Prototype Xbox 360, PS3, PC
It seems like ever since Marvel superheroes started clogging up movie theaters a few years ago, there’s been a significant resurgence in comic-inspired video games. Some of these are adaptations from their film counterparts, and most of them are lacklustre, at best. Why? Well, I would conjecture that there’s simply no need for a company to “waste money” on a title that is already being sold based on the title alone. Sure, Spiderman stood pretty firmly he swung from silver screen to home console, but those sales would have been great even the game itself was bad.
Prototype, however, does not have the advantage of a silver-screen revival. Alex Mercer wasn’t born on the pages of a graphic novel, and he wasn’t played by some hunky actor in a Hollywood film. He is an entirely digital creation, and since he has only ever existed in game form, surely doesn’t have much to lose, right?
Alex Mercer does not wear a cape. He does not have a fetish for winged mammals. He does not churn out pithy one-liners, or seek the affections of his high school sweetheart. Alex is a broken man. He has nothing but vengeance running through his veins – vengeance, and a mutant virus that gives him superhuman capabilities.
The nature of this virus is a complete mystery. Alex wakes up in a morgue, scaring the crap out of the morticians, who promptly call for help. It is not long before Alex realizes something is wrong. He is absorbing bullets as though they were tiny needles, and he can leap like a grasshopper effortlessly. Shaken and enraged, he sets out to find answers.
Alright, so the antihero with memory loss might not be the most original basis for a comic-book character. Even so, the narrative is presented with enough visceral texture to make it appealing and lend ample credibility. Heck, you might not even care that much about Alex, but you will certainly enjoy playing as him. While he isn’t immortal, Alex’s physical strength puts him on a higher level than Spiderman. Probably.
Despite being a multiplatform release, Prototype does not disappoint in the aesthetics department. The organic weapon looks awesome, if a bit familiar (Sarah Pezzini, anyone?) It is obvious from both the explicit violence and foul language that Prototype isn’t something you want to play around the kiddies. Besides, once they see it, they’ll be begging you to let them play it. That wouldn’t be very responsible, now would it? Cinematic music and crisp audio really hammer the combat home – even the simple act of diving from a rooftop just feels so amazing and liberating.
The vast cityscape makes for a wondrous playground. Let’s say Alex is darting through the city streets (at unnatural speed, mind you) when he runs into a squad of enemy soldiers. They immediately spot him, and open fire. Alex could dive right into the action, crushing the soldiers with his fists and feet, stealing their weapons and using them in battle. Or, he could rely on the mutant virus to grow weapons out of his own body – blades, for example. He can use these blades to puree his foes, then slurp up their essence to repair his own injuries. If the fire becomes too intense, he can use the virus to grow a hardened cocoon around his body. For a more tactical approach, he could dash straight up the side of a building, leap from one rooftop to the next, and stay low until the soldiers have lost contact with him. At that point, he could use his abilities to morph his body, mimicking the enemy and lingering among them. Whether stealthy or just plain cruel, the options in combat are pretty much limitless. Alex can throw cars at helicopters, or simply jump on them from above to smash them. If he’s bored, he can grab random civilians and carry them up the side of a building, dropping them down fifty stories below if he feels so inclined. Dark? Sure. Fun? You have no idea.
Granted, this sort of game absolutely begs to be given an online mode. Unfortunately, there isn’t one, so that will have to wait for the sequel. The biggest problem I can find in Prototype is the somewhat uneven pace of the action. Some of the missions are inexplicably difficult, while others are just plain confusing. Still, this isn’t enough to detract heavily from the game’s strong core design. It is absolutely the best game for wasting away those hot summer days. If you’re a fan of superhero games or just love gratuitous violence, you can’t go wrong with Prototype.