Prototype is an open world sandbox game developed by Radical Entertainment, originally released in 2009, and was later remastered for the Xbox One and PS4 in 2015.
Prototype is an open world action game in which players take control of Alex Mercer, an angsty, foul mouthed man who has been infected with a horrific virus that has bestowed him with incredible shapeshifting powers. These powers include turning his arms into an assortment of deadly weapons, super speed and durability and the ability to consume other beings to both restore health and assume their form as a disguise. Throughout the game the player is able to accumulate points and spend them on upgrades to expand their deadly arsenal. Ever wanted to disguise yourself as a sweet old lady, run up a skyscraper and then elbow drop someone on the ground with a massive mutated fist? Well this game lets you do that and then some.
With Alex Mercer’s incredible athletic skills, the city is simple to traverse, and you are able to sprint, hop and glide from rooftop to rooftop. In mere seconds you can go from ground level to standing atop a towering skyscraper, surveying the grisly red hue that envelops most of the game’s world.
The real meat of the gameplay comes from being able to switch Alex Mercer’s offensive power on the fly. You can begin by slashing at an enemy with your claws before finishing them off with your enormous sword arm. There’s fun to be had by experimenting with different combos and power swaps, although some definitely see more use than others. More often than not I found myself resorting to using the whipfist (a long, bladed whip arm) to hit and grab enemies from a safe distance. While the powers themselves are a joy to use, the actual combat itself isn’t too great. If you don’t utilize your movement skills to hop and dodge enemies you will frequently find yourself being rag-dolled around the area while losing large chunks of your health. Many of the enemies use rapid flailing attacks that are hard to escape from which can lead to much frustration when dealing with multiple enemies at once.
In addition to your own mutated capabilities, you are able to utilize the weapons of the military force known as Blackwatch to combat both them and the mutated monstrosities that are out to ruin your day. Any weapon can be hijacked, so that means you can pick up guns, drive tanks and steal helicopters, if you so wish. They’re nothing special, I personally have more fun using the powers but sometimes the situation calls for more heavy steady artillery that only rockets and heavy machine guns can provide. The chopper can be quite awkward to use, as the button used to rotate the chopper is also the button that switches your locked on target so you might frequently find yourself hitting the wrong enemy while you try and position yourself.
Prototype isn’t the prettiest game in the world. Bland textures, stilted looking facial animations and repeated models make the game feel more like a high end PS2 game than an Xbox or PS3 game. Do you like the color red? Do you like being absolutely bathed in it? Because this game has tons of it. From the excessive gore caused as a result of your bloody trail of carnage to the streets to the sickly pink color of the infected mutants, the game is a reddish assault on your eyes. I understand that it was part of the design choice to fit the theme of a city undergoing a mass infection but after a while I just got sick of seeing red all the time. At least some of the cutscenes that weren’t from the in-game engine looked nice and the game as a whole ran smoothly for me for the most part.
Prototype’s story involves a really ticked off man who doesn’t remember anything and gradually learns more about himself and the sinister conspiracy around him as the game progresses. Sound familiar? Well, Prototype doesn’t really do anything groundbreaking or shocking with it’s story, it’s your fairly standard tale of secret government projects and biological weapons ‘accidentally’ being unleashed on an area. There’s no real shocking revelations, no unexpected betrayals from lovable characters and no incredible twists that will eventually make it onto a Watchmojo list. Actually, the only somewhat interesting character in the game is Alex Mercer himself, and I will admit there are some things you learn about him that I found interesting and won’t spoil. By the end of it all I didn’t really feel like I had accomplished anything major or revolutionary, I just beaten another boss, a harder version of the same enemies I had been pulverizing throughout the game.
Prototype is somewhat of an oddity. It doesn’t look great, the story isn’t very interesting and the combat can often be frustrating. There’s something about it that keeps making me come back to it, though. There’s something undeniably fun about having all this power at your disposal and being given free reign of the city to do what you want with it. In fact I’d argue that the best part of the game is when you’re done with the story, you’ve unlocked everything and you just embark on a roaring, gory rampage , cleaving through streets of infected with glee, freely leaping from building to building before doing a back flip off the tallest point and landing a bullet dive drop on some unfortunate soul that happens to be standing right at the point of impact. If you play games for deep stories or are just in it for the visuals and presentation, you may be disappointed here but if you are able to just enjoy causing mindless carnage and creating your own fun gory scenarios then you may just enjoy this grisly power fantasy.
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