The Bin: Prey

Some games aren’t worth the $60 release price. Or half as much, for that matter. How many times have you bought a game and told yourself that if it’s terrible, it was only five bucks?  This brings us to the “Bargain Bin” realm of gaming, a second glance at games far enough down that they don’t see light. Guilty pleasures are a blast — so long as no one’s watching. 

I’ve never had a family dog run away, but I imagine the uncertaintiy of receiving closure would be one of the greatest hardships. In some ways, the situation is similar to the whereabouts of Prey 2. Is Prey 2 cancelled, postponed, or on an extended hiatus? To quote Queens of the Stone Age, “No one knows,” and every time Bethesda comes out with another misleading update, it sounds like songs for the deaf. Sequel aside, this addition to The Bin is going to be old news for the hardest of hardcore gamers, but Prey must be shared with those who never experienced it the first time.

Prey has been around since 2006 and was one of the first incredible, memorable journeys available on the 360. It featured Tommy, a Cherokee who felt more comfortable being away from his family’s reservation. He humored his grandfather and their customs, but short of his beloved girlfriend Jen, he was pretty disassociated from his home life. Tommy soon gets his wish when aliens land out of nowhere and all hell breaks loose. Armed with a wrench, this Cherokee bad ass single handedly thwarts an alien invasion in an attempt to find his grandfather and girlfriend.

Are there holes in this story? Of course there are! How is he able to manipulate the alien weaponry to his advantage? Why are the aliens capable of a full-scale invasion, but incapable of taking down a single guy? The most important question, however, is who really cares? The game teaches you valuable and meaningful lessons to make up for it. For example, be careful what you wish for. If you hate life in the country, aliens will pluck you up and make you watch as they dismember your friends. Another important lesson is that gambling is awesome, and you’ll find a slot machine wherever you go (yes, you can gamble on a slot machine in space). Prey also teaches the most important lesson of all: don’t #!%@ with Native Americans! The story was a bit cheesy, but it almost makes the game better with age. Sure, there are some pop-fizzle moments with the plot, along with some hugely predictable twists, but it’s nothing to complain about for something now in the bargain bin.

The best parts of the game are some of the more ingenious game play moments. They introduced a lot of players to the portal traveling concept with surprise moments sprinkled throughout the game. One of my favorites is when you walk by a very small, circular rock housed in a glass container at the center of the room. Tommy walks through a portal door, and he’s actually standing on the object that looked like a small rock, but was really a moon-sized object. Tommy looks up and sees what appears to be a giant man. He travels through the same portal, and a shootout commences. There are also antigravity walkways that add flavor to the level designs. These moments — which were at the time engaging for gamers and inspiring for other developers —make Prey a must-play.

Ultimately, some of the shooting has aged, and the visuals are obviously below today’s standards. However, it still holds up to be a relatively solid shooter. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to play the game now before the next-gen consoles come out, antiquating the game by comparison. For now, at least, it’s still a great play.

Prey can be found at pretty much any online or local retailer for less than $5 used. Considering some of the pointless things we buy for 400 Microsoft points, this is a steal for anyone who’s never played it and a bargain for anyone who wants to go back for another round. If you asked yourself what’s an older game worth buying, this is probably the answer you were hoping for.