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Prey (the 2017 one)


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#1 Ocelot

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 08:32 AM

 

Prey, baby. I've been playing it for the last few hours, and it is really good so far. It's an immersive sim in the vein of Deus Ex and Dishonored, mixed in with a little bit of dat dere Bioshock, set on a space station full of awful monsters in the year Twenty-Thirty-Something. Also JFK lived to the age of like 115 in this universe. Does that mean anything for the overall story? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out!

 

I just threw an upgrade point into the physical strength branch of my skill tree to give myself the ability to lift heavy boxes, so I could open a path through a ventilation duct into a space lab, where I sneaked past some enemies, used my GLOO cannon to build myself a staircase of high-tech sticky foam to reach a workstation with the blueprint for a spacesuit propulsion system. I used a nearby matter fabricator to build it for myself, then opened an airlock and zoomed out into space to track down a keycard from a recently-ejected corpse, and I suspect that if you're the type of video game player attracted to immersive sims, that paragraph will be just about enough to get your mouth watering. Did I mention you can... hack into people's e-mails? (I'm in heaven with this game :P)

 

So while the sneaking, hacking, keycode-finding, alternate-path-creating antics are straight out of Deus Ex, the Bioshock-y bits come in the form of the big hub-based world you explore, and the slightly heavier emphasis on combat. While you can sneak past most enemies, I don't believe this is a game that can be ghosted, and the stealth mechanics aren't really robust enough for it anyway. I've done a fair bit of bonking these Headcrab-esque enemies called Mimics with my wrench, and this is made harder than I really feel is necessary due to a slow bonk animation, very mobile enemies and what feels like a totally unnecessary stamina bar governing how many bonks I'm allowed. I'm not crazy about this part of the game so far, but I'll see how it goes.

 

After a really excellent first hour introduction to the world, the game has settled into a fairly standard Bioshock style of progression; go here, whoops the door's locked, better go here to find the key, OK now go there, repeat. The story threads that have been teased so far are tantalizing, to say the least (Chris Avellone is credited as a co-writer), so I can't wait to see how it goes.

 

EDIT - Oh wait, the music! It's done by Mick "That guy who did Doom last year" Gordon, and it's wonderful. Mass Effect 1 vibes from all this electronica in space.



#2 Spark

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Posted 07 May 2017 - 03:54 PM

This thing is carrying System Shock's torch so hard, I'm wondering people ever considered Bioshock a spiritual successor.


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#3 Ocelot

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 08:45 AM

This is absolutely the Shock-est game not named Shock. It's System Shock 3 without the naming rights. I'm about eleven hours in now and it's just brilliant. This is like the sixth genuine GOTY contender I've played in a row this year :P

 

It's everything I loved out of Deus Ex and Dishonored, but instead of discreet levels, it's an entire Space Station that is fully explorable. Like, for realsies. When you find an airlock you can fly out into space and the entire playable space of the game is there. Just zip around the outside of the Station as a shortcut to the specific area you want to reach; it's amazing. And it feels so lived in, too (emphasis on the past tense), because you can't go three feet without stumbling upon some kind of scene that needs investigation. That Immersive Sim loop of walking into a room and just picking everything up and turning it over to find out what went on is here in full force, and it's just as compelling as ever. While preeetty much everyone on the station is dead except you, the traces they left are all over the place, telling you the story of what went on through audiologs, e-mail records, sticky notes and environmental cues.

 

Your set of abilities as the player is really interesting, too. You have a standard shotgun and pistol for workhorses, but then there's a thing that fires out clumps of sticky stuff that you can use to board up doorways or make staircases for yourself to reach inaccessible areas. There's a Nerf gun that does no damage to enemies, but as you read through e-mail chains about how the bored scientists aboard the station designed it to goof around with eachother on their off-time, you learn about how they gave the foam dart conductive tips to let them interact with touch screen computer terminals. Being able to smash a window then fire a Nerf dart through to hit the button on the computer terminal inside that says "UNLOCK DOOR" is one of those perverse thrills only a game like this can provide.

