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Denny Markovic
12 Jun, 2009

Prototype Review

PS3 Review | The most awesome amount of carnage money can buy.
Sandbox titles seem to be coming out of the game industry's backside at a rapid rate nowadays. Crackdown, Saints Row, Grand Theft Auto IV and the most recent one, inFamous are all titles that come to mind, and that’s not even half of them. All offer some difference between each other, but ultimately offer the same core experience of doing whatever you wish in its world. And though the title Crackdown offered a decent amount of chaos, it seems that a new kid has moved in and taken that spot, and its name is Prototype.

Most well known for their valiant efforts last generation with Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Radical Entertainment are back with another sandbox game with a whole new character to use. The game begins when the protagonist Alex Mercer wakes up in a morgue, about to be dissected. As he’s on the run from his pursuers, he discovers that he has some incredible powers: super human strength, super speed, and the ability to shape shift. He has no clue why or how he got them, but he makes it his top priority to find out what’s been done to him, and what is happening to the city around him. Prototype does a solid job in offering a pretty good story, which is all about the truth behind Alex Mercer’s life, and a virus that’s spreading across the city, infecting people and turning them into mindless monsters. There are a few holes here and there, where some characters just seem to disappear off the map almost entirely, but it’s a story that will keep its claws dug into you until the very end.

ANNNGEERRR FISSSTT

ANNNGEERRR FISSSTT
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But honestly, it’s not the story that’s going to keep you going in Prototype, it’s the powers and gameplay. To say Alex Mercer is overpowered is frankly an understatement, as his level of power is so ridiculously high that you really have to witness it first hand to believe it. As a shapeshifter, Alex can consume and become anyone he wants in the city, which is useful to gain more story tidbits through the Web of Intrigue, sneak through military bases unnoticed and also learn new abilities if he consumes certain people. Though the disguising of oneself does work in the game and is useful in some areas, you’ll mainly be focusing on the combat aspect of the game, which is where Alex can literally run head on into a battalion of tanks and come out unscathed if played right. Your movement is quick and nimble, allowing you to run up walls, leap several hundred feet up into the air, dash across the street at breakneck speed, and even glide. All of it is upgradeable too so by the time you’ve maxed out your abilities, you’re virtually unstoppable. Fighting is varied and can be done in many different ways too. You can throw cars at people, headbutt an apache into oblivion, body slam tanks, use your hand as a whip to slice people in half, hijack tanks, run up a wall while throwing a car at a tank... There’s an enormous amount of variety in play style and all are equally as fun as the next, and the game is open to experiment. It’s what makes Prototype such an utter blast to play, though before the fun begins you’ll probably be focusing on getting used to the controls, which are a little sloppy to be frank. Targeting and switching between targets while dashing across the city and up walls can be quite tricky to get a handle on at first, as the camera also swerves around a bit giving you a little disorientation. Once you’ve got the gist of things however, everything just seems to blend together into a seamless and chaotic experience.

In fact, we’re going out on a limb (hah) here and claiming that Prototype is the most chaotic game on the market right now. Hundreds of people, whether it be military, civilian or infected, litter the screen at all times and run amok, being blown to pieces by incoming military fire and explosions of cars crashing into things. You’ve also got smoke from fires simmering throughout the city, Apache’s covering the air, limbs being thrown about... yeah it’s crazy, and incredibly gory. In fact it’s probably one of the goriest games available, with people literally exploding into a gooey mess. Alex Mercer is also a total jerk, and encourages players into playing like a reckless jerk, killing everything in sight, so parents beware, there is a very good reason this game is an MA+15 and something kids should be steered clear of.

Ah yes, the tentacle attack, a common weapon used in the modern age.

Ah yes, the tentacle attack, a common weapon used in the modern age.
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Once you’re done with the story missions, you have quite a few side missions to complete as well, all of which earn you Evolution Points so you can upgrade your abilities even further. Though quite a few of the missions (including story) feel a little cookie-cutter and shallow, the game’s entire point is mainly to emphasise the chaos and frenetic pace, which those missions manage to express extremely well. So with the great power you wield, you also have some great replay value to go with it, which is always a good thing.

