August 20, 2009

There have been a glut of superhero games that have come out in the past few years, so for any game to stand out from the crowd it needs to either have a really great license, such as X-Men and Spiderman, or needs to do something in a way that no other game has successfully done. Prototype is one of the latter.

Prototype lets you loose in an open-world sandbox, located on Manhatten Island.  This in itself is not very unique, as many superhero games have been open-world.  However, you’ll learn in the opening moments of the game that this will not be just any superhero game.  You are Alex Mercer, a nearly unstoppable menace to society, the cause of a massive plague that has consumed the entirety of New York City, and able to kill off entire platoons of infantry with wanton abandon.

Of course, this is just the prologue, and you quickly go to the beginning of the story, where you no longer have all the massively destructive powers you had at first, but you are still a force to be reckoned with. Once you get past the prologue, you find out that your character has amnesia. Now he must find out who turned him into the monster that he is, and exact revenge on them in any way he can. This lays the basis for all the decisions Alex will make as more of the story is revealed, and shows exactly why Alex is a complete antihero. Yes, he has superpowers. No, he is not a bad person, but he is driven by revenge, and, as you’ll see throughout the game, doesn’t really care what happens to nearly anyone else in New York, as long as he gets his revenge in the end. There are two aspects of finding out what happened and who is responsible: going through the story-line missions and killing specific individuals throughout the game world. When you kill a person who is marked as an important person, you actually see the story through that person’s eyes for a few moments. Killing a person will reveal to you other people related to what has happened, thus enabling a web of connections and memories that will lead you to the ultimate truth.

Probably the most well-made aspects of Prototype are the combat system, and the controls in general. The combat system is very slick, with a lock-on to concentrate on a specific enemy in mass melees, or to use any of the large variety of long distance attacks or throws you have access to. Aside from that, the combat is just fun.  Its highly enjoyable to wade through dozens upon dozens of troops, citizens, and assorted other bodies, all the while gaining experience points and health for each person you kill. The experience points you get can be spent upgrading your various abilities and purchasing new ones. The controls also feel very responsive, with combos being very easy to do, and the many special moves that require multile button presses responding better than I can recall in almost any other game I’ve played. Controlling Alex feels effortless right from the beginning, and greatly contributes to the feel of the game.

Another aspect that was completely nailed was the whole feel of being a superhero.  You feel like you are nearly invincible as you storm through crowds of infantry, all shooting at you with machine guns. You see the bullets hitting you, but you can also see that they barely hurt you at all. By no means are you invincible though, and as you get farther into the game, the crowds of infantry will grow, and they’ll start sporting rocket launchers rather than machine guns. The other enemies you face also grow tougher, giving you a constantly increasing difficulty throughout the game.

The graphics of the game are crisp, but don’t really stand out from the pack. The music is nonexistent, but the sound effects and voice acting are about equal to the majority of games out right now.

Prototype is in no way the best game out there right now, but it is one of the funnest games in a while, and is definitely worth a purchase by anyone who enjoys open-world, superhero, or action games.

Pros: Great combat, great controls, enjoyable story, really feels like being a superhero

Cons: Graphics are crisp but average, as is the audio, difficulty is sometimes rough

ESRB: Rated M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence and Strong Language

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.