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Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Free-Roaming

Graphics & Sound:

I'm a big fan of open-world games and am digging on the whole "super hero" trend hitting the genre. Prototype places you in a more villainous role, but it's certainly more interesting that the over-played "life of crime" plot that has dominated open world games. The direction is a good one; it allows Prototype a different feel that is fun, but flawed.

Prototype looks good, but feels fake. The city is densely populated, which is great when you're upping the mayhem, but otherwise looks artificial. You're running into the same three or four models. I understand that even current gen systems have their limits, but the 360 has delivered better. Alex looks at little better, but suffers from stilted, choppy animations. However, if you're into super violent, visceral polygonal death... well, you'll like Prototype.

Even the city looks plain and repetitive. There are enough distinct landmarks in the city that you won't get lost often, unless you're on the ground. Prototype also suffers from short draw distances. Long-range combat is sometimes a pain and it adds an extra level of challenge/ frustration to orb hunts.

Sound, on the other hand, is pretty good. A considerable amount of "f-bombs" are dropped throughout the game, but the voice acting isn't all that bad. The rest of the soundfield is filled with the sounds of chaos; gunfire, screams and radio chatter.


Prototype puts you in the role of Alex Mercer, one pissed off guy who just woke up on the morgue table. Minutes after his return to the land of the living, Alex discovers he has super powers. Problem is he doesn't remember how he got them or much of his life beyond a few flashes of memory. This basic setup builds throughout the game, but with varying degrees of success.

The game's most successful storytelling element is the memory web. Alex has the ability to consume people, giving him the ability to shape shift (great for getting past armed guards) and sometimes awarding him with new memories. These memories eventually begin to unravel the game's main storyline. Even with a full web, it is hard to follow what is going on most of the time. The game attempts to tell a "traditional" game narrative, complete with jarring explanatory cut scenes, but also tries something different with the web. The cut scenes bog the early part of the game down. If it at least offered some direction, it wouldn't have been as bad, but that wasn't the case. Once you break through the first act, and the web begins to take over a little more, things get more interesting.

Many of Prototype's problems stem from one issue -- it tries to do too much. Rather than offering a tight experience built around a core nucleus, the game tries to throw in as many hooks as it can. Don't like super powers? Well, you can use guns too. The cool part of having super powers is that you don't have to resort to "pedestrian" weapons, so what's the point in including them?

True to its open world structure, Prototype offers a lot to do outside of story missions. There are dozens of tokens scattered around the city and the compulsion to collect them all is just as strong here as it was in Crackdown. Regardless of how important a mission is, catching a glimmer of blue near a building is enough to put you off track. There are also power-based challenges like trying to glide towards a target or checkpoint races. Some are great; others are dull and carry on longer than they need to.


A lot of fun comes with the ability to smash and slice up just about anything the game throws at you, but Prototype goes off the deep end with difficulty. You'll feel like a total badass once you start to collect powers, but even at your strongest you'll feel incredibly weak. There's never any time to enjoy your powers; once you earn a new one, the game instantly ups the number of enemies thrown at you. When you first come across infested enemies, you are tossed into a tough fight. Immediately following that fight, at least three more are thrown at you. Fighting one is a challenge; fighting three is a broken controller waiting to happen. Eventually you get in a hit-n-run rhythm, but it is hard to feel powerful when you need to run away after a hit.

The player progression curve through missions is a tad too steep. Early missions are challenging and as the game goes on, it gets progressively harder until things are outright cheap. Again, this all comes from Prototype trying to add every play element it can rather than focusing on a core. This becomes more and more noticeable the deeper you get into the game.

Game Mechanics:

As Alex completes missions, he'll earn experience to spend on power upgrades. The sheer number of powers available to Alex is both impressive and a bit daunting. Every type of ability has a page that eventually requires you to scroll through. It's overwhelming. Once you start filling out Alex's power set, it is even harder to remember what everything does. When you do remember, switching between powers is clunky.

Though it may seem like it, Prototype isn't a horrible game. Once you work through the myriad of gameplay options, the core set is fun. Running up buildings and gliding from rooftop to rooftop is a blast and one hell of a way to get around town. You'll eventually gain the ability to pilot helicopters and tanks, but these are examples of Prototype doing more than it needs to. Combat is enjoyable as well, though you'll need to exercise some restraint to get there. There are too many powers to evolve, but if you restrict yourself to one type rather than trying to get everything, combat isn't nearly as clunky. The downside to this is limiting your powers will make some encounters harder. Eventually I split the difference; I stuck to powers that fit my style and once that was done learned others as backups.

I have mixed feelings towards Prototype. I liked the based combat and platforming, but hated the "everything including the kitchen sink" design philosophy it employed. Rent Prototype first, then purchase if you like it.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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