Super-powered play makes new action game hit

“Prototype,” the new game from Activision has everything that a young gamer could want in Manhattan. It’s a game that caters to fans of open-world sandbox style games (Grand Theft Auto) and slasher heavy action games, (Devil May Cry) and crazy acrobatics. Notice how there is nothing subtitled here. The reason is because in the game you can scale any building or any wall at any time. Oh, and there is a lot (gallons and buckets) of blood.

Presentation

“Prototype” sets up a nicely quarantined Manhattan island filled with crazed zombies. You are the player who assumes the role of Alex Mercer, a man that woke up in a morgue with no idea what happened to him 18 days ago, something about a pharmaceutical company gone crazy greedy with lust for dead presidents in green portraits, and you being a guinea pig. The story is mostly standard fare, but the interesting thing that the developers did with it is they left it up to you figure out the intricacies. They call this the “Web of Intrigue.” You can unlock more of the story by consuming (eating alive) the “Intrigue Targets.” This is an interesting twist of story telling and if it were implemented a little better, it would have worked. Generally, all you need to know is that you are an angry man with super powers, and you get to dismember and kill anyone you want.

The graphics are great.until you start scaling buildings and the buildings are all the same drab, grey color. On the other hand, the shadows that the buildings create as well as the glass that shatters while you run up them is truly a sight to behold. Something else to note: there will be literally hundreds of things going on on-screen and there is not a hint of slow down. On the flipside, all the character animations and everything at street level is gorgeous. For example, when you cut someone open with your claws, the body splits open right where you slashed at and the buckets start flowing. And really, when you leap off of a building and air glide to another building, treat yourself to the most fluid animations this side of Grand Theft Auto (similar styled game).

Game Play

The more interesting thing about “Prototype” is that in the very beginning the missions are very linear and heavily structured. Once you get done with the first handful of missions, however, the game opens up and you can do what you want. The downside is that if you don’t like random acts of violence, you won’t have much to do. But, you can hunt for 200 or so hidden orbs or participate in around 15 or so side missions that award you massive amounts of experience points called Evolution Points. They are all the same, but you won’t mind because you can then get super powerful relatively fast. This brings up another awesome part of the game: tons of abilities you can unlock. I won’t spoil it for you, but one of the best ones is air gliding that you get early on in the game. You will find this the most useful tool in your arsenal as you jet around Times Square.

The main story missions are fairly similar to those that are in other open-world games. However, you can run on, around, off of, and through buildings. There is also a really good stealth aspect that really surprises you.

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There are some vehicles you can pilot, but why would you when scaling a building and gliding off of it to another is so much more convenient?

Towards the end of the game you can devour some vehicles for armor points, but it really doesn’t affect much. Also, the game is really hard. You will be swarmed in less than a minute if you go high profile (the army is out to get you) and eat random civilians. Occasionally the need for a gun will arise in these situations but surprisingly the gunplay is atrocious, given Activision’s pedigree (Call of Duty). However, you’ll rarely use it, save for the missile launcher. Gunplay seems like an afterthought really.

Bottom Line

“Prototype” is intense, mindless, explosive, bloody, high-octane fun. Sadly, like all other action games and movies, the plot is threadbare, but just interesting enough. The game is still kind of short, with little incentive to replay, but 15 or so hours of fun is worth the admission price. “Prototype “is not a heavy hitter for game of the year, but should at least get a medal for the game everyone will have a blast playing.