Prototype

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Description official descriptions

Alex Mercer has a problem or a gift - depending on the view. Thanks to a virus in his system he has several deadly powers and can change his appearance into any person he consumes which basically means the same thing as brutally killing the person he wants to be. Of course Alex didn't voluntarily get this "enhancement". Instead he was part of a genetic experiment at a company called Gentek. Having lost his memory about what exactly happened, he is now both looking for vengeance as well as his past. The second specimen, Elizabeth Green, on the other hand meanwhile infects more and more parts of Manhattan Island with a transmutation of the virus which converts people either into mindless zombies or brutal monsters.

Prototype is an open-world game similar to Grand Theft Auto IV where the player controls Alex through a 3rd-person-view. He is able to freely roam about Manhattan Island with iconic scenery like Central Park and Times Square. But instead of stealing cars and mugging old ladies, Alex feels more like going the Spider-Man route. By sprinting against a wall, he is able to climb and jump up to the roof fast. Thanks to his supernatural jump ability and his invulnerability to falling damage, he can then traverse the city from above instead of making his way through rush hour. Of course monsters like hunters as well as the military have the means to reach him even up there. To defend himself, Alex has several powers at his disposal. He can lift heavy objects and throw them at enemies, making it easy to take down even a full-blown helicopter. He also has the already mentioned ability to shape shift into any person he manages to grab and consume. When done without being seen, it removes the heat from Alex and will, just as hiding does, eventually put his human pursuers back to sleep. The monsters on the other hand will keep at him. It also enables him to enter areas he couldn’t access before. Other powers include claws, a shield, fists like boulders that make for a good punch and powerful lash. At any time Alex can only use one of those powers and he has to unlock them first. This is done by investing the evolution points he gains for killing enemies and fulfilling objectives into upgrades.

Divided into several categories, these upgrades increase for example his sprint speed, give him new abilities like said powers or enable him to do new moves like gliding through the air instead of just falling straight down. In addition some abilities like driving a tank or improving his ability to handle normal weapons can only be learned by consuming specific persons marked with a symbol over their head. This is also necessary to replenish his health and to uncover the Web of Intrigue. The Web of Intrigue fills in the blanks on Alex’s background and what happened to him at Gentek. Some pedestrians, military personal or police had more or less direct contact with Alex or the project he was part on and if he finds and consumes them, a short cutscene shows what he learns from that person. To keep an overview of his progress, the player can access a detailed map from the menu. There he can not only rewatch every movie but can also see what information connects with others, giving the player an understanding how every piece of the puzzle is connected.

If the player isn’t doing the missions of the main storyline or destroying military bases or hives, he can find several different kinds of mini-games in the city. Ranging from kill/consume missions and waypoint races over the roof tops to fighting small skirmishes on either the side of the military or the infected. In any case the player gains additional evolution points depending how well he did. These mini-games are unlocked by progressing through the story line as well as by getting a gold medal in a mini-game. Another past-time that grants evolution points is the search for landmarks and hints hidden around the island. The more the player collects of these, the more evolution points he gets for it.

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Credits (Windows version)

742 People (644 developers, 98 thanks) · View all

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Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 63 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 4 reviews)

This is why I play games.

The Good
When I first saw videos and learned of Prototype, I thought, hey, that looks pretty cool. Eventually, I got the game (Platinum Hits version for a gift) and I realized that I don't just enjoy the game, but that it delivers and experience that is one of the reasons I love playing video games.

What do I love? Well, as a huge Resident Evil and Metroid fan, I'm big on atmosphere and mood in games. But I'm also a huge fan of the Contra franchise and both shmups and run-n-gun gaming. With that in mind, I'm a fan of intensity. Prototype delivers intensity to spare.

Imagine, if you will, playing a game as one of the monsters, such as Tyrant or Nemesis, from the Resident Evil franchise. You'd run around, destroying things and being a nigh unstoppable nuisance. That's Prototype. Alex Mercer is the bona-fide genetic monster unleashed on society. Except, unlike Tyrant or Nemesis, Alex Mercer also gets to play the role of a good guy. He's essentially the most over-powered anti-hero ever.

There is an absolutely massive number of powers, moves, and abilities to be purchased in this game. So many that I was shocked that, something like ten "stages" in, I unlocked something like a dozen abilities available for purchase or upgrade, and more just kept being added as I went on. Alex can do just about anything in this game, run through traffic, run up skycrapers, hijack any vehicle, consume any living thing (for knowledge or health), use people, vehicles, debris and weapons as, well, weapons.

In a way, this is like Crackdown, in which players play as a "super soldier" of sorts who can be leveled up in various physical attributes--strength, health, speed, jumping, etc. In fact, in a lot of ways, Prototype is like taking the basic idea of Crackdown--upgradable super-being in a free-roaming city, and added the intensity of five Contra games.

