The road to being able to actually play the single player portion of the upcoming first person shooter Prey has been one of the longest and hardest in game history. The title originally was to be developed completely by 3D Realms as their next-generation title after the successful release of Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, and at E3 in both 1997 and 1998 (both held in Atlanta) I got to see the original version of the game in behind closed doors demo presentations. While the game was being controlled by then 3D Realms team member Paul Schuytema, Prey certainly looked very promising back then. The demos showed off the main character, a Cherokee Native American who was a reluctant hero in an alien invasion plot.
The demos at both E3s concentrated on the gameís visuals, which were impressive for the time period. They were fully 3D levels (at a time when 3D was still a relatively new feature in first person shooters) with impressive looking character models. The biggest feature was the use of ďportalsĒ, which in the game were tears in space-time that allowed for some cool visual tricks in the game like making a room bigger on the inside that it was on the outside.
Unfortunately, the 3D Realms version of Prey didnít come to fruition. Schuytema as the gameís main leader departed 3D Realms a few months after E3 1998 and it seemed like the game was lost forever, especially since the company concentrated on the still unreleased Duke Nukem Forever, and helping other developers with their games, most notably Remedy with their third person action game Max Payne.
And then in 2005 an unexpected turn of events occurred as 3D Realms officially announced that Prey was in development once again, this time with the development team of Human Head Studios (Rune, Dead Manís Hand) at the main helm and 2K Games as its publisher. Oddly enough the actual storyline and gameplay from 3D Realmsí original stab at the title seemed to have been maintained, right down to the portal visual effects. In a bit of a surprise, 3D Realms and Human Head elected to license the Doom 3 engine from rival developer id Software as the graphical basis for the game. At E3 2005 I got to see the new version of Prey running in a live single player demo and it looked terrific. Once again, however, the E3 2005 demo was under control by Human Head team members and I didnít get to actually play the game. At E3 2006 last month Prey was in playable form but only in the deathmatch multiplayer potions of the game. Once again, actually playing the single player game of Prey was but a dream.
That isnít the case anymore, however. Thanks to the nice folks at Human Head, 3D Realms, 2K Games and the Distream digital download service, I finally got a chance to play the first small portion of the single player campaign in Prey. Itís the same content that everyone else will have access to when the official demo of the game is released to the world. Itís certainly one of the more impressive demos of a game I have played in a long while.
This article will give you some impressions of the single player demo along with what is contained in the multiplayer portion as well (two deathmatch-team deathmatch levels will also be included). Since everyone else will get to play this demo very soon I will not be giving away everything I saw or did in the demo version, and the screenshots of the demo that accompany this preview only show the first two of the five levels in the demo. We'd rather not spoil all the fun. If you'd rather not get even these bare plot details, you may wish the skip the next page.