When Prototype was announced in Game Informer not too long ago, it instantly became one of the most anticipated titles of 2009. The title is developed by Radical Entertainment, a team who’s famous for their work on the hit title Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. And fans of that game will not be disappointed in Prototype. It has some of the same core concepts as Hulk, but manages to both separate and elevate itself at the same time.
The main character of the game is Alex Mercer, and he has unexplained powers that allow him to not only shapeshift, but also move at incredible speeds and possess extraordinary strength. The player begins the game with fully maxed out powers and is put through a tutorial of sorts. After the completion of this tutorial, the game flashes into a cutscene with Mercer talking to someone on top of a building. The city is in shambles and fully infected as Mercer explains everything to the unkown assailant. This is where the game really begins. It flashes back to Mercer in a morgue where he awakes on a table. The whole game you are trying to find out who did this to Mercer. Along the way, he has to deal with infected civilians, military, and advanced infected species.
Where the game really shines is the mayhem that you have to deal with. The game is fast, very fast. Not only does Mercer move fast, but so do some of the enemies. So the player needs to constantly keep their eyes open while moving throughout the city and completing missions. Failure to do so can result in being overwhelmed by many enemies, and having the choice of either running away or performing a devastator attack, which is an attack that hurts and takes out multiple enemies.
There is also more to the game than just the story. There are several sidequests for Mercer to complete, all of which offer rewards and perks to the player. These sidequests consist of time trials, consume missions, mayhem, and many other types. While a lot of these don’t add much to the story, they are still entertaining to a certain degree, though they can become a bit repetitive. But at least variation was included on the sidequests. Based on your performance in a sidequest, you can earn medals for it as well.
Weapon-wise the game has a very large variety for the player to choose from. It is also fairly well balanced. Depending on the enemy, some weapons are more effective than others.The weapons consist of a whip attack, double strength, a gigantic blade for an arm, and many others for the player to unlock. And thankfully, the game isn’t just about weapons; the developer made sure to make many defensive techniques available for use. Whether you want to just defend yourself using the shield or the armor suit, or take a more stealth-like approach and go undetected, the choice is yours.
Everything from powers to running speed is upgradeable through EP, which is earned by completing missions, killing enemies, etc. Also, Mercer can gain abilities in other ways, such as infiltrating military bases as a commander, or flying a helicopter or tank. He must consume the right personnel to fully understand how to operate the equipment. Also the game features an interesting feature to expand the story by simply consuming certain people. They will be marked with an orange symbol or a light blue DNA strand when Mercer gets near them. This is known as the Web of Intrigue. When Mercer consumes them, he has a flashback of sorts to see what they know in regards to the situation going on within the city and the outbreak of the virus.
The graphics are average, but most likely because of the sheer size of the map and how much is actually going on at once. The entire map is open from the get go, and features no loading times unless you enter a military base or start a mission. The sound of the game is great. People react to you both physically and verbally depending on your actions. If Mercer shapeshifts in front of the pedestrians, they flip out and run away. If he grabs a soldier and begins running up a building, expect to hear more than a few curse words from his victim. The gameplay itself is smooth. The best part is the fluidity between the free running and gliding when traversing through the city. The fights can get pretty hectic as well. If you don’t master the controls, there will be a lot of ‘Game Overs’ to be had.
The only problem with the game is that the story is really lacking. It’s interesting to the point of where you don’t get bored with it, but it’s not very engaging. The reason to play this game isn’t for the story though, it’s for the sheer amount of destruction and mayhem you can cause as Alex Mercer. If you are someone that enjoyed Hulk: Ultimate Destruction then this title is definitely worth a look, if not then stay away, far away. It’s a sandbox title that essentially takes the city of Manhattan and places it in your hands to do whatever you want with Mercer.
At the end of the day, Prototype will continue to be compared to the PS3 exclusive, inFamous, when in actuality they have nothing in common other than being sandbox titles. This may end up hurting sales of Prototype on the PS3, which is a shame since that shouldn’t be the case. Both titles are definitely worth a look for very different reasons. Radical Entertainment made great use of the extra development time they were given, and Prototype is a fun, exciting game that deserves to be played.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
The story works, but could have been more engaging.
Fast-paced, exciting gameplay with tons of variety and hectic situations.