The Bird Is The Word

Happy Weekend TAY!

And Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians who are all hopefully enjoying a long weekend. I’ve made the pilgrimage to my parent’s place (5-hour drive from my house) and I’m looking forward to eating and spending time with my family. I believe it might be a long weekend in the U.S. as well, so happy long weekend to everyone who has an extra day off.

I finished off Dark Void last week and my hopes for a great final episode to the game were never realized. In fact, the final episode just feels like several set pieces which are loosely associated and a final boss that felt out of place with the rest of the game. The story sort of falls apart as well, so nothing much to recommend here. Though, if you are a budding game developer with sights set on the use of jetpacks, then there are definitely some mechanics here that should be explored. It is really a shame the rest of the game didn’t live up to the fun controls of the jetpack.

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After Dark Void, I thought I’d mop up my stalled game of Command & Conquer. Moving on to C&C involved some additional TV calibration and some rewiring to enable my old Auzentech sound card which sports a Creative Labs chip on it. Without this sound processor, I was unable to get any sound from C&C using the default audio from my Nvidia sound card. Legacy sound support for older PC games is really starting to become a problem.

Once a pair of new HDMI cables were purchased and I spent some time with my Disney WOW calibration disc (a quick way to get somewhat decent settings on your TV) I was ready to rock and roll. Before starting C&C I quickly tested out the original Prey game I bought on Amazon not so long ago, as that game also required my old sound card for surround sound support.

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And...three sessions (eight hours) later, I blew through Prey. I simply could not put it down.

Prey grabs you by the short and curlies from moment one and never lets go. I had forgotten what a treasure of a video game Prey was. Part Doom, part Descent, and part Portal. Prey tests your reactions and your puzzle solving skills in many different ways. Nothing too daunting, and this is the brilliance of Prey. The pacing is perfect, you never get sick of any scenario. Well, I guess the very end devolves into strictly combat instead of the brain-teasers that make up the bulk of the game, but it is the “end”...so many things must die.

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It also helps you don’t really “die” in Prey. Lose all your health and you have to enter the spirit world shooting gallery which involves killing enough spirit-manta-rays (I dunno what they really are) and you are immediately back to the point where you died.

Sure, this immortal mechanic means you don’t have to actually be very good at the game. Normally, I would hate this. Anyone who has read any of my previous weekend posts likely knows that I complain (unceasingly) about the lack of challenge in games, but with Prey, I never feel this is an issue. Prey is wonderfully mind-bending and spectacular to behold (thanks to the idTech 4 engine); this game is definitely more about the experience than the challenge. Sure, I would have liked the game to be harder, but I was never particularly miffed about the lack of skill needed for the combat.

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It is a crime that Prey is no longer available on Steam (or anywhere else that I can see). It’sMr.Pants pointed out to me that the code from the retail box of Prey can be entered into Steam and then Prey will become part of your Steam library. You can then install it from Steam without needing the disc, but apparently, somebody doesn’t want money selling the game itself through Steam. Whatever legal limbo keeps this game from being available to everyone on Steam needs to be overcome. Prey is a fantastic game that I am sure many would enjoy.

You can get the physical game second-hand from many online retailers for PC and it is also available on Xbox 360 (and Mac and Linux). Of course, the PC version looks the best and now runs at a ridiculously good framerate. Plus, the PC version can support a wide variety of resolutions up to 4K. If I didn’t want surround sound, I would have loved to play the game at 4K...but good sound generally trumps visuals for me.

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If you want to read another take on Prey, Brian White wrote about his experience just three months ago on TAY. (*caution, minor spoilers in Brian’s article*)

I won’t have a chance to play much this weekend while here at my parent’s house, though I’m sure we will all play the Jackbox games at some point. If I can pry the Vita from my kid’s hands (he’s deep into Steamworld Dig 2) then maybe I can try to finish off Uncharted: Golden Abyss if I have a chance.

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So, what are you playing this (long) weekend?

(thanks for all the great tunes Tom Petty, I’ll miss you)