But what Prototype excels in, it lacks in other areas. In this case, the visuals. Though the animation of Alex Mercer and the amount of things going on at once is relatively impressive, the texture work and overall look of the game is a little dull. Textures are fairly bland and low res, and character models seem a little low in the polygon count, and have a strange amount of shine on their bodies too as if they’ve just been in an oil spill. But it seems that the visuals were a necessary sacrifice, as the frame rate remains absolutely rock solid regardless of how much is going on, so in some ways, it’s redeemable. We admit though, it has some pretty good use of lighting and shadows, so that also makes up for the muddiness of textures

Aurally, Prototype actually sounds quite good, with Dolby Digital Surround used to full effect, making the billions of explosions and cries of terror going off at once sound a whole lot nicer, further immersing you into the game’s world. The voice acting is quite well done as well, with Alex Mercer sounding exactly as you’d imagine him: sinister, angry and a complete jerk. But we like it. And finally, the music is great. Heart pounding and fast paced, it goes well with the combat and makes it feel a lot more epic than normal. For sound junkies, Prototype does a good enough job and will satisfy most.

Explosions and limbs. Lots of it.

Explosions and limbs. Lots of it.
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Prototype is basically a game that you can pick up and play, have an absolute blast with, then walk away barely understanding what just happened. The chaos that ensues within the city is immense and often times damn near overwhelming, making you feel the aftershock after you’ve done it all, with a sudden familiar sound you know called silence. It’s a title that, while holding a decent story, is ultimately an arcade styled game, where you don’t really have to think much, just destroy, consume and move on. Among all the story driven titles with complex plots, deep character development and thought provoking gameplay, Prototype tends to just push itself away from all that, say “screw it”, and proceeds to eat human beings and kill everything else. It’s exactly what a Hollywood blockbuster film is; a little dumb, but incredibly entertaining. Recommended.
The Score
Prototype is some of the best mindless fun around, and has a surprisingly good story to boot. The ultimate sandbox of chaos. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Prototype Content

Prototype receives MA15+ classification
07 Apr, 2009 Get ready to cause mayhem.
Prototype shots
10 Jan, 2009 Looking more like a final build than a prototype.
Prototype coming in 2009
06 May, 2008 May be more than a year away.
45 Comments
4 years ago
Great powers and all but, in my admittedly limited time with the game, they seem completely un-utilised in any interesting way. This everything and the kitchen sink approach ain't my cuppa.

I hated Ninja Gaiden II when you were constantly bombarded with incendiary grenades. Likewise, I hated this when under fire from 50 different directions including tanks, helicopters and rocket launchers. Grew old real fast and I'll be returning this tomorrow. :/
4 years ago
Took this home and loved it, It's basicly Hulk: UD 2, wich is completly awesome, didn't really have a problem with the targeting since it is pretty much identical to Hulk and I played that to death.

