A while back steam had one of it's legendary, bank depleting sales. Among the titles I bought lay Prototype the Xbox 360's answer to Sony's Infamous. While I had no intention of playing it at the time recently I decided to give it a try. I went into the game expecting a moderately fun but by no means groundbreaking open world action title. Did it exceed my expectations or crash and burn as just another open world game?
The game starts you off near the end of the narrative in something of a god mode, you get to play a short level with every power unlocked. They give you a taste and then they take it away. There are many powers to try out and I had a fair amount of fun unlocking them but throughout the course of the game I found myself sticking to only a few of those powers. To gain powers you consume, an action in which you absorb the enemy and steal their identity and memories, specially marked soldiers, kill enemies and complete missions and challenges for experience which you use in the upgrade menu on not only powers, but health, disguise abilities and combos. But I rarely felt in control of my character unless I was doing very basic combos. Some of the upgrades worked fairly poorly mechanically, for instance later in the game you could hijack a helicopter which was accomplished by pressing a button when you got near it. But you had to be so close that only a couple of times did I get it to work and so found it fairly frustrating. Overall the combat did not feel very coherent and I feel could have been better implemented. The other parkour portion of the gameplay felt stronger than the combat. I actually found it pretty fun to run around the city on buildings, jumping and gliding off of them. The game did a good job making you feel like you going extremely fast.
But running through the city one block appears the same as the last, the buildings unless infected varied little in colour and a park in the centre of the city is a exciting as it gets. The whole art direction I found to be somewhat uninspired, and the graphics haven't aged particularly well even since it's release last year. The framerate though was excellent once I found the proper graphics settings and apart from the very rare slowdown when the game got extremely busy stayed consistent the whole way through. One thing I really liked though was the very small amount of loading. There was loading when you booted up a save and when you started missions but the rest of world was completely seamless, granted the world wasn't enormous but I found there was plenty of room to play. And even when there was loading it took a mere 3 or 4 seconds. This was very good since some of the later levels become pretty tough and took me a few tries to get through, which would have become a major pain in the ass if I had to wait 30 seconds between deaths which near the end of the story, did become somewhat frequent.
Despite the difficulty the game was generous with the check points so even if you died you never lost too much progress, the usefulness of which I found to be twofold. First it made the missions bearable but also because the game fairly frequently crashed on me. Frequently being every 1 or 2 hours. The first time it happened I hadn't saved since I started so had the game not autosaved I probably wouldn't have even started a second file. The game only really gets tough near the end. The reason being an almost insane number rockets and explosives with deadly accuracy, even running and jumping at top speed, were beginning to wear out their welcome and piss me off, the second of course was the controls.
The story is told to you in small chunks mostly in the form of a somewhat frantic memory fed to you after story missions. Unless you decide to actively pursue the web of intrigue targets, story is left out of the missions, in that way it could have been better integrated. As for the Web of Intrigue the web itself is just an interface to access old memory videos but how it works is certain civilians, military officers and soldiers have special icons above their heads and if you consume them you experience a short addition to the story again in the form of their memories. I was not really compelled to actively seek out the web of intrigue targets but if I did see one while on a mission I would almost always take the time to pursue it at the expense of the objective. I found the story to be fairly interesting but I did not feel that it wrapped up properly and left several questions and threads unanswered. The story mode can be easily completed in under ten hours though that depends on how much time you to spend dicking around.
There are several things you can do apart from the main story. The game has a multitude of challenges which you unlock as you advance the story and there are two factions. The infected and the military. Each has bases around the city with a radius shown on the map how much of the city they control. You can destroy the bases to loosen each factions grip on the city, or you can infiltrate the military bases for web of intrigue targets and various upgrades. As far as the faction control mechanic goes I did not find it to have much bearing on how the game played out. As for the challenges there are several types to try, one which is essentially a race in which you have to run, jump and glide to waypoints as fast as possible, another in which you have to destory a certain amount of enemies in the time limit, and one where you have to jump and glide from a building and land as close as possible to a bullseye, to name a few. But I did not find the rewards, given in the form of experience to be enough for me to do more than a few challenge events. Besides the events and the story there are some collectible orbs hidden around the city but to look for them would be a pain in the ass and to just explore the city I found not to be all that exciting.
As long as you're only looking for an exercise in empowerment and not an engaging narrative or something with long lasting appeal you might like to give this one a try. And while it does fall somewhat short in many categories I feel like my 9 or 10 hours weren't wholly wasted.
score: 7/10, if you wan't one of those.