LSTAR: This week I got Prototype. This week I finished Prototype. That should tell you two key facts off the bat: It's very compelling, but oh so very short. While such a short campaign would be easier to forgive in Corridor Shooter X, in a free-roaming game like Prototype, isn't 70% of your time spent travelling from place to place anyway? I guess it's in Prototype's favour then that transport is so well done. A little like Assassin's Creed, if Altair was able to fly and didn't have to worry about falling off things...
That's a lot of... "Fisting" action...: With 5 biological forms of hand-to-hand (or tentacle-to-hand) combat, not to mention an array of handheld weaponry, there's no shortage of ways to make yourself felt on the shifting battlefields of New York City. From the slow and heavy Hammerfists to the lithe, lethal Blade it's easy to find a favourite. Although I settled into using the awesome Whipfists for most situations, the fact that the game kicks in a burst of slowmo upon opening the radial Powers Menu makes it easy to mix things up when the circumstances demand it.
The Venn Diagrams of War: As the game goes on, the two factions occupying NYC move their areas of influence, based in part on your actions. Reduce a Marine staging point to rubble? Chances are the boys in khaki aren't going to be securing the Upper West Side any time soon. Light up an Infected Hive with a thermobaric device and soon there'll be tanks running roughshod over disease ridden corpses. Some of the best scenes in the game occur when the two factions' areas of influence overlap. Soldiers, mutants, monsters, tanks, helichoppers get to it, while civilians flee and you take advantage of the distraction.
Man-Glider: One of Mercer's most useful and awe-inspiring powers is his ability to glide. While not capable of true flight, running vertically up the side of a skyscraper, leaping off the top and swooping to your destination, bouncing from rooftop to rooftop like some sort of urban flying squirrel is almost better.
Close to Home: Even with all the virulent imagery and state brutality, the most disturbing thing is watching pedestrians walk through central park and blocks of traffic honk their way through rush hour when barely five blocks away, in a neighbouring district, you can hear the sound of frantic gunfire. After all, how close would we let a pandemic come before taking notice?
How... Intriguing: The Web of Intrigue is a very interesting way of letting the player unravel the story of Prototype. While, in function it's not too different to the Journal Entries that have been cluttering up corridors with prevailing frequency since they appeared in Bioshock, the WoI has a much stronger flavour. With Mercer's ability to consume enemies, both body and soul, it makes tremendous sense for him to investigate his predicament by snatching persons of interest from the street. In any case, these mobile memory banks make a Hella lot more sense than assuming that everyone of importance will pour their hearts and souls into a diary any could stumble across... Oh wait.
These Times, They Are A Changin': It's also interesting just watching the City change over the course of the campaign. Seeing increasing numbers of soldiers patrolling the safer districts, propaganda posters ("Do YOU Know The Signs?") being pasted over adverts for TV shows and perfumes, then being defaced when people realize that the closest thing to a cure is a Tactical Nuclear Missile.
Haven't I Seen you Round Here Before?: For a game that's supposed to be about a dynamically evolving super-virus there's a disturbing lack of variation. Pedestrians are decently mixed (not that you ever pay much attention to them) with a variety of ethnicities and styles, but the meat of your enemies, the Military forces have less than a dozen different models, the Infected only 3 or 4. It's really is hard to see why Radical didn't just alter the existing civilian models for their Infected counterparts.
Deja Vu Demolitions: Bizarrely, while Marine Outposts and Infected Hives move across the city throughout the campaign, they always, without fail, settle in the same type of building. It's a real shame that with all the sky-scrapers, warehouses, sports stadiums and apartment blocks in Manhattan that the Infection always infests the same, dull, squat building. Always.
Fightin' Der Final Boss: The final boss is, well...
A: Frankly Unnecessary.
B: A Repetition of a Previous Boss.
C: Set Against a Timer.
D: Barely a fifth the size of the boss that came before it.
It's hard to think of any Golden Rules it doesn't break...
The villain's gambit is also faintly ridiculous...
Villain: "Don't kill me! Only I know the code for the missile!"
Mercer: "I can eat people to learn what they know!"
Villain: "Oh no! A Big monster!"
Mercer: "Let's fight!"
All in all, Prototype is an immensely enjoyable experience. Any technical or design quibbles are quickly swept under the carpet when you realize just how much power the game is offering you. By the end of the campaign you're swatting helicopters like flies, taking out entire squads of infantry with a single sweep of you fists and sending people flying like ten-pins just by running past them. While the Web of Intrigue does provide a bit of extra content, longevity will still be the deciding point for most people. That is, people who aren't already completely sold on becoming a cross between Wolverine, The Hulk and the Common Cold.
Care to nitpick?