Prototype is a very innovative sandbox action game. Spanning over an entire city much like GTA and Mirror’s Edge, it offers a very unique style of play that also proves to be highly addictive. Its intricate single player story adds up to the experience very well, and the game has some elements that can grab your attention straight from the beginning and keep you playing until the end.
You play the role of Alex Mercer, who’s in possession of the superhuman ability to change his shape in whatever way he sees fit. However, Alex has no recollection of his past prior to the events of the game, and finding out what happened to him becomes one of the primary goals.
While going around Manhattan (where the game is set), you can literally turn into any person you see on the street by just “absorbing” them – if you do this without being seen, it can give you a huge tactical advantage in combat – for example, say you’re fighting a group of soldiers; you manage to pick one out of the group and sneak behind him to absorb him, continuing to act in his role from then on. You can give a false alarm to the other troops and send them to a dead end alley where you can finish them off safely, or simply make a clean getaway.
Apart from turning into other humans, Alex can also upgrade his abilities as the game progresses, through an RPG-like system where the player chooses what path they want to advance on. You can get various new abilities, such as gliding across the sky for a limited time (useful for getting between rooftops), gigantic spikes that kill everything around you, and various other nifty “tools” that should make it a lot easier for you to progress later on.
Surprisingly (considering the game’s genre and specifics), Prototype does not use the Unreal Engine 3 – instead, it’s based on the far-less-popular Titanium Engine. We were very impressed with its ability to produce stunning visuals though, and it certainly lives up to the choice made by the developers.
You’ll get more than a few jaw-dropping moments when you reach the better upgrades, especially when you use the spike ability for the first time. The absorbing process has also been animated very neatly, and never looks quite the same even when used on similarly-built humans.
The game isn’t that demanding in hardware, and you can run it on a Core 2 Duo on at least 1.86 GHz, provided you also have 2GB of ram and any DX9-compliant video card that’s rated higher than ATi’s Radeon X1800. The game is very well optimized and even the larger battles don’t prove to be much of a strain on your computer.
One of the best parts of Prototype is its replay value – since the game offers you so many ways to approach a particular task (and a variety of upgrades to pick from as you move on), you’ll be tempted to come back and try something else even after you’ve beaten it – and we advise you to do it!
An exhilarating singe player experience, the only thing that could’ve made Prototype any better would’ve been a multiplayer option. Oh well – guess we can’t have everything.