I wasn't expecting much. I'd played Crysis, Crysis Warhead, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (all highly recommended, by the way) and saw this listed in my reccomendations. It was nearly six years old at that time, so I was expecting a mildly interesting game with dated graphics and play.
Boy was I wrong. And I'm glad I bought it anyway. This is head and shoulders above the vast majority of first-person shooters out there and worth way more than Amazon's modest price.
The description is accurate, so I sha'n't repeat it here. The graphics are solid, with only a few minor glitches (most noticably, the Aztec or possibly Chinese woman puts her hand into her face at one point in your conversation). I never got stuck on a graphical glitch, and puzzles were solvable with a little thought. Significantly, thanks to the "Death Walk" mechanic, you never really have to load a saved game when you die-- shoot a few of those fish-ghosts and you're back in action.
No need to save to avoid losing ground because of death
Never dead in the water; always a way out of your current mess
Well-designed (though very slightly dated) environments
Bizarre gravity shifts
Satisfying array of weapons
One of the things I like about older games (at lesat, those which are usable under Windows 7) is that they were designed for previous generations of video cards. I have an ATi Radeon HD 5850, a great bang-for-the-buck card (even three years after I built my system), and can pretty much set everything to their highest settings. The graphics aren't mind-blowing, but perfectly adequate, and someone really got into the biomechanical horror imagery of H.R. Giger when drawing the alien shipscape. There are areas that will simply dwarf you, huge spaces to navigate around; occasional secret areas (mostly discovered through your Spirit form); and unique alien weapons to pick up and use.
And there's your spirit bow, too. As Han Solo said, though, "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." You'll be using the weapons picked up in the alien ship for most of your adventure-- and for some reason you keep the wrench you pick up in the very beginning. It gets in the way when you're selecting weapons and isn't at all useful, because your hunter gun regenerates a little energy and there's seldom a shortage of ammo except in boss battles.
Oh! and there's that wall walking business. Wow. In some areas of the ship you can turn gravity around entirely, in others you can walk on a sort of sticky path that permits you to scale walls and ceilings, until some alien blaggard shuts the power off. Well, turnabout is fair play: You can turn off the wall walking on them too, and watch them plummet. There are also portals, either boxes that pop you into a different place or glowing round openings that the Hunters use (and which you can too). Sometimes a portal will dump you onto the celiing or floor, meaning you can't go back the way you came. But that's OK.
Gravity is a recurring theme in Prey. You go onto little planetoids at various times in the game, which have a local gravity all their own-- you walk on their surface despite the rest of the ship looking upside down to you. This is not a game for those with vertigo!
A tremendously amusing recurring event is radio transmissions from a talk-show host, addressing the strange events happening all around the world.
No real stealth play
Limited resolution choices
Vanishingly little character or equipment development
Low diversity of opponents
One bad voice out of many good voices
The hunter gun is essentially your sniper rifle. I love stealth play, taking out enemies at a distance with a well-aimed shot; unfortunately there's little chance to use it, since you stick out like a sore thumb. One of the things I remember about Native Americans is that they used stealth effectively in combat-- think of them as the ninjas of the New World if you must-- and this was disappointing. You can certainly put up the sniper scope and try for a headshot, but they'll be shooting at you the whole time.
In many games you get the chance to upgrade weapons. That's a lot of fun. There's only a few upgrades you receive-- once when you get the Spirit Bow, once (late in the game) when you get a health upgrade. I suppose the Leech Gun's ability to use different absorbed energies qualifies as customization, but I miss the powerups of, say, Bioshock or Human Revolution.
There's not a lot of walking about in spirit form that you do. It allows you to solve certain puzzles and get to a small number of secret areas, but going into it during a firefight is just suicide.
I've addressed the good points of older games on modern graphics cards. Here's the other side of the coin: Your monitor's resolution may not be supported. I have an Eyefinity setup, 5040 x 1050, and of course that isn't a choice; but my native monitor resolution, 1680 x 1050, isn't either.
The worst thing you can say against Prey is that it's a highly linear game. You walk into a new area, kill all the aliens there, pick up the ammo, and go on to the next area. Sometimes there's a puzzle to solve, often using the gravity shifting or your spirit form, but the puzzles are very simple; I never even felt the need to consult a walkthrough. While this does prevent you from feeling frustrated by being stuck, it also lessens the pride of solving a difficult riddle. There are no alternate paths through the ship-- no "air ducts" as it were. Go where the designers are pushing you or don't go at all. Most of the time (there are a few exceptions), control panels are one-shots; once you activate a mechanism that will allow you to get to a new area, you can't un-activate it. That's not really a negative, but it does make the puzzles simpler.
And the aliens are all the same. Well, mostly. There are flying robots (generally during your vehicle combat scenes), walking Hunters and flying Hunters, boss monsters at the end of levels, doggies and super doggies, and the occasionally annoying wall-worms.
While voice acting is well-done in general, I had trouble making out what one of the voices was saying. (I want to avoid saying who so as to avoid a tiny spoiler, but you'll see what I mean.)
And since we're talking about sound: Turn your speakers down when launching this game for the first time! Tommy's grandfather says something, and music starts playing, and it's all at full volume. You don't get a chance to turn down the volume in the settings panel till after the first-launch introductory scene.
Tommy's spiritual journey is interrupted by an alien attack; the "seven trials" his grandfather speaks of aren't included. I'm not sure whether this was by design or not. It could be that the designers meant to include puzzles in the ancestral lands and the spirit cave but thought they might slow down the game. On the other hand, this could be something you can look forward to in the sequel.
Buy this game now.
The cons aren't enough to make the game unplayable, and I hope that they're addressed in Prey 2. The best advertisement for a sequel is the game it derives from-- and Prey is a solid enough game that I have no doubts I'll buy Prey 2. In the meantime, take advantage of the low price and buy the original Prey; you won't be disappointed.