The game begins with a cliched case of amnesia; so you and the main character are basically on the same footing. Something bad has befallen you and an unrealistic version of Manhattan. Your sole mission is to figure out what has happened to you and to get revenge on the people who did it. Did what? I don’t know, we can’t remember…

So that sets the stage for Protoype. This game is a single-player sandbox style game sort of like Assassin’s Creed or The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. In the usual fashion our misguided hero has amazing acrobatic abilities and superpowers that allow you to transform and morph his body into all kinds of deadly weapons. Likewise, you can absorb the life force of everyone around you, and even take on their physical likeness.

What really sets this game’s storyline apart from others are the moral implications. You are motivated purely by revenge, and you really don’t care who you kill on your path of destruction.

It all begins on the streets of New York. The city has been overrun by monster mutations and what is left of the military is fighting back, armed with tanks and helicopters. You are caught in the cross fire. It is hard to tell at first whose side you are on. The fact of the matter is, you aren’t on anyone’s side except your own. Throughout the dozen or so hours of gameplay in Prototype, you will often take one side or another for a short time to complete a mission or objective. Make no mistake though, you aren’t here to make friends, and just as soon as a goal is completed, they will quickly turn on you so you had better turn on them first.

Prototype is divided into missions that make up the primary storyline that can be played through in less than 10 hours. However, numerous side quests and objectives are sprinkled all throughout the city along with 250 collectible video clips that help piece back together your memory. It is very easy to get distracted trying to infiltrate a base, or complete some sort of jumping objective. The developers pretty much used every standard issue side-quest that is in the book. This game has time-limit kill objectives and timed racing events, as well as numerous war-zones where you can take one side or another.

As you play through the missions, your character receives new abilities and powers. Be sure to pick up the traveling abilities early. Once you learn how to chain your jumping ability with the glide, you will be able to travel Manhattan much more efficiently. Likewise, learning how to fly helicopters and tanks can really help during the previously mentioned war-zones. Alex has a wonderful extendable arm ability that allows him to quickly close the distance between enemies, or leap high up into the air to sequester a helicopter. He also has a number of super-special moves that can only be used to finish a mass-murder killing spree.

While the battles can be very entertaining with all the weapons at your disposal, the developers of the game tend to go overboard at times. Every battle seems to grow exponentially as innocent bystanders are pulled into the mix and reinforcements are called. It doesn’t take much to turn a simple skirmish into a full fledged war-zone with tanks, helicopters, monsters, and soldiers all trying to take you down. Luckily, anytime you find yourself low on life, you can just grab a citizen and drain his life force to keep on going. By the end of the game, you aren’t invincible, but you mind as well be with all the powers and abilities bestowed by the developers.

And that is what makes Prototype fun. You are basically a killing machine bent on revenge and willing to take it out on anyone. Unfortunately that is where the ingenuity ends. The creators of the game did such a great job on character gameplay that everything else seems rather bland by comparison. The city, for example, lacks very few dynamic elements and the games graphic engine has problems rendering things a simple 20 yards away. Often I wouldn’t be able to find a collectible item until I just happened to land right on top of it. This makes it rather impossible to even begin collecting all your memories efficiently.

The combat is indeed great, but how far can that really take you? The game’s 31 primary missions are all rather uninspiring, and quite reminiscent of objectives completed in previous games. A few of the actual missions in the game felt like they were completed a few hours before, as you run back and forth between three major “bases of operation”. The actual storyline is somewhat entertaining and does end with a twist, but it is hardly a surprise and easily predictable once you’ve played the game for a few hours.

The graphics in Prototype are decent for what they are, but hardly stand out amongst the crowd, and are rather bland in places. While the game looks really good at street level, up in the air, the buildings lack detail and the lighting could use some work. The game runs spectacularly on a GTX470, as it should, at a full 1920×1200 resolution. As with most games, however, I did have to turn down shadows to avoid frame rate drops when things started to get chaotic.

Is Prototype worth picking up? I found it a relaxing gamepad button masher that is easily finished by a casual player a few nights per week. This makes it a great rental, if you have an X-Box 360, but really if you haven’t played some of the other action games of the genre, you are better off playing one of those first and waiting for this one. Here’s to hoping the upcoming Prototype 2 can combine the awesome character control and combat with a better game.

Graphics: C C-
Gameplay: B
Story: C-
Enjoyment: B
Replayability: D-