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[Prototype]: A great guilty pleasure

July 3, 2009

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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PrototypeAlex Mercer is a deadly weapon. A shape-shifting, energy consuming, venomous instrument of death.

He ain't smiling much lately and you know, that just can't be good.

The unapologetic anti-hero of Activision's '[Prototype]', the merciless Mercer is at the centre of a whirlwind government conspiracy involving the military, a lethal virus, a genetics company and lots and lots of snarling beasties.

Influenced by such films as 'Dawn of the Dead' and '28 Days Later', '[Prototype]' turns parts of New York City into scenes right out of a George Romero movie. A virus of unknown origin is spreading through the city turning everyday people into shambling, flesh-eating zombies. Transforming entire neighbourhoods into "hives", the virus has also spawned some demonic creatures with extraordinary powers, including Mercer himself.

PrototypeHis memory mysteriously wiped clean, a vengeful Mercer decked out in his angst permeating hoodie, sets out to find those who are responsible for destroying his life and to make them pay dearly. To combat and contain the infestation and Mercer, the military has instituted martial law and even built provisional bases in some areas of New York City.

The method you use to extract information from specific targets and gain clues and powers is what makes '[Prototype]' one hell of a guilty pleasure. Like comic book villains Venom and Carnage, Mercer consumes victims by ingesting them into his body and he does this by killing them first by punching a hole through their bodies, slamming them around and pummeling the holy crap out of them or just spiking them head-first into the concrete. Not so nice business that. Hence, the 'M for Mature' rating, boys and girls.

PrototypeBy gobbling up people, Mercer gains their memories, experience points and is able to regenerate his health. The carnal "feasting" also triggers his ability to disguise himself. The power to become whomever he has consumed comes in handy when trying to infiltrate high security buildings, military bases within the city and escape the authorities after they have been alerted to his presence.

By destroying enemies, completing missions, you can earn experience points and use them to upgrade or "evolve" Mercer. You can make him run faster, leap farther, glide like a bat, generate a protective shield, transform his arms into massive blades to chop people or vehicles in half, hijack tanks or helicopters, unleash a destructive shockwave or other such massive power attacks.

PrototypeIn the free-for-all sandbox setting, you can infiltrate and annihilate military bases or hives for some serious, serious points or just hack around and obliterate the environment and monsters for experience. The game's conscience rests in the fact that if you cause enough wanton dismemberment and destruction, the military will call in a strike force of tanks and helicopters to spank you good. Really, the strike teams are just another way to procure more experience. There are collectables to find and event missions to play too. The event missions are great distractions and justify causing some more fun filled mass destruction.

Who need a conscience anyways? Hence, the 'M for Mature' rating, boys and girls.

'[Prototype]' is an unusual venture for Activision and developer - Vancouver's own  Radical Entertainment - as basically what they have done is taken the tried and true engine and gameplay from last year's hit 'Spider-Man: Web of Shadows', created a whole new character and story and set it in New York City. It is an exceptional idea and a novel way to do something fresh with the successful formula.

Fans of 'Web of Shadows', 'The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction' or even the very underrated 'Crackdown' will be in their glory ransacking and razing the world of '[Prototype]', the first blockbuster 360 release of 2009.


Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Radical Entertainment
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site:

Rating: 9 / 10


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