I recently came across the game Prototype when browsing around the latest releases section of a popular online game store. I can honestly say that I had heard absolutely nothing about this game before, but the title and game box intrigued me and I decided to take a leap of faith and just buy the game. I’m so glad I did!!
This game takes you through a viral outbreak in New York, a disaster of epic proportion, turning the population into mutants and zombie-like characters. The military in this game are trying their best to contain this outbreak, while Alex Mercer (the main character of the game is trying to figure out what’s happening, while trying to not get caught in the crossfire.
Alex Mercer wakes up one day in a morgue with absolutely no memory of his past. The only difference is that he has now a huge arsenal of amazing powers and incredible agility. He finds himself with the ability to shape shift, absorb “consume” other beings (human and mutants alike) jump incredible heights, run at blistering speed, glide over buildings and with a vast array of transformations that make his body a lethal weapon.
Prototype is a single player, open-world action game with a vast city landscape with free roaming abilities, and therefore you can play around the city in between one mission and another or play the various mini missions that are usually highlighted in green pointers.
Though you play as a man bestowed with superhero power, Mercer is anything but heroic. There are no moral choices here. Mercer has vowed to destroy those responsible for his current situation and he has the means to do it. To gain new powers or refill your health bar, you’ll literally absorb other living beings. Find yourself a little low on hit points and you can simply grab an innocent bystander, crush his or her head, and then consume them for a quick boost. If you find yourself in a pinch with attack choppers chasing you through the roads, you can absorb a person and morph into their likeness to blend in with the crowd.
The storyline involves about 30 missions including simple seek and destroy missions, stealthy infiltrations, escort missions and massive boss battles. Most of these missions are standard in design. In fact, if you’ve played many open-world games, you’ve probably played identical copies of these in the past. And since repetition is oftentimes the name of the game here, you can be sure you’ll be doing uninspired tasks over and over again.
The concept of collectibles that are usually scatttered around the city has been extended to what’s called the Web of Intrigue. These are people that, by being hunted down and consumed, reveal splintered visions of the infection’s history. They’re slick and wonderfully tantalizing — little in Prototype is more exhilarating than being in the midst of a tough mission only to see one of these targets stroll by.
There are a couple of other diversions that I found interesting, as well, including army bases that must be stealthily infiltrated to score weapon and skill upgrades. It’s through these that you can even unlock the ability to call in airstrikes. I quickly had this skill maxed out — infiltrating the bases is pretty darn fun.
As for the game’s bad side, Prototype unfortunately has rather bland and boring city scape. The blandness is seen throughout in a city recreated with few landmarks and instead filled with generic, lifeless buildings. Move quickly along the building tops and trees, bushes, cars and other structures pop in and out as the game struggles to draw them. Everything else is shrouded in an ugly fog. In a game where you spend much of the time pouncing from one roof to the next, this ugliness is felt throughout. Just climb a building or get in a helicopter and look out at the skyline to get an eyeful of Prototype’s ugliness. However, the animations used when Alex uses his powers are downright amazing, and it gives a very real feel. Running up the side of a building, doing a flip over a railing, and then leaping off into a charged drop attack just feels cool.
Aside from specific infected buildings, no structural damage can be done. You can’t even knock over billboards. And when you do take down the few buildings you’re allowed to damage, the resulting explosion is laughably bad. All of the real chaos you can create is limited to vehicles and passing pedestrians. Your cool powers don’t feel quite so cool when you can’t even break a window by throwing a car at it.
Prototype is a game with many super cool features. However, it lacks the finishing touches that make for a great and memorable game. It lacks a bit in attention to detail. Thankfully, Alex Mercer’s absorbing and shape shifting powers manage to overcome many of the shortcomings of Prototype. Though the missions themselves aren’t anything special, the vast array of powers provides their own variety and flair. I’ll be very looking forward for Prototype 2!!