…if you put an open world super hero action game in a blender with some Resident Evil monsters and a bunch of army guys then poured it all over Manhattan. Prototype lets you loose on the Big Apple as Alex Mercer, a gratuitously amnesia stricken dude in a totally sweet hoodie who wakes up in the morgue with crazy powers. As the game goes on you’ll learn the secrets surrounding Alex’s past and the mysterious zombie virus that’s spreading through New York like the swine flue on crack, all while unleashing your new massively destructive abilities on anyone stupid enough to get in your way.
What works for Prototype is the sense that as the game goes on you are becoming one seriously badass…whatever the hell you are. Running, jumping and gliding around the city is as much fun as it has ever been in any super hero game once you get the hang of the controls, which definitely takes some trial and error (emphasis on error). Making progress in the story opens up more and more incredibly and violently over-the-top powers for you to buy with points earned through kicking infected butt and completing the seemingly endless mini-game challenges, most of which are basically fun. Uncovering bits of the past through absorbing the memories of the people you consume is an intriguing way to tell a story, even if the end result is basically gibberish.
What Doesn’t Work
What doesn’t work is that as much fun as it is to tool around town for a while as a living engine of destruction, repetitions, limitations, and frustrations start to rear their ugly heads everywhere you wander. Chief among them is the fact that as cool as your powers may be, the opposition is just not entertaining enough to enjoy fighting continuously, which of course you must. Even worse are the awful boss fights which are a total disaster, including the underwhelming finale which is just a rehash of a previous baddie under different circumstances. The mini-games are sometimes marred by senseless power limitations or almost impossible time limits, and even the powers themselves lack sufficient staying power beyond “oooh, something new and shiny” because each “weapon” has only a couple of actual moves associated with it. Once you stumble upon the handful of critically useful and terminally overpowered abilities about half way through the story, most of the others will just start accumulating dust anyway.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that Prototype just doesn’t come together into a cohesive and successful form of interactive entertainment. The action is decent when everything is going right, but that isn’t nearly often enough. The sandbox elements work much better than the missions, but how many times can you slaughter zombies with a barrage of bio-spikes, run over crowds of civilians with a tank, or blow up army bases with an attack helicopter? Probably longer than you’d like to admit, but the point remains that Prototype just doesn’t follow through on what it promises. It’s a strangely told super hero tale without the hero and not nearly enough super to make up for its many shortcomings. Worth a rental for carnage enthusiasts and agoraphobic Manhattan sightseers, others should treat as biohazard.