Game On!: Prototype

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Timing is everything.

When games with similar premises come out near one another, one title usually manages to stand out. Unfortunately for Prototype, its release so close to the Sony-exclusive inFamous will likely hurt it on that console.

Xbox and PC owners, however, can still get their fill of angsty superheroics with this title - provided they adjust expectations appropriately.

Prototype's Alex Mercer, a former military man working for a genetics firm, awakens in a haze, his memory gone and his body changed. Thus begins a journey to awareness as Alex uncovers the mystery behind how he gained his superhuman abilities - and how he'll get revenge on those who did this horrible thing to him.

You see, Alex eats people. Literally. As a superhero, he's probably closest to Spider-Man's foe Carnage in that he projects tendrils of bloody goo and wraps up his foes before absorbing them.

By ingesting his targets, Alex takes on their skills and memories. When he needs to learn how to drive a tank, he simply sidles up to a tank commander and eats him.

It's not exactly the most family-friendly superpower. In fact, his cannibalistic tendencies make it pretty hard to see him as any form of hero.

Alex also has other powers, too, like super-strength, the ability to run up buildings and a red fluid that sprays from his hands and feet to make him glide. These abilities evolve as the story progresses.

Players jump back and forth through time, and through the amassed superpowers, throughout the game - in the end, it's frustrating to play one level with massive superpowers and the next as weak as a super-powered kitten.

The open-world feel of Prototype is nice, but fairly bland. The New York City setting should scream with character, but the New York of this game is a collection of nondescript buildings filled with generic city-dwellers and military men.

As I played Prototype, I couldn't help but unearth memories better purged. The open-world superhero gameplay felt like a gory update to Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction; the story of New York under parasitic attack reminded me of last year's Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.

Both games had their high points, especially the massive destruction powers of the main characters. Here, the main character just comes off as a bland military experiment. It's sad that Prototype only served to remind me of other games, but maybe that was the goal.

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System: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC

Price: $60

Players: 1

Rated: M for Mature

Who Should Buy It?: Ravenous revengers

GameOn! Grade: C