Top positive review
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Be a weapon of mass destruction and have a blast!
on July 3, 2009
A big smile popped on my face within minutes of starting up Prototype, the latest open world action thriller from "Radical Entertainment", the developers behind "The Hulk Ultimate Destruction", and the "Scarface" video game. This game is incredibly fun, whether you are in a huge battle with explosions and bodies flying all over the place, or just simply jumping from building to building, taking in the scenery, I enjoyed every part of it, and I'll tell you why.
Story: The game tells a story that takes place over an eighteen day period in Manhattan. It is about a mysterious virus that has infected the population, spawning zombies,and monsters, and is slowly but surely taking over the island. You play as Alex Mercer, a man who has been infected with the virus, but instead of turning him into a mindless zombie, has given him powers that he upgrades throughout the game. He begins not knowing who he is, but over the course of the story, he will learn who and what he is, as well as unravel the mystery of what is going on.
The story is well told through cutscenes, and a feature called "The Web of Intrigue", which is Prototype's version of audio logs and journals. Throughout the city there are certain individuals, well over a hundred, that when you consume them, more on that later, you will gain their memories and see some of the things that character has done and how it relates to what is going on. This is a neat mechanic and you can get a lot of background on the story with this. For example, during some of the story cutscenes you will hear characters mention a 1963 incident with the virus in a place called Hope Idaho, but it is through the Web of Intrigue that you will get the real details of what happened there, so it is worth getting these Web of Intrigue targets to flesh out the story. You'll also find out interesting tidbits like Alex's clothes arent really clothes, but are actually a part of his body. The virus mimics the clothes. That is cool.
Graphics and Sound: The graphics are great. While they don't meet the graphic quality of games like GTA 4 and Call of Duty, they are still fantastic. Manhattan is very detailed, with cracks in the sidewalks and streets, graffiti on the walls, as well as trash and discarded furniture in alleys. The character models aren't the most striking, but they are still very good and get the job done. When you are in an infected part of the city, everything gets a red coloring over it during the day, and green at night. The effect makes you feel like you are in another world.The explosions were beautiful and some of my favorite looking explosions I've seen in a game. As for the sound, well, I wish I had a surround sound system. Just walking around the city, you'll hear the people walking around, cars going here and there, honking at other cars, but it is when the action heats up that the sounds get better. Explosions will rock your room, people screaming, monsters roaring, helicopters flying overhead, the scream of rockets coming at you, it is absolute chaos, and you can hear every sound, nothing drowns out the other. It is great. The voice acting is good, especially from Barry Pepper who does a great job voicing Alex.
Gameplay: The game is a third person open world action game. You have thirty one story missions,and a lot of fun side objectives you can complete for evolution points. Evolution points are what you use to upgrade Alex's various abilities, and there are a ton of them, well over a hundred, and you are unlocking new ones all the way till the end of the game. There are also 200 landmark orbs to collect, which are blue, as well as fifty purple hint orbs, that give you hints when you collect them. Pretty much anything you do in the game gives you evolution points. When you complete a mission, destroy a military base or infected hive, complete a side objective, or collect an orb, you are always getting evolution points.
There are various methods that you can use to kill your enemies. You can use the powers Alex has, hijack tanks and helicopters, when you learn to use them, pick up cars and different objects to throw at your foes, and you can use machine guns and rocket launches which are very fun. You can pick up people and use them as weapons also, either throwing them at others, or slamming them into the ground, causing a small shockwave. It never got old encoutering a military squad on top of a building, and picking up one of them and throwing them at their buddies, knocking them off and sending them screaming down to the streets below.
There are six kinds of side objectives you can complete to get a bronze, silver, and gold medal, as well as evo points. They are "Movement", which are check point races that I actually enjoyed, I usually don't like checkpoint races. My favorite, "Glide", that has you jumping from the top of a building and gliding to a target. "Kill", where you kill as many enemies as possible in a time limit. "War", which has you fighting on either the side of the military, or the infected, and trying to take the other out. "Military Consume" has you consuming certain military individuals or scientists in a certain location, as well as attacking a military base. And "Infected consume", where you consume an infected and learn the location of a hive and then destroy it in the time given. The side objectives are very fun and I spent a lot of time just doing those.
