Prototype is a fast paced open world action game. You take control of Alex Mercer, who lacks major brain power, but more than makes up for it with his over the top action style super-powers. During the course of the game, the military is doing what it can to control a virus that’s turning the city of Manhattan into creatures similar to Mercer. You spend much of your time caught in the crossfire, sounds unfair? Well as a result, he’s an incredibly fun character to play. The story ends up containing an interesting story, different types of missions, and some sweat dripping boss battles that are even more over the top than the star of the game.
Though Alex Mercer is nearly impossible to understand psychologically as a character, he’s a lot easier to understand as far as controlling. While making giant leaps, flying thru the sky, and even running up the sides of buildings while holding onto pedestrian’s are effortless and even make the Hulk look like a sissy, it can annoyingly seem like it’s too easy to control Alex Mercer because he is just too powerful from the get-go and with the help of the power upgrade system; Mercer nearly becomes god-like. You can never hurt yourself when jumping off buildings, never fail while trying to strike a target, and never fall while scaling the toughest buildings. Simply running atop buildings are a synch and never contains a hitch at all while running wild in Manhattan. So easy, that you can literally go from one side of the map of Manhattan to the other in a straight line using nothing more than the sprint button, glide, and run through endless crowds of people and chuck objects like cars and rooftop air-conditioning units at helicopters and tanks. No fall will ever hurt you, no obstacle is undo-able, and there are very few enemies who can keep up with you. Combat is easy early on and as you play further, you’ll learn more about whom and what Mercer is as his move-set is parallel to the story itself. Using a circular radial menu, you can shape-shift into different forms that morph your arms into blades, a whip, and hammer-like fists. You can also use more common weapons left behind by enemies and hijack tanks and helicopter gunships. It’s definitely fun as you progress further into the story because you learn moves like the whip-like arm to grab onto helicopters in midair. While falling from another helicopter, you can latch to another as your falling, similar to parkour-style. You also have the ability to disguise yourself as any human character that you “absorb” and use their body to regain health, (and you wonder why I said Alex Mercer becomes god-like). To keep you entertained, just when it seemed like there was no challenge for Mercer, the story at times switches and introduces new enemies and moves, and the moves you’ve come to rely on might not always be as effective as the game progresses.
There are a number of other things to do outside of story missions as well. Timed and scored challenges including checkpoint runs across rooftops, battles in which you must remain disguised as a character and use only common weapons, gliding toward targets and trying to land in the center, helicopter strafing. Although these challenges are optional, they can prolong your time in the game. The most interesting challenges are those in which you have a time limit to consume a number of highlighted pedestrians in different areas of the city. These pedestrians, of whom there are more than 130 to find both during challenges and during regular play, are special because they each have some knowledge of what’s going on in Manhattan, and when you consume them, you’re treated to a brief montage of their relevant memories. Few of these contain much information individually, but they’re slickly presented, and unlocking a large number of them adds an extra, dark layer to the occasionally predictable story that’s well worth the effort.
Prototype is chock full of landmarks, the likes of Times Square and the obvious Central Park. After awhile, much of Manhattan starts to look familiar after a while, although it is because the whole island is yours to explore from the beginning, so it never changes and gives you that feeling of being able to own and wreak havoc anywhere you want. There are 200 glowing orbs to find around the city and eventually you gradually just come across them from time to time. As the game progresses, you’ll definitely see a big difference in the game’s cut scenes and actual scenery in the game. The game has major pop-in and an unpleasant lagging level of rendering that in part is due to the game having the whole Manhattan Island loaded at once. Prototype isn’t a game in which any one visual element is remarkable, but looks decent, and it’s nonetheless impressive that the frame rate holds up even when the number of characters and the amount of action onscreen becomes insane. Mercer is animated well, which makes the parkour, combat, shape-shifting, and especially the gliding between rooftops all the more satisfying.
You’ll eventually notice that the camera definitely isn’t at its best when Mercer steps inside a relatively small, confined space, especially if he’s scaling up a building and gets stuck under an awning and the camera amazingly spins right into his back and you can’t see where you can escape. The camera has troubles keeping up with the action outside as well, but never hinders the gameplay and you can always pan it down yourself after running up the side of a building if you want to make sure you land on the roof. There’s also a lock-on targeting system that will keep enemies in view at all times, which can especially help during boss fights, but can quickly be your worst enemy as it seems to lock-on to everything you didn’t intend to, nonetheless just flicking the right thumb-stick will direct you to what you originally intended to lock-on to.
Although there’s no multiplayer side to Prototype, the camera maybe a little wonky, the graphics are a definite sub-par standard, nothing can compare to roaming free in Manhattan and reign supreme over innocent civilians long after you’ve beaten the single player campaign. Nothing is to stop you from playing the story a second time while retaining all of the powers that you’ve already unlocked. Prototype is good enough that you’ll almost certainly want to keep playing either way, and even if you don’t, there’s more than enough fun to be had here in a single play through.
Final Score: 8/10