Previews

Prey 2: An exciting new start?

Travelling across the galaxy to get the bounty...

Alien noir, they call it. The atmosphere. It's a perfect fit for the grimy suburbs of The Bowery - a dense tangle of neon-strobed streets, smoky clubs and sin, sitting in perpetual twilight on the alien world of Exodus.

For badass bounty hunter Killian Samuels, The Bowery is the perfect hunting ground: there's no shortage of ETs on the make, dealing, scamming, killing and howling for revenge. Your services are in demand.

How did an ex-US Marshall find himself as a gun for hire on an alien planet? It's a question Killian wants answered, too. His memory of the last few years has gone AWOL, but it's clear he's been a busy boy on Exodus, making a name for himself and a whole load of enemies in the process.

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Now you're in The Bowery with a ton of questions and a long list of scumbags who may have the answers. But they won't be giving away that information for free...

If you're wondering what this has to do with the original PC game, the truth is, not a lot - probably good news for those who missed out on 2006's physics-bending spirit-walking-native-American-UFO-abduction (really) story.

The universe is the same - as is the attack on Earth which serves as each game's opening - but Prey 2 quickly moves to a different setting, with a different character and, most excitingly, entirely new gameplay.

Prey 2 ditches the linear corridors of the first game's claustrophobic alien mothership for a sprawling open world. The devs at Human Head Studios say each of the city areas is roughly the size of those found in Assassin's Creed 2, and every bit as navigable.

Killian is a nimble fellow who seems to have borrowed many of his moves from Mirror's Edge as he dashes, dives, slides, leaps, clings and climbs his way all over the multi-level cityspace of The Bowery.

"It's context based stuff," explains associate producer Matt Bisenius. "If I'm jumping towards a bar, I'll grab that bar. If I look up and jump again, I'll jump to the next bar up. If I'm running towards a pipe that I want to slide under, I just hit crouch and let my momentum carry me through."

RUN AND GUN
While Prey 2's aiming to capture that flow, the controls are substantially different to Mirror's Edge. Human Head have had to cram iron sights, gadgets and all kinds of other actions onto the controller too, and the solution has been to streamline the movement. It's a really intuitive and slick system.

The other difference is just how many choices of route there are. The Bowery is a clutter of underpasses, ledges, pipes and multiple storeys, allowing Killian to flit from the civilian ground level to what art director / studio co-founder Jim Sumwalt calls "The Batman Space". It's an essential ability.

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It not only allows Killian to truly explore the city, but opens shortcuts vital to chasing down bounties or getting the player the drop on his enemies in a gunfight. And what we've seen is just the tip of the iceberg, insists Bisenius.

"We put this demo together a little while ago," he says. "Since then we've gone back to these levels and thrown in tons of affordances - things the player can climb up, jump off and traverse through. You can get from any point to any other point using multiple layers of verticality."

But this isn't just a playground for Killian's parkour skills. This is a living city, so there's plenty more to do than hug drainpipes. A handy scanning mode helps players pick out nearby lifeforms, marking them up as potential bounties, item vendors or simply beings of interest.

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