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5 Reviews

Prototype

Parkour meets big claws in this septic sandbox

Continuing the current trend in moody hoodie chic, Prototype's lead character, Alex Mercer, is a cipher. Waking up on a mortuary slab with superhuman powers and no memory of how he got there, it's up to you to wrestle control of this hyperactive hybrid and bound around New York trying to work out the particulars of his past.

Getting revenge on the people who turned you into a freaky mutant and battling the growing infection that is gripping the city is your secondary objective.

Controlling Alex is a lot of fun. Holding down the right trigger allows you to sprint around, automatically running up the sides of buildings and leaping over obstacles.

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Combining this with a few well timed taps of the jump button turns the city into your own personal playground, giving you the freedom to beat a hasty retreat or land a precision leap into an enemy base. Combat is also extremely accessible, with a straightforward standard-and-special attack system that can be augmented by unlockable moves and abilities as you progress.

By rights, cutting a swathe through the city should be a breeze with the benefit of massive claws and, later on in the game, insect-like armour plating, but Prototype is one of the most chaotic games we've ever played.

In your average fight there'll be a cohort of soldiers, a couple of tanks, three or four choppers, several large mutants, the odd confused taxi driver and hundreds of milling pedestrians.

Oh and an explosion every few moments. It's telling that you can get an achievement for killing 50 characters within five seconds. This insanity works both in the game's favour and against it. The chaotic nature of the dust-ups ensures that they're always exciting.

Plus, when the stat counter racks up the number of casualties and the cost to the military, it's always a satisfyingly huge number. But at times it's just too noisy and when you're trying to execute an objective while getting simultaneously punched, blasted and shot by 20 separate enemies it can be infuriating.

After a couple of tries you'll no doubt find an answer, but we often felt like we were avoiding the logical solution in favour of one that cheated the game.

One mission seemed to suggest that we should hijack a helicopter and then take down other choppers that were fleeing Manhattan. Unfortunately, despite attempting to sabotage every soldier and sentry around, our ride still managed to get blown to bits shortly after take-off.

In the end we just stealth-nabbed rocket launchers from nearby soldiers and shot them all down, never breaking our cover in the process. It was so easy, it really felt like we'd jipped the game.

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Identity theft
The stealth portion of Prototype is a strange one. Alex can assume the identity of any human he consumes and as long as these disguises are activated out of plain sight, they can be used either to cool down military attention or infiltrate a restricted area.

A military disguise is usually a good starting point to allow you to scope out the area. But whether by virtue of the fact that you're usually trashing the place or just because the game decides to blow your cover, it quickly becomes useless.

The other strange thing is that standing too close to a soldier for too long can ruin your cover, but sprinting up the side of a building or gliding past like a flying squirrel doesn't cause so much as a batted eyelid. In the same way, hijacking a tank in an uncompromised military disguise is fine, yet getting into a helicopter isn't.

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