July 1, 2009, Author: Brian Gourlay
Wow, the view is so… bland
From a technical point of view Prototype does some very impressive things. The sandbox that you find yourself in is a very reasonable size, and the fact that you can use your abilities to leap from rooftop to rooftop to the other side of the city in a couple of minutes without slowdown of any form is something that deserves to be commended. When I first started playing, I realised that this freedom of movement was causing me to just skim over the city itself and never really stop to admire the different styles and structures. Unfortunately, I’d probably have just been happy if the city of Manhattan was just a incomprehensible blur as I zoomed through it, because the whole artistic style of the game world is very dreary and doesn’t change at all throughout the whole city.
While it is still quite a sight to climb to the top of the tallest skyscraper and admire the sheer size of the world you can explore, Manhattan is just an endless sea of grey buildings with the occasional park dotted around. The only time that you see anything different is when you walk into an Infected Zone, where you are greeted with red skies, burning buildings and general chaos, but again each zone is essentially a carbon copy of the last, and there isn’t really that much to grab your attention the first time round.
There are some redeeming factors in the graphics of Prototype however. Radical have taken a lot of time working in the effects and animations in such a way that even the most simplest of tasks still look superhuman and destructive. Alex’s acrobatic animations are silky smooth, while his attack powers all look absolutely immense. Just tapping a button will often end in whatever enemy your facing being decapitated, vaporised, blown up or eaten with levels of gore to match. The Devastator attacks in particular are very impressive; pulling off one of these attacks will result in everything within twenty feet of Alex being torn apart in a particularly nasty way (with absolutely no trace of any slowdown, very impressive).
Even simple things like jumping from buildings look great; if you jump from a high enough point anything around you when you land will get sent flying in different directions while Alex dusts himself off. Unfortunately, the explosions that are created in Alex’s wake don’t look particularly impressive, and the way that buildings collapse just doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny at all (and by scrutiny, I mean looking at its general direction with a slightly transparent blindfold on), but this is redeemed to an extent by the fact that the the smoke effects are very snazzy looking, and gives you more satisfaction when you’re surveying the aftermath following blowing up an entire fleet of taxis.
The only word that can be used to describe the sound effects of Prototype is BIG. One of the most fun things about Prototype is the fact that you can cause absolute carnage at the drop of a hat, and the sheer volume of the sounds in the game contribute to this a lot. Almost everything you do is accompanied by an big, brash and over the top effect, from the big whooshing noise every time you lift off the ground ,to the unsavoury squelch of some unfortunate fella getting ripped in half by your Whipfist. Radical have done a really good job of giving each action an appropriate effect.
In particular, the massive concrete crunching “BOOM” that is played every time you land on the ground from a height (sending everyone and everything flying like a ragdoll) is just perfect and makes you feel like you could topple a building if you ran at it fast enough. As well as these effects, the voice acting is very well done and it’s always pretty interesting listening to the military chatter to see what Blackwatch make of your most recent act of destruction.
There isn’t much to be said about the soundtrack of Prototype, since there really isn’t much of a soundtrack to speak of. Menus and cutscenes are accompanied with a bunch of ‘Weeeoooaaoaowww’ noises that sound like the title scene from the start of Lost with the occasional electronic sounds thrown in for good measure. The pace picks up a bit whenever you get stuck into a bit of action, and the music in these situations blends in fairly well with the general tone of most of the fights in the game, although it never really enhances the game in any way.
The next GTA?! Not quite…
During my play-through of Prototype, there were never any occasions where I found myself getting bored. It’s big, over the top nature was enough to keep me coming back and it is a genuinely fun game to play. The main problems that Prototype face is that it doesn’t offer a lot of new innovations to the free roaming genre, and the story contributes nothing to the game as a whole. I think that most people would thoroughly enjoy playing through this game, but purists would be turned off by the fairly generic gameplay and would give up early on, but apart from that Prototype is a very accomplished free roaming game with just the right amount of gory, destructive polish to set it above the rest.
Avoid it, try it or buy it?
I think that most people would feel that Prototype was a sound investment if they were to shell out money on it. In a nutshell, it’s just great fun; I’d recommend it to people who are up for a bit of mindless carnage at every turn, which as far as I’m aware, sums up every gamer out there today!