Prey: An Alien Encounter CDTV logo CDTV

Almathera Systems * £25.99 * 081-683 6418

Apparently, asteroid KG-42 used to be a nice, quiet sort of place to live until the aliens moved in next door. So properly prices plummeted, and the aliens eating everyone did not really help the situation either. The powers that be thus decided to send you in to sort out those nasty aliens once and for all, and to help rescue any refugees you find lying around the place.

Well, at least that is what I assume is happening. This game does not come with much information, except for a single paragraph on the back of the CD box. There is an insert, but all this tells you is how to control the game. The controls are pretty minimal, with the usual forward, back and turn, and the two keypad buttons giving a status screen and a map of the area, showing you what to do and the objective.

I know that CD does not have the fastest transfer rate known to man, but this game hardly pushed back the boundaries. Each time you enter a new zone, or request the map, you wait at least five seconds for something to appear. I would not mind if the clock stopped, but it does not, so just after going through a doorway, you are stuck there waiting, but the clock is still ticking away. With only one minute and 40 seconds of oxygen to start with, every second counts.

Apart from moving around the colony, there is also a combat section where you and an alien slug it out. This uses some nicely treated digitised images to show the aliens, but it does not really work, especially with a CDTV keypad. You attack with button A (which has a nice machine-gun sound) and dodge with button B, but this does not seem to have much of an effect.

Nicely drawn and rendered 3D graphics abound, and the sounds add to the atmosphere, with heavy-breathing and good clunky footsteps as you move down the corridors. If you are really up on sci-fi films, you could also play 'spot the sample' while you are waiting for things to load. Let us start it off with the breathing - from 2001 - A Space Odyssey.

The game is rather similar in feel to Infestation (reviewed in AF10) but you do not get the same feeling of being in control. There certainly is not the same degree of background, and the control method is much more simplistic. There is a good game in there somewhere, but the bad design long access times, lack of proper documentation and extreme difficulty conspire to make it a game that won't last too long.