Oh, The Humanity..PREY

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Oct - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Oct - 2006
Oh, The Humanity..PREY
Prey is the story of Tommy, a Cherokee Indian who's all but rejecting his culture, when bigger problems hit him-aliens abduct him, his grandfather and his girlfriend, and take them all aboard the Sphere to be turned into food. Tommy miraculously escapes the assembly line, his girlfriend gets unlucky as she's turned into the Sphere's own plaything, and the grandfather gets even more unlucky in the Sphere's digestive tracts. Now Tommy must save his girlfriend, and while he's at it, the rest of the planet. Yawn. So on goes our little Tommy, blasting away at the alien army, walking on walls, and taking spiritual journeys with ol' grandpa. Soon enough, his abilities grow to include the "Spirit Walk", which lets him leave his physical self and walk around as a spirit. What strange creatures will he encounter? Why is the Sphere here? And why is it playing with his girlfriend? Gripping stuff, I tell you.

Right from the outset, Prey looks good, and the environment design is impressive. One fun feature is gravity flipping, where you change the direction of gravity by shooting at the...well...gravity flipper. This gets you pretty disoriented and has been known to cause motion sickness-if that isn't motivation to try it out, I don't know what is. There, sadly, ends the good part. The game's weird level design and bells and whistles like gravity flipping and wall-walking, while fun for a bit, seem to be there to disorient you into believing that this is a good game, but at its heart, it isn't.

The story is stupid when it starts out, and provides little motivation to continue. It picks up later, but that's a relative term. The Spirit Walk is pointless-you'd expect to be floating around through walls-at the very least, floating around. Surprise, surprise-your spirit is only slightly less limited than your body-it passes through forcefields and can walk on special spirit walk-ways, but it obeys gravity!

Rating : 5/10
Developer : 3D Realms
Publisher : 2K Games
Distributor : E-xpress Interactive
Contact : 022-28850245
Price : Rs.1299 

If you're looking for a challenge, you should turn your attention elsewhere. Apart from the few puzzles, Prey has little to offer. When you die, you're sent to a spirit realm, where you must shoot down spirits to gain health points to return to the real world, right where you left off. Neat concept-no more quicksaving!

Of course, even if you don't battle the spirits, you still come back with half your health-you never die. Which means that if you're faced with twenty foes, you can kill ten, die, come back, kill five more, die again... Call me crazy, but I like the challenge of figuring out how I'm going to eliminate fifty soldiers with just forty percent of my health. If I can just come back and finish the job, why waste energy trying to do it right in the first place? To top it off, there are even markers that tell you when to use the spirit walk. Genius.

Prey is the game for you if:
  1. You are easily satisfied by vats of blood, miscellaneous gooey substances, and pretty graphics
  2. You are brain-dead, and are looking to stay that way

Call of Juarez
Draw… Yer Yella Dawg!
A classic western theme to a traditional FPS isn't oft-trodden territory. Thankfully, this game testifies to the fact that sometimes the off-beat road can be better-and uncommon isn't always un-cool!

Call of Juarez starts off with you playing Billy Candle, a half-breed about to revisit his old town and his parent's ranch. He's been somewhat of a black sheep in spite of his wee years, and it doesn't help when he finds his mother and stepfather murdered, and he's accused of doing it-by none other than Reverend Ray, Billy's uncle and padre-turned-gunfighter.

What follows is a run for the border (well not quite), as Billy makes his way out of town with his girlfriend Molly's ranch in mind as a next stop, and a posse dogging his heels. Upon arrival at the ranch, the story takes a real twist, and things heat up even more.

Rating: 8/10
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Ubisoft
Minimum Requirement: 1.8Ghz pentium4, 512 Mb RAM, 128MB video card, 4GB Free hard disk space.

Throughout the game, and some well-told storytelling cutscenes, you'll play alternately as Billy and Reverend Ray, as you adventure along, using stealth and your whip (Billy), and your Bible and colts (Ray). You'll battle Red Indians, crooked lawmen, thieves, and even members of the Juarez gang (I'm not saying a word more about Juarez-play the game!). The story is pretty engrossing if not epic, and I must say it's been implemented rather well.

