Prey 2 PC Preview
As Samuels wanders, he can pick up contracts. Some may come direct to him; some may be stumbled across by intervening in procedurally-generated events such as streetside beatings or finding a DNA trail; some by using your visor to scan for nearby targets. Upon locating one he then has a whole lot of choices to make. Gun the guy down there and then, in public? Messy, frankly, and it could draw unwanted heat from the target's allies or from Exodus' mechanised security. Attempt to intimidate him into submission? It's certainly neater, but he might turn hostile. Scare him away to deal with him in a quieter spot? Deal.
Prey 2 is a game about hunting, not about being hunted. When a target runs, the fun really begins. It means a dramatic chase through bars and clubs, across rooftops, through ventilation systems - really, any part of a very vertical city. Assassin's Creed is another of the game's surprise influences, with Killian able to clamber and leap across all manner of terrain, finding DIY shortcuts to head his fleeing targets off at the pass (or, indeed, to escape if it turns out that the odds are stacked against him).
Also contributing to Killian's status as, basically, the Predator is a raft of around 20 gadgets. It might be nominally a shooting game, but guns are a crude and simple way of dealing with the problems Killian faces. Much more useful are hover-boots to zoom down from the city's great heights to a lower level in an instant, and without shattering every bone in his body in the process. Or what about an anti-gravity wave which rips your target from the ground and leaves him spinning in the air? This is particularly useful against a guy who keeps teleporting away. The shoulder-mounted rocket launcher is perhaps self-explanatory - noisy, but it sure makes light work of multiple enemies.
All this makes for varied but frantic, high-speed, tactical combat; a world away from the relative plodding of the original Prey. Singing the loudest, though, is the sheer level of choice: Killian doesn't necessarily have to kill his target, for instance. He might let him go in exchange for a bribe, he might capture him alive, he might viciously interrogate him in the hope of gaining more information. While pretty much everyone on Exodus is a bastard in some way or another, there's an awful lot of moral grey area - with Killian himself at least as guilty of amorality. It's your call.
Hell, you could even turn a buck via cold-blooded murder, mugging and extortion. Clearly there's a main plot to follow, replete with more scripted missions, but for the most part you're free to make a living your own way.
Here's a crucial fact which utterly defines what Prey 2 is trying to achieve: by default, your gun is holstered. This is a game in which you actively choose to incite violence, not one in which it's the only way you can communicate. Wander over to someone - a contact, a trader, a potential target, a sorry victim of brutality - waving a gun around won't get a good reaction. Well, unless ‘cowers, runs away or starts shooting at you’ is the reaction you're after in that instance.
While a return to Prey 1's plot threads, foes and visual themes (such as doors that look like ladyparts and assorted other bio-mechanical gruesomeness) is promised for later in the game, what we're looking at here is something far more exciting: freeform alien noir, a surprise blend of tactical combat, parkour and moral dilemmas.
Tommy? Tommy who?
Prey 2 is being developed by Human Head Software and will be published by Bethesda Softworks on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. No release date is currently set.