I was really impressed with the story missions, each one is fun and the game keeps the objectives fresh. Sometimes you have to go to a location and kill the enemies, others has you trailing a character to a certain point, and one had you chasing a beast, only to then have it chase you, while making sure you keep it's interest in you. Through to the endgame the story missions never got boring or repetitive. There is also an epic boss fight in Times Square.
Another aspect of gameplay is the consuming mechanic. Alex can consume, literally absorb them into his body, any civilian or military in the game, and take their identities. If you are being chased by the military and find a hiding spot, quickly change, and you'll hide in plain sight, giving the military the slip. You can also consume most of the infected. Also, you get health back from consuming individuals, so don't try to be a good guy and not kill civilians because it is impossible. They will always be around a battle, so kill with impunity and consume them when you need health.
Controls: The controls feel good and natural, and within minutes of playing I was hacking away, and leaping around with ease. It controls like your typical third person game, left stick moves, right for the camera. X button jumps, square button is your standard attack, triangle for you special attack, circle to grabe things and enter vehicles. The R2 makes you sprint, the L2 is your lock on button. The L1 opens up your powers menu, putting the game into slow motion so you can easily pick your power during a fight and not worry about having to get slammed in the middle of it. The R1 button will fire a weapon when you have one. Overall the controls were great and I never had a problem with them.
Alex Mercer: Here is my favorite part of the game, the player character. Alex Mercer is without doubt the most powerful video game character I've ever played as. When you begin the game you only have a few abilities, but as you upgrade you will turn him from an already powerful character, into a weapon of mass destruction. He will be able to change his body into various weapons. The ways Alex spreads death is awesome. He can use his plain fists for starters and do damage that way, but you can also turn them into different killing tools like huge razor sharp claws, rock hard small boulder like fists to smash fools into the ground, a whip that can kill from far away as well as hijack helicopters from afar, muscle mass which gives you extra strength, and a giant single blade. Each weapon has a use and you will use all of them depending on the situation, and when you kill somebody, 90% of the time they will be cut in half. The game is very gory and bloody so keep the kiddies away from this one. Alex will get what are called Devestator attacks which are super powerful attacks that clear the area of enemies. He also has a shield ability that deflects bullets back at the shooters, and eventually, full body armor that slows him down, but reduces damage, and it's cool looking to boot.
Getting around a city has never been so much fun. Alex can walk, run, and sprint, and it is the sprint that is the real beauty. Pull and hold down the R2 button to make him sprint, and NOTHING stops him. He'll leap over or off of cars, leaving them dented. Trees will break apart and not slow him down. He'll run up the sides of buildings and if there are fire escapes in the way, run right through them, he'll knock them off, sending them falling to the ground below. Crowds pose no problem, he'll plow right through them, knocking them down. Alex can also jump really high, and glide around the city. It is so much fun climbing the Empire State Building, then jumping off and gliding over the city. Also, no fall hurts him in the least bit, indeed, the only ones getting hurt are the poor fools unlucky enought to be around where he lands. Jump off a small buidling and he'll land leaving a small crater in the ground. Jump off a skyscraper, and he'll land with a thunderous boom, leaving a big crater where he landed, as well as knocking back cars and people with a shockwave.
Closing: There is a lot more I could write about this game. There was so much I enjoyed doing that didn't really involve any action from me. I would love going into an infected part of the city and standing on top of a small building, watching the carnage below as soliders, helecopters and tanks tried to fend off the infected, all the while civilians are running everywhere screaming and dying from the battle. It was fun just watching these events, and sometims a stray bullet or tank shell would fly my way. The battles I got in were some of the most intense, and jaw dropping battles I've ever taken part in in my entire gaming life. Rockets blowing up cars and people alike, running up buildings while the infected monsters chased after me, getting into some sweet tank battles as well as helicopter battles in the air, and seeing the aftermath of the battles, with wrecks and mutilated bodies filling the streets. It was awesome. If you love action games, give this game a shot, I don't think you will be dissapointed. This is by far the best game I've played all year, and my early nomination for game of the year. Thanks for reading my review and I hope it helps in your decision to play this game.