Let the concrete turn to dust and the alcoholics die on the streets! This is what movie and game producers seem to want when they think about a new mass-destruction epic story. This in itself wouldn’t be a problem, but poor New York city, the symbol of a bustling metropolis, has been assaulted by zombies, anomalies, viruses, aliens and who knows what other abominations more than any other city in the world, American or otherwise.
In this case, the designers from Radical Entertainment studios thought that it wasn’t enough what others have come with till now and, as a result, they have the right to spread a new epidemic over the inhabitants of Manhattan. This time, their imagination didn’t reach very far; instead, it just borrowed elements from various games and motion pictures. On a normal basis, I would call this outright plagiarism, but it this case, it’s a perfect mix.
Prototype presents the story of Alex Mercer, a scientist that not only did not die in his bed, but even got to haunt the streets of Manhattan in search of his own past. The story is pretty sinuous in many ways, but the focus is on the chaos that a “justice fighter” mutant can cause. The action takes place over 20 days and, even if the story, the cut-scenes and the dialogues are not epitomes of quality, they offer enough substance to get from one day to the other in the inferno on the streets.
Of all the epidemics I’ve seen till now, the one in Prototype is the coolest. Through it, Alex becomes a mutant that can transform how it needs, runs like a madman, cannot die by falling from heights and other neat things. Plus he becomes stronger with every day that passes by. What more could you want?
In truth, he wants to be normal again, even if he can’t say that the powers he uses throughout the game aren’t useful. The problem is that the means to that end are wrong, no matter how noble the ultimate goal may be. Because he is so powerful, even a simple fall from a sky-scraper leaves behind a crater and 10-20 dead civilians, depending on the crowd. And no matter how you look at it, it’s not ethic, nor moral.
Besides the fact that you kill civilians (voluntary or accidentally), when it comes to missions, you’ll get to burry hundreds of soldiers. Not that they don’t want to make New York safe again, but they also see you as the number one enemy because of the powers you’ve gained. So, we don’t control a super-hero that saves the world for the nth time, but a mutant who doesn’t really care for the line between good or evil.
Someone who doesn’t do his manicure
During the game, Alex will unlock some weapons incorporated into his very body: a 2 meter long sword (Blade) that cuts through the enemies like a knife through butter, a chain (Whipfist) that looks almost like the one from Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, a hand that can transform into a oversized hammer (Hammerfist) and some Wolverine-like claws.
Besides these powers that act as weapons, there are two modes of armor: one that protects the entire body, and another that’s just a shield in Alex’s hand, but with more uses than just protection from rockets. He also gets two types of special vision, the classic Thermal Vision and the Infected Vision, which shows only the infected. Unfortunately, these are rarely of any use and are introduced just for the sake of it, unlike the other powers that not only are very interesting and fun, but actually necessary.
Alex also has the ability to disguise as any person he devours, an ability which adds a stealth approach to the game, not a very developed one, but present in some key moments. As such, if he transforms into a captain of the military forces, our “hero” can infiltrate army camps or can learn to drive a tank or a helicopter.
Another element linked to devouring your enemies is the so-called Web of Intrigue, which tries to present the game’s story through tiny pieces, when we “assimilate” certain key persons. But despite the fact that the movies are outstandingly realized, I can’t say that they are a real bonus to the story. First and foremost, these key characters must be found in a sea of generic looking citizens, which isn’t an easy task. Secondly, the movies are fragmented and the details spread all over, something that may cause more confusion than cheers. But their quality, from a technical and artistic point of view, needs to be commended nonetheless.