One thing I noticed is it's not as gory as I'd expected, yeah there's a healthy helping of blood and decapitation, but I'd actually put it a level below Wolverine in how gory it is.
4 years ago
Good to see the reviewers aren't buying into the whole Infamous vs Prototype debate. Both receiving solid 8's all round. For those that can afford it, they will probably get both. I will be getting neither, just waiting patiently for the other massive titles to hit shelves this year.
4 years ago
Cheers for the review. I'll stand by my previous statements, not my type of game so I'll be giving it a miss.
4 years ago
These Sandbox games are one of my favourite genres for the freedom and charismatic environments they usally provide. I think this latest batch (Prototype and Infamous) leave much to be desired. Although the gameplay and upgradability of the characters is excellent the worlds they are in are lifeless and boring compared to others like Crackdown, and especially Saints Row 2 and GTA IV. The NPCs are robotic clones that walk the street in a daze with multiple identicle characters in the same spot. The traffic is retarded, stopping at green ligts and driving through red's. Often the vehicles disappear altogether even while your car surfing. There is no variety in the populace, no children, no elderly, no bums, no gangsters or troublemakers. They don't cary bags, brief cases, push prams. There is no music coming from the cars. People don't get into taxis or on trains. There are no buildings you can enter. There are coffee tables on balconies or park benches in the parks but nobody sits on them. The people do not interact with each other. I think you get my meaning, lifeless. I think if Prototype and Infamous get 8's to 9.5's then GTA IV and Saints Row 2 should get 10's and 11.5's. Especially when both also have co-op play and on-line multiplayer.
4 years ago
I'll probably pick this one up at a later date. I'm playing inFamous at the moment and I've got a few other games to get through as well.
4 years ago
ODEED wrote
The NPCs are robotic clones that walk the street in a daze with multiple identicle characters in the same spot. The traffic is retarded, stopping at green ligts and driving through red's. Often the vehicles disappear altogether even while your car surfing. There is no variety in the populace, no children, no elderly, no bums, no gangsters or troublemakers. They don't cary bags, brief cases, push prams. There is no music coming from the cars. People don't get into taxis or on trains. There are no buildings you can enter. There are coffee tables on balconies or park benches in the parks but nobody sits on them. The people do not interact with each other. I think you get my meaning, lifeless. I think if Prototype and Infamous get 8's to 9.5's then GTA IV and Saints Row 2 should get 10's and 11.5's. Especially when both also have co-op play and on-line multiplayer.
You missed the point, they're attempting to do two completly differnt things.
GTA relies on creating a beleivable world to be a fun game, the entire game is based on immersion into the world of Liberty City, they're trying to create a living breathing world.

Prototype on the other hand isn't so much trying to create a living breathing world as it is a playground for you to do stuff in. Sure there is no background chatter and people don't sit on park benches, threw a tank at a crowd of people. So... well I don't care.
4 years ago
ODEED wrote
These Sandbox games are one of my favourite genres for the freedom and charismatic environments they usally provide. I think this latest batch (Prototype and Infamous) leave much to be desired. Although the gameplay and upgradability of the characters is excellent the worlds they are in are lifeless and boring compared to others like Crackdown, and especially Saints Row 2 and GTA IV. The NPCs are robotic clones that walk the street in a daze with multiple identicle characters in the same spot. The traffic is retarded, stopping at green ligts and driving through red's. Often the vehicles disappear altogether even while your car surfing. There is no variety in the populace, no children, no elderly, no bums, no gangsters or troublemakers. They don't cary bags, brief cases, push prams. There is no music coming from the cars. People don't get into taxis or on trains. There are no buildings you can enter. There are coffee tables on balconies or park benches in the parks but nobody sits on them. The people do not interact with each other. I think you get my meaning, lifeless. I think if Prototype and Infamous get 8's to 9.5's then GTA IV and Saints Row 2 should get 10's and 11.5's. Especially when both also have co-op play and on-line multiplayer.
I'll reiterate what Benza said; no offence intended, but your statement is kind of impotent. It'd be like me taking your very comparison, and saying that GTAIV and Saints Row 2 are lacking because they don't allow you to run up buildings, glide through the air, then tear someone asunder, straight through their midsection, with a giant blade extending from your arm, or call down entire lightning strikes to rain down on your enemies for miles around.

What is creating life in these games is the protagonist, effectively you, and that's the draw of these games. If you look at GTAIV and Saints Row (admittedly I haven't played much of Saints Row 2), what is giving the game life are the rich, grandiose characters that interact with you, the protagonist. They're just people you interact with though, in inFamous and Prototype, your counterparts are all sorts of fantastical, twisted mutant beings. The paths the games take to fun are completely polarized- they're nothing alike.

Having said that, I think both infamous AND prototype suffer from not developing interesting enough characters that DO influence the protagonist (though, inFamous throws in some awesome twists) and from not creating an interesting and iconic and rich enough cityscape in which to explore. And THAT'S why they're not deserved of those 9 and 10 scores.

But honestly, when you're tearing through the streets at hundreds of km p/hr, you CANNOT possibly notice whether people are taking taxis or running red lights. Particularly when they're ALL trying to get away from you as fast as possible, it wouldn't even make sense! These are NOT cities going about their ordinary day-to-day-tasks, they are cities RIFE with panic, destruction, terrorism and mayhem. And I think both games deal with elements of this in their own way, though they could both learn quite a few lessons from each other.

