Prototype stumbles in a few places but overall delivers a solid anti-hero experience.
Alex Mercer is not a good person; in fact, no matter how you look at it he’s downright evil. Not to say that you won’t have fun controlling Alex, heck every Grand Theft Auto game has you controlling a character that is nearing prime evil, but Prototype looks and feels more like a Spider-Man or Hulk game rather than GTA. Developer Radical Entertainment, of former Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction fame, has crafted together a solid superhero tale with an unlikely protagonist and mixed in a little Resident Evil for good measure and although the recipe feels a little dated and could use some polish, Prototype is a great game.
The story begins with Alex having no memory of what has happened to him and a newfound set of powers, namely that he can transform his body at a molecular level. These powers also seem to be linked to a viral outbreak in New York that has military services hunting him down every move he makes. Aside from some impressive ways to kill people and destroy vehicles, Alex can also “consume” people, taking their memories as well as the ability to pose as their likeness.
Much like the gameplay in Spider-Man 3, you are given free roaming abilities in a recreation of New York City along with a barrage of side quests that spawn after you complete each main storyline quest. In total there are 31 main storyline quests, but that number can easily reach over 100 if you count side missions. This is speaking nothing, of course, to your freedoms to infiltrate or level military bases or infected buildings and just overall running amok and killing hundreds, if not thousands, in the process
The graphics seem mildly dated, but I expected as much from a game with this much scale, and the usual current gen gloss is thankfully missing from most sprites. All in all, the slightly cartoon look aids in establishing that you are in a world of alternative fantasy instead of catering to the kids. The sound design, for as much press as it received, seemed to be wasted. Not that the sound effects or music were bad, far from it, but the 7.1 DTS sound didn’t seem to take full advantage like I’d hoped and sounded more like spread out stereo sound. The draw distance left quite a bit to be desired and drop ins were frequent, but not on any objects you actually care about so it was easy to dismiss. Thankfully I didn’t see many, if any, jaggies or frame rate drops.
Alex has an interesting parkour mechanic that has him naturally leaping over cars, knocking over citizens, and even running up walls. Much like Assassin’s Creed, you simply hold the run button and move and the game will naturally do the rest. Alex can also jump to incredible heights, hover, and dash forward in the city and once all of these powers are maximized you will be shocked with how fast you can cover New York and how well it replaces web slinging. Since his entire scale of movement depends on momentum, it can get difficult, especially later in the game, to control Alex’s moves and during tense moments this can be the difference between life and death. There were also certain moments where overhangs and other items restricted my movement but weren’t apparent at first glance.