Prey (video game)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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In 1995, 3D Realms announced a First-Person Shooter called Prey, to be released in 1998, about a troubled young Native American who is abducted by aliens, gets loose in their giant organic spaceship, and must tap into his spiritual powers to rescue his girlfriend. The big selling point of the game was portals; the ability to create rifts in space between any two points of a level.

The 1997 build impressed all and sundry, but there were technical problems with the game which ultimately forced the project back to the drawing board. Like 3D Realms' other highly-touted project, Duke Nukem Forever, it languished in Development Hell for ages. Eleven years after its initial announcement, Prey finally made its way onto shelves.

The game came out in 2006, with the story largely unchanged. It boasted top-of-the-line visual effects using a modified Doom 3 engine, and no fewer than four breakthroughs in gameplay. The first was the portal system, which was less interactive than the original concept promised, but nonetheless impressive. The other three were Wall Walking, whereby gravity walkways and gravity switches allowed the player to walk on walls and ceilings; Spirit Walking, in which the lead character's spirit can leave his body and sneak up on enemies, walk through force fields, etc.; and perhaps most original, Death Walking, where dying didn't set the player back, but rather sent him to a sort of mini-game afterlife where you shoot spiritual eagles to determine how much health and spirit you have when you rematerialize right back where you died.

The game was generally regarded as an enjoyable and groundbreaking game, although there were naysayers -- some complained that the game was too short, others that it was too repetitive, others that its innovations were only window-dressing for an otherwise cookie-cutter FPS. Either way, it was neither the commercial success nor the industry-changing revolution that had been hoped for.

There was also a comic from the minds at Penny Arcade.

As a technical note, the portalling technology used to such great effect is actually a fairly old bit of behind-the-scenes level-building machinery. It normally goes completely unnoticed by the player, stitching separate areas of a game map (say, the inside and outside of a building) into a convincing whole. That it was only used as an explicit bit of mind-bending in a fistful of multi-player maps until Prey came along is a mystery for the ages.

A sequel has been announced for release in 2012. The game will feature Killian Samuels, an air marshal who was on a plane that happened to be abducted by the same exact light that takes Tommy. He wakes up on an alien world named Exodus several years later, knowing that he somehow managed to become a bounty hunter during that period but has no other memories of that time. He becomes convinced he's the only human on Exodus... until he runs into Tommy, who apparently knows him. The game will feature an open world environment, and the ability to take on bounty hunting missions for cash.

Prey was also the name of a short-lived TV series, a Michael Crichton novel, a couple of movies... That Other Wiki tells you more.

Not a direct opposite of Predator, despite what one might think. Also not to be confused with the killer lion movie Prey.

