Developed by Radical Entertainment, who were also responsible for the critically acclaimed (and personal favorite) Hulk: Ultimate destruction, Prototype puts you in the shoes a super-human anti-hero striving to solve the mystery surrounding the virus that is spreading through-out New York City, and how exactly he is involved in it.
The Main character in Prototype is Alex Mercer, a man with little to no memories of his past, and with a virus cursing through his veins which gives him his super powers, and has the entire United States army chasing after him. As Alex you have to use your powers to infiltrate bases, steal memories, fight soldiers and clear the city of the ever increasing number of infected. The story is told well, and the memory stealing power/feature helps you get as much out of the story as you want to: i.e. you can breeze through the main quest, doing only the missions that will get you to the conclusion fastest, or you can roam every corner of the island looking for people involved with the development and release of the virus. The story is really dark and about as cheerful as a zombie movie with a female lead character.
A sandbox game, Prototype gives you a massive version of Manhattan island to explore and enjoy, which is a good thing because you will be spending a lot of time in it, both following the main story and finding all the hidden collectibles spread throughout. Also, although it’s not a perfect recreation of Manhattan, the designers did a great job of capturing the spirit of some of New York City’s more famous landmarks. I mean, it was cool to fight the army in Times Square, and to climb the Empire State Building to reach a glowing orb, or maybe even hi-jack a helicopter as it flies over Central Park; but my breath was taken away when i was running at full speed through the streets, and had to stop and take a closer look at the spot on Bryant park where i would take my lunch breaks.
The gameplay is really where prototype shines, though at times it seems like a fancier version of Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which is not necessarily a bad thing considering how fantastic that game was. The controls are easy to pick up, and the various powers keep things interesting for a while. These powers range from razor-sharp claws, to a long tentacle, to an armored behemoth who gains massive amounts of defense at the cost of your usually ninja-like movement. I personally loved the way the character’s movements were animated: Parkour flipping through traffic and over buildings is great, but nothing beats being in the thick of battle, getting hit by a rocket, scrabbling on all four before running at full speed and using a devastator attack to kill everything within a two block radius. Oh, and did i mention this game is violent? well, it is. Violent and bloody. some of the ways you have of disposing of enemies would make the creators of Mortal Kombat write some concerned letters to their respective senators.
The one area where this game disappointed me was in the graphic department. Don’t get me wrong, running and fighting and blowing things up looks great; but as soon as you stop running and look at anything up-close it looks so ugly and last-gen that it will make you cringe. I mean, it is understandable that at the speed at which you run through crowds and destroy thousands of cars it would be too taxing to render tons of beautiful people, trucks or buildings; but the sheer ugliness of these characters, and the amount of repetition of the same faces in the crowd (i think there’s maybe 20 different civilian sprites in the game) as you’re passing by thousands of them, makes the graphic design feel lazy and does not show the care that was taken into almost every other aspect of the game.
All in all Prototype is a great playing, at times ugly looking game that will make you feel like you really have super powers. An exciting roller-coaster ride, although if you’ve played their last Hulk game it will feel like it’s a ride you’ve already taken.