New, Used, Abused: Prototype

Right. 3/4 exams complete, will now attempt to write about something that MATTERS. Hopefully this all makes sense.

Prototype is a game I picked up last weekend. Developed by Radical Entertainment.

It’s a rather simplistic style of game, you’re presented with New York. You are a super-human tentacle monster thing. Due to the minimal plot that’s about all I can reveal without giving massive spoilers.
You have an impressive range of abilities, from incredible aerobatics to incredible feats of strength to the ability to disguise as anyone you’ve ‘consumed’. Think incredible hulk mixed with Hayabusa with a dash of TF2 Spy. And tentacles.

First off I’ll say it’s not a nice game. There an excessive amount of gore, and if you square the amount of gore the fear series had you might be coming close. You gain powers, evolution points (EP, cause XP wasn’t good enough), health and discuses by beating the SHIT out of people and then absorbing them into your tenticle mass. There’s zombie monsters that run around eating people, covered in blood. There’s enormous infections that’s consuming most of the city. There’s corrupt private military organisations.
And for some reason they made it all SERIOUS. Sometime a little more lighthearted would have been nicer, might have intruged the player a little more. All the gore and seriousness made me wonder if everyone in the company has the sense of humor of a wallnut.
I’m wondering if the entire non-seriousness of the game is actually a subtle design choice to appear ironic or something, it’s just confusing to me that they either stumbled upon a good game design entirely by accident or they decided to make fun of the serious game stereotype.

But there’s two sides of the coin. The game is incredibly fun. So much fun that when people play it a crowd forms around them and everyone there laughs maniacally. I saw one guy play for a good 30 minutes using the ‘Body Ride’ power where you jump at a person, grind them into the ground and slide on them for a good distance while it rains blood behind you. It’s so awful, yet somehow it’s just so hilarious.
Maybe we’re just desensitised to blood and gore, I’m not sure if a regular person would find it so funny. But bravo to them for designing for their audience anyway.

The gameplay itself is surprisingly well done as far as the player character systems go. You get EP by doing basically everything, can complete side missions for EP, rain military bases for EP and upgraded weapon abilities, all of which goes towards your character’s powers. You can transform your arms into a good half a dozen weapons, all pretty awesome, and can upgrade them with new abilities and other awesome add ons.

However they screw everything up in a main aspect. While technically the game allows you to choose your own playing style, this gets screwed up by an addition to the game a couple of missions into the storyline where they add machines that can detect you in a certain radius. They then proceed to put them in all vital locations, effectively killing the stealth aspect of the game. So you’re essentially forced to go all out assault. Fine.

THEN they add a pink cloud of death which consistently damages you while you’re in it, and put THAT in practically all storyline missions. Now you’re forced to do hit and run attacks. Then they make the missions much harder and harder until I’ve stopped playing the storyline because the more I progress the worse the game becomes. This is after the initial novelty of the game wears off as well.

On a more personal note I’ve got an issue with the game on my computer that should be noted. It’s running pretty well most of the time, but after particularly hard boss battles they insist on showing some in-game cutscenes. Fine, except the game decides to crash before I can save and then I’ve got to do the boss battles AGAIN. Which means I may be being a little harsh on the difficulty curve as I have to do the hardest missions twice.

I’m pretty intrigued by the moral-system in the game, or rather lack thereof. You can kill anyone you wish, pick up cars off the street and hurl them down the road. The game even encourages this to an extent by giving you targets you can consume for EP, adding to the web of intrigue.
Speaking of which it seems like an interesting plot-development idea, when you consume a target you get their memories. This means you can learn things about the plot, which sounds like something that’d appeal to me greatly.
If it worked. Which it doesn’t for me because they’re pre-rendered movies and the video pauses for minutes at a time so I just skip these. Don’t the developers test their game on anything but high powered machines? I mean my laptop is no slouch and it still fails at these videos.

Anyway, prototype is a fun game, however it could definitely have gone with a lighter tone and better storyline progression. But the gameplay is terrifically open-world. I spent about an hour running up skyscrapers and jumping off the top to see how big a crater I could make. I made a pile of cars and then blew them up. I stalked random civilians in the street, grabbed them, ran up a building and then proceeded to EAT them. So it’s really what you like in a game that determines whether you’ll like Prototype, but it’s certainly not perfect.

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