2006's Prey was a surprise hit for many, especially considering it's long and troubled development history. There's not many games that can come out of a decade-long cycle and genuinely impress, but it managed it somehow. Even back then, a sequel was always said to have been in the works, but it's not until now that any concrete news regarding Prey 2 has surfaced. It's possible that it is simply making use of the Prey IP to avoid the inherent dangers of introducing new IP - especially new Sci-fi IP - into the market.
Always nice to see a familiar face
Whilst the protagonist from the first game - Tommy - does make an appearance, as well as a few other familiar faces, there is a very real disconnect between the first Prey, and this game. Human Head Studios (who have no fully taken over from 3D Realms) and new owners Bethesda claim they want to stay true to some of the original games core themes, but to be honest fans of the original game should try and approach this as a spin-off, as opposed to a true sequel.
The themes that the team have tried to carry on through to this game are those of abduction and one man vs. the universe (or "overwhelming force" as they put it). You play as Killian Samuels, a U.S. Air Marshal who's on board the airplane you see abducted during the first game. Despite trying to fight his way out, he's knocked unconscious and then wakes up on an alien planet with no memory of how he got there, and possibly who he even is. Samuels has become a Bounty Hunter on this alien world, and he has some friends (which include Tommy), and a ton of enemies. The final theme of self-discovery is worked into Samuel's quest to recover his lost memory.
You'll have a number of different weapons and gadgets to take down enemies
The core gameplay of Prey 2 reminds us of Mirror's Edge, in many ways. It's first-person, there's an integral free-running component (although probably not as slick) that the demonstrator showed off to us as he was running around this alien complex trying to track down a target. The player can run and jump, hang of ledges and look around whilst hanging (even shoot). There've also got a first-person cover system, which is a nice touch and not something you see very often. Everything seems like it's trying to be very fluid, whilst at the same time able to cope with the hectic, and often static nature of gun-based warfare (Mirror's Edge kind of fell down when it game to actually shooting people).
This is being billed as an 'open-world' game, with what looks like an almost vendor-based "quest" system, possibly with hubs as well although since we've only seen one area (an alien planet called Exodus) it's hard to tell. Player choice is now the new buzz-word however, and there's supposed to be a lot of choice in this game. This has been demonstrated through conversation choices, but also through movement and combat options. You have several weapons and gadgets which relate directly to your bounty hunting - you can capture people and take them in alive or simply kill them. There is a lot of potential here, especially if they can craft a game with Deus Ex - levels of complexity, but again it's a matter of waiting and seeing.
The developers have also tried to make the game world feel 'alive' to some degree. There will be random events that you can choose whether to intervene in or not, citizens will shy away if you approach them with your gun open. There'll be the usual staples of world design like random chatter, and NPC's interacting with the environment in their own pre-programmed way. Exodus looks like it has a lot to offer, and we're interested in seeing if this game takes you anywhere else as well.
Bright lights, big city...
With Mirror's Edge currently MIA, it's good that someone else is trying to take that very fluid, mobile kind of action and try to make something worthwhile out of it. Throw in what seems a bit like Deus Ex-levels of world flexibility and complexity, and finally attach the Prey name and there's plenty to be interested in here. The future of the Prey franchise may not be what die-hard fans were hoping for, but as a game in its own right were refer to the old idiom of: so far, so good. Prey 2 is slated for a release on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC in March 2012.
Most Anticipated Feature:Again, a bit early to pick out one specific thing right now.