At the end of the day, you can forgive a poor citizen under the circumstances for leaving his briefcase at home.
4 years ago
Impotent is a harsh word to use Windburm, I don't think ODEED's comment was a poor comparison at all. He is merely comparing two games of the same genre; how they go about implementing that genre is up to their own devices. While I understand how Prototype does not requiring a realistic social environment, ala GTA, other factors such as a variety in population (artistic appeal), cars disappearing and other details (cars stopping at signs, etc) do all add to the appeal. Comparing apples to apples though, Crackdown, which was developed many years ago, created a more engrossing city than Prototype. That's all my two cents, and at the end of the day, that's the purpose of these threads, to compare everyone's two cents icon_wink.gif
4 years ago
Cyph wrote
Impotent is a harsh word to use Windburm, I don't think ODEED's comment was a poor comparison at all. He is merely comparing two games of the same genre; how they go about implementing that genre is up to their own devices.
Maybe, maybe not. It depends if you're satisfied with even classifying them in the same genre in the first place (other than the broad genre of "Action").

I'm pretty sure most would not, one's a superhero game, one's a gangster game, and the particulars of what that entails are far and wide.
4 years ago
Quote
I'm pretty sure most would not, one's a superhero game, one's a gangster game, and the particulars of what that entails are far and wide.
And here I was thinking that the portrayal of Gangsters now days is with superhuman like powers icon_biggrin.gif

There is one thing this thread has made me want to do, go pick up a copy of Hulk and see what the difference between that and Prototype is like !
4 years ago
I don't think Prototype is an open world at all. Not in the same vain as GTA or Saints Row. The open world aspects of this game are to mess around with your powers between missions and do some side quest stuff like the Rampage missions and what not. The city in Prototype is one of the most blandest I have ever seen but the action is awesome and well done.
4 years ago
Cyph wrote
Quote
I'm pretty sure most would not, one's a superhero game, one's a gangster game, and the particulars of what that entails are far and wide.
And here I was thinking that the portrayal of Gangsters now days is with superhuman like powers icon_biggrin.gif

There is one thing this thread has made me want to do, go pick up a copy of Hulk and see what the difference between that and Prototype is like !
The stealth element is completely new to Hulk (Seems ripped straight from AC though) everything else is pretty similar, hell even the controls are mapped to the same buttons. Holding RT (R on the cube) to dash and run up walls, charging all your moves to do super jumps, R to use your air dash wich you can upgrade to a double air dash (You cant go all flying squirrel in hulk though) defeated enemies dropping orbs that you absorb that you use to spend on buying new moves etc.

Prototype is basicly Perfect Dark to Hulk:UD’s Goldeneye
4 years ago
Interesting debate.

My thoughts on Prototype is that it's a sandbox of destruction rather than a sandbox focusing on making a realistic and breathing world. It's why I wouldn't compare it to games such as GTA IV and Saints Row. Though what they offer is more attention to detail and immersion, Prototype offers over the top and chaotic freedom; it's a sandbox which is limited by your creativity in stringing together combos.

They're of the same genre but play out differently entirely. Rating GTA IV and Saints Row II higher because of the fact they're in the same genre and do other things better than Prototype (which isn't aiming for those same thngs) is a bit dear of a statement. The core idea is freedom but the context of which it's in is different, and thus comparisons are pretty irrelevant.

It's why most people compare inFamous to Prototype anyway, because they're both basing themselves around the concept of a super human being protecting/destroying a city rather than exploring and interacting with it.
4 years ago
I like both Prototye and Infamous but I just find them a bit incomplete because of my two main gripes, traffic and people. If other developers can put the time and effort into having us, the player, not running into the same exact 7 people standing at the same traffic lights or not having 20 of the same model taxi driven by the same person driving down the same street then whay can't Prototype and Infamous. These type of games were made for exploration and discovery, e.g. finding the landmark orbs in Prototype and the shards in Infamous and it would be nice if they made the environments a little more juicy. It just rubs off a bit of shine for me. I am still liking both games a lot but just thoughd I'd add that. BTW Denny I think you hinted at a comparison of sort to these new games in your opening statement.
4 years ago
ODEED wrote
If other developers can put the time and effort into having us, the player, not running into the same exact 7 people standing at the same traffic lights or not having 20 of the same model taxi driven by the same person driving down the same street then whay can't Prototype and Infamous.
Because when you say 'other developers' you're comparing it to Rockstar, who sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into GTA 4 and it is reportedly the single most expensive video game ever developed.

