publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Radical Entertainment
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 09, 09
|» All About PROTOTYPE on ActionTrip|
The summer brings with it the traditional measured quantity of Hollywood blockbuster flicks, accompanied by range of second-rate video games. This year would've proved to be no exception, if it weren't for a few releases we think will make this summer a bit more interesting for gamers.
Prototype takes place in contemporary New York, where a deadly unnamed mutagenic virus is rapidly infecting the population. With more and more people getting infected, the military increases its presence and struggles to prevent the virus from spreading beyond Manhattan Island. By the way, the virus turns its victims into mindless zombies and monsters (well, we wouldn't have it any other way, now would we?). Alex Mercer wakes up in a morgue and escapes straight into the city, realizing he has tremendous powers. One of his main abilities is to "consume" people and absorb their memories, which incidentally is how players can piece together various fragments of both Mercer's past and other important points of the story. It's your basic horror/sci-fi plot, although we've come to appreciate how it's told throughout the game and the lengths the developers went to create very engaging story presentation. It most certainly looks more interesting than what most game developers keep churning out these days.
When Mercer heads out into the streets of NYC, players will be able to pick from a variety of story-related tasks and side-missions. Yes, it's the standard sandbox scenario, yet again. However, in Prototype, the free-roam gameplay works just fine. An integral part of the experience is collecting points by completing missions. These points are also gathered by consuming people (enemies, monsters or ordinary citizens if you're that malicious... and chances are you will be). There's a relatively satisfying choice of side-missions, which are the best way to accumulate extra points. The points are, naturally, used for upgrading the main character's abilities, making way for improved movement, combat, powers and so on.
Prototype would normally fall into the trap many sandbox style games are prone to, if it weren't for the gratifying gameplay mechanics. There are plenty of ways you can accomplish objectives - infiltrating enemy bases can be done slowly and stealthily or you can charge in and start spreading chaos with a variety of your powers and combat abilities. The developers went all out to pour in as much variety into the mission structure as possible - of course, I'm referring to the story-related objectives. The best part is, once again, that the game gives you the freedom to complete missions any way you want to, either by using the main character's virus-based powers or by using weapons snatched from the military. The military provides a choice of vehicles you can seize control of (armored vehicles, helicopters, etc.). The chopper is one of my favorites. It gives the game a whole new feel, as you fly above the skyscrapers of NYC entering dogfights with other helicopters. Obliterating ground targets is another advantage of grabbing a chopper and it's usually an easier way to get around swiftly.
Helicopters are fast make no mistake, although Mercer is quite capable of moving throughout the city just as swiftly as air units. You should therefore make an effort to improve the character's movement capabilities (air-dash, jumping, speed and so on), because your life frequently depends on how fast you can get out of a jam. And this game has a tendency of hurling the main character into incredibly chaotic situations, during which he'll be attacked by both military and infected forces. The AI is persistent as hell, so getting out of military alerts and avoiding swarms of infected is a good challenge for anybody. We would've appreciated a wider variety of opponents, but otherwise we enjoyed battling anything this game had thrown our way. We even found the occasional boss fights entertaining.
8.5 Very Good
Decent story, enjoyable free-roam action game with plenty of challenges, great gameplay, a wide choice of supernatural powers and vehicles to toy around with, dashing through the city and across rooftops is fun;
Perhaps they should've incorporated a multiplayer mode, some character abilities feel redundant, battles tend to get a bit overwhelming, little replay value.