Activision Blizzard did a smart thing when they decided to keep Prototype on board to publish under their label. When they were in the mood to drop titles left and right that were transitioning from the Activision and Vivendi Games merger, Prototype could’ve been on the cutting board as Ghostbuster: The Video Game, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, Brutal Legend and a handful of other titles were. Instead, Activision Blizzard opted to keep the violently impressive sandbox game and, boy, they were right in doing so.
Having a protagonist in Alex Mercer, Prototype is not only a game that is aimed at men, but it’s specifically made for guys who adore violence and gore in video games. Unfortunately, opting for the clichéd method of amnesia for storytelling, Prototype’s story isn’t exactly worthy of a Pulitzer Prize – but then again, it didn’t have to be with the entertaining gameplay mechanics that are incorporated. Trying to figure out who he is, what’s going on, and how Manhattan Island has succumbed to the disasters that came to be in Prototype, Mercer is on a one-man mission to find out the truth around every corner. Unlike a few protagonists, such as Assassin Creed’s Altair, Mercer has a lot of redeemable traits that players should learn to admire by the end of their session with Prototype.
Oh, the humanity!
Keep moving forward… don’t look back.
This would all be thrown out the window if it wasn’t for the superb gameplay mechanics. The best attribute of Prototype is the ability to hold down the sprint button and seamlessly do anything your mind imagines. Want to run up a skyscraper? How about glide through the air? Can’t figure out how to get past a group of vehicles? Well the simple solution is to hold down the sprint button and Mercer is able to walk up and over anything his heart desires. This helps eliminate tediously timed jumping and platforming in an effort to push gamers towards getting straight to the combat. In addition, if you do screw up and have Mercer plummeting towards the black asphalt from a skyscraper, you don’t have to worry about any form of damage being applied to Mercer as he slams into the ground with a fist creating a small tremor all around him.
The combat in Prototype is aggressive to the point that, by the end of the game, Mercer is going to be a walking and talking god on the streets of NYC as he disposes of enemies left and right without a blink of the eye. As you advance through the game, Mercer obtains new abilities and forms to transform into. This opens up new battle tactics as you push forward with unveiling the secrets that started the storyline. Of the weapons that are available to Mercer, a personal favorite was the ability to morph Mercer’s hand into a whip. The whip-like arm was able to latch onto incoming helicopters and take them down if you are quick enough. Another ability that needs mentioning is the power to disguise Mercer as any civilian (or enemy) that walks about the streets of Manhattan. To use this ability, you must grab that character and consume their life/essence. Absorbing them into your body allows you to manifest their likeness as a disguise and also helps regain lost health.
With so much destruction available at your finger tips, Prototype is definitely a title geared towards action-buffs. When you consume an enemy, the blood and insides of the character covers the street. The death animations are brutal and might not be easy for players with soft stomachs to swallow. While many of the deaths do become repetitive, Prototype has enough abilities and maneuvers to help change things up by the end of the game. The only issue with Prototype in the area of repetitiveness is that there isn’t enough to do outside of the missions. Sure, there are 200 orbs to collect throughout Manhattan and a few other score/time-based challenges, but there isn't enough to keep the players coming back after they’ve finish the game.
You and I must become one.
Mine for the taking.
There are a few issues that needed to be worked on. First off, the camera goes a bit crazy from time to time – namely, when Mercer is scaling a skyscraper or locking onto an enemy. When the time comes for a sequel, let’s hope Radical Entertainment develops a more robust camera. Secondly, Prototype isn’t the most remarkable looking title. Radical will need to work on the environments of Manhattan and the character models the next time around if they want their franchise to look better in the graphical department.
Top Game Moment:
Without these two hiccups, which both are easy to look past, Prototype is a brilliantly entertaining title. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the high levels of gore, the combat should please action fans for the rest of the summer. Everyone should give Prototype a chance since it’s definitely the popcorn action title of the summer that contains mindless fun and challenging action.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The moment you cut an enemy in half, you realize that Alex Mercer is a bona fide killer.