iraqi_gangster's Prototype (Xbox 360) review

This game probably consumed the other super-hero games

Anyone who played Marvel's several movie tie-ins (Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3) and its comic based games (The Ultimate Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman Web of Shadows) will instantly see that Prototype has several similarities in terms of gameplay with them. It is a superhero game which puts you in a virus infected Manhattan (which happens to be the setting for those games as well) and lets you roam freely in it. But Prototype has some stand-out features that makes it a great experience than those games.

The game puts you in the shoes of Alex Mercer, a superhuman with no memory of his past. He'll soon discover that he has powers and abilities to consume humans. Furious, he wants to know who did this to him and end their lives. As you can see, his main goal is revenge but as story develops, you will see that this is a story more than a revenge. You will meet several characters throughout the game who will help you in your quest for vengeance and confront those who are willing to stop you. As the story develops, the infection spreads throughout Manhattan and the only forces trying stoping this are the Blackwatch and the Government. They are your main enemies as well. Probably the best thing about the story is that, in order to know what happened to Alex, you have to consume specific people and gain their memories. Their memories are series of flashbacks called Web of Intrigue. Basically, the story is good enough to keep things interesting.

Combat is simple and deep at the same time. You have your regular quick strike, heavy strike and a grab ability. Sounds simple but what gives it depth is your powers. As a superhuman, you are granted several shape shifting abilities. Alex can change his hand to sharp-claws to whips and hammers fists. All these powers are pretty cool and gives combat a little more depth. Aside from offensive powers, you have several passive and defensive ones like shields and thermal visions. All these powers prove useful in tough situations if you know how to use them. For example, fighting a tank without the shield ability on is risky and escaping strike teams equipped with heavy armor is not wise. The power are broken into four categories: disguise, combat, armor and vision. You can only use one power per category so you can't have claws and whips at the same times. Changing your powers is pretty easy, all you have to do is hold the LB and a radial menu will appear. Each catagory is on a side so you can easily choose between them and what is really helpful is that each time you bring this menu up, it briefly slows time which is a great feature if you are in a middle of a tough battle. The powers you choose will be quickly assigned to the D-Pad for quick access and each direction is aligned to a catagory.

Aside from these deadly abilities, Alex can consume his enemies. By consuming them you will gain health and their form. So if you consume a military soldiers, you disguise yourself as them. When you are disguised, they will think that you are one of them as long as you don't show off your shape shifting abilities. You will also have three special disguise powers like ordering an artillery strike or accuse some one of being infected. All these special powers and abilities are nice and work well too. Again, as a superhuman, Alex is pretty agile. Just by holding the Sprint trigger, nothing can stop him from running. Any obstacle in his way, he'll jump over it. Any human or infected on his way, he'll push them over. Even walls can't stand in his way since he can run on them too. With all these movement abilities, reaching high points is not hard because he can jump really high and run on anything. But he can't fly. Instead you can glide in the air which is another neat feature in the game.

At some point, you will feel invincible but that doesn't mean the game is easy. It can get challenging at times. Since a group of soldiers aren't enough to kill you, they begin to call a strike team. When they do so, and icon appears on their head indicating that they are calling an a strike team. You can stop them from calling by killing them or if you like a challenge, you can test your skills against a group of strike helicopters. As the infection spreads, the goverment will deploy more troops and military vehicle in the city so things will get a bit tough when you find yourself in a middle of a war between lots military tanks and the infected hunters. Sometimes it is best if you hijack a tank or a helicopter to end the fight. Alex can almost hijack any military helicopter and tank after he acquires the ability. Controlling tanks or helicopters is simple and works fine. Using these is a great way to destroy infected buildings and military bases. After each kill, you will be awarded with Evolution Points (or simply EP). EPs can be earned by killing enemies or doing missions. This is your currency to unlock new abilities and powers. Each power you have can be upgraded to be even more deadlier. You can also maximize your health among other things. This adds a nice sense of character progression.

Prototype's missions are pretty straight-forward and variable. What makes it good is there are many ways to approach them. You can just jump into a base and destroy anything on sight or you can use your disguise abilities without raising military suspicion. There are several boss fights throughout the game and some of them are pretty tough but doesn't require lots of tactics to kill them either. Aside from the story based missions, there are side-missions called "Events". These including racing from point A to B in the best time, killing as many enemies before the time expires, base jumping and other traditional stuff. What really stands out among them is the "Consume" events. These will require you to disguise yourself as a specific personnel and consume other targets before the time expires. You'll gain memories and specific abilities by completing these tasks. These missions will award you large amounts of EP. Overall, these events are fun and rewarding.

Prototype isn't really an eye candy. The city feels repetitive since the buildings lack distinctiveness. Same textures around except for couple of few landmarks (like the Times Square) and the world generally needs proper detail. Not mention the water is pretty static and the infected areas are exactly the same with horrible lightning. What really makes up for those is the animations. Seeing Alex move and jump around is great and he moves swiftly. Also the shape shifting effects are pretty neat. For the most of the time, the framerate is stable even if there is hundreds of infected and humans are around but there were times when things got too intense the framerate dropped a little but that doesn't happen very often.

Prototype's sound design is good. The musical score is the type you expect from a super hero movie or a game. It fits well into the game but eventually forgettable. The sound effects do their job well. When you wander through the city, you'll hear people screaming and infected moaning in the background of the explosions and fire fights, you'll get a pretty good idea that you are in the middle of a war. The voice acting is decent and most of the characters are voiced well in the game but there are some awckward moments and some cutscenes break the pace of the game.

After you've done everything in Prototype, you can collect the 200 landmark orbs and the 50 hint orbs or try to obtain the other achievements. Overall, I've had so much fun with this game. Moving around the city is fun and the combat is engaging. The weakness points of this game are the repetitive environments and sometimes the game feels similiar to the previous super hero games with minor improvements. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable experience while it lasts.

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