Prototype - 360 - Preview 2
What do conspiracies, infections, superpowers, open-world gameplay, and shapeshifting all have in common? They’re all bullet points for Activision and Radical Entertainment’s (known for The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction) upcoming title, Prototype, to sell it to consumers who are hungry for the next blockbuster sandbox game. Having recently played through most of the first chapter and a chapter that is at the tail-end of the game, Prototype was dressed to impress with user friendly controls and eye-opening gameplay.
Not much was revealed for storyline through our hands-on, but from the gist of it, Prototype is employing a fairly mysterious story arc by having a lead character who suffers amnesia. Throughout the player’s journey through the game, they’ll face game-changing revelations through absorbing memories from other humans that you consume, along with witnessing events right before Alex Mercer’s – the protagonist – own eyes. From what we know of Mercer, who’s casually hooded and dressed in four layers of clothing while he runs around Manhattan, he’s in for a world of surprise.
Outside of the vague story elements that were shown through our session with the title, what stood out above the story was how easy it was to pick up and play. The game doesn’t employ cars, boats, motorcycles or airplanes to travel – though tank and helicopters will be available to Mercer towards the conclusion of the game – but it does provide one superhuman, in the form of Mercer, to get to where you need to go. Mercer is able to run to the point of, if I had to guess, 90mph. He can run up any wall, over any car, or right through any individual standing in his way. By holding the right trigger, players are able to run up the Chrysler building in Manhattan and then jump off the top at a blistering speed before creating a small crater in the pavement below from the impact. If you find that you aren’t running at a fast enough speed on the ground or up the side of a building, players can tap the A or X (depending on your preference of console) to leap to new heights or speed burst further to your destination.
The combat of Prototype is meant for players who want to unleash havoc and not suffer the consequences of going to jail or being chased by cops. Sure, there’s a military presence in Manhattan that will try and hunt you down, but with Mercer’s ability to shapeshift to the last human he consumed, the hunt shouldn’t last too long with the superhuman powers at your disposal. The superhuman powers that will become available to Mercer by the end of the game include: transforming your arms into a shield, tentacles, claws, or a double edged sword. If those don’t satisfy your violent cravings for action, then maybe the addition of thermal vision (used to see humans), infected vision (used to see the infected), super-speed, gliding in mid-air, super-strength (to the point where you can lift up a tank), and performing Devastators (large area attacks) will. There shouldn’t be any complaints about the gory action in Prototype, unless blood and ripping flesh apart isn’t your type of thing.
Manhattan itself is reproduced at least 75 percent to scale, so you’ll have a joyous time when you are chasing one of the Leader Hunters (one of the infected’s tougher enemies) through Central Park (sadly, without the zoo) as they have kidnapped Mercer’s sister, Dana. You’ll see the Statue of Liberty off the island, but won’t exactly be able to visit the beautiful representation of America’s virtues itself. If you’ve always wanted to visit Times Square but never had the chance, well Prototype grants you the chance to see several landmark spots from Manhattan without having to visit the city itself.
Artistically, the game does seem to borrow a lot of ideas from films such as 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later (among other zombie/virus films). Alex Mercer himself has a look that is akin to Altair from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed – though Mercer does show more of his face than Altair did. Radical Entertainment is pushing an “edgier” protagonist onto players that players will cheer for as they accomplish a running drop kick on a tank that will send it flying into other enemies. The visuals in Prototype didn’t have any technical flaws and the representation of the autumn months of Manhattan were spot on for the majority -- you'll see colorful display of browns, reds, and yellows all throughout Central Park's trees.
While we weren’t eligible to play through any of the boss fights due to their spoileristic nature, many Radical Entertainment officials stated that they will be epic to the point that they will have you at the edge of your seat. Having all the superhuman powers at your fingertips, I can only imagine how using your powers in succession to take down a gigantic infected boss would play out. Outside of that, there are role-playing elements that need to be factored in to power up Mercer and hidden easter eggs throughout the world to find that will open up side-missions to play through.
Releasing June 9 for the Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3, Prototype is shaping up to be a blockbuster action title. If you haven’t put it on your summer wishlist, then you best do so now as Prototype is out to demand the respect of every action aficionado alike.