Developer: Radical Entertainment
MSRP: $59.99 Xbox 360
Long time coming, but I finally got around to writing the review for Prototype. I played it for the Xbox 360 on a nice big TV with HDMI in 720P and boy I’m glad I did. The game was beautiful, fun, engrossing, captivating, and pretty much perfect in everyway. Now I’m sure I can find a few nit-picky points to throw in for balance but I’ll just get right to it.
Prototype was one of the best games I have played a really long time. It kept me glued the whole way through, and I actually, for once, didn’t play anything else but this game. Normally I’ll be in 2-3 games at once, but I didn’t want anything else. Oh, just to give you an idea of how serious I was… I bought a PS3 and Metal Gear Solid 4 about 2 weeks before I beat the game. I didn’t even start Playing Metal Gear or anything else on the PS3 till I finished this game. Yeah, its serious.
I think you all have read enough reviews to know what this game is about. But what I found satisfyingly different, is the impression you get from the general synopsis compared to what actually happened. The game takes an entirely different turn as you find out it wasn’t what you probably thought it was. For all the flaws of the ending which I think most people can agree on, the story leading up to the end is fine, and actually quite good. Occasionally you’ll be thrown off, but ultimately you’ll be surprised before the end to find out what you thought happened is actually entirely different. Confusing right?
Which I suppose brings me to the “Web of Intrigue”. I loved this aspect of the game. It didn’t really set you off the intended course but it added an element of depth that I think most of us didn’t expect. The story is told in a different light through the eyes of the people involved directly and indirectly of the virus outbreak. As you progress through the game you’ll find people with special markers above their heads walking through the city, and its your civil duty to find them and consume them. As you do this, you’ll find that you absorb their memories and get to see a flashback of a key component in the story. What surprised me is the quality of the video sequences used for these flashbacks. Some of it looked like game graphics, others looked like real still photos. Some were creepy, some were cool, and others were confusing and stupid, but the all encompassing use of the Web of Intrigue was a huge factor in the game and for that it was better.
Let’s put it this way… The Web of Intrigue characters are like seeing a dollar bill on the ground and knowing you can’t help but pick it up no matter what your doing. You might be in the middle of a mission and see a Web of Intrigue icon and you just have to stop what your doing and get it. Its addicting to say the least.
Graphically the game was phenomenal. You could go up to one of the tallest buildings in the game, and still see the lines of cars, driving through the city streets. You could see the trees in Central Park, and the general landscape of the city without the menacing gray effects we’ve come to see in a few games over the years. I am a big fan of draw distance, and scale. The game makes you feel small considering you have all of New York at your disposal, and draw distance was never an issue. I would enjoy standing up on a building and just looking around, I did this countless times as it never got old. The gore and violence in the game was gorgeous as well, as you would see a consumed human melt into a pile of black and red goo while Alex absorbed their being. Logan mentioned this in his article, but the colors in the game were used well too. If the screen color was predominately Red, then you were in a highly infected area. All the while if the screen was predominately Blue, then you were in a Military Zone or Non-infected area. I loved this because it was important to know your surroundings. You would find military vehicles in both areas, but if you hijacked them from an infected area, odds were you wouldn’t set off an alarm. But try doing this in a military zone and good luck escaping with whatever you just took. All in all, graphics, scale, color, and draw distance were used well and really added to the feeling of the game.
One of my favorite aspects of the game was the side missions. You see, the game at had a story line of course, but there were challenges strewn throughout the city as the game progressed. These might be agility challenges as they make you run from rooftop to rooftop collecting orbs in the fastest time, or maybe even have you fight for the military against the infected etc. There were many different types of challenges in the game and they all had either a point value, or a time value that had to be met to achieve Bronze, Silver, or Gold. I am proud to say I achieved gold on all of them, which by no means was easy. Some challenges had to be tried over and over again, and if you couldn’t do it, you had to upgrade your abilities to make it a bit easier. This to me was the best part of the game. I never progressed through the game until every challenge available was marked Gold. This was just a personal goal I set for myself.
This brings me to another aspect which is the Upgrading System. I have NEVER seen a game with so many upgrades to your character. Now with all those upgrades obviously you’ll find your favorites or find the ones that don’t seem to do a whole lot, but nonetheless, they were all still incredibly fun to try out at least a few times. You would earn points to buy upgrades with by causing destruction of multiple sorts, or even getting a higher medal ranking on these side challenges. So it made it worth it to try and do well on them as they would reward you handsomely for doing so. Each category had multiple upgrades to them as well. There were weapon based upgrades to make you more effective while shooting military weapons, also vehicle upgrades, and health and power gauge too. Then of course you have your power upgrades which are vital to the game. Combine those with your movement upgrades and you were an unstoppable weapon tearing New York a new one.
To sum this game up I’ll do my best. I honestly want to write a three or four page article on this game talking about every point, but it’s not really worth it considering you most likely haven’t made it this far. What other game can you literally Ninja Kick a Helicopter? What other game you run vertically up a building with a car in your hands? What other game can you jump off skyscraper and ferociously ground pound from hundreds of feet in the air only to crush the unsuspecting bystanders on the city streets? The answer is Prototype. I was asked a few times aren’t you sick of this game yet, or has it gotten repetitive? For me, the answer was NO. I can see why some people would feel that way, but just running around collecting landscape orbs, or consuming people, hijacking a helicopter, or picking up cars and running through the streets with it like a battering ram, it never got old.
Logan mentioned that the game is the spiritual successor to Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which was also made by Radical Entertainment. I loved that game then, and to this day which is why I think Prototype was more of the same, but in a way it was nothing like Hulk. The violence and destruction was much more vivid in this game and the scale had obviously improved. It still felt like the same game, but I knew I was playing Prototype, and I also knew I was playing my personal Game of the Year right then and there. Prototype is a rare event, and an incredible game. I can’t recommend it enough and I really hope you get a change to play it.