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Prototype Member Review for the Xbox360

Gnarl By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Activision 
DEVELOPER Radical Ent. 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

You WILL like him when he’s angry

  In today’s gaming world, there is simply so much choice to be had! So how do we decide what to spend our hard-earned cash on? Not only with regard to what game, but for what console? That is why I’ve begun to review the fruits of our beloved video game industry: to help you, the gamer (and perhaps even myself at times) decide if a game is worth buying, renting, or simply being thrown off a cliff into a hideous void of fire and brimstone.

  To give you a brief synopsis of the game, Prototype has the player assume the role of Alex Mercer.  He awakens in a morgue to find himself moments away from an autopsy, before springing to back to life, and frightening the poor medical staff to death.
  Without a single memory as to who he is or why he was in a morgue to begin with, the player will take Alex on a blood-soaked, explosion filled rampage across New York city in order to find out what happened to him, generally kicking backside and being badass along the way, in a hoodie that never seems to fall off.  You’ll unravel the mystery by following the main storyline, as well as hunting down marked personal which will appear every so often on your mini-map.  Consuming such individuals will lead to a brief cut-scene, wherein Alex will absorb their memories, which normally relate to him or the unfolding events of the game.

  This rampage will involve Alex using countless (and countless they are) bio-organic powers, which our wonderful anti-hero Mercer will develop throughout the game, as the player acquires “Evolution points”: currency gained from, basically, killing stuff, which can be used to upgrade Alex as the player sees fit.  You might think this gives way to an RPG element.  Don’t. 
  While the player is given the choice of order over which powers are purchased first, second and last, by the end of the game you’ll probably have most of them anyway- and be enjoying the hell out of them to boot.

  Indeed, Radical Entertainment (also producers of Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction) have really put in the effort where Alex’s über-cool and quite frankly awesome superhuman powers are concerned.  Without giving too much away, by the game’s conclusion, you’ll have Mr. Mercer not only performing leaps from building top to building top that would turn the Hulk himself even greener with envy (no pun intended), but consuming soldiers and civilians alike for health, assimilating humans to stealthily take on their appearance so as to infiltrate army barracks’, and driving various military vehicles- from tanks to choppers- to bring the hurt down upon your foes.  And the hurt you will be bringing.  Prototype’s blood and gore content is right up there with the best of them, such as Ninja Gaiden II or Wolverine: Origins.  But it won’t be until you see Alex ramming his fist through a man’s ribcage that you’ll truly understand this- and appreciate it!

  As you might’ve gathered by now, navigation around the sandbox-style city of New York is fairly full of variety for our protagonist.  Whether you fancy simply pulling down on the left trigger and have Mercer leap, bound and sprint parkor-esqe style over everything in sight, glide through the air or commit grand theft auto on a chopper (mid-flight), there’s something there for everyone.  Unless you’re that person who enjoys taking the stairs.

  While Alex’s gifts and persona- not to mention his just-above-average voice-actor- contribute to the “coolness” factor, Radical Entertainment have also been slightly more cunning than a fox with a mask by implementing a nifty control scheme into the game.  Whether you’re locking on to a target or switching between superpowers, the game will briefly enter a “slow-mo” phase: giving the player enough time to plan ahead and make their choices, before roaring out of the pop-up menu with a claymore sword for an arm.  And all with minimum frame-rate disturbance to boot: which is incredible considering the amount that’ll usually be going on at any one time- particularly as you hijack a tank and steamroll it over five-hundred New Yorkers (which, by-the-by, snags you a tasty 20 Gamerscore points!).

  It isn’t just the big stuff that people look for in games nowadays.  The little things are just as important.  And Prototype once again delivers.  To give just a couple of examples, pick up a person, and they’ll beg and scream to be spared- unless its an army officer, in which case, he’ll boldly tell you where to go.  Transform into your suit of armour (another talent you’ll eventually unlock) and your steps will no longer pat gently across the tarmac but thump and boom.

  Despite all of this, Prototype, for both the Xbox 360 & Playstation 3, has received mixed reviews of a slightly negative nature from numerous sources.  Its key Achilles heel has been said to be its terrible pop-in graphics, bland setting, predictable location, and poor story-telling, not to mention its actual game-play being slightly repetitive.  That isn’t counting the final nail in the coffin over lack of any sort of multiplayer.  Ouch.

  Quick metaphor.  John buys a hammer.  He wants this hammer in order to bash nails into his wall.  He doesn’t really mind if the handle is rubber-encased, or if the head is silver-plated: only that it does what it’s been made to do.  John could give such negative reviews a serious telling-off!
  In short, while Prototype might suffer from said flaws, the game itself has been designed, programmed and produced for a very specific purpose: to make the player feel empowered, badass, and above all, “cool”- which is does with ample pools of blood to spare.  So while buildings might pop-in during helicopter killing sprees, it’ll be the last thing you care about as you carve a solider in half, before picking up his comrade, wall-running up a building with him, and tearing him apart for nourishment!

  As for lack of multiplayer, again, while it is something the game doesn’t possess, it simply hasn’t been designed for that purpose.  Unfortunately, many reviewers see games as a software version of a Swiss Army knife these days.  Prototype is there for the single player to enjoy at his (or her) leisure, just as other great titles exist to provide for the multiplayer fanatic (Call of duty 4, Gears of War II, or even Grand Theft Auto IV being key examples).
  And while the storyline does indeed leave something to be desired (particularly when compared to the likes of the PS3's inFamous) you really won't have time to care.  You'll be too busy throwing cars and massacring all in your wake- just because you can.

  However, once we boil it all down and start reviewing the game for what it is, there are still, nonetheless, a few key flaws that exist.  Nothing terrible, but still inescapably noticeable. 
  Firstly is the “stealth system”.  Stealth comes into the game- or at least is meant to- whilst you are disguised as either a member of the public, an soldier, or indeed even an army officer.  The jist is that as long as you don’t arouse too much suspicion, no one will see through your guise- and there’s even a little stealth gauge to help you with this.  Arousing suspicion can include a number of things: rending open one of your supposed comrades being one of them.  However, should you perform a thirty-foot jump or run up a wall, no one bats an eyelid.  Either training in the army has made some serious advancements, or this is a slight oversight by Radical Entertainment
  Like I said: small issue, but still a bit of a mood-killer.

  Now to the point in hand: is this game worth your money? Well, that all depends.  If you’re the kind of gamer I am, who enjoying completing side-quests (which in this game mainly involve a variety of time-based challenges), not to mention every-so-often dipping back into the game’s world for a romp-fest, then yes, absolutely.  There’s nothing quite like coming home from a hard day’s work, only to sit down in front of a game such as Prototype and rend, rip and roar a path across a heavily populated city full of innocent bystanders!
However, if this isn’t you, then unfortunately, the game is a renter.  Within a seven day period you’ll complete it with time to spare: especially if you play it on easy- which will also help with ease of access to unlocking achievements. 

  To conclude, while Prototype doesn’t take many evolutionary steps in the action genre, it certainly does the label justice.  In an industry based on “survival of the fittest”, Prototype is certainly quite the crocodile.

                                                                   + Incredible powers
                                                                   + “Uber cool”
                                                                   + Innovative slow-mo pop-up powers menu
                                                                   + Excellent frame-rate capability.
                                                                   - Gravitation towards being repetitive
                                                                   - Igonorable but inescapable pop-in

Prototype review by A.H. Topalian

More information about Prototype
B+ Revolution report card
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