This intensity is where I had the most enjoyment. Throwing myself into a situation where I'm fighting military and mutant opponents at the same time while trying to finish a task, such as taking out an infected Hive building. Constant attacks from all angles, of all kinds. Tanks shooting at me, mutated hunters chasing me down, infected people running everywhere, helicopters swooping in to take me out, with soldiers and civilians running everywhere. Man, it's awesome. Running through traffic, picking up a car, chucking it at a helicopter, then not even missing a beat as I shoot my whip-like arm to a tank so I can hijack it to have heavier weapons at my disposal.

This is the way many missions turn out, especially during the latter half of the game when the city is increasingly overrun by infected people and monsters. Pure chaos seems to ensue and the action is quite literally, non-stop. The intensity and action rarely ever feel like they're getting out of hand, however. This isn't like Ninja Gaiden II, where the game throws unending waves of enemies right on top of you so that you can't even move. You can pretty much always escape from the action and find your own breathing room, take a moment to consume some people or monsters to refill your health bar, then rework a constantly evolving strategy to accomplish the current goal.

That's another thing--they way you work through challenges and missions is often pretty open-ended. Say you need to stop some helicopters, you can do it by destroying them by throwing debris (my favorite being cars) at them, or firing on them from a tank or with other military weaponry, physically assault them out of the air, or hijack them. There's an Achievement in the game for destroying a certain number of towers (formerly water towers turned into nests of sorts) before they hatch. Getting close to them speeds up their hatching, and it donned on me, "why am I trying to physically attack these things and risk always causing them to hatch?" So I hijacked a helicopter and blew them away from a distance. One of the easiest Achievements ever!

The majority of the missions in the game are like this. There are so many ways to approach any problem that buried in the rampant, though enjoyable, intensity is a surprising amount of strategy and options. Take an area from full-blown frontal assault, or consume a soldier and walk into the area disguised? It's entirely up to you.

Many of Alex's powers are fantastic. They all have their purposes and uses, and many are better for some things than others. You'll, of course, find a favorite that you stick with for the bulk of the time. I used Alex's giant shield and the weapon that turns his arm into a huge whip-like weapon. With this, I could sweep through huge numbers of standard enemies and latch onto tanks and helicopters from a distance for hijacking. The shield allowed me to plow through traffic, people, and enemies with ease. There are several weapons and other armor designs to choose from.

The few boss encounters in the game are pretty much all fun, and a couple of them are just incredible. One specifically, is a huge beastly creature the size of a building and that fight lasted me a good forty minutes.

There are dozens of secondary challenges in the game, such as completing battle scenarios within set rules (such as fighting as military, or against them, using a certain weapon, or power, etc), races, infiltrating military bases, destroying infected Hives, consuming scientists, consuming infected, or gliding from a rooftop to a target below. The vast majority of these are quite fun, though they don't always allow for the open-ended, solve-it-how-you-want-to gameplay.

The music is phenomenal and adds a thrilling "big Hollywood" style epic quality to the game. While none of it is really what one would consider "epic," the music adds to the experience the way a solid Hollywood soundtrack does to a blockbuster film--say, Die Hard or Total Recall (yeah, I'm old school, what of it?).

The graphics are much more detailed that I expected. The environments, especially during the second half of the game, are increasingly full of life, debris, characters and action. And all of it flows smoothly without hiccups or stalled screens attempting to load the area you just walked into. It's amazing given the enormity of the environment you're running around in. It's full of tanks and helicopters and people and monsters and explosions galore.

The gameplay is typically smooth to control and a helluva lot of fun. Like Crackdown, one of my favorite elements of this game was the ultra-powered jumping acrobatics of flinging myself across the city in ultra-powered ways. In Crackdown, I routinely played leaping from rooftop to rooftop simply enjoying the gameplay freedom that came with unencumbered acrobatic skill. Pulling off insane moves and attacks here is also, typically, a breeze. I encountered a segment where I had to destroy or flee from three helicopters and I did this by hijacking one and flying as high as I could. When the my helicopter was damaged enough, I lept out, shot my whip-arm to the next one and continued on. I essentially spent a couple exhilarating minutes flinging myself from helicopter to helicopter, and to see it in motion--and know I was doing it deliberately, was beautiful.

The Bad
Awesome as this game is, it's not without it's issues:

Commonly in the game, I needed to run from the action to get find a second to rest so I could heal myself or consume a new person for a disguise. While I have no problem with this, there are moments in the game that are ruined by forcing it to be done in a time limit. I've said this over and over again (see my review of Death Duel on the Genesis), but I hate, hate, hate time limits. For the most part, this game does an outstanding job of creating intense gameplay and hectic, hurried moments very successfully without the need for lame-ass time limits. All these do is replace thrilling intensity with blatant stress.

