We have a saying here in the UK. “You can’t polish a turd!” Unfortunately this is exactly what Hands-On Mobile have tried to do with Prey Invasion
Prey invasion had an uphill struggle from the start, with the original game being a dud on the Xbox and PS3, it didn’t have exactly have great source material! Yes, the game had some interesting ideas with the whole spiritual cherokee-indian twist to it, but underneath it was a generic FPS.
The iPhone version is a sequel of sorts, with you resuming the role of Tommy and you must rescue your girlfriend once more from the Aliens before they transform her into a hideous beast. The story is pretty much non existent here, with a few bits popping up here and there in ugly text overlays. But they do little to inform you what’s going on, and instead expects you to have at least played the original.
You start out in a canyon, and with only a wrench as a weapon you soon come across some strange alien creatures. After taking out a few of them with your trusty wrench, you come across a hunting rifle lying on the ground (handy!) It’s not long before you enter a temple and from there the alien facility. The game’s areas are very small and feel very linear, requiring little or no exploration. It’s basic point A to B stuff. The enemies are of little challenge, mainly standing on the spot firing at you. Simply dodging left to right while firing, will dispatch of them pretty easily. After some brief showdowns with some large enemies, and some basic puzzles, it’s all over… and for what?… a boring cut scene and anti-climatical ‘To be continued!’. I managed to get through the whole game in a little over one hour! Hmmmm.
So, by now you’ve probably realised the direction this review is taking, but let me at least outline the game’s good points.
Firstly the graphics are pretty darn good. The 3D engine runs smoothly and the texture work is high quality, particularly the cave paintings in the canyon levels. The enemy models are pretty good to, if a little unoriginal.
The whole spirit walking concept, which is brought over from the original console version is a great idea, with you able to leave your body for brief periods in order to reach areas not possible with your physical being. Unfortunately these sections in the game are brief, with you only needing to do this twice. Another underused concept are the anti gravity pads. These let you walk up, or down, walls and again only appear once or twice. Both these game mechanics are a missed opportunity, as far as I’m concerned, for some truly great gameplay.
While the in-game graphics are superb, the presentation of the menus and cut scenes are pretty weak. The almost non existent story is presented in a nasty typeface, and the render of your girlfriend looks terrible… it’s almost not worth rescuing her! Menu’s also look ugly.
Aurally the game is no better. What voice work there is is heavily compressed and the music seems to be one short sample which, instead of looping, seems to cut off completely, only to re-appear when a section of the level you are playing loads up.
Now onto the most important part of an FPS on iPhone, and that’s the controls. Simply put they are not good. The customisation is pretty flexible but whether you choose digital or analogue it just doesn’t seem that responsive. The forward/back/left/right movement is ok on the left stick, but the right stick for turn/look/aim is very unresponsive and feels sticky. If there is one saving grace it’s the tap an enemy to shoot option, without it the game would be almost unplayable. The downside to this is that it removes any skill, as you can simply play the game by running forward and back, and left to right, all the while never missing an enemy.
The bottom line
As with it’s console brethren, Prey Invasion looks great, but the gameplay is average at best… but mainly poor. The story is bland, the game is ridiculously short and what is there is ultimately let down by poor controls. While some may point to it’s relatively low price point, I would still avoid and save up for better first person shooters on the horizon.
Presentation & Graphics
In game it looks great, but it’s let down by nasty looking story elements and ugly menus.
Music seems broken, and the voice work is heavily compressed.
There are some good ideas brought over from the original console game, but these are few and far between, and can’t save the games bland, linear and unchallenging gameplay
It’s short, blink and you’ll miss it. The ending hints at more to come, but at what cost?
Don’t be fooled by the name and pretty graphics, this is one to avoid. Prey invasion is out now for $2.99