Prototype


Prototype from Radical Entertainment is now out. Another game in the superhero sandbox mould which seems so popular at the moment. The game will see you biomorphing deadly melee weapons from your arms, upgrading your abilities, hi-jacking helicopters and running up the sides of skyscrapers, but has it got what it takes to make an impact. Well that depends on who you ask, some love the game others just outright hate it. Read on to find out my view on it.

Prototype is a disturbing story of genetic viruses and experimentation. In the middle of all this is Alex Mercer, the hoodie wearing protagonist of the game. Alex wakes up in a morgue with no memory of how he came to die or even why he is now very much alive. Assuming his character it is up to you to unravel the mysteries of what happened to you and of what is becoming of New York, as a virus outbreak burns through the city. This virus is turning the once happy occupants of New York City into infected zombie like creatures and the ominous Blackwatch special forces have been sent into the city to clear up the mess before things get out of hand.

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Graphically Prototype is not the greatest looking game to grace our Hi-Def screens and is best described as basic. Draw distances are quite poor and everything in the distance is shrouded in fog. There is a good reason for this graphical hit though as all the streets are teeming with pedestrians and traffic. Later in the game massive battles rage between Blackwatch and the infected on the streets and is quite something to watch, from a safe distance of course. The animation especially on Alex is very fluid, running up the side of buildings and jumping over cars always looks smooth and takes your attention away from the drab graphical nature of the city.

Controlling Alex is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Holding down the right trigger will initiate your free running ability. Jumping effortlessly over obstacles and running up the side of buildings is a great way of getting around the place and combined with a powered up jump means you can scale anything with little effort. Fighting is placed on the X and Y buttons and a huge array of combos can be pulled off. The shoulder buttons open up radial menus for your various powers and slow down the game to give you a bit of time to choose what you are going to use. However problems arise with the controls when you start unlocking new combos and powers, For some of the large scale devastator moves you need to be particularly dexterous with your fingers, having to use opposite face buttons like X and B is never very easy and I just ended up never using that particular attack. Also there are far too many combos to ever remember and you will probably just end up using the same few combos over and over.

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There are some great features to be found in Prototype, the main one being consuming people. Consuming a person normally just gives you a health boost and a new disguise, but dotted around the city and in Blackwatch bases are personnel who have more to offer than just a quick pick me up. Consuming a base commander for instance will give you access to air-strikes, while later in the game you will need to consume a pilot to learn how to fly the many helicopters that litter the skyline of NYC. Another great feature is the Web of Intrigue, around the city and in the bases are people with knowledge of what is happening. From time to time whilst exploring the city or in the middle of a mission an icon will appear on your mini map. These depict a individual who needs to be consumed to find out just what is going. Once the person has been consumed you will be treated to a short and often disturbing cut scene of what that person has seen.

Gameplay wise Prototype has a lot to offer, story missions are quite varied and will have you piloting helicopters, taking down the fearsome hunters with your biomorphed appendages and chasing tanks across the city from the rooftops. Aside from the main story missions there are activities to take part in. These range from killing enemies with certain weapons and powers to high speed races across rooftops, completing these will unlock more Evolution Points to spend on your ever growing list of upgrades. Some of my favourite activities were the gliding ones, starting on a rooftop you have to glide to a target set out on the ground. All the challenges award you either a bronze, silver or gold for your efforts with more EP up for grabs the better you do.

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There are problems with this game however, there seemed to be a lot of difficulty spikes throughout the campaign. Later on in the game you just get overwhelmed with enemies, add to this having to protect something and you end up having to restart from the last checkpoint over and over which gets very frustrating. The draw distance can get in the way as well, throughout the city are landmark orbs to collect for extra EP. The problem is these will not appear until you are almost right on top of them and being as there’s an achievement for finding them all it makes life very difficult. Also getting into the Blackwatch bases which are all identical just became so much of chore in the end I gave up doing them.
While Prototype won’t be for everyone I thoroughly enjoyed most of it, besides having to restart missions continually. It has a lot to offer and a good story within the Web of Intrigue.

Hi-Score – Web of Intrigue, Satisfying combat, Free running mechanic

Lo-Score – Difficulty Spikes, Constant restarting missions, Graphically ugly, Draw distance

Final Score – 7 out of 10

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