|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|
by Cole Smith
May 9, 2008 - Prototype promises to be a game to watch for in the future. It's violent, gruesome, imaginative, and looks to be a whole hell of a lot of fun.
Alex Mercer is the Prototype. Through some futuristic, bizarre experiment gone wrong, he has become a superhuman force: a deadly and murderous force. Similar to the T-1000 in Terminator 2, he is able to shape-shift various parts of his body into deadly weapons. His powers know few limits, giving the player an incredible array of moves with which to conduct a one-man rampage against the infected streets of New York.
The military is running rampant trying to contain the mutants roaming the streets of the Big Apple. It appears to be a losing battle; that is, until Mercer makes the scene. Armed with an arsenal of moves and a hunger for destruction, he's a virtual one-man army - but one without a defined code of ethics. Mercer does what he wants, when he wants, and to whom he wants: defying anyone to stop him. Mercer isn't necessarily good or evil; he's not really sure what he is or who he is. He trust no one and pits both factions against each other, often pretending to retreat from infected mutants only to lead them into military territory where they can be taken down with deadly force. Some of these infected mutants have similar abilities to Mercer. For one thing, they can be incredibly fast, not like the slow-moving zombies we're all accustomed to. The enemy A.I. in Prototype is intelligent, aggressive, and powerful, a deadly and challenging combination.
Waking up in the aftermath of the failed experiment, Mercer has no recollection of events at all. Although he discovers his superhuman powers, he's not sure why he has them or how to use them. But he does know that the military will stop at nothing to get their hands on him, since he is part of a highly classified experiment. The ability to access other people's memory is a useful plot tool to revealing tantalizing tidbits of the story a little at a time. As a player you have the option of using the stealth abilities or the destructive weaponry such as radial arm blades that can saw a victim in half. It's nice to be able to have such gameplay choices, although there are times when you will have to use specific abilities to get out of a tight situation.
Mercer can be seen as the new anti-hero. He can run as fast as a high-performance car. He can glide through the air like a flying squirrel and run up the sides of walls. He has armor that will increase his resistance to attack. And he can literally body surf his way down a street by jumping atop a victim and riding them along the pavement, leaving a smeared, bloody mess in his wake. Devastator moves allow him to clear the screen of enemies. By jumping on the spot he can unleash a torrent of spikes that will impale those in the surrounding area. There may be easier ways to clear a screen, but few that look so shockingly horrific.
And speaking of horrific, we've saved the best for last. Mercer has the ability to assimilate his victims by consuming them. With strange tentacles emanating from his body, Mercer is able to literally suck the life out of his victims. As this biomass is harnessed, Mercer grows in strength, ability, and mass. In this way he gains access to their looks, personality, memory, and DNA, which can be recalled to piece together information or used to impersonate the victims to gain access to sensitive areas. Using another person's identity comes in handy if you want the latest in military firepower, such as a tank or a chopper, at your disposal. Simply eat and impersonate a commander and commandeer his vehicle or infiltrate his base. The memories of the other civilians you assimilate will come in handy to help solve the mystery of the infection as different people have different pieces of information you can use to paint a bigger picture.
Pushing your way through traffic and throwing cars through mid-air give you abilities similar to the Hulk. The more biomass you consume, the more powerful you will become, and that includes health. There are no health kits or potions in this game. You can also recover your health by getting out of the line of fire. With so many moves at your disposal, it's relatively easy to make a quick getaway as long as you have a handle on the control system. The action is very fast-paced. Moves will be mapped to the D-pad for quick access. Press up for attack, down for defense, left for extra sensory perception, and right for assuming an identity.
With everything that's going on in the game, including the persistent war between the mutants and the military, which you will run into already in progress, there is a lot to keep track of. A colored circular indicator will assist you with relevant data concerning your current status. A white ring indicates all is clear and you may proceed as though nothing is wrong. Yellow will hint at the possibility of trouble, warning you to proceed with caution. Orange indicates a serious threat, suggesting that all eye witnesses in the vicinity be taken care of. Red is the highest alert level and means run for your life.
The developers are hinting at a co-op mode in which another player will be able to play as Mercer's clone, with all of the same abilities as the original. So far the graphics look amazing. We can't wait to see and play the final version, which is scheduled for release next spring.
CCC Senior Writer