I can understand having the time limits on the foot races, but these often feel broken. I had a similar problem with Crackdown in which, my character became so overpowered that the races actually became harder to finish. Sure, I could run faster, but I could also jump higher and bound over things in a much more frantic, animated manner. Essentially, I went from being too slow for most races to being too powerful to maintain myself during them with any ease. All Alex had to do was lightly touch the side of a building and he went from straight line in a race to flinging himself vertically up the side of a wall--and recovering from that was much harder than you'd think.

Towards the end, the time restraints on some of the secondary "Consume" missions (where you race around the city to devour people involved in the plot) were nightmarish. Three minutes to fling myself around all of Manhatten to absorb five people, and all the while Alex was getting caught on the sides of buildings or chased by helicopters. This is when the intensity and time limit worked to make the game a total drag.

While it's really awesome that Alex Mercer has so many moves and skills at his disposal, this game has the same problem as every other game with so many moves and skills available--many are either useless, or you'll just never feel like they add anything to your gameplay. Like I said, I stuck with the whip-arm most of the time, and the whip-arm's special attacks. The huge hammer/club fists? I almost never used them (only when I had to for a specific side mission), and many of the moves simply never felt useful. I unlocked or purchased every move, but only ever used about half of them. One ability, the Patsy move, allows Alex to convince soldiers in an area that a regular soldier is him. I used this move only enough times to unlock it's Achievement, and after that, it was useless to me. On the upside, this creates a lot of variety for players to make Alex their very own beast tailored to their gameplay style, but on the other hand, just like Conan, or God of War or Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, there are several moves and abilities that are simply a waste.

Holding the jump button down and releasing to jump is initially, and occasionally awkward. Why they didn't just make it so that I held the button longer (like in Crackdown) is beyond me.

There are also large numbers of blue and purple orbs floating around the city to collect, much like the orb collecting in Crackdown. Mostly, all you get for these is a couple Achievements (if you can find them all), and some points to spend on upgrades or skills. The purple ones just give you gameplay hints that are largely useless--I found most of them after I already knew the hint they held. In Crackdown, the orbs helped you level-up your character. Here, they're largely a collectible for the sake of having a collectible.


The Bottom Line
One thing I can't put a say for sure is positive or negative is the overall story. Like I said, it's kind of like playing as Tyrant from Resident Evil except you're attempting to stop the spread of the very same evil crap that made you--by whatever means necessary. There's something like 130 characters to be consumed to add small bit parts to the overall story. Most plotline-heavy characters are pretty one-dimensional, and the military is painted in one of the worst lights imaginable. So much so that it borders on cliche. "We're the evil corrupt military and we just want to make secret evil biological weapons." Yeesh.

On the other hand, the story of Alex Mercer trying to rediscover himself, and some of the plot elements, and history of events leading up to the story of the game are pretty good in the same "mad scientist" manner of traditional Resident Evil games (though not quite as convoluted). And I'm a sucker for corruption and mad scientist-style stories. So, it has it's good points and it's low points.

However, what drew me in and what held me when playing this was the over-the-top intensity of the action. The fact that while it contained strategy and open-ended solutions to the intense action is what made the game infinitely more playable than something like Ninja Gaiden II which just threw endless waves of enemies at me with no option other than button mashing.

So, overall, I had a blast with Prototype. Not a completely perfect experience, though, with the annoying race side-missions, and the occasionally cruel time limits on some challenges. But overall, during heated action-packed sequences, with helicopters flying everywhere, cars flying through the air, tanks crushing through debris and people, mutant infected running amok--this game delivers an experience like no other (except maybe for Infamous from what I've heard). It's the kind of over-powered hyper-action that makes me love this medium all the more.

If you liked Crackdown but felt it could be more intense, then this is your answer.

Xbox 360 · by ResidentHazard (3554) · 2011

Entertaining action with wasted potential.

The Good
Alex Mercer one day wakes up to find that he's not a normal man. He's infected with this virus which allows him to tentacle rape people. It turns out Alex was an experiment at Gentek Labs. Now he must re-discover himself and stop what's causing the infection in Manhattan, NY along with a fucked up military and mutants. Activision Games and Radical Studios bring you the summer blockbuster of 2009 jam packed with intense action, predictable plot twists and your usual action cliches.

Thankfully Prototype also comes with enjoyable gameplay underlined by interesting concepts. Alex Mercers infected body allows him to consume people and take their form and memory. With this we get room for stealth which is usually used to infiltrate into military bases and other locations or to escape being chased by them. Also consuming certain marked people gives you access to their memory which forms the web of intrigue and it involves the back story to Mercer. Alex also has the ability to run on walls all the way up--yes you'll be climbing the tallest skyscrapers in New York. Then jump off and glide your way around and not to worry as Alex is resistant to fall damage.

