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Reviewed by Rich DeWester
ver wanted to play as Carnage in a free-roaming, super anti-hero game? Well, good news: "Prototype" stole your idea! This game has been in production longer than anyone would like to remember, but it has finally gone gold. Sadly, this comes right after “Infamous” (a “Prototype” clone) was released, and has sparked almost as many flame wars as the two systems they were released on. This is sure to be a grudge match for the ages, like "E.T." versus "Krush Groove."
In "Prototype," you play as Alex Mercer, a hooded man who wakes up on a morgue slab with no memory of his former life. You eventually discover that you have insane superpowers, such as the ability to absorb people, which in turn allows you to morph into them and take their memories. Convenient, huh? As time and the story move on, you attempt to find out who and what you are – and what the hell happened to you – via these powers. Later, you witness a massive outbreak which causes the city's inhabitants to mutate as well. Will you be heroic and save the city, or will you be infamo... shit, wait.
You've seen this style of game before (free-roaming superhero games are nothing new), but “Prototype” does amp up the intensity nicely: it’s constantly fast and chaotic and, at times, almost controller-breakingly infuriating. From the start, Alex almost feels oddly overpowered with amazing speed and abilities. His ability to run straight up a building to evade damage from ground units makes the game feel so simple at first, and sprinting down the road while grabbing a person off the street and hurling him at an inbound attack helicopter never gets old. However, you will find out quickly that later enemies are even more overpowered, and will beat the symbiote crap out of you. Seriously, there were times I lost roughly half of my health with a single hit.
The game has character progression – or, for all my nerds, RPG elements which allow you to purchase or upgrade new abilities with EP (an unexplained acronym which probably stands for experience points). You earn these through a variety of means such as killing people, completing missions and so on. These upgrades are all pretty fun to play with and help customize your gameplay. There are also quite a few different minigame-like missions, all of which take place outside of story progression, to entertain you. The game has an overall decent story and voice acting, and while the in-game ambient sounds (like cars and the occasional pedestrian) help create the aesthetic feel you would want from a city, there isn't any music unless you're in combat. Graphically, on the other hand, "Prototype" is lacking in pretty much every aspect; at times, it looks almost last-gen.
"Prototype" falls under 15 hours of gameplay, which, given the amount of time it was in production, is bound to leave a poor taste in a few players’ mouths. But for those few hours, it’s some sweet, sweet fun. When picking up "Prototype," don't expect a deep gameplay experience (this game bleeds fast button-masher), but if that's what you're looking for, enjoy!