Tropes used in Prey (video game) include:
  • Alien Geometries:
    • See that door you came through? Probably goes somewhere else - if it's there at all.
    • Portal wormholes are strictly 2-dimensional (look at them from the side and they disappear) and one-sided (look at them from behind and they disappear)
  • Aliens Speaking English: Until the spirit hawk translates, the aliens language and writing is unintelligible.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Jen, chillingly, gut-wrenchingly so.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Tommy, not believing in mythical powers, even after coming back from the dead repeatedly.
  • Badass Unintentional: Tommy more-or-less got forced into saving the world, and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Tommy carries around an alien hand to open some doors. It decomposes over the course of the game, with Tommy commenting on how bad it smells.
  • Braids, Beads, and Buckskins -- Averted. The protagonist's grandfather is the only Native American in the entire game who dresses stereotypically, out of three major characters who are of that ethnicity. The protagonist has long hair, but he dresses normally and derides his grandfather for looking like a walking stereotype.
    • Only partially averted: the grandfather is constantly talking mystical mumbo-jumbo, you hear drums and chanting when you "spirit-walk", and Tommy's health power-up is represented by... a big 'ol peace pipe. In the words of Static Fiend, who LP'd the game: "I swear I did not Photoshop this, this is actual game footage."
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Tommy can't bring himself to tell Jenny he loves her. At least, until just after he's forced to kill her.
  • Cool Pet: Talon, Tommy's spirit hawk.
  • Creepy Child: Oh, BOY!
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: (In)Famously so...
  • Degraded Boss: Pretty much every boss but the last one re-appears as a mook in some fashion, but the Keepers deserve special mention because they have got to have set some kind of record for this, as for the first part of the second to last level you face off against one of them, with a boss life bar and all. And once you kill him, in the very next room the very next enemies you face off are a couple of them that are just as strong as the "boss" and have most of his attacks. With no boss bar or anything. Granted, they can't teleport mooks in like he can but that's about all they can't do.
  • Emergency Weapon: The first real weapon you get is the aliens' standard-issue energy rifle, which still feeds from an ammunition pool, but gradually regenerates up to a third of the total pool when completely expended. You also have a wrench.
  • Eternal Engine
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Predictably, Tommy's attempts to escape and/or save Jen don't work out that well.
  • A God Am I: Initially, The Mother. In the end, Tommy gets dangerously close to this; only his grandfather stops him and reminds him of his loved ones.
  • Gravity Screw: Big time. It's not uncommon to have firefights with enemies standing on walls or the ceiling, and one puzzle requires shifting the gravity around a lot.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom
  • Healing Factor/Regenerating Health: When Tommy's physical health goes critical (i.e. red streaks appear at the edges of your screen), he will automatically recover just enough health to get out of the critical zone after about five seconds, and if he isn't being hit.
  • Heroic Mime: Averted completely. Tommy is pretty talkative.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted quite sickeningly. Children are mutilated and even shot at by the protagonist. The fact that most are ghosts doesn't really help. In fact, those were added at a late stage in development; previews as little as six months before the game's release showed full-fledged, flesh and blood possessed children instead of ghosts coming at the player to rip him apart.
    • How about that guy who talks to Art Bell about his possessed daughter, down on Earth? And you just know it's your fault.
  • Human Aliens Both the Hidden and Mother are revealed to be this.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Okay, it's easy to accept him carrying a lighter and a wrench, but where is he hiding the other four guns?
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Mother is actually "training" Tommy to take over as the Sphere's controller from her, since she's centuries old and tired of life. This involves making Tommy kill his horribly-mutated girlfriend.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Sphere is visiting Earth mainly to abduct people for conversion into protein food (via the nightmarish "juicer machines") or into horrible cyborg slaves. It's implied that other species species from other planets serve different purposes (Hunters are soldiers, Harvesters are... harvesters). It's also managed to pick up a few parasites along the way: strange floating gasbag creatures that spit acid (likely coming from the same place as the insect-grenades; they look similar).
  • In Name Only: Prey 2 was initially announced to be this, much to the disappointment of many fans. In response, the plot was retooled some to feature Tommy (who was slated to have only cameo roles) more.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Sphere.
  • Interface Screw: The aforementioned red streaks that appear when Tommy's health goes critical, as well as whenever The Mother communicates telepathically with Tommy.
  • Interface Spoiler: Neatly averted. The interface shows you up-front how many different weapons you'll have, but once you get the last one, you're still to get the game's BFG...
  • Ironic Nursery Tune
  • Leno Device: Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM
  • Magical Native American: But of course.
  • Mana Meter: Actually spiritual-arrow-meter-refilled-with-the-souls-of-your-slain-enemies, but...
