The designers at Human Head have also added some special abilities to your hero character. Those of you who have played the demo know what I am taking about, but the rest of you should know that early in the game you seemingly die but are then taken to some kind of spiritual realm (which looks a lot like the deserts of the US Southwest) where the spirit of your grandfather instructs you in mastering your “spirit walk”. Not only can you walk through certain objects in this mode (needed if you are to get through certain levels) but you can also attack with a mystical bow and arrow. It’s a nice touch that adds to the gameplay rather than just another gimmick. The spirit form is also needed when you “die” in the game. If you “die” you go to a spirit level where you use your bow and arrow to fire on mystical flying lizards that replenish your health and spirit (there are also purple pads and bio-stations in the ship that restore your health in the game). This eliminates most of the need for saving a game manually (which Prey does automatically) but does have the effect of eliminating some of the challenge in the game as well. It’s sort of like having a cheat code that’s allowed while playing the game. While you can use your spirit form at any time, there are certain locations where it is necessary; Human Head has designated these places with a sun symbol inside the level but usually you can figure it out for yourself. In the game you also have a spirit bird that follows you around and can even distract enemies for you.
Most of the weapons in Prey are of the bio-mechanical alien variety, from plasma rifles with a sniper scope to a high powered energy weapon that can be recharged at certain stations on the ship; you can even change the “ammo” the gun uses to fire a freeze blast on your enemies. Another kind of energy station allows for a lightning attack for your weapon. Other items like organic grenades, a grenade launcher and the good old rocket launcher are also on hand in the game. A personal favorite is Prey’s variation of the shotgun which fires not the standard spray of buckshot but acid that eats through your enemies. The ship spews out egg like creations that can and are used like exploding barrels in other first person shooters, which are sometimes the only way to get through a door or entryway that is covered in some kind of alien web (why you can’t just blast through the alien web is not explained). At times you get to control a flying vehicle with plasma cannons and a tractor beam (useful for solving puzzles that we won’t reveal here)
The enemies in the game range from pure monsters like a cross between a bird, a pig and a powerful creature that looks an awful lot like H.R.Giger’s Alien design, to more intelligent aliens that like to use the sniper mode on the plasma rifle to strike from long distances. There are also some truly massive enemies like a floating gasbag with a nasty sting, and huge goat-headed creatures with machine guns. The levels are interspersed with biological traps such as orifices that fire bio-gunk that hurt your health, and tendrils that do much the same thing, as well as the more standard mechanical turrets. We wish Prey had a bit more artificial intelligence behind the bad guys, however. Most players should be able to figure out their movements, but sometimes the portals and gravity switching make up for a lack of smarts in the enemies.