- Posted June 18th, 2009 at 19:59 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Brutally satisfying, Prototype offers hours of explosive, unscripted fun.
- Alex's brilliant range of superpowers and upgrades
- The over-the-top combat and resulting chaos
- The game's longevity
- The pointless shape-shifting feature
- Some of the poor enemy A.I. behavior
- The depressing design of the city
If ever you needed a way to let off some steam quickly after a hard day at work or school, then Prototype is for you. Unapologetically loud, brash, violent and over-the-top, Radical Entertainment’s sandbox-style action game may be a bit rough around the edges, but it has a heart like a lion. At times, combat isn’t pretty and the presentation is a little grubby, but when you're picking up a New York City cab and tossing it toward the cockpit of a helicopter, or using your razor sharp-claws to rip the limbs off anyone who happens to be get in your way, we can guarantee you'll be doing it with a grin of perverse satisfaction across your face.
Prototype’s new antihero, Alex Mercer, is ruthless. There are no good or bad paths to follow throughout the campaign; he’s a killer, and that’s all you really need to know. Prototype’s storyline is an interesting enough premise, but it’s the molding of Mercer into a powerful killing machine that really takes center stage. Alex isn’t worried about who gets in his way on his quest to discover the truth, so you don’t need to worry either. Sit back on your sofa and whack up the 5.1 surround sound, because Alex doesn't do things quietly. He'll kill anyone that gets in the way and tear New York City apart in the process.
Prototype follows the story of Alex Mercer, who, after presumed dead and placed in a morgue, wakes up out of a coma to discover that he lost his memory. Alex has been used as a host for a deadly genetic virus that has now infected the whole of New York City. To his surprise, Alex now possesses a devastating range of superpowers, including brute strength, speed, and the ability to shape-shift by changing his appearance and taking on the powers of anyone he consumes. Furthermore, he can absorb people’s memories and initiate flashbacks, which helps him discover the truth behind this deadly disease and find out why the city is now controlled by the oppressive BlackWatch forces and populated with mutated freaks.
Prototype features a bustling, open-world metropolis that is jammed to the rafters with typical sandbox-style missions and side objectives that you can complete at your own pace. There’s nothing particularly innovative about many of the missions types that you carry out in Prototype, so you can expect the likes of point-to-point races and rescue, escape and protect missions, but more often than not you’ll be fighting tooth and nail against BlackWatch guards and some of the city’s mutated creatures. One of the major new ideas in Prototype is the concept of shape-shifting, but it hasn’t been implemented as well as we’d hoped. In fact, it wouldn’t have really made any difference if had it been left out completely.
Shape-shifting allows you to blend into a crowd when the enemy is searching for you, or sneak into a facility undetected. You can tap on the D-pad and instantly switch to a different guise. The scenarios used for this particularly ability aren’t that interesting, though. Whenever you transform into another person, the disguise meter lets you know if enemies are aware of your presence. The problem is that the A.I. just isn’t that clever, so when you do get spotted and your pursuers let off rocket launchers and send their tanks heading your way, you can simply use Alex’s parkour skills to zip up the side of a building and hide it out on the rooftops until the coast is clear. It feels like a wasted feature.
Nevertheless, this pointless feature doesn’t distract whatsoever from the enjoyment of the game. Where Prototype really shines is in its vast range of exciting abilities and how you can evolve and better Alex throughout the game. Overturning tanks and plucking helicopters right out of the sky are among Alex’s special powers, but the combat system goes much deeper than that, with pages of upgrades and abilities to unlock. From physical abilities, such as being able to jump higher or glide across the city landscape, to offensive abilities such as ground spikes that allow you to skewer a dozen enemies standing yards away, there’s plenty of ... (continued on next page) ----
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