Reviewed: June 10, 2009
Released: June 10, 2009
Prototype for the PC is a fantastic game from Radical Entertainment and Activision that is really a different kind of open world action game. Alex Mercer is caught in a battle to save not only himself but all of humanity from their own mistakes.
Alex cannot remember what happened to him but he now has super human powers and cannot be killed easily, typical background for a video game. He can use abilities to kill as well as do things like glide from building to building, destroy tanks with his fists and swat helicopters out of the sky.
But the main theme of the game is why he can do these things. Throughout the storyline of the campaign you will accomplish missions that are given by your sister or a close friend. The main storyline has you finding out what the infection is that has spread across Manhattan as well as taken root in your DNA.
Missions in the beginning will have you simply testing out your powers and getting you used to your newfound abilities, which will not take long. Things like being able to jump long distances and turn that leap into a glide that lasts for a block ends up being quite fun.
Other moves like running up walls to jump at the top and shoot a tendril at an attacking helicopter come with time but never seem to get old. These and other really cool moves are at your fingertips but not in some four to six key sequence on your keyboard. You simply perform moves like leaps into glides with simple key taps that end up becoming second nature quickly in the game. Using abilities combined with attacks also makes quick work of enemies and is simple to perform with just a little practice.
The game makes good use of your abilities but can get tough quickly in some of the missions which means a few times you are sure to have to repeat some. Missions end up being mostly go to a far off location and collect something while the army, nasty creatures and moaning infected attack you en masse.
Most of your weaponry makes for specific types of damage or usefulness like the tendril is really good at sweeping crowds of enemies literally from their feet. The hammer fist is really good against those armored foes like tanks and personnel carriers that are quite abundant. Thankfully using your abilities are quite easy with quick to reach shortcuts as well as a handy wheel that pops up when you hit the assigned key. Simply move the highlighted marker over the ability you want and your good with that crushing or whipping power.
Other aspects of Prototype technically work out so well that the game is literally a breeze to play as far as switching powers, moving about town and dealing out various sorts of death and destruction. Jumping, running up buildings and zipping around corners to escape hunting helicopters work just as easily as switching abilities that it becomes second nature. Some really fancy maneuvers like running up a buildings side, jumping and hitting a combination maneuver to pound enemies gathered below you for quick kills becomes a quicker way to kill than actually hitting them. Just about everything I have done in Prototype worked out well and was simple to do using the mouse and keyboard of the PC so there were no problems there.
The only problem may be a lack of enough time to actually use all your abilities and the myriad of different ways to deal out punishment to all your adversaries. The game does get to be fast paced and you will find yourself not only taking a breather but having to go back and retry things.
Stealth is a must in some missions as there are just too many enemies to deal with, so you have the consume ability and its great camouflage. Consume a person and you not only gain health and memory but you look exactly like them, but this only works on people. When you do consume someone you get their memories so this is how they kept the story alive and such an in-depth part of the game. If you need to learn how to fly that helicopter just consume the pilot and youíll know everything he did like any other deep dark secret.
The story is not just a reason to roam around in Prototype but a main force to keep you moving throughout Manhattan to find out what is going on. You are given a twist from time to time like a parasite that temporarily negates your morphing abilities, but you can still run up walls and fight with your smallest punches.
The game has some stunning visuals with no problems except an occasional pop in while on rooftops from the water towers and air conditioning units. This was not a problem and the first time it happened it was not all that surprising after looking around the vast cityscape and being able to see literally for several blocks. Climbing up to the top of a building and being able to clearly see others several blocks away is impressive but what is even more impressive is to look down and see cars and people crawling around on the ground. Just because youíre at the top of your world doesnít mean things arenít happening below you and you can clearly see this when you take the time.
Prototype has some great graphics but it may slow down a lesser performing computer, I am running a quad Core Intel with plenty of memory so I had no problems with my system. Reading some forums people have had to lower their quality a bit for the low end of the system requirements but there was not too many complaints. The game runs smooth right out of the box with no major glitching or crashes which is a pleasant surprise for the PC version. Iíve been able to play the game consistently for hours at a time, breaking for eyestrain relief, without any crashes.
The textures are great with some interesting damage models on the armor that really help in game when trying to batter a tank or personnel carrier to death. The tankís armor will start to get more blackened holes as you do more damage so you have a great visual idea of how much damage you have done to any one vehicle. The other visuals look great, especially some of the infected ones happening to Alex as he consumes victims with black tendrils wrapping around himself and his victim. You can see this effect in screen shots but when itís happening in real-time, as your running along devouring victims to gain some extra health it really is impressive.
Fire and explosions look great but not so much that the game slows down in frame rates when things start to really heat up. I found that only a few times when things were really happening on the ground in intense fights did the game show any hesitations for my system. The graphics are very impressive for an open world sandbox game with plenty of unique features as well like people wandering constantly. Another unique feature is the way they donít allow you in water, thus you canít wander off Manhattan Island, you simply pop back into the air and leapfrog back to land.
Prototype also has good audio with well-done voice acting and some nice effects but a lack of music is noticed when playing. The sound effects from mechanical things like tanks and weapons fire is great and the screeches, screams and goo squishing of consuming a person all are well done. You have the usual repeated voices of people wandering around and saying things when you bump into them as well as the terrified screams and shouts when monsters are running amuck. These are noticeable but not irritating or unusually repetitive so you get a bit of the usual with all the great action and power of Alex on super viral steroids.
There is a good trophy system in the game with something like 40 that you can wander around and collect as well as do the usual sandbox roaming and bash things in for extra experience points. In order to get anywhere you need to level up to achieve the various abilities and the easiest way to do this is bash in either a hive or a military base. Once you have leveled up you will not be able to just cake walk through the missions as they do get harder as the story continues. There is easily 16-20 hours of storyline to follow as well as countless hours of roaming around getting all those trophies like collecting the 200 hidden Landscape icons and 50 hints.
The game has plenty of value with the regular story gameplay as well as trying the game on the harder difficulty setting as well as the free roaming adventuring you can perform at any time. Prototype is well worth it and definitely a must have game for any action fan whether itís on the PC or a console system.