A ‘prototype’ is an original type, form, or instance of something serving as a typical example, basis, or standard for other things of the same category. The ‘Prototype’ is a game in which you are victim of a terrible virus which gives you godlike powers along with no conscience. By this, Prototype by Radical Entertainment is a sterling success!
After a lengthy development cycle that has had its fair share of hype and anticipation, Prototype finally landed on shelves at an awkward time that saw it face off head-to-head with rival InFamous. Looking rather weak from the offset against this PS3 exclusive, Prototype has gone on to show that looks can be deceiving and gameplay triumphs all – as Prototype is a stunning execution on how to deliver fluid controls along with challenging gameplay; which sales have shown perfectly.
The game places you in control of Alex Mercer, or what is left of him, after a virus infects the city of New York. After the initial tutorial you are given few abilities, allowing for you to slowly get to grips with the fast paced exploration and combat controls on offer. As the game progresses you will find new abilities become unlockable for your destructive needs, and destructive it shall be. Alex Mercer, whilst good at heart, is not kept up late at night from a few innocent pedestrians dying by his hands. Leave your good vs evil expectations at the door, as when you step through into Prototype you will be expected to rip apart the city – half a block at a time.
One key feature of the game is the ability to consume any living-being around you. Simply by grabbing them and pressing Y to consume, you will first murder the victim in the most brutal manner possible, for example, throwing them to the floor then stomping through their face, and then you continue to suck their very being inside of yourself. You are now this person. You will be using this ability a lot, to consume the identity of individuals that can allow you to get past security measures, to hide from any enemies or to learn the memories and abilities that the individual possessed.
If you have played Hulk/Spider-Man/Crackdown before you will know what to expect in terms of control and mission structure, as the general design of all of these games can be found in Prototype. The main difference here is that the control and camera are both extremely fluid and fast in comparison to these other games. You can pull off poetic movements such as picking up a car whilst doing a forward flip over it, throw it at a tank, then run up the side of a building, backflip off the roof and skydive into the ground... bye bye tank. Simply running around the city can be a blast on its own, especially when you have upgraded your abilities.
Whilst the single player storyline is not exceptionally long (31 core missions), the mission structure is nothing compared to games such as GTA IV; but the game does a fine job at allowing you to be flexible in how you execute missions. When all main missions have been completed (literally a long day of hard play, or a week of casual play for the average gamer) you will have a long list of side events that you can participate in that range from skydiving to a target, to infiltrating bases in stealth.
One element that flows through both aspects of Prototype is the controller throwing difficulty. A warning to all the achievement hunters out there, completing the game on hard mode (or even normal mode for the faint hearted) can be extremely troublesome – especially with some of the long boss fights that also contain a timer that will punish you harshly if you fail to perform at the key moment. Alongside this is getting platinum on all side events, which literally demands pinpoint accuracy. On the whole though the achievements are a good set, and the difficulty level only makes them feel more like achievements than free points. 1000/1000 is certainly achievable without too much heart ache, as I am soon to prove.
From a presentation perspective Prototype holds well against its competition, even though screenshots do not even nearly do the game justice. Those that have been comparing the game to others which are void of the same level of action are making a large mistake, as Prototype is a beautiful game due to the sheer level of destruction. Only once had FPS lag appeared in the game, and that was when I had the equivalent of an entire army beating down on me – and that passed in moments. It is rather surprising just how solid the engine is in terms of frames per second given the large quantity of units and effects on screen at one given time.
Audio wise the game fairs well also, especially concerning the combat sound effects that crush, snap and squelch with beautiful realism. Ripping apart foes and shooting down buildings sound beautiful, however the game fails short ever so slightly with some overly repeated dialogue lines and lack of background tracks to spice up the gaps in sheer mayhem.
Prototype is certainly a title worth your interest, especially if you like to dabble in some of the sandbox titles listed above. Whilst the game does have a few minor flaws, none of these take away from the overall experience which can easily keep you entertained for countless hours. Give in to the virus and let Prototype infect your 360, you might just like it.
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