Prototype – Initial Impressions

18 06 2009

I managed to get my hands on Activision’s latest publication, inconspicuously named Prototype. While the name does sound a bit ominous, it certainly doesn’t precursor all the violence, blood and squeaky voices that follow. For the more “sane” people, Prototype is a third person sandbox styled game that epitomizes the visceral tendencies of the young people of this age; and I’m not talking about the “Obtained through intuition rather than from reasoning or observation” definition. A few straight hours of playing this game can bring down a fully grown man’s brains to it’s not-so apparent counterpart that lies a few feet below.

But let’s not bash anything without a preamble. All games need a plot – Prototype’s revolves around one amnesic, super-powered Alex Mercer and a virus-infected New York City. The story goes about with Alex trying to find about his past, while uncovering the delicate intricacies that connect him with a secret experiment conducted by the government.

The game starts off by throwing the poor fellow into a full fledged blood bath involving mutant creatures, mad citizens and a n-number of soldiers, tanks and choppers. You get to slice, dice, blast, punch and consume your way through the ugly mess that is NYC now. Mercer’s powers place him at a vantage point over everything else in the game and provides options aplenty when it comes to killing people. You can either :

  • Smash their faces/Slice them in half/Bear-Hug and consume them
  • Cut through them
  • Grab and throw them at a chopper/tank/another person
  • Impale them with tendrils
  • Send them flying with a sonic punch
  • Crush their heads
  • Hijack a chopper and mow through groups of innocent citizens
  • Run them over in a tank
  • Drop them from a 100 feet in the air
  • Shoot them, of course
God Lord ! If only I didnt eat my skin therapist

God Lord ! If only I hadn't eaten my skin therapist ...

It should be noted that I’ve only been through half of the available powers, each of which can be used in combos. Being a sandbox game, Prototype offers side missions which let you collect Evolution Points (EP) which can be later used to purchase upgrades and new powers. Side missions range from infiltrating a military base and blowing it up, to consuming targets to progress in the story. As with most games of the same type, these missions get repetitive after a couple of tries each. The plot is pretty generic and is mostly a pipeline that’s used to offer you a lot of cannon-fodder.

Visually, the game’s sub-par. Soupy textures, low polygon count on most characters and limited draw distances bring down the graphics department. The only saving grace would be the fluid animations that Alex Mercer proudly shows off with his moves. The game has it’s share of technical issues as well. Being incapable of delivering proper sound at high sample rates, the game made me switch to 44100 Hz just to listen to the game’s voice acting which would otherwise whiz past at 150 BPM. Game play-wise, the game mostly delivers what was promised, though the action can get very chaotic. There where times when the scene got so chaotic that I had to pause the game just to stop myself from scarring my conscience permanently with all that blind slicing and skull-smashing.

Prototype might just fit your bill if you happen to be a mindless sadomasochist or a overzealous gamer; but is a huge overkill if you are just looking to relieve your end-of-the-day stress. There haven’t been any reports of play-induced brain damage yet, but it’s only a matter of time before we start hearing such stuff. Here’s some advise to prevent it : Take 20-minute breaks during which you can do the following :

  • Read a book that hasn’t the faintest suggestion of violence
  • Vacuum the house
  • Grab something to eat that’s preferably not human flesh
  • Take the dog for a walk and bring him back in one piece
  • Remove those imitation-claws from your hands

That being said, I’m off to finish the damned game.

Prototype on : Wikipedia | GameSpot

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