Prototype – Review (X360)

By Clinton “dreddsix6six” O’Shea

Overview

It is with a heavy heart, that I write this review.  I say this, because the time spent doing so could be time spent on all the splendid ways of dishing out mass destruction on a city scale that this open-world destuctothon allows.  It is to coin a phrase previously used on this very site: “Crackdown on steroids”.  You are Alex Mercer.  The ultimate shape-shifting, free-running weapon.

Features and Game play

From the start, the map is there for you to explore.  There are no boundaries, and no place you can’t reach.  Well, trying to leave the island they call New York City does result in a rather vicious bombardment on your position, but other than that, the city is open for you.  No zones that open as you progress.  There it is.  Go for it.  It’s yours to experience and absorb.  Alright, they call it consume.  As in consume anyone and assume their appearance, memories (in some cases) and abilities.  Yes, that does mean some rather awesome game play dynamic.  It is also necessary to keep your health up, which also means your humanity could be brought into question.  When needing a health boost, will you consume uninfected humans?

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But your abilities don’t stop there.  Remember the shape-shifting?  This rather magnificent concept is not restricted to the disguise element, but to the ability to transform your limbs into claws, blades, whips and hammers and your body into armour.  And once you have the core ability they can be upgraded.  But how you ask?  By killing, I respond.  The game rewards you for wanton destruction of human, military and infected living organisms.  You also get EP (Evolution Points) for destroying military bases, military vehicles (which you can hijack too – once the skill has been “acquired”) and infected hives.

While there is freedom to explore and activities to be done (more carefree destruction, waypoint time races, etc.), there is a storyline at work.  A conspiracy that lies at the heart of the madness on the streets and roof tops.  This is conveyed via linear missions.  Linear in that one needs to complete one mission to open another.  The background story is further fleshed out by consuming key (marked) characters in the game and viewing quite cinematic cut scenes.  And then there are orbs to collect.  Beautiful collectables, that glow, but are frustratingly the kind of silent orbs that you can stroll right past and not even notice.  Crackdown set the standard for orb collecting, and while collecting these are equally as addictive, they are just shy of the visceral pleasure gained by collecting the orbs in Crackdown.

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I would bet the real question being asked is how does the city feel?  Does it live and breathe?  Well, this was the item that was either going to make or break the game.  At first, it was broken.  There, I said it.  It doesn’t feel as alive as GTA IV.  Liberty City was a real city (in a 3D graphics kind of way), but New York City feels a little one dimensional.  At first.  Explore the city, cross between the zones (Military, Infected and Neutral), and you will start to love the atmosphere.  The Military zone is ordered, the neutral zone is balanced.  The infected zone is monumentally screwed.  The feeling of utter chaos and madness is actually beautiful to behold.  Think of every great zombie film that ever conveyed total apocalyptic end being nigh.  The streets of the infected zone are that.  Start running.  Start fighting.  Then wipe out an Infected Hive and marvel at the utter desolation and silence.

This is a game that sets out to give you freedom, a sense of anarchy and a tickle the little fun patch in your heart.  It succeeds.  And yes, I’m a little smitten with it.  Go get it.

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Bits I Loved

  • Open world adaptive parkour is awesome.
  • Abilities and upgrades and mass destruction are addictive.
  • Shape-shifting.
  • Orbs!

Bits I Hated

  • Graphics are OK.
  • Controls can take some time to get used to.
  • Early boss battles can be tough without upgrades.
  • No multi-player.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this game is about fun.  It is highly addictive and will have you coming back for more.  Now excuse me.  Got to run.  There are infected to kill.

Link to site for more info, screen shots and videos: http://cdn.prototypegame.com/prototype/uk/index.html

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About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.