This DNA trail would normally help us to track a still-living bounty who was on the run, but in this case it enables us to retrace the villain’s steps to a seedy lair back under the city, where several other thugs ambush us. But they’re no match for the next gadget our demoer shows off – an antigravity device that briefly incapacitates an enemy and lifts them out from behind cover, defenseless and ready for Killian to fill with holes. Gadgets, clearly, are a good thing. Best of all, there’s a little fellow down here who the creeps were about to pummel, and he gives is a nice reward for saving his life. Of course, we could have just mugged him ourselves, but this is nicer.
Thus far, we’ve only seen spontaneously generated bounties and situations. Now.it’s time to check the Bounty Wire, a sort of in-game job board, for a real mission. This would prove to be a real showcase for the game’s other main features: fluid combat and free running. We accept the job of tracking down a mob boss named Dra’Gar, who must be captured alive. His current location is unknown, but our handler – a female voice in our ear whom our demoer calls Ec’Lora, but declines to explain just yet – mentions there’s an informant nearby. It’s a mid-level criminal named Krux, who probably has the answer.
After gunning our way through a random ambush by street thugs, we find our way to Krux, who sits flanked by a bodyguard and a private dancer. He wants us to pay him for the information. We opt to draw our weapon and threaten him instead – you can actually threaten anyone in Prey 2, though it won’t always work. In this case, it does. Krux snarls an insult, but coughs up the information we want in exchange for a favor to be named later. This, we’re told, means he’ll be doling out some side missions sometime in the future.
Dra’Gar is far below us, so we use another gadget - hover boots - to safely drop down several stories. He’s ensconced on the second floor of his stronghold, protected by a whole squad of henchmen. If we equip the right gear, we could climb up and enter through a window. And there’s a vendor nearby offering to sell us grenades – those could help. But instead we sneak up behind one of the henchmen, whom our scanner identifies as Dra’Gar’s lieutenant, and put him in a headlock, intending to use him as a hostage in bargaining. He quickly becomes a used meat shield instead, as Dra’Gar orders his men to open fire the moment he sees us. In the ensuing firefight, Dra’Gar splits the scene via a device that enables him to teleport in short jumps.
Flipping on another new gadget, the night vision-like lumisight, we take off after Dra’Gar. He’s teleporting away 20-30 yards at a time, but this is where it becomes clear that Killian’s no lumbering space marine. He makes an abnormally long jump – it turns out, he has an augmented bodysuit, which gives him slightly superhuman agility and athleticism – and the chase is on.
This enhanced agility extends to Killian’s combat moves as well. The devs want you to keep moving as much as possible, even when the bullets are flying. Killian has a full range of cover moves – he can use cover, pop out to fire and vault over it, blind-fire from behind it, or dash to another cover spot. He can also leap across a gap to grab a ledge, peek over it, and even fire his gun at an enemy while still hanging there, using the ledge itself as cover. Plus there are those hover boots, which can extend a jump as well as they slow a fall.
Those last few talents may seem trivial, but they’re not - these levels are all about verticality, filled with chases that start in the city’s bowels and end with leaps, like this one, from one towering skyscraper rooftop to another (ever played Mirror’s Edge? Someone on the dev team has). It’s not quite the level of Spider-man-like mobility seen in something like Assassin’s Creed, but it’s enough to keep Killian in the chase even when a mark is fleeing at full speed, weaving through squads of underlings determined to slow you down.
Finally, after pursuing him for perhaps a dozen teleports and using our antigravity gadget, exotic rifles, and shoulder-mounted rockets to blow away at least that many henchmen, we have Dra’Gar cornered and alone. We trap him in a sort of lightning-like statis field, and are given an intriguing choice – we can torture and interrogate him, which might lead to new leads but might also kill him, or we can turn him in for the money. We choose the latter, and he’s teleported away to the authorities. Job done…
…Or is it? Another face, which actually looks a lot like Dra’Gar, shows up in our visor screen and starts screeching furiously about “revenge” and “my brother” and – we’re kind of paraphrasing this part because we were distracted by the sight of a 20 foot-tall, four-legged mutant-looking monster with a laser cannon for an arm stomping into view and charging right for us – something that was probably basically “you’re about to be dead”. Looks like we just flipped back to the “prey” side of that prey/predator equation…
Just then, the screen fades to black and our demo ends, leaving us slack-jawed, awed, and more than a little confused. What exactly happened to Killian in the years between his abduction and what we just saw? What happened to the other people on the plane? What’s the deal with Elaura? What happened to Tommy, whom the developers insist is absolutely a big part of this game as well? Where did The Sphere and those aliens “The Keepers” come from anyway? And as cool as this game world is, we still don’t know the plot and haven’t seen any actual main story missions – what’s the game actually about?
Big questions, all of which we’re promised will be made 100% clear by Prey 2 when it ships sometime in 2012. Until then, we’ll be counting the days and watching the skies for giant, building-sucking alien beach balls – maybe we can get ourselves knocked out and woken up when the wait is over.
April 18, 2011