Open world games are pretty standard these days, with many developers trying to place players in the shoes of ordinary people who have an interesting story. But sometimes, game creators spice it up a bit, and give every gamer what he wants: a super-powered character who can cause havoc in the world around him with a multitude of different and gory methods.
Prototype is such a game, telling the story of an amnesiac, Alex Mercer, in a Manhattan devastated both by a deadly virus that turns ordinary people into mutants and by the battle between the monsters and the army. Mercer now has to track down what happened to him and leave behind a trail of bodies from the two factions.
Some pretty interesting premises but, paraphrasing Marvel Comics' Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility, so is Prototype a victim of the huge hype that has been built up around it and the powers of Mercer? Read on to find out. Story
The story is pretty simple; you wake up as Alex Mercer, a guy who should have been dead, who will be shot by the military, but who seemingly can't die. Also, thanks to a virus of some sort, he now has some interesting capabilities. It is up to him to find out just what happened and why the whole island of Manhattan is slowly turning into an infested wasteland, where the military and the mutants are fighting.
As he moves through the city, he detects people of interest whom he can absorb to see their memories regarding his past. Slowly but surely this web of intrigue is pieced together and the whole picture is starting to take shape.
While not Oscar-worthy, the story of Prototype is entertaining and has a few twists that may seem like a breath of fresh air from all the clichés that riddle other video games that are on the market. Also, Alex Mercer doesn't try to be over the top, he seems to be quite an average guy who wants revenge. The typical low voice is present, and a bit of attitude might have been for the best in some cases, but overall the whole plot and characters support the gameplay.
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|You are Alex Mercer ... ||... the most wanted man alive |
It's hard to judge Prototype, especially if you're trying to be impartial. On one hand, you have the wide variety of powers that Alex can wield and the greater Manhattan area, which you can explore in a few minutes and wreak havoc in just as easily. But on the other hand, the battles tend to turn very chaotic and get out of hand quite easily.
First of all, Alex's powers are extremely cool and varied – from blades to claws to whips and everything in between. If it looks cool while slashing through enemies, you can be sure that the main character of this game has it. The violence is pretty gratuitous but nothing too severe, for example, you won't see that many severed body parts like in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but blood is very much present.
However, don't think that if you have such an arsenal of powers things will be easy in the game as Prototype throws everything at you plus the kitchen sink. If you start a fight, you can be sure that tanks, helicopters and soldiers will be on you very easily. Also, if you are in an area infested with the mutant virus, then the monsters will also try to get you. You can lay waste to them pretty easily, but at the beginning, things get hectic quite fast, and if you don't have the essential powers unlocked, it's better to flee the scene.
Speaking of running, traversing Manhattan has never been so easy, as Alex can simply run up buildings and then execute huge jumps, basically living the dream of any commuter. Once his powers unlocked, he is able to glide from building to building, making the exploration of the island that much easier. Nothing can really stop him, except for some well-aimed rockets from either soldiers or helicopters, which blow him away a few feet. This gets extremely annoying while you are trying to desperately escape or to chase something, especially in a mission where you need to hunt down helicopters before they escape the city.
Sticking with frustration, despite the fact that the game throws everything it has at you, it expects you to dodge it quite easily, but there are moments, especially during a period where your powers are affected, when it becomes too hard. The helicopters are relentless in their chase, summoning strike teams on your location and making staying alive a very challenging feat. I was forced to quit a few times because I got angry, so be warned that you shouldn't play it if you're in a bad mood, unless you want to hit things around you.
There are some vehicle sections and missions centered on them, but they are few and far in between. The controls are quite easy and intuitive, at least on the PC, but the finger with which you press Shift to run might get a bit tired after an intense play session. Combos are pretty intuitive and don't require any complicated button moves. Quick time events are only present when you hijack vehicles or when some bigger enemies attack you.
Overall, in terms of gameplay, Prototype has its ups and downs, but if you like action titles and aren't afraid of getting angry sometimes, then the game will deliver on its promise of open world mayhem-creating action.
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|Admire Manhattan ... ||... and then destroy it |
The team at Radical Entertainment has created a pretty great title, with the possibility for many sequels, just how Activision likes. The core idea allows for some interesting spins on it, but the gameplay, as I've mentioned above, needs to be more fine-tuned. Open world super hero games aren't that many, and with the wide variety of powers that Alex Mercer has, things are bound to be entertaining in the future.
Hopefully we will see this core idea get developed in due time and some new adventures will appear for the anti-hero, which is the main character. But Activision doesn't need to rush the development cycle as, on a few occasions, the game did seem a bit unpolished. Graphics and visuals
The graphics aren't as next generation as they should be, to say the least. While you're fighting on the ground, slaughtering people left and right, things may seem quite pretty. But once you get up and start jumping from building to building, drastic pop-in and low-resolution textures are quite noticeable.
But this isn't a detail to deter a lot of gamers who just want a fun experience. The effects of the powers on Mercer's body are quite detailed, and all of the changes that his body goes through when fighting are seamless. An interesting little feature consists of the small acrobatic flicks he does when reaching the top of a building; it's quite nice although it isn't that visible.
Sound-wise, the game doesn't really stand out. Manhattan is a busy, crowded and noisy area, so you won't hear anything that isn't out of the ordinary. Soldiers shout out their orders just so you know, and the mutants make their respective sounds when they are close by.
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|Use all your powers ... ||... to defeat the enemies |
Overall, Prototype sways between a pretty interesting open world super hero game and a mediocre adventure, one that is a bit too challenging at first and filled with cliché missions like escort ones or chase sequences.
If you like adventure titles and want to create havoc in an enemy-infested Manhattan, then Prototype is something you might want to try. If you don't really want to get annoyed and prefer moving by car or by foot rather than jumping off of buildings and gliding onto the nearest rooftop, then this isn't something for you.