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Prototype is an open world video game developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Activision. The game was released in North America on June 9, 2009, and in southwestern parts of North America as well as Oceania on June 10, and was released in Europe on June 12.
The game is set in New York City, where a virulent plague is spreading through Manhattan. Those infected are mutated into hideous monsters. The United States Marine Corps, under the command of the black ops organization Blackwatch, is dispatched to contain it. At the center of it is the protagonist, Alex Mercer, a shapeshifter with no memory of his past. Alex has the ability to absorb other individuals, taking on their biomass, memories, experiences, and physical forms. Parallel to the game's storyline is the ability to play the game as a sandbox-style video game giving the player freedom to roam Manhattan.
Many reviewers compared and contrasted it with Infamous, a game released in the previous month by Sucker Punch Productions which features a superhero with developing powers in an open world. However, the gameplay is very similar to Radical Entertainment's The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which another fast-paced sandbox-style game based on the Marvel superhero.
Alex's primary superpower is his ability to shapeshift, changing his form to suit his needs. Going hand in hand with this power is his ability to "consume" others, absorbing them entirely. This process allows Alex to quickly regain health by absorbing the biomass of his enemies. This also allows him to take on the forms of the enemies he absorbs, thereby allowing the player to move about the enemy as one of them. The disguise will only last as long as Alex remains inconspicuous. Alex has super-strength, and will kill most humans in a single punch. He can perform various melee attacks without shapeshifting, as well as more gymnastic moves such as air combos, sliding along the ground using any human enemy's body, and a high-speed rolling cannonball attack.
Alex can also transform parts of his body into a selection of martial implements acquired over the course of the game, either as purchased 'upgrades' or being given them. Offensive powers include the large and powerful Blade, fast razor-sharp Claws (which can also erupt large spikes from the ground), the telescoping Whipfist, Musclemass that augments his strength, and the slow but powerful Hammerfists. Defensive options consist of a large shield for blocking ballistic attacks that needs to regenerate after excessive damage, and full body armor that exchanges agility and speed for toughness in hand to hand combat; both will allow Alex to plow through most obstacles when active. Vision modes include thermal, which allows Alex to see enemies through smoke and other obstacles, and Infected, which highlights those infected with the virus as well as military units. One defensive and offensive power may be active at a time, and using either will negate Alex's current disguise. In addition to his own abilities, Alex can take the weapons from defeated or absorbed enemies. These include automatic rifles, grenade launchers, and missile launchers. He can also seize control of military vehicles, such as tanks and helicopters.
Alex's most powerful attacks are the Devastators, which require Alex to be in Critical Mass - either a state of near-death or having excess stored biomass. These include the Tendril Barrage, which fires impaling tendrils from his body in all directions, the Groundspike Graveyard, which erupts massive spikes from the ground all around Alex, and the Critical Pain, which fires a single beam of hardened biomass from his hands to cause damage on a single target.
For movement around the city, the player has access to a number of enhanced parkour feats. At running speed, he will automatically hop over cars, barriers and other obstacles without losing momentum. Alex will also scale any wall he comes into contact with. He can jump great heights and distances, enough to clear five-story buildings, and can sprint at extreme speed indefinitely. Falls cause no damage to the player even from the greatest heights. Even small jumps are enough for Alex to dent the ground beneath him, and falls from sufficient heights will create shockwaves at the point of impact which will kill most humans nearby. Falling height also factors into several of Alex's melee attacks.
The game follows the story of Alex Mercer (voiced by Barry Pepper) who wakes up on a morgue slab in the basement of Gentek, a large and influential genetic engineering company based in Manhattan. Alex escapes and sets out to recover his memory and find out exactly what occurred. He soon discovers he now possesses powerful shapeshifting abilities that grant him superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, weaponry and the ability to "consume" people to gain their memories, skills and appearance. With no memory of his previous life, Alex is forced to track down and consume those related to the conspiracy in order to uncover the truth. During his quest, Alex faces two factions: the military, consisting of the United States Marine Corps and Blackwatch, a Fort Detrick special forces unit dedicated to combating biological warfare; and the Infected, monsters created by a strange virus that is overrunning Manhattan. Captain Robert Cross (voiced by Jeff Pierce), a Blackwatch officer, is specifically given orders to find and contain Alex.
Alex makes contact with his sister, Dana Mercer, who assists him in tracking down targets who can shed light on his past, leading to the eventual infiltration of Gentek headquarters. Alex finds a woman called Elizabeth Greene contained on level 51 of the building. Greene is a host for the virus, and upon her escape unleashes it upon Manhattan. Dana directs Alex to Karen Parker, his ex-girlfriend. She agrees to aid him in helping to stop the virus, but instead leads him into a trap where he is confronted by Cross. During their battle, Alex is injected with a parasite that threatens to kill him. Alex seeks help from Dr. Ragland - a pathologist linked to Gentek. Ragland helps to remove the parasite and turn it into a weapon against Greene. However, using it on Greene only serves to create the Supreme Hunter, a monstrous being which Alex kills.
As the conspiracy unfolds and with the assistance of an unidentified contact, the origins of the virus and Elizabeth Greene are uncovered: in 1969 the government had tested the virus' predecessor in Hope, Idaho, designed to target predetermined races. The virus then mutated into something far more deadly, and the whole Hope population was infected. Elizabeth Greene was the sole survivor; an anomaly whose body accepted the virus, rewriting her genetic code along with that of her unborn son, designated Pariah. The remaining population of Hope, Idaho, was then liquidated by Blackwatch. Greene and Pariah were kept in captivity for further research, later in conjunction with Gentek.
Soon after Alex discovers his own past: Blackwatch shut down the Gentek project due to leaks and ordered all project personnel eliminated. Gentek employee Dr. Alex Mercer took a sample of the virus (Dx-1118 variant C, dubbed "BLACKLIGHT") as "insurance". Eventually pinned down by Blackwatch in Penn Station, he decides to take down as many as he can with him, shattering the tube and releasing the virus. He is killed on the spot, collapsing on the shattered vial. The virus consumed Alex's corpse, reanimating his body in the process, using his cells to preserve its existence and creating a new entity with inhuman and assimilation abilities. Upon waking in the morgue at the start, the virus clone, Zeus, believed itself to be Alex Mercer.
The contact and Alex pump the new "Bloodtox" biological agent underground in