His main arsenal is basically himself, he mutates his hand into a claw, whiplash, big hands and even a blade. He can morph into this sexy looking armor suit or morph his hand into a shield. These along with all his other abilities gets unlocked and upgraded by collecting and spending EP which the game throws around like a horny old man would in a strip club. There's shit loads of these upgrades though and it's one of the reasons why the game doesn't get stale.

The other is because the game contains some extreme, intense action and stays focused on that. It's a sandbox game like GTA but rather than hijacking cars you'd travel by jumping/gliding building to building. The only vehicles you hijack are military vehicles, the rest can be picked up and tossed around like toys. As for the missions, well they always contain a lot of action and never really get frustrating. No escort missions which plague these kind of games but the closest to an escort mission would be where you're following a tank to make sure it destroys a hive while you protect it from mutants.

While a gamepad would work wonders Prototype still plays well with a mouse & keyboard. In fact controlling a Helicopter was a pleasure utilizing the mouse scroll to ascend and descend, good stuff. Also taking down helicopters never gets old as well as skyjacking them. You can come up with your own approach in taking on a mission. Use objects in the surrounding as weapons, intercept with a disguise, grab a rocket launcher, hijack a tank or helicopter. It never gets boring and there are checkpoints at very appropriate areas so no room for frustration. Special moves which require you to be in Critical Mass mode (which is basically when your health is full) are portrayed so fucking good especially Graveyard Devastator.

The Bad
Well being a sandbox game there are side missions which earn you more EP. They range from running from building to building passing checkpoints; to fighting on the side of the infected. But they're quite boring as you end up doing the same things in the main story missions. And if you stick to the main missions you aren't missing anything. Story-wise while I find Alex Mercers character somewhat intriguing the rest is just not played out very well. You've got the generic military commanders and agents. Also forgettable characters like Dana and Mercers girlfriend exist in this tale of predictable plot twists. The city is partially infected but they've made the city look lifeless. People just walk on the roads waiting to be blown apart or run over, they just serve as pawns in the game while all the important characters are indoors. The city as a whole lacks any memorable spots or landmarks, so unmemorable that they included the flagship feature of modern gaming know as the “hidden briefcase” in the form of blue balls which read out “landmark collected”.Storytelling is not all generic though I really loved the ending of the game from the video to the credits, I have to appreciate whoever did the credit screen, it's got very interesting art.

So yeah it's kind of cool to have thousands of upgrades and weapons but I highly doubt anyone would utilize 80% of them. Most of them serve as cramming up too much content in a can. You could say quantity over quality. Once you get The Whip and blade, the other weapons turn useless. The Whip is awesome as it can reel people from a distance and attack helicopters, to even pulling them down or grappling on to them to hijack. It's very dominating as is the Blade, it can deal good damage to organic and Machinery like tanks defeating the purpose of the Powerfists.

Lastly the game ships with an annoying crash bug which has no update or fix. Boooooo!

The Bottom Line
Prototype was a little more than I expected which was another style over substance modern gaming bullshit which to some extent it is. It does the action part well while letting you shit out the other aspects such as side missions, character development and overall story. It's underdeveloped just like how the first Assassins Creed was and hopefully they can get their shit right if they plan on a sequel. I'm pretty sure there's a sequel as in modern gaming, making a sequel is the first commandment and cliffhangers being the next.

Windows · by dreamstealer (126) · 2011

Prototype - "They're all dead...Except for me"

The Good
They got mission-based gameplay right. There were no fetch quests and only a few protecting missions in the entire game. That's a major plus in my eyes seeing as there are so many games out there with the problem of too many of those missions.

The Web of Intrigue is a very original take on story telling. I personally like getting as much story out of a game as I can, so I went for every WoI icon I saw. The addition of the web gave players the option to delve deeper into the story or to just go through the main story and leave it at that.

The Parkour mechanics are amazing. There's a true feeling of freedom when you are able to move from one block to the next in what is sometimes a free flowling movement.



The Bad
There really isn't much not to like about the game.



The Bottom Line
Prototype succeeds where many other games have failed. It successfully creates the feeling of having super powers. Whether you play games for the story or the action or both, Prototype is for you.

Xbox 360 · by TalesOf777 (7) · 2009

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Prototype appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Awards

  • GameShark
    • 2009 - received the I've Got Blisters on My Fingers! Award (Game of the Year Awards)

Information also contributed by Big John WV

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

Xbox One added by mars_rulez. PlayStation 4 added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Sciere, LordAndrew, Starbuck the Third, FatherJack.

Game added June 19th, 2009. Last modified September 18th, 2023.