3 am: Ratchet & Clank & Turok & id
TomChick - News - 06/04/05 - Link

Today, 3D Realms released to the public the Prey demo movie. It consists of about ten minutes of in-game footage they were showing at E3, and then lent to IGN as a subscriber exclusive for a while. Now that's it's officially in the wild, it's worth a 100MB download.

While it certainly looks good -- as do almost all games these days -- it also looks derivative. This is partly because everything built from the Doom 3 engine tends to look so, well, Doom 3.

The portal stuff is nifty, but I seem to recall either Wing Commander 3 or maybe Freespace 2 dropping huge capital ships into space through little 2D windows. More recently than that, Painkiller let you look and walk (and I think even shoot!) through portals in some of its multiplayer levels.

In Prey, there seems to be some ghostly spirit pulling levers while a flesh-and-blood warrior shoots guns. You toggle between them. This reminds me of the dual reality gimmicks that go back to the Soul Reaver and even Zelda games.

Also, I couldn't help but think that someone at 3D Realms has been playing Ratchet & Clank: walking around the little moonlet and the magnetic boot strips that make the level rotate around you while you walk on walls and the ceiling were straight out of Insomniac's platformers. And the weird cube puzzle almost looked like one of the hacking minigames from Ratchet & Clank.

Finally, is the whole 'Indian in the future' motif really robust enough for more than one IP? Didn't Turok wring that dry?

However, none of this is a criticism. There's nothing wrong with borrowing tricks, and some of the best games are all the better for being derivative. If Prey is indeed borrowing from platformers, more power to them. Genre cross-pollination, especially when it's done by an experienced developer with a sense of restraint and focus, is a good thing.

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