Gameplay impressionsWhat do we like?
It will take you a very long time to unlock every upgrade in Prototype. The upgrade screen spans across several pages and there are a multitude of choices at your fingertips. The combat system runs extremely deep and offers a wide array of entertaining powers to enjoy, ranging from increasing your jump and speed ability to being able to morph into a walking shield.
Alongside some of the more exciting superhero powers, the melee-based skills are extremely satisfying to execute because there’s such a wide variety of them on offer. You can pick up a car from the middle of the street and toss it towards enemies, or pull down helicopters from the sky. Alternatively, you can get up close and personal using your huge fists to slam down on the ground, or your claws to rip off limbs. Want to get even more inventive? Why not wrap your tentacles around enemies, or send spikes bursting through the ground to impale your foe? There are very few scripted moments in the gameplay, so there's a lot to see and a lot of moves to experiment with. You're only really limited by your willingness to earn EP and improve your skills. Keep leveling Alex up and you'll be able to cause unprecedented carnage across the city, which can be a lot of fun.
One of the great features in Prototype, which makes some of the standard mission types feel different from other sandbox titles, is the 'Web of Intrigue,' which tasks you with hunting around the huge city in search of people connected to the story. When you find them you have to catch them and absorb their memory. It's a clever way to unravel the story.
The leveling up system progresses very nicely and the rewards for heading off the beaten track to complete side objectives are well worth the effort as you unlock some of the more devastating powers. As you gain EP it really feels like you’re progressing as a superhero and as you hit the latter stages you’ll be able to revel in your impressive transformation into this devastating one-man killing machine.
Prototype's main draw is almost certainly the carnage that you can create on the street. Prototype is fast-paced and action-packed and the rewards are certainly here if you're willing to invest the time.
What don’t we like?
The shape-shifting idea didn’t quite work. It was a good premise that was designed to bring a small element of stealth into a predominantly combat-focused game, but it doesn't add anything to the gameplay. The problem is that the A.I. just isn’t that clever and therefore the disguise meter, which tells you when you’ve been spotted, is an unnecessary inclusion. Alex’s parkour skills means that within a couple of seconds he can evade detection by rushing up to the nearest roof-top. Prototype wouldn’t lose anything at all by omitting shape-shifting totally. One of the game's other defining features, the parkour element, also suffers from the occasional twitchy camera angle and isn't always as free-running as it should be. Similarly, close-up combat can feel a little awkward due to twitchy cameras.
By far the most noticeable negative we can across, however, is the grubby looking, flat textures of the city. It’s just not a particularly exciting metropolis to travel across, especially by rooftop where draw distances are very poor. Many areas of the city are indistinguishable from the next and despite its scale we lost our bearings frequently. There were occasions where every taxi-ladened street blurred into one big mess. Prototype isn't the prettiest of game's by a long way.
The combat itself can also get very sloppy. You’re almost exclusively fighting against the same type of enemy and they’re never that bright. It often feels like we were being attacked with sheer volume of enemies and the chaos that that brings rather than the intellect and finely-honed skills of the BlackWatch. At these moments, Prototype feels a little clumsy and combat becomes more about button-mashing than skill.
Prototype provides some unadulterated fun, utter destruction and a massive range of superpowers to enjoy. There’s plenty of room for improvement, we hope to see that in second installment of Prototype, but there’s also plenty to enjoy from this new franchise.
Final Verdict: 8/10