So, if you were to look at the bullet points on the back of Prototype’s box, you’d see some stuff about an open world game and lots and lots of action. The thing about the latter is that it is generally so extreme that it looks down on “over the top” in just about every way. And if you’re rolling your eyes at my use of “extreme” and thinking that maybe I should have just gone ahead that tenth yard and said “eXXXtreme!!” then yeah, you’re starting to get the idea.

Indeed, the main critique I feel I can level against Prototype is that the appropriately named developer, Radical Entertainment, seems to have taken every copy of Image comic books from the 90s, wadded them up, put them in a cannon, and fired them point blank at a three-ring binder entitled “Design Document.” It’s all there –the stupidly overpowered antihero who smolders with generic rage, the gritty urban environment, the high tech shock troopers doing their best to perpetuate a government conspiracy, and black tentacle …things. The developers truly earned their “Mature” ESRB rating with this one given how the game is full of ultraviolence (63% of which is perpetuated by the morally challenged and player controlled main character) and the game’s “web of intrigue” mini cut scenes aren’t afraid to slap you upside the face with a mutilated baby or three just for the shock factor. It’s NOT subtle.

But here’s the thing. The game is FUN. Really, REALLY fun. Here’s a short list of the things you can do in this open world sandbox game:

  • Drop kick a helicopter out of the sky
  • Consume an old lady, wear her skin as a disguise, and rip through Manhatten on a granny rampage where you leap from building to building and hurl cars into terrified, fleeing mobs
  • Hijack tanks, helicopters, and APCs to hopscotch from one streak of mayhem to another
  • Leap from the Empire State Building, falling hundreds of feet into a crowd of unsuspecting pedestrians and creating a huge crater from which the dust settles half a second before it starts raining body parts
  • Sneak into a military base, rip through its terrified and panicked inhabitants like a cross between an Alien and the Tazmanian Devil from those old Loony Tunes cartoons, then sneak back out like nothing happened

I could go on, but that gives you a flavor for what I’m talking about. The action and sense of movement and raw power that you get out of Prototype are the reasons to love it, and running around doing crazy stuff doesn’t get old any time soon. There are even a series of mini games that challenge you to either race from one location to another (by, say sprinting 300 feet up a vertical skyscraper wall and then leaping three city blocks), or to cause as much death and destruction as you can with a given set of tools and constraints. This stuff is fun because the core gameplay feels so great and is so viceral.

I can forgive a trite story, an amoral lead character, and a few awful boss fights for that. See the Wikipedia entry for more information and links.

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One thought on “Prototype

  1. I actually liked the story, even when we’ve seen all of it elsewhere before, because I couldn’t guess what happens next (well, part of the time) or construct the backstory within first 30 minutes of the game, which doesn’t happen too often nowadays.
    But, what you said. Over the top, too violent, stupid boss fights, but still fun.

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