E3 2011: Prey 2 preview – an open world, Blade Runner-meets-Mirror’s Edge sci-fi shooter. Sure, why not?

Launched in 2006, the original Prey has been mostly forgotten. Its physics-be-damned portal mechanics were very cool, but were quickly eclipsed by 2007’s Portal. Prey 2 is looking to avoid that trap completely. Rather than relying on gimmicky (albeit awesome) mechanics like Prey’s portals, Prey 2 is boldly going where many have gone before – just not all at once. It’s taking inspiration from several great games (and films), though we’re not sure we’ve ever seen it done this stylishly.

Describing Prey 2 is a tall order. It’s a first-person-shooter first and foremost. But it’s one with an open world, with stealth, platforming, RPG, and adventure elements, and with a sci-fi setting that enables unique abilities and gadgets. Clearly this game defies traditional genres.

So how exactly did we get from Prey to Prey 2? The game begins as an off-shoot of an event in the original game. When a plane was abducted by the giant alien mothership in Prey, it spawned the events of Prey 2. You play as Killian Samuels, a US Marshal who was aboard that plane and managed to survive. He awakens inside the ship, but is quickly knocked unconscious by aliens. Later, he awakens to find himself on an alien world with no idea how he got there. He does know that he’s a bounty hunter in a futuristic, neon-lit alien city.

That’s about all we know of the storyline (other than Tommy from the first game will definitely appear as well). Then it was straight on to gameplay. Our US Marshal hero has a bunch of cool tricks to help along the way. Probably the coolest new addition is a Mirror’s Edge-esque (or perhaps more accurately: Mirror’s Edge-lite) platforming system that adds a vertical dimension to the levels. Running, leaping, and grabbing ledges is all part of maneuvering around the game’s open world and gives certain scenes a great sense of speed, rather than plodding down a corridor endlessly a la Gears of War. You can also use ledges for cover, hanging on with one hand and shooting over the top with the other. You’ve also got a nifty pair of hover boots to help you get down from high places. Which, oddly, feels a lot like Batman gliding down from a rooftop.

You use these skills in abundance during the game’s bounty missions. Since the main character is a bounty hunter, there is a system in place for tracking and taking down characters. Certain characters in the world will be wanted dead (or alive) and you can choose to try to take them out for cash or for the main story. This is where things get interesting.

Basically you have very little idea what is going to happen when you approach a mark. He might have henchmen waiting to take out anybody who approaches, or he might turn chicken the moment you point your gun in his face. If he doesn’t give in, he’s probably going to try to run away, and the chase is on.

This is where the parkour-style platforming comes in handy. In the demo, we saw a bounty who had the ability to teleport, which made agile platforming all the more essential. In a great moment, the mark was snared with a set of bolas but instantly teleported out of them. The chase scene lasted a good minute or two before he was taken down and executed while tied up. Because law-breaking runaway cowards deserve to die.

Prey 2 is really looking pretty great so far. It takes inspiration from some great mechanics like Arkham Asylum’s Detective Mode, Mirror’s Edge’s running, and even (several people we spoke to agreed) a hint of Blade Runner in the aesthetics. We’re really looking forward to seeing what Prey 2 blossoms into over the coming months. Our only reservation is honestly that Prey 2 sounds too good to be true. However, if the developers can manage it, this could be a real game-changer.

Jun 13, 2011