A Tough-as-Nails Contender
May 21, 2009 – You thought you had it all figured out for this year: God of War 3, BioShock 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, and even Red Steel 2. But, you know, they’re all sequels! Isn’t it time for a sweet and uber-awesome original title? Don’t you want to encourage developers’ creativity by giving new games a chance?
Just a couple of days ago, we got the opportunity to visit Sin City and check out both Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Prototype at the New York New York Hotel and Casino. It was, without doubt, a worthwhile experience, especially considering these games are headed in the right direction. I’m already convinced that Prototype will be a strong candidate for game of the year, as it seems to contain every necessary ingredient for a great action / adventure title.
The backdrop of the game is a somewhat familiar story – a guy, Alex Mercer, wakes up from a deathly sleep at the morgue in New York City. He runs out as fast as he can, only to realize he’s lost his memories and can’t figure out why the heck he’s able to run so fast, or jump so high, or… wait… grab vehicles and throw them at people, turn his hands into extremely destructive spikes that perforate the ground, or slash citizens into ten or twenty pieces as he goes.
The action turns into a rampage right from the get-go. You’ll learn that with just the push of a button, Alex Mercer can pretty much harm any enemy on his way, whether it’s one (or many) of those hostile army dudes or the pinkish, vicious mutants that keep jumping at him when he reaches certain areas of the city. Is a tank shooting at you? No problem! Smash it, Hulk-style, and you’re onto the next thing. Oh, no! A helicopter! No problem. Just a quick jump and a smash, and the thing’s demolished.
That’s how fast-paced the action is in Prototype. Of course, after this brief but very juicy (as in bloody) introduction, the game takes you back in time 18 days, just so you can see how it all started and why we’re where we’re at right now. It turns out there must have been some government conspiracy, possibly related to dangerous biological experiments taking place underground. Mercer still can’t figure out what happened, but little by little, he’ll start to make connections that will get him to the truth.
As we advanced through the game, we learnt a few new techniques. Sometimes one needs to be stealthy in order to get to certain areas and obtain sensitive information that would be impossible to obtain otherwise. A meter onscreen shows if you’re keeping a low profile or if, on the contrary, the soldiers are looking for you. We also found out that Alex can silently attack enemies, consume their biological matter, and then use their former appearance as a new disguise. You certainly couldn’t expect less from a shape-shifter! Changing disguises helps to keep you cloaked in areas where things could get tricky, and you can even take advantage of your new look and jump into a tank or pilot a helicopter. This won’t always work out, as it’s almost impossible to keep a low profile when it’s so easy to just push people around, destroy anything your way, and ultimately cause mayhem wherever you go. However, players will be rewarded depending on their actions.
The basic structure of the game consists in completing missions in order to acquire forgotten memories and Evolution Points (EP) that you can then use to level up the protagonist. Numerous powers will become available in order to strengthen his attacks, protect him from damage, making him run faster, jump higher, and much more. The goal is to tailor Alex to your liking and turn him into your ideal superhero, although some of the upgrades are required in order to take on certain missions.
I left the best for last. Alex can climb buildings too. Simply hold the right trigger and you’ll be on your way to the top. This button can be used for sprinting as well. But, back to building-climbing; if you ever dreamed of going to the top of the Empire State building, this is your chance! The beautiful and ultra-realistic environments of New York are completely at your disposal in this game. Whenever you choose to do so, you can just free-roam around the city, explore the surroundings, and enjoy beautiful views from the top. You’ll feel like Spider-Man or Superman, only deadlier.
Prototype can be compared to God of War 3 when it comes to action, Assassin’s Creed when it comes to strategy, and even Spider-Man: Web of Shadows when it comes to badass superhero abilities. However, it looks to be a very successful title that can stand on its own. Prototype is an intense adventure game with over-the-top action, a neat storyline, high-quality graphics, and smooth, pick-up-and-play controls. It’s definitely one to look for once it reaches store shelves on June 9th. Of course, we’ll have a final verdict and score by that time, but get ready because you might find this one to be one of your favorite games of the year.
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.