The lights are on
Here’s a link to the freakishly cool Prototype trailer…
Good, eh? I though this looked amazing, and was looking forward to
playing the game… but sadly, the trailer was as good as it gets. Prototype isn’t a bad game per se, but with such a cool premise it really could, and probably should, have been so much better.
in New York City where a mutagenic virus is slowly transforming it and
it’s populous into pseudo-monsters (while oddly, not a block away, the
good citizens of the Big Apple go about their daily lives… I’ve heard
New Yorkers are oblivious to their surroundings but this is
ridiculous!), Prototype tells the tale of Alex Mercer.
story begins, as these stories often do, with a flashback from the
above trailer to when Mercer wasn’t such an invincible bad ass. Waking
without a memory is enough to ruin anybody’s day, but waking up in the
morgue is even worse, especially when the army guys who were guarding
your corpse start trying to re-riddle you with more bullets. But rather
than winding up right back in the morgue as one might expect, Mercer
realizes he has the ability to change his form at will and is now
So off goes Alex to uncover
the truth about what has happened to him and hunting down those
responsible. As New York City self-destructs around him and martial law
is invoked, Mercer must deal with not only a hostile military force, but
the horrors that the virus has left in its wake.
story is one of my biggest disappointments simply because while it’s
perfectly passable, with such a cool underlying premise it should have
been so much better. On the whole it’s a poorly told tale that's poorly
acted. Part of the problem with sandbox titles like Prototype is
that you tend to lose the thread of the plot while you’re off mucking
about, playing side quests and mini-games or generally just wreaking
havoc. As a result an already thin plot becomes even more disjointed.
let’s not mince words here, the primary attraction of this game is you
are given control of a virtually indestructible super-human with amazing
bio-morphing abilities and utterly no compunction about using them in a
bustling metropolis… so let’s talk about those powers!
Mercer reminds me a bit of the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
He can shape-shift his body into different sorts of bladed or
bludgeoning objects. His arm can become a massive blade-like sword or he
can transform his fists into giant mitts that are slow but powerful
enough to club tanks. There is even a wicked set of claws for quick
attacks. I should also mention that you can use the weapons dropped by
the army during your rampages and use said arsenal against them... but
with so many cool powers why bother?
favorite was the 'Whipfist' which is sort of his ranged-attack weapon. A
long tendril will shoot from his arm with a spike on the end, sniping
targets from distance... but he can also swing it around or even
vertically to slice and dice anyone in his path. What's more, with the
'Whipfist' Mercer can hijack helicopters in mid air by pulling himself
up to them almost like a grappling hook. I loved it when the chopper I
was currently flying was on fire and going down and Mercer jumps out
only to hijack the next one without ever touching the ground.
new powers not only allow him to change his form at will, but also give
him super-human strength and speed. He can leap tall buildings in a
single bound... okay, not quite, but close. When sprinting he'll
automatically vault cars or toss them clear out of the way. He can even
sprint up the sides of buildings... and jumping off said buildings from a
good height and hurtling down into a crowded street is a good laugh,
although not for the people on the ground.
can be a bit a of a pain and are fairly complex (other than mashing
the attack button, which will only get you so far), there is a pretty
high learning curve here. But even with practice they don't work
particularly well. The camera can be a burden at times as well,
especially in the crowded streets. But if you can look past these
annoyances, controlled chaos has rarely been as amusingly brutal.
I feel the need to impress upon you, gentle reader, just how
over-the-top violent Prototype is... it's almost gleefully graphic.
Using your powers result in incredible carnage: slamming down your
'Whipfist' will slice a foe (or bystander) right down the middle, the
two halves falling apart. Your blade is adept at separating a person's
top half from the bottom and using your claws leaves a pile of body
parts on the floor. The giant 'Hammerfists' leave little more than a
One of the more clever
and useful of Mercer’s powers is his ability to absorb or consume, well,
pretty much anyone he wants. By doing this he’ll not only take their
form (you can absorb an enemy commander so you’ll gain access to a
military base for example) but also their memories (absorb a pilot to
learn how to fly a helicopter). You can also absorb innocent civilians
if you’ve had a rough run in with the army and need a quick disguise or
some health. But oddly, no one seems to notice when Granny Doris starts
running up the side of a building or leaping over cars. I guess in New
York that’s considered par for the course...
story may have left me wanting more, I was partially placated by the
'Web of Intrigue.' Basically, a great deal of the plot is told through
flashes of memory of Mercer’s victims as he consumes them. Part of this
is revealed while playing out the story, but other people who hold
pieces of the puzzle locked away in their juicy brains will appear
randomly throughout the city.
When Mercer absorbs
these poor sods he soon learns of a larger conspiracy. What was a bare
bones story gets fleshed out well in this regard, but there a couple of
problems with it. First of all, there are a TON of random people
you must consume. You don't always find them in order though, it's more
of a jigsaw puzzle approach to telling the story which can be confusing.
My biggest complaint about this is that the randomly
generated NPC's you need to consume spawn at the most inopportune times.
You'll see the tell-tale orange profile icon pop up on the mini-map
only to have it blink away seconds later because the poor sap gets run
over by a tank or something. It's even more frustrating when you're
bearing down on your victim, the chaos of battle all around you, and
right before you reach him one of the army men shoots the ***. I
can't tell you the number of times I nearly hurled the controller across
the room in frustration.... the only satisfaction I got was hurling the
corpse of my prey at the offending jackass instead.
from checking in with the story occasionally and generally running
rampant around town, there are a number of optional tasks and challenges
you can attempt at your leisure for XP. Each challenge has different
medals you can achieve: gold, silver, and bronze. Everything from taking
out ‘X’ number of bad guys with a particular mutation to check point
racing mini-game as you try and beat the clock. There is even a cool
free fall mini-game where the goal is to glide from a distance onto the
bulls-eye. These are fun diversions, but some of them are almost
impossibly difficult to get the 'gold' medal. Rather than giving
specific examples I'll just say this... Prototype is the only game where I've actually broken a controller in frustration... with my bare hands.
I've already mentioned that I thought the voice acting was pretty poor, and the soundtrack doesn't do much either. Graphically Prototype
is decent, although draw distances are an issue, especially from
height. There are also some lag issues during major fights, but
considering how crowded the streets of New York are in the first place,
adding mutated monsters and veritable platoons of army guys amidst the
throngs of terrified tourists, makes that understandable.
Despite some pretty glaring flaws, I actually quite enjoyed Prototype.
I had a lot of fun absorbing little old ladies then sprinting up the
side of a skyscraper in a print floral dress... but got more and more
bothered that no one seemed to care. I know New Yorkers have taken
minding their own business to a whole new level but I just felt it was a
bit off, and that, in a nutshell, is the problem with Prototype.
Every time you feel like you are losing yourself in the game something
happens that pulls you back. It feels shoddy. If a little more time and
effort had gone into this game it could have been so much better,
especially considering the promising premise. Factor in Mercer’s crazy
abilities and it’s senseless violence at it’s finest, especially if you
lean more towards the sadistic side;^) As it is though it's merely a
fun and sometimes frustrating distraction that leaves us wondering what could have been...
Score = 7.25 / 10
P.S. Want to read more of my reviews? Go to Game Over... continue?!
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