It's kind of like complaining that an indie movie at Cairns film festival doesn't have the quality special effects seen in say, Transformers.
4 years ago
ODEED wrote
BTW Denny I think you hinted at a comparison of sort to these new games in your opening statement.
I did but only in the context that they're of the same genre really. The chaos part was referred to Crackdown, a game closer to Prototype's style.

The problem with the attention to detail aspect is a technical limitation and also working on cohesion within the video game itself. I can absolutely understand what you do mean, as the attention to detail is indeed quite nice to see in many a game, however with as much chaos that goes on in Prototype, adding that extra coat of polish with more variety can be hugely taxing and take far more time to optimise in the code, which also costs money, which is most likely what Rockstar have over Radical by a large margin. That and with the added fact that the extra detail would go to waste considering the game's frenetic and often times ridiculous pace.

But I guess that's also why I rated Prototype and inFamous an 8. Though they're both excellent games and have a lot of flash, they lack a soul, which is what games like GTA IV have. That extra level of detail if you will.
4 years ago
Quote
Though they're both excellent games and have a lot of flash, they lack a soul, which is what games like GTA IV have. That extra level of detail if you will.
Honestly I've found myself latley prefering Games that while not having that extra level of polish focus more on just being fun. Say Saints Row 2 vs GTA 4, GTA 4 deffintley has far more polish then saints row 2. But overall saints row 2 was more fun. I look at prototype the same way, yeah it doesn’t have the same level of polish of a lot of games but I’d personly rate a game with less polish but more fun above a game with less fun that’s more polished. And prototype has fun in spades.
4 years ago
Well that's the thing, as a reviewer you have to look at it from the perspective of how polished and attentive it is to detail on an overall scale, and yeah Prototype isn't exactly all that good at attention to detail. However, games are about fun and yeah the game delivers it in spades. As I've said in the review, it's like a hollywood blockbuster, where it's just pure entertainment rather than a complicated storyline or something.
4 years ago
One thing with Alex Mercer I do find rather funny is that he can do all these over the top amazing things but somewhere along the line he forgot he has two hands that could be used to hang onto ledges.
4 years ago
ODEED wrote
One thing with Alex Mercer I do find rather funny is that he can do all these over the top amazing things but somewhere along the line he forgot he has two hands that could be used to hang onto ledges.
Why hang onto ledges when you can just go fucking spiderman and punch your fist through the wall to stick onto it?
4 years ago
Wait, people are actually not moving, long enough to notice identical people? I'm constantly running around so much that I've never really taken any notice of the NPC's.

Ok so most of ODEED's points are valid, but complaining there's no children? You freaking slice people to bits, I sure as hell don't want to be slicing up children.
4 years ago
I think this review may have just sold me a copy of this game. Anyone have any idea what was lead development console for this?
4 years ago
Matt Bassos wrote
I think this review may have just sold me a copy of this game. Anyone have any idea what was lead development console for this?
Most games that are coming out now should have had ample time with the PS3 devkit during development that they are working from the ground up using the Cell processor architecture. That's the reason we're seeing a parity in graphics quality between the two consoles in multiplatform releases lately and in games being currently shown off; this SHOULD theoretically be the norm from now on.

It was only when ports were made from one system to the other that there were things like excess jaggies, draw distance issues, etc. The 'next generation' of games which are being released from this point on shouldn't have a lead development console.

Oops, I gave a sermon icon_sad.gif Sorry Matt, you were after an answer. Answer: It's been confirmed in interviews that the Prototype engine was developed ground up from day 1 with both PS3 and X360/PC support.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  10/6/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2008

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