 

And then there are the alien powers you can unlock, which seem to get really weird really fast. The first one I unlocked was the ability to rearrange my molecules like the monsters do to mimic any object in the environment. If I see a teacup, I can become a teacup. It seems silly until you realise that you can still move around as said teacup, and being able to shrink down to teacup size is an extremely useful ability for sneaking into locked areas through tiny holes here and there. There's one ability that gives me a mind energy blast, which seems suited more for pushing enemies away than actually damaging them (pushing them into traps of your own design, say...). But the tradeoff with going too deep into the alien power tree is that the automated defence turrets and other robots that protect the station will start to read signs of alien DNA when they scan you to see if you're a friend or a foe, and too much alien goop in your blood will mean you don't have a friend in the world.

 

I don't want to talk about the story too much, because it's all been very mysterious and slow-moving so far. Not in a bad way, mind you, just a slow-burn. I've also spent a lot of time doing sidequests and exploring, so I haven't made too much progress, but I'm into Deep Storage now so I think things are moving along.

 

EDIT - Also, there's a giant scary monster called The Nightmare that stalks you through the ship like Nemesis from RE3, and when he spots me he screams at me and scampers over to kill me instantly. I don't like him.



#4 Randomman96

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 09:38 AM

EDIT - Also, there's a giant scary monster called The Nightmare that stalks you through the ship like Nemesis from RE3, and when he spots me he screams at me and scampers over to kill me instantly. I don't like him.

 

Is it too late to point out there's another trade off to going heavy into Typhon based powers from Neuro-Mods?

 

If so, forget I said anything.  Just go heavy into it.  The turrets and security systems on the station won't be much of a concern.


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#5 Spark

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 02:35 PM

Nightmare shows up regardless if you go heavy into alien stuff or not. Also, just as a pro-tip: Save yourself some hassle and get Hacking IV as soon as you can. You'll thank when you get to the 'Repo Man' part of the main questline.


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#6 Ocelot

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 08:55 PM

Also 100% necessary: the movement speed and traversal upgrades. Your character is soooo slooooow by default, and the walking/sprinting speed and jump height upgrades are a huge boost to your general enjoyment. Don't worry about wasting Neuromods, because if you're exploring at all you're going to find a lot of'em.

 

My general strat in these games is to hoard my upgrade points and use them as needed, so I always have a pool of hot upgrades ready to go if I come across a safe that needs to be opened or a ledge that needs to be super-jumped to, and it's served me well now that I'm at the end of the game and a new type of preeeetty difficult enemy has flooded the station. I actually thought I was going to finish the game last night, but then a whole new chapter of story jumped up out of nowhere. This game ain't short. I'm running a little low on shotgun shells (and the materials to fabricate more), so it looks like I'm going to be diving into that Typhon Neuromod tree.

 

My only complaint at this point is that, while I love the zero-G movement and exploration, I don't love zero-G combat. Whenever I have to take out a big dude in standard combat I just give him a bit of the ol' shotgun circle-strafe action, but you just aren't manoeuvrable enough in zero-G for shotgunning to be an option. I end up trying to hide behind geometry, pew-pewing with my pistol, and that's just not much fun. Not to mention those Cystoid Nests that vomit radiation and exploding bugs at you. Those little black hole recycling grenades sometimes work for those, but not always. Maybe there's some power that makes them trivial that I just haven't found yet, though.

 

EDIT - OK, twenty hours later (with more than a few sidequests left unfinished and areas left unexplored), I finished the game. It was incredible! Seriously, I know it didn't get a big marketing push and it isn't setting the reviewing charts on fire (IGN just gave it a 4, which is utterly absurd), but don't sleep on this game, people. It's a big, long, meaty game, but every part of it is intricately and lovingly designed. If you like System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Dishonored, or any kind of game that's all about exploration and experimentation, I really can't recommend Prey enough. The 2017 one.

 

I won't spoil them, but I want to talk about the structure of the endings, because it's really well done. There's no funneling you towards one specific point. Instead, the game presents a handful of different options and leaves it up to you to decide which ones suit you. You can just go with one, or you can try and do all of them, or you can even 'finish' the game very early indeed if you follow up on one of the sidequests. It's incredibly freeform, just like the whole game in general, I suppose. And this game's going to be heaven for replays; there's an Achievement for killing every human aboard the station, and one for finishing the whole game without unlocking a single upgrade, and the thought of how you'd actually get through the game under those conditions has me so curious.






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