I've dreaded this blogpost ever since I weren't able to complete Prototype, the gaming gods really didn't want me to complete this blogseries, and man was I frustrated. As I've said earlier, my computer froze several times during gameplay so I had to restart my computer, then on two occasions the save file was corrupted so I had to start over. I finally had enough and decided that this will be an impressions post instead of a review, and that's why I won't score the game at the end of the post
So how does Prototype fare?
Not so well I'm afraid
The story of Alex Mercer is a troubled one, The game starts in medias res where Alex is at the end of his story and his biggest challenge is upon him. After a lackluster tutorial you are put into the action and you fight a few baddies before the story takes you back to where Alex's story begins
Alex wakes up in a morgue in the basement of GENTEK, a genetic engineering company based in New York just before his autopsy, Alex escapes and he witnesses a cleanup operation where several scientists are being gunned down by military operatives. Alex is discovered and fired upon. He survives the attack and realizes that he has newfound abilities when he leaps over a wall to safety. He quickly realizes that he can shapeshift, he has superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, senses, endurance, weaponry and the ability to "consume"people to gain their memories, skills and appearances. Alex also has no memories of his life prior to waking up in the morgue and decides to consume those related to the conspiracy to uncover the truth
Alex faces of with two factions, the United States Military and Blackwatch a special forces unit dedicated to combating the virus known as Blacklight that is overrunning Manhattan. Captain Robert Cross is given orders to find and contain Alex.
The story is very much blockbuster movie like, but it is also very poorly conveyed. I didn't get all the memory parts that link together the conspiracy as I couldn't complete the game, but none of the characters stand out, the voice acting isn't at all inspiring. Alex isn't at all a likable character, wanting to cause death and destruction across New York for his own personal vengeance mission All together there isn't a single interesting character in this game and the story is very forgettable.
The visuals are very hit and miss. On one hand Alex and his powers looks pretty awesome. Especially the ground spike and the shield. the CG animated cutscenes are pretty to look at. But on the other hand the city looks like crap whenever you scale a building or get close to it. the vehicles, pedestrians and even the enemies looks really bad. The interior locations looks like they could have been pulled from a PS2 era game, everything just feels underdeveloped.
The gameplay mechanics aren't at all what I expected. that's not to say that they were bad, just that I expected something more along the lines of InFamous and the Spider-Man games, but got more of a Hulk Ultimate Destruction, which shouldn't have been a surprise if I had bothered to do my research, since Radical Entertainment developed Hulk Ultimate Destruction.
I kept saying to myself: "This feels like it could be a Hulk game." and then I discover that it kind of is in a way.
You unlock powers via points you earn in combat, but unlike games like Infamous and Spider-man, you never really know which skills you should upgrade, Oh, Unless the game actively tells you that you can't start a mission until you have unlocked that particular skill. In most cases I didn't need the skill when I was on the mission, it just acted as an entry fee for the mission. It ended up being pretty frustrating by the end.
Alex's powers are fun to play around with, but hard and convoluted to use in combat situations. You have to switch between powers by entering a menu that slows down time and choose which power to use, which really ends up being too much effort. You just try to make by with whatever power you have equipped at the time. You are never really sure which powers you should use anyways.
Most of the time the combat is so chaotic that you are never really clear on who you should be attacking. In some cases you are helping the military fight off Infected, in the next mission you are using the conflict to your advantage and let the infected kill the military for you. There is never any clear conveyance of objective other than: "Follow that marker"
As you've probably guessed, I didn't have a fun time with Prototype, the game had some interesting ideas, but I felt that Radical maybe had problems shaking off the gameplay mechanics that were used in Hulk Ultimate Destruction, and that in turn hurt the game, as it never established its own identity. Prototype felt underdeveloped at times and I really think that the game could have used a few more months in development.
The game did do well enough to justify a sequel however, I haven't started on that yet, but worry not I will and I can promise you that I'll give that game a proper review once I finish it.