Playing Call of Juarez is a pleasure-you'll just love Ray's shoot 'em style, especially the gunfights, where everything slows down as Ray's hands blur downwards unholstering his lead spitters. The game looks awesome, if you have the hardware to crank the visuals up (I do!), and it supports parallax mapping, HDR, and goodly doses of specular lighting effects.
Some amazing Wild West scenery comes to vibrant life-rolling hills dotted with startlingly realistic greenery, deserts complete with rock outcroppings, and the ever-swirling dust all add up to a very immersive and believable environment.

The levels are huge, and you'll frequently have to travel by horseback to get around. Sound effects are superb, well in keeping with the game's visuals.

All in all, regardless of whether you know Clint Eastwood from John Wayne, hark the Call of Juarez-you won't be disappointed!

Dark Star
A Near-Perfect Blend
In the drought that followed Freespace 2, we'd given up hope of seeing even a half-decent space combat game, and Darkstar One's (DS1) emergence from the Shadows can only signal good things for the genre.

The Story
DS1 is about Kayron Jarvis, a young pilot who inherits a mysterious ship from his father-the Darkstar One. The ship has the unique ability to upgrade itself when the time comes, making it even more powerful as time goes by. In this ship, Kayron must now travel the galaxy in search of his father's murderer. He will encounter the whole spectrum of galactic species, notably the vile Thul. Of course, he'll also have to earn money to upgrade the ship, for which he needs to take on assignments ranging from simple escort missions to hunting down pirates. The game's story is a long one, and while it's hardly gripping, it does generate enough curiosity to find out what happens next. You're not really confined to the story-you can take on side missions aplenty, raking in the moolah for each assignment. You can also indulge in trade and smuggling, and the principle behind making money thus is quite simple-buy low, sell high.

The Ship
Where other games would start you off on a ship with an eggshell for a hull, the Darkstar One is a ship that starts out very powerful, and when fully kitted out is nigh-on invincible. You control the ship with the mouse-quite twitchy, one might mention. There's also no option to tweak mouse sensitivity, so either get a joystick or get used to it. However, the initial training missions are well-done, and get you familiar with the ship's other controls in a snap. To upgrade the Darkstar One, you'll need to find artefacts to absorb. They're all located inside asteroids, and flying into them down the mining tunnels is a heady, disorienting experience, and plenty of fun. There are more than a hundred things you can buy for your ship apart from these "natural" upgrades, so the number of combinations you can come up with boggles the mind.

The Graphics
DS1 has a huge array of ship models, each exquisitely detailed. In addition, it brings to outer space a beauty that hasn't been touched by other games. The settings are sadly repetitive-one planet, one trading station, one or more research stations, and a nearby asteroid field optional. Still, textures and lighting is brilliant, and you can't take your eyes off it. There is a graphics bug in this though-if you turn off anti-aliasing (we did it to speed up the game), the display goes all wonky. Aberrations ranged from shaky screens to everything becoming a set of glowing edges on a black background. You'll need a patch to fix this.

Rating : 8/10
Developer :Ascaron
Publisher: CDV
Minimum Requirement: Intel/AMD 1.6 GHZ, Windows XP(32-bit), 512Mb RAM.DX9-compatible 128Mb graphic card 

The Verdict
Unlike games like X3: Reunion, which focused more on trade and economy and rendered themselves boring, Darkstar One knows where its heart is-combat. Even the seemingly harmless assignments often end in skirmishes with pirates, keeping the fun alive. Trade is simple and no-nonsense, and the Time Acceleration feature ensures you don't need to travel long, boring distances. The game is open-ended enough to keep you happy, but following the very complex storyline is entertaining enough for anyone. Voice acting is inconsistent-sometimes good, but sometimes bordering on the level of school plays. We also encountered some issues with the copy-protection-the game would just freeze and send the hard disk into a spinning frenzy every once in a while. Definitely one title you want to check out-make sure you patch it though.

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