Prototype Review

By Mike on 10:00 pm

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Prototype is a vary appropriate name for this game, as that what it feels like. It's a decent enough concept for a game but still quite rough around the edges. This summer has been odd in a sense since we've seen two vary similar superhero titles released at around the same time: Prototype and the arguably superior Infamous. The latter being a Playstation exclusive while the former was developed as a multi-platform release and published by Activision. In the game, you play as the anti-hero Alex, who is attempting to stop an infection gripping New York City. The game has some impressively strong moments but in the end, it's weaknesses prove to be the kryptonite that beats down its superhuman strengths.

The game begins with all hell breaking loose in the tutorial level. It then jumps back several days earlier where you suddenly wake up from the dead on the morgue slab at GENTEK Corporation, a genetic engineering company. Alex soon discovers he's acquired super human strength and the ability to shape shift provided he absorbs the thing he needs to copy. You can use the shape shifting ability to gain new "weapons" and defences, or disguises. The game's world is controlled by a fascist government's soldiers known as the Blackwatch, who are attempting to contain the city after the viral outbreak. Alex sets out to protect his loved ones and find out who infected him and the city.

Gameplay itself is in the pretty basic open world beat-em-up style. Square and Triangle unleash regular and heavy attacks respectively. You can dodge by hitting O and the right stick in the direction you want to go. The D pad is used to select various weapons and disguises, which is further enhanced by the circle menu. (You'll have to excuse me if I make a mistake about the controls since I'm writing this over a week after I rented it) R2 is used to run up walls, including just about any building while X jumps. You can hit O to grab onto vertical surfaces and use the left stick to climb around. Health is in the greying out screen style though one difference between this game and a lot of others is environmental variables don't hurt you. Even if you jump off the top of the Empire State Building, you won't die. Only enemies can do damage. Heath doesn't recover automatically, so watch the red health bar at the bottom. You can gain health by collecting red orbs found in the game, or by consuming civilians or stunned enemies with the triangle button.
For weapons, you have a selection of your claws made out of shape-shifted matter, a giant fist of the same, your own human fists, and guns enemies drop. You can also use your super strength to lift certain objects and throw them at distant enemies. All work in pretty much the same way. Targeting is done by the L1 button. Speaking of enemies, you'll face blackwatch soldiers, military vehicles, infected civilians, and GENTEK mutants, which get stronger respectively. You can drive military tanks by hacking the vehicles by repeatedly pressing triangles. Enemy and friendly AI is pretty poor though, most often just randomly running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Having civilians tell you to "fuck off" if you bump into them, in true New York style, is not exactly pleasant to hear in a game like this. Alex seems pretty anti-social though the way he pushes people around. The city is populated with a large number of NPCs but none seem to react to your presence until you do bump into them. Soldiers and the infected don't put up much of a fight so it's really only the mutants you have to watch out for.

Alex's powers can all be upgraded and new powers can be bought in the game if he gains enough points, as in other titles such as Force Unleashed. One thing lacking is any sort of block ability to defend against enemies, though a shield power can be purchased as an upgrade, though it's effectiveness is limited.

The game itself is a mix of open world with structured missions. You can navigate to the next mission be heading to the yellow marker on your map, where you'll be given instructions on what to do next. Some missions require you to infiltrate an area by consuming someone and using them as a disguise. Others require you to collect items and others are purely combat or escape. This is pretty standard fare for this type of game and it doesn't really bring anything new to the table. Like all open world titles, mission variety is limited and the game can get vary repetitive vary quickly. Overall though, the controls are tight and the missions are challenging, which is plenty to keep players busy. The big open world city concept also gives quite a bit of replay value as you explore the city. The game also has trophy support.

Probably the biggest weakness of Prototype is the graphics. The game looks extremely dated by at least five years. Textures and objects lack detail and the whole world has a grey, washed look to it. This game could easily have appeared on Playstation 2 or the original Xbox without much alteration. NPC characters are also pretty badly done and Alex himself is only average looking compared to other PS3 games. Graphics may not be everything but they could have at least tried to make it look better. Other than that, I saw no issues such as tearing, frame rate drops, or freezing. On the audio side, voice acting for the main characters was well done but NPCs seemed a little cheesy to me. I can't even remember what the music was so the score isn't exactly memorable. Of course, I already mentioned the poor AI. Prototype runs at 720p.

Prototype is a pretty decent game but it pales in comparison to the similar Infamous. It's not exactly a technical achievement by any means with it's bad graphics, average audio, and idiotic AI. Gameplay is decent though it really brings nothing new to the table. This is a standard open world beat-em-up, there's really not much else to say. I suggest trying Infamous instead if you're looking for the super hero experience. This game is worth a rent but I probably wouldn't buy it.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

What Works:
-Solid controls
-Action packed gameplay
-Good variety of missions for open world
-Upgradable powers
-Intriguing story

What Doesn't Work
-Bad graphics look extremely dated
-Audio not memorable
-Idiotic AI

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