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: The Mother.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Upon being released from the alien's Juicer machine, you come across a switch beneath an observation window for the machine you just escaped from. Pressing the button means the machine resumes its grisly work with no way of stopping it. Congratulations, you're killing a human every few seconds! For the rest of the game!
    • Somewhat averted in that you end up driving the Sphere into the Sun and presumably killing everything aboard it that doesn't get off, which means that it in all probability makes no difference as those you saved by not pressing the button die anyway from a closeup with the Solar System's massive resident fusion reactor.
      • The way that machine kills them looks really painful. Driving the thing into the sun might actually be better for everyone. Emphasis on "might".
    • A Create Your Own Villain variant of this occurs in the ghost children. Whenever you encounter them, they are usually accompanied by translucent white versions of the wraiths you shoot down during the minigame you play whenever you die. During your first encounter with them, Mother remarks that they weren't present on the ship until after you return from your first visit to the spirit world and gain the ability to Spirit Walk, implying that the player's tampering in the spirit world is causing people on the ship to be turned into violent ghosts.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot -- You're playing a Magical Native American fighting biotechnological aliens, ghosts and cyborgs.
  • Nuclear Candle: Tommy's Zippo. It's not as strong as some other examples, but it still gives off much more light than a real lighter.
  • Organic Technology: The aliens use guns, vehicles, computers and even doors that are actually cybernetically-enhanced organisms or vat-grown critters.
    • Point-in-fact: The main rifle Tommy uses has an alt-fire method that works like a sniper rifle. The scope is a little tentacle that lances out of the gun and latches on to his eyeball.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: They have only one side and are completely 2-dimensional, and have zero internal length. The aliens do some pretty weird things with them: they can appear anywhere, they use them in a sort of "shrinking" experiment early in the game, they put them in boxes or small doorways (i.e you step into the box and emerge in a large room); they also have things called "shifting stations": you go in, close the door, wait for a bit, and when you open it again, you're somewhere else. At one point, you witness them teleporting a whole passenger airliner out of the air and crashing it onto the Sphere for protein (read: people) harvesting.
    • There are also suggestions that the aliens can create Pocket Dimensions. The final battle takes place in one, and there's also a sequence where, as you are heading towards a region of complete darkness, entire rooms are assembled around you.
    • Apparently, portal overuse can create "spatial anomalies" where one can spend a whole day chasing after themselves.
  • Planet Looters: The Keepers and their Sphere.
  • Plot Induced Stupidity: SuuuUURREEE Tommy, go ahead and pooh-pooh your Grandfather's demand that you train and prepare to go off running for Jen in spite of the fact that Granddad has apparently ascended to a higher power and can see the situation better than you can. Let's see how THAT will work out.
  • Schmuck Bait: Some of the portals are set up in such a way that you can end up shooting yourself if you have an itchy trigger finger.
  • Sequel Hook: Where do we start? The unresolved plotline regarding evil ghosts invading the mortal realm? Talon's fate? Or that "six months later" stinger where the priestess Elhuit invites you to meet some "powerful beings". The game was obviously conceived as part of a series, it's just that due to legal problems, Zenimax bought the game rights. They might still be making a sequel though, since there was some artwork for Prey 2 surfacing around the Interwebs in 2008. Here's a video.
  • Spirit Advisor: Your grandfather, and, to a lesser extent, Talon, your spirit guide hawk.
  • Standard FPS Guns: With an Organic Technology twist. Also stays novel through some very interesting Secondary Fire modes.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: A complaint among some fans as to the fate of Jen.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The Leech Gun is so named because it can leech ammo from charging nodes scattered throughout the ship, with the differently-colored nodes bestowing various effects on the weapon.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: the Keepers are capable of making impenetrable shields around themselves, hurling heavy objects or energy balls around, and create portals at will. It helps that their brains are more than two meters long.
    • The Mother as well, although she was originally human.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Green beams that levitate people before teleporting them. A large chunk of Jen's bar is taken in this way as are the main characters. Later an entire passenger plane is teleported into the ship.
  • Tragic Monster: Jen.
    • The Mother AKA the Sphere's sentience probably counts as well, given that she was originally a human who escaped and fought the Keepers until she reached the core and took over from the original Sphere's sentience, who was weary of life. Somewhat averted by her general Jerkass nature in the game. What did you expect?
  • What Might Have Been: The developers intended to base the game on a mechanic where the player could create their own Portal Network, but found the hardware lacking, leaving that for others to succeed at the following year.
  • Worthy Opponent: Implied. As Tommy advances through the Sphere murdering them left and right, the Hunters go from calling him simply "Human", to "Soldier" and finally "Warrior".
  • Would Hurt a Child: Many, MANY children were harmed[1] in the making of this game.
  1. or brutally shredded apart by aliens or spirits