has aliens, "Prey 2" could easily be the start of a brand new franchise. Instead of a linear, corridor-based shooter, the sequel takes place in large, open-world areas filled with friendly and not-so-friendly alien citizens.
You play Killian, an unlucky human who was abducted by aliens while he was aboard a 747 jet liner. Fans of the original "Prey" may recall seeing his plane crashing. Killian is far from a defenseless abductee, though. He's a US Marshal, and doesn't take his abduction lying down. The game begins with him battling the aliens from the original "Prey" before getting outnumbered and knocked unconscious.
When Killian wakes up next, he realizes he's missing time. Although he doesn't remember a thing between his abduction and his current state, he's been busy, becoming one of the most feared bounty hunters on an alien planet. Everyone seems to know him, even if he's completely clueless about who they are.
He quickly finds his feet, though, and starts acting like a bounty hunter should, taking on missions to capture or kill the deadliest of alien foes.
AN OPEN WORLD
The maps in "Prey 2" are massive and wide open. While certain missions might guide you to a target directly, others might require that you chat up the locals for information. These aspects are reminiscent of games like "Deus Ex," where combat isn't the only tool in your arsenal.
The area we were shown was called The Bowery and was packed to the gills with seedy characters, casinos and strip clubs. Human Head's art design inspiration is summed up as "alien noir," but the hints from movies like "Blade Runner" are obvious. It's the grimy, high-tech world of cyberpunk.
The cities in the game are open to explore, and Killian is adept that doing this both horizontally and vertically. Many of the areas throughout town can only be accessed while climbing, so it's a good think you've got a solid grip on things.
Once you near a mission target, a chase might ensue. You have the option of taking them down with non-lethal means (sometimes a necessity for story-related missions) or blowing them away. Targets taken alive will yield more cash, but they're also tougher to nab.
The trickiest targets will really make you run for your money. One sequence had Killian sprinting after a target, sliding across rooftops, swinging down catwalks, almost like it was a scene from an alien-ridden "Mirror's Edge."
Once captured, Killian can probe targets for more information or send them to the mission giver directly. Probing has the potential to kill the target, so players are cautioned to beware how they treat their prisoners.
PREY OR NOT PREY?
The number of differences between the original "Prey" and its sequel is pretty staggering, and it all seems like it's for the better. Fans of the original will have some story connections to look forward to, including the reappearance of Tommy, but newcomers shouldn't feel out of place in the least. "Prey 2" is exactly the sort of reboot this series needed to get it back to the top of most-anticipated lists.