|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Radical Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 9, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Gameplay in Prototype is off the hook. I absolutely loved picking up taxis and hurling them at helicopters; carrying off helpless civilians at a full gallop like ragdolls only to consume them in a dark corner; sprinting up to the top of the Chrysler Building and perching on the lightning rod. Even more awesome was just how much ass I could kick and how empowering it all felt; skyjacking helicopters, mutilating infected hordes, draining the essence of mutant hunters, and lighting up military bases with RPGs is all done naturally. The only gameplay mechanic I found to be jenky was that of shapeshifting into "disguises." I didn't feel the stealth / sneaky side of the game was particularly well-realized. In fact, it likely could have been abandoned entirely without missing a beat.
Nevertheless, the trigger-based targeting system, simple button combos, and quick access to powers via the D-pad make this game a dream to control and play. The only control downside I found was while accessing the power and special vision radial menus - it felt a little clunky compared to the rest of the lightning-quick controls. That being said, I'm not sure what else the developers could have done because they even slowed down time whilst activating the menus. Truly, from the moment you fire up the game you'll feel like you are the most dominant force on the planet! PC gamers must be warned, however, that double tapping WASD to engage sprint and jumping with the Spacebar is a real pain; this game should be enjoyed with your favorite gaming controller, not the default keyboard and mouse setup.
The presentation in Prototype is also outstanding. Visually, the map used of Manhattan is massive and well-rendered. Ironically, it features a great draw distance when looking out at the horizon, but it does suffer from a good deal of pop-in vertically when falling to the street from a great distance. Also, as nicely depicted as the in-game map is, it suffers from poor transitioning from neighborhood to neighborhood. While Chinatown, the Financial District, Harlem, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the Upper East Side all look distinct, their close proximity due to limited game space makes the city look less real than it otherwise would, were it a fictional metropolis. Contrary to that point, those of you who have never spent time in The Big Apple (shame on you) will never be fazed by this gripe, and I truly enjoyed rampaging amongst storied landmarks rather than in a meaningless world.
Another visual misstep is that vehicle destruction animations are pretty crude; they blow up and crush in weird, unrealistic ways. Plus, subtle annoyances such as lots of clones were notable, though you can tell the developers tried to work on this. However, none of these issues ever hamper play.
Closing out on a strong note, I loved the way the NPCs reacted and attacked. Additionally, drivers will actively try to get out of your way; though they're invariably too late to change their fate, I loved watching them swerve and throw it into reverse before getting crushed under the treads of my tank. Furthermore, the game is loaded with shiny textures, and despite all the explosions, action, flying bodies, rampaging enemies, and particle effects, the game almost never sputters. Of course, if you're a PC gamer, make sure you've got a pretty bomb system. I experienced lots of chugging on a brand new, middle of the road Dell XPS gaming laptop.
The sounds in the game are very solid. People will scream in terror as you run through the streets, cars crush with a pleasant crumple, and the radio chatter of the military is engaging though repetitive. I also really enjoyed the voice acting; I felt it was believably portrayed, nicely capturing the in-game action, the polished cutscenes, and the jumbled memory clips.
All in all, Prototype is one of the best games to release this generation and is definitely the best game to drop in 2009 (so far). Outside of the lackluster stealth and disguising mechanic, the brutal combat, huge open-world, varied challenges, and utterly satisfying gameplay makes this a must-have title for any serious gamer's collection. Get ready to put your life on hold!
CCC Editor / News Director