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Score: 97%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Free-Roaming/ Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Quick, think of your favorite superhero. Now imagine your hero was actually a villain, and was insane, and then was given unstoppable tools of destruction, and then let loose upon a huge metropolis. That's Prototype. A mature rated follow up to Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Prototype isn't bashful about being over the top violent and jam-packed with action. They shouldn't be either, because it is so damn cool!

The first thing about Prototype is the outstanding CG cut scenes. They look fantastic and it makes me hope they can make a movie out of these scenes one day. After you come down a bit from the exciting opening cinematic, you will have all of New York City at your disposal. There are no load times either as Alex bounds around his unfortunate playground. Everything looks great in motion and only rarely did I notice any dips in my framerate. A small problem is that some of the characters don't look that great when the camera is up close for a dramatic moment. It took me a while messing with the video settings before I realized that is how it is supposed to look and my graphics card isn't acting up on me. I'm not saying it looks bad, it is just surprising the first time you see it.

Now that I have beaten Prototype, I can say my absolute favorite thing about the entire experience is the attention to detail of the nitty gritty. When Alex goes berserk and starts tearing through the city, every person he rips apart showers him in crimson life juice and is appropriately accompanied by satisfying "crunches" or "squishes." Prototype is easily the most violent and gratuitously gory game this generation, but when you see Alex neatly cleave someone in half for the first time and hear the appropriate screams and tears, the first words out of your mouth are going to be "Oh S***!" And then you will do it again.

Prototype sounds like it should be a big budget Hollywood summer blockbuster and it at least has the score of one. The music in Prototype is phenomenal. From booming orchestras to creepy instrumentals, the music in Prototype makes every moment feels tense, frantic, and fun.


Prototype starts with main antihero, Alex Mercer in medias res. He is telling his story Metroid style and you have to relive the events that lead up to the twisted fate that awaits Manhattan Island. Alex's story starts when he wakes up on a morgue slab. He wants to know what happened to him and once he finds out he has been injected with a (pretty awesome) virus to become the ultimate killing machine AND said virus is infecting the cities population turning them into mindless zombies, he is a little miffed and wants vengeance.

Vengeance is easily served with Alex as he runs around the entire island searching for clues to his next victim. (Victim is a loose term since most of New York is a victim to Alex's murderous rampages.) He travels through the city in the best of ways, like a friggin' superhero! Alex can run along the sides of building, he can dash while in mid-air, and best of all, he must have a bit of squirrel DNA because he can glide great distances with the aid of a viral membrane. Alex's movements grow with his virus, but although he can parkour his way over the Empire State Building, he stills needs to be able to defend himself.

Prototype isn't short on the offensive super powers. Alex has numerous powers at his disposal including a giant arm blade, enormous claws, and two ton hammerfists. Each of his abilities can be upgraded through the skill tree with EP, or "evolution points."

There are enough skills in this game to make Alex the most overpowered protagonist of all time. Seriously, there are over 100 different skills and powers to upgrade and just when you think the latest one you've unlocked is the coolest thing you ever saw, the next power blows it out of the water. That is the best thing about Prototype, the constant supply of improvements makes for an incredibly addictive experience that makes you want to keep fighting to earn the next power. It never feels like a grind.

If 100 different powers weren't enough to keep you awake for a few days, outside of the thirty main story missions, Prototype has events scattered all over the island just begging to divert your attention for a few hours. One event has you running through checkpoints for the best time, while another has you killing as many people as you can with an equipped power in a set amount of time. My favorite has to be the Web of Intrigue missions. Alex can absorb anyone he sees to give himself a health boost or just acquire their skills and memories, and Web of Intrigue focuses on just that. Dozens of people wander Manhattan with a marker over their head and that means Alex must absorb. Once absorbed, a short movie plays and it fills in the missing pieces of the backstory to explain Alex's murky tale a bit better.

With an open world game like Prototype, certain conventions usually come with the character. Most of the time, forcing a difficult decision or a moral dilemma on the main character plays a huge part of the narrative. Prototype curbstomps that idea and then blows it up with a thermal nuke. Alex Mercer is completely amoral. His hunt for who did this to him has made him lose all sense of humanity and there is no redemption in sight, just revenge. His loss is our gain because you can completely lose yourself too with such amazing super powers and when you are throwing a bus at a helicopter after elbow dropping a tank from a few stories up, who cares if a few civilians are caught in the fray?


As trite and cliché as it might sound, the hardest part I had while playing Prototype was putting the controller down. Dry-eyed and weary at 3 in the morning, I was determined to beat this one mission that I kept failing. I never felt the game was being unfair, but I did scream out loud more than once about inconsistent mission checkpoints. I guess I should be thankful that it has mid-mission checkpoints at all, but when one mission can last over an hour, I don't expect to replay the last twenty minutes before I die again.

There is an Easy Mode and Hard is unlocked after you beat it once, but I think that the difficulty is what you make of it. At any moment, you can decide to knock out a few side missions to earn extra EP to gain new abilities that might make your fights easier. Out of the 31 missions, I would say only three would be in the realm of "hard," the rest are up to you. Even after you beat it, a new game + opens up and you can restart with all of your abilities and upgrades intact.

Game Mechanics:

Probably the only problems I have with Prototype at all are the controls. Nine times out of ten, everything works just fine the way it should. But occasionally, the targeting and radial powers wheel get in your way and can cause a premature death.

(Before I explain controls, I was using a wired 360 controller to play Prototype and therefore will not address mouse and keyboard setup.)

Targeting is performed by holding the (LT) and selecting between enemies with the right stick. This works fine at first while you only have a few different enemies at once, but near the end of the game, it becomes too easy to get disoriented and try to use the right stick to swing the camera around while targeting an enemy, only to refocus on an infected civilian a few hundred feet away. The targeting should cycle through enemies based on threat levels, not the proximity to Alex.

Alex has a quick select for each of the four different types of powers. But if you want to select between the different offensive powers, you must press the (LB) and a radial wheel pops up. Instead of stopping the action dead in its tracks, the radial wheel only slows it down while you make your selection, and far too often I was hit with a rocket off screen because I wanted my shield and the giant hammerfists active at the same time and didn't notice a rocket hurling in my direction. There is also a radial wheel when Alex is disguised and it too has its own abilities that slow the game down while selecting and more often than not causes you to blow your disguise before you can call in an air strike.

For all these faults, they are minor to the package as a whole and I am still trying to complete side missions even after I beat the main story. Prototype sets a new standard for open world action games and I hope that developers take note and iterate on how well Prototype empowers the player early on. I have never played a game so sure of itself and what it wants to be and still so much fun. Although I played Prototype on PC, if you have any opportunity to play it, you should do so immediately.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/ Vista, Dual Core 1.86 GHz/ Athlon 64 x2 4000, 1 GB of RAM XP / 2 GB RAM Vista, 8GB Free Hard Drive Space, NVIDIA GeForce 7800/ ATI Radeon X1800 or Better

Test System:

Windows Vista, 3.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, DVD Drive, 500 GB Hard Drive, NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated