A virus has started to spread around New York turning people into zombies, erm…infected, and causing a right nuisance for the people of the city. A special branch of the military is called in to quarantine the situation. In the middle of this, a man called Alex Mercer wakes up with amnesia and strange powers. Naturally, it’s up to him to solve the problem, fighting both the infected and the military (as he’s the result of ad old military experiment) to stop the virus (until the game’s twist, that is).
Much like Spider-man 2 (and other similar games, like The Hulk) you get New York (part of it, anyway) to roam around him at will, choosing when you want to do the next story mission. As you progress through the story, the fighting between the military and infected intensifies and the special ops get more desperate in their search for you. Luckily, the movement in the game is utterly spot on, jumping/gliding from building to building is precise and flows naturally, it’s a joy to control and really makes you feel like a superhero.
On top of the movement abilities are Mercer’s transforming abilities. You can absorb any human and take their appearance – from military personnel to old ladies – or transform your body into different weapons, offering a few combat options. These range from claws, to useless arm sacks and useful whips to powerful swords. You can also improve your defensive capabilities by transforming part of your body into a shield or armour. While there is a decent amount of variety and time between the weapon upgrades, some are ultimately more powerful and useful, rendering previous ones useless. For example, the whip can cause a good amount of damage from long range and allows you to hijack enemy helicopters with ease (with an upgrade).
The story missions unfold as Alex Mercer tries to find his memories, protect his loved ones and find out more about the outbreak. The cutscenes are pretty uninspiring (and seem to end with an awkward one-liner from Alex) and the characters are barely fleshed out. Still, it provides a good excuse to run around and kill things. When the story bores you then you can always complete side missions (checkpoint races or combat challenges), collect upgrades (some from infiltrating military bases) or simply roam around attacking never-ending hoards of zombies and soldiers.
And that really is all there is to Prototype. The graphics aren’t worth mentioning, but they do handle hundreds of enemies fairly well. It’s a good game with some great core gameplay, but is spoiled by unbalanced weapons and dull characters. There’s depth to the story that you can collect by absorbing certain people, but you don’t really learn anything interesting about it. There’s also one really frustrating part of the game where you can’t use any of your transformations until you’ve completed 5 or 6 story missions.
Graphics: 6/10 Passable, but handles lots of enemies well.
Audio: 7/10 Poor voice acting and no memorable music. Good sound effects, though.
Gameplay: 9/10 The core mechanics are great and are what make the game what it is.
Length: 7/10 Decent length story and a few side-quests.
Re-playability: 7/10 There isn’t a lot to discover once you’ve completed it once.