GAME REVIEW: Prey

2K Games (Xbox 360)
Game •••½ Graphics/Sound •••½
Prey tells the story of a Cherokee who's looking for a way off the reservation. Alien abduction isn't what he had in mind, so it's up to you to rescue him from the spacecraft - presumably before any unpleasant probings take place.

At first, Prey seems to offer the same sort of thrills you'd expect from any sci-fi shooter: dark corridors, big guns, and freakish monstrosities that look like they were born from an H.R. Giger fever dream. But what separates this game from the pack is its defiance of gravity. Yes, you can walk on walls and even upside-down across ceilings. Truly groundbreaking, though, are the control panels called "gravity switches." When you shoot one, the room rotates, and you fall in the direction of the surface that the switch is mounted on - as does anything else not nailed down. Think you've hit an impassable obstacle? Look up for a switch and blast it, and the ceiling becomes the floor. You'll often have to flip a room several times to get from one end to the other.

Your enemies can do the same, of course. Thankfully, the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix helps you pinpoint them as they attack from all directions. Too bad the weapons sound so wimpy - especially since Prey's graphics make the grotesque look gorgeous. Here, metallic surfaces and sliding doors are fused with living, breathing ooze. Tendrils reach out to skewer you, and fleshy orifices shower you with acidic waste. Sadly, the environment and the alien aggressors are easy to overcome, so it takes only about 6 to 10 hours to get through the single-player campaign. Still, considering the recent shortage of good Xbox 360 games, Prey will mostly leave you head over heels.

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