Prototype Review – Blood On The Sand… Box

9 min read
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So after months and months of talk, the removal of multiplayer, and a near cancellation that transformed into a delay for polishing, Prototype has finally made it onto local shelves.

We finally had the chance to get our hands on the final version of the game, so hit the link below and find out what we thought of this destruction filled super-romp around Manhattan island.

Welcome to sandbox Manhattan, everything has gone crazy, a virus is infecting people and the military are running the entire show.

Wake Up And Smell The Death

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You are Alex Mercer, you wake up with no memory, but very quickly realise that you are somewhat different.

You have been modified and suddenly have the ability to grow some really strange, and highly dangerous bits and pieces all over your body, not to mention super strength, super agility and the ability to shapeshift into anyone that you consume into your body.

Alex Mercer, is rather upset about this ( I know right? What is he thinking?) and he has nothing on the mind but to hand out a dish that is best served cold. So yes, in case you didn’t get it, revenge is the order of the day and the main reason that you and Mr. Mercer are going to set out on your Journey. This isn’t a moral dilemma story either, the dude is pretty livid and couldn’t care less about anyone else, so if you live in the Big Apple, make sure that you are never in the same zip code as him, or you will probably become one of the games menu statistics.

You Can’t Handle The Truth

Truth is sitting second on that list, and Alex Mercer wants to get to the bottom of this whole mystery. To do this, you are presented with a game and story mechanic called “the web of intrigue”. Basically how this works, is that certain enemies or characters in the game have memories and information that help you find out where to go and what to do in order to get your revenge. When you consume these characters, you are treated to a short cutscene that flashes a lot, using real and engine footage, and then given your next step.

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Murder. Death. Kill

While we are on the topic of consumption, let’s get onto the gameplay. Consuming isn’t only used for sucking memories out of people. You have the ability to transform into the last person that you consumed, so it can be used to lose the military. In a very matrix-y “I know Kung-Fu” kind of way, you can also do things like consume helicopter pilots and tank drivers to learn their skills, and also consume high ranking officers to gain access to certain areas or buildings.

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That is only one half of the gameplay though. The other half comes in “Super Crazy Parkour Murderer” flavour.

Your new powers give you the ability to do some crazy things, like run up buildings, glide through the air, turn your arms into massive blades, and even coat your whole body in armour.

You earn EP (evolution points) throughout the game, and use them to upgrade your powers, abilities, skills and survival techniques. There are a ton of upgrades to be had, and it always feels good to boost up certain areas or add a new weapon. You will also be driving tanks, flying helicopter and occasionally using some firearms, and skills in those areas can be improved upon as well.

The upgrades work very similarly to the norm that is found in most third person action adventure games, such as God of War, Ninja Gaiden and the like. In fact, the combat system is pretty much similar to those games as well.

Sand Castles

Prototype takes the action and combat elements of those third person action fighters, and then mixes them together with the open world elements of a sandbox game. Add a teaspoon of superhero-game to the mix, and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The game is open world, and allows you to free roam in between missions. Story missions can be activated by heading to the specified marker on the map, but there is also quite a bit to do if you just want to mess around. There are a heap of mini-games that you can do, that range from rooftop races, to mini-battles, gliding onto a target and do on. Being an open world game, there are also the obligatory orbs-or-something-similar to find and collect so that you have ’em all (just like Pokemon). All of these things earn you EP, so they are not a waste of time and can help improve your character (and add hours to the game, of course).

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The graphics, even for a sandbox game, are not all that great. While I never feel like graphics can really alter a game experience, I just want to let all the eye-candy fans out there know that they are not in for anything special. The main character almost feels like he got it the worst. Granted, the engine handles a ridiculously large amount of terrified people, vehicles, explosions and enemies all at once, but it just feels like it doesn’t hold up well when compared to a lot of other sandbox games out there.

Sound on the other hand is pretty fantastic, and you will find your self giggling amongst the more chaotic moments, when you realise that you can hear nothing but the sound of hundreds of New Yorkers going bat-shit crazy whilst explosions boom, cars crunch into each other and people get sliced. It really gives you the impression that you are in the middle of chaos.

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So, Should You Buy It?

Everything sounds all good so far, but the truth is, that I have some major gripes with the game as well.

The controls, although functional can be very finicky (for lack of a better word) and can cause quite a lot of frustration at times. Prototype may actually also win my award for most annoying enemy of the year, which comes in the shape of an infected monster looking thing called a Hunter, that just completely negates your characters cool abilities, and the developers aren’t scared to throw a ton of them at you as well. Some bad story choices and an overall lack of polish really brings this game down.

The game takes itself very seriously, and goes for a very “realistic” style and setting, and I think that it may have needed a bit of a lighter outlook to truly shine in it’s genre.

This makes makes me grumpy for one reason only, and that’s because the game is still really fun to play and has it’s awesome “need to tell a friend” moments. It has the potential to be really great, but misses out because of a severe lack of polish.

I really wanted Prototype to be something special, and in some ways, it is. It is by no means a must-have title though, simply because it misses a few notes here and there. If you are looking for a big, chaotic, fun mass-murdering game (and honestly, who isn’t?) then you will probably enjoy the game, even on a very basic level. If you aren’t a fan of tricky controls, and some frustrating moments, then you may want to try a friends first before making your decision.

Even though the game was delayed for extra polish and changes, it feels like it could have used more. It’s fun though, and that always says something, so I am honestly struggling to score the game. I want to like it a lot, but issues here and there forced me to knock some score off of the top.

Scoring

Gameplay: 8.0
Great fun, but a little complicated and frustrating for most.

Presentation: 7.5
Lots happening on screen, but can be very dull and low in quality.

Sound: 9.0
Good voice acting, great sounds effects, dynamic music.

Value: 8.0
Anywhere from 12 – 20 hours on average, more if you like side games and collection everything.

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Overall: 8.0

You will feel have fun and like an absolute bad-ass, but the game can feel like a prototype in itself at times.

Last Updated: June 12, 2009

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since ’08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

  • janrik

    Nice review. I like the organic feel of the graphics myself though.

    It takes teh fun factor of wolverine, adds some crack(down) to it and styles it up on a sea of blood.

    I like it. :devil:

  • Grant

    why havent you reviewed infamous yet

  • darthdad

    Nice review Nick. I think I’ll wait and try out a friends copy.

  • im still not sold on this one

  • Ruslan

    Going to give it a bash with a rental copy tonight seeing I saved my cash for something else after reading the reviews.

  • I was going to comment but I think this is for Team Lazy to comment lol.

  • We review games that are sent to us from companies and distributors, we weren’t sent a copy of InFamous so we don’t have any review. We do of course have times when we get the game later ourselves, but by then the review is usually way past overdue for it’s purpose.

  • Flamebaitboy

    Excellent review. Spot on!

  • ryan

    mine keeps giving me an RROD, just as forewarning :alien:

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