Developer: Radical Entertainment
Date of North American Release: June 9, 2009
Date of European Release: June 12, 2009
Trophies: 1 4 10 20 7
There are some superhero games where the main protagonist has a certain degree of super strength and/or the ability to fly. Some games give you a specific power and build off of it over the course of the game. There are even some titles which go so far as to give you nothing but the fitness of your hero and a few flashy gadgets! That’s all fine and dandy, I guess, but what many gamers have been calling for (or at least hoping for) is a game that gives you more than the basics. We want to fly and lift cars, yes, but we also want the lesser-known superpowers such as shape-shifting and running at amazing speeds – believe it or not, Sonic the Hedgehog can only go so far...
There are games (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, for instance) which come close to providing such escapades, but those who aren’t as familiar with their comics and whatnot can find the range to be a wee bit daunting. What if you just want to launch straight into the game without having to worry about which four characters gel together? This is where Prototype comes in.
Developed by Radical Entertainment – best known for The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction – Prototype sees the player control Alex Mercer, a shape-shifter who has no memories of his past, as he works to find the secret behind the virulent plague which is tearing through the city in which the game is set: New York.
Gliding through the air and dropping to the roof of a building with a thump and a wave of dust, you quickly and silently assume the form of a soldier. You approach the edge of the building and step forward, this time dropping silently into an alleyway. You stroll towards a military base entrance and salute the guards on your way through. Pausing to look around, you notice another group of soldiers following their commander through a maze of crates. You hurriedly pursue the group and, without a sound, proceed to pick them off one by one. Each falls victim to your stealth consumption ability and in the end you are the only person left standing, this time, though, you have the appearance of the late facility commander. You now have the form – and the clearance – to enter the interiors of the military base and further your progress.
That’s a brief glimpse of Prototype for you, but it can extend much further than that example. For instance, you could have just chosen to barge right on into the base and tear the place apart! Maybe you got caught halfway through consuming a soldier and had to run for your life! The possibilities are plentiful.
You could have barged on in, you could have sneaked in,
or you could have found a whale tail stuck in the pavement!!
Due to the long list of moves and abilities Mercer possesses, you’d think the controls would be a beast to master. Worry not, my friends, for Radical Entertainment have implemented a relatively easy-going solution – albeit, with a slight learning curve. Pressing L1 will bring up a wheel where you may use the right stick to switch powers and/or abilities. Things can get pretty hectic in the midst of battle, so bringing up this wheel will also slow down your immediate surroundings as you select your options.
What about the moves themselves, you say? Well, by the end of the game you’ll be slicing through enemies like a hot knife (or should I say knives?) through butter with your arm blade-things; you’ll be lassoing your arms towards distant enemies and whipping them forwards like rags; transforming your fists into powerful sledgehammer-like objects, as well as morphing your entire body into an armored wrecking ball.
During combat, you have the familiar setup of square for normal attacks and triangle for special attacks. Certain forms will work better on different enemies, as well, so there’s a bit of tactics involved in the game – most likely to get rid of the guys who continually use the Critical Pain Devastator (you’ll understand when you’re further in).
As previously said, the game is about a virulent plague that is spreading through New York City, infecting regular citizens and mutating them into hideous monsters known as “The Infected”. The main protagonist, Alex Mercer, a shape-shifter with no memories of his past, is at the center of all of this, desperately trying to uncover the secrets of his life and the reasons behind the plague.
See those people impaled on the spikes? Yeah, they messed with Mercer...
Well, the story’s not exactly Hollywood blockbuster material, but that’s not what you play games for anyway, right? Okay, maybe you do like to have a good story running concurrently, so, yeah, Prototype is lacking in that department. Surely, though, it more than makes up for that with its relatively large free-roaming environment which you can explore after getting bored of missions. Admittedly, the environment isn’t as big as, say, Grand Theft Auto IV, but it’s better than nothing. Come on, it’s Manhattan! Everybody likes Manhattan!
As with many other games nowadays, Prototype has lots of nifty little side-missions waiting to be completed, and collectables waiting to be hunted down in your spare time. There are the basic missions like destroying infected hives (think of a bee hive, but with bigger stabby things and less honey), then you have the events which require you to complete certain objectives such as gliding or fighting as a soldier. Completing said events awards you with experience (handy for upgrading powers, if I do say so myself) and a shiny medal – bronze being the lowest, and platinum being the highest. The medals provide nothing more than bragging rights and trophies, so don’t get your hopes up.
Let’s just get this out of the way first: Prototype isn’t technically astounding. The graphics look pretty meh, the cutscenes are pretty snazzy, and the sound is alright. You might stare at the memory flashbacks every now and then because they’re quite nice, but you won’t find yourself gazing at the scenery too often around here, folks.
The best part of Prototype, from a technical point of view, has got to be the amount of chaos that occurs in fights. Soldiers fire bullets and rockets at Mercer as he sprints along the sides of buildings, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Hunters tear chunks of road away and hurl them as you hit the ground, creating a small crater. It’s quite a sight to behold.
Things get pretty chaotic in the world of Alex Mercer...
Personally, I thought the rousing score and the voice acting were two of the nicer parts of the game. Lips move in time with the voices (something that seems to not happen a lot nowadays), and Mercer’s voice sounded just like I’d imagine it to be in real life – rough; like a mercenary of sorts.
Two problems I did have with the technical department were the animations and “weights” of certain objects. For instance, Mercer lifts up a car and throws it. Instead of the car careening through the air and grinding along the ground, it seems to float along and bounce around like a paper ball. As for the animations, let’s just say that the stealth consumes could have looked a little less clunky.
What type of game do you look for when your trophy collection needs a boost? Singleplayer games, of course! Ninety percent of the sparkly achievements in these outings revolve around any/all of the following: finishing the game, finishing the game on another difficulty level, killing a set amount of enemies, collecting utterly pointless crap, and doing something you wouldn’t normally do in other games. Prototype continues the trend, but bumps the difficulty up to a whole new level.
Whether you’re tearing your hair out while trying to finish the game on hard without dying, or shedding tears of grief after coming so close to achieving one of those pesky event platinum medals, this game’s trophy list isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Personally, I have played the game for about twenty hours and am still hanging around the 50% mark.
Unless you’re a gaming god, be prepared to suffer as you toil away on this demon.
Gameplay: 8/10 - Superb
The staggering amount of abilities are sure to confuse some, but Radical Entertainment have made things simple enough for most people to understand. Might take a while for some to adjust.
Singleplayer: 7/10 - Good
The story isn't really anything to write home about, but the free-roaming world and side-missions will surely keep you entertained for a while after the game is done.
Technical: 7/10 - Good
Memory flashbacks look snazzy, as do the fights. Not on a par with games like inFamous, but still quite nice. The voice acting is rather good.
Prototype had the hopes and dreams of superhero fans across the world resting on its shoulders. Did it succeed? Yes and no, but more of the first. What could have been better? The story, the variety of missions, the physics, and a few other things. Nonetheless, it is still a good game and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all gamers. (Except those of you who only play Madagascar Kartz and Hannah Montana: The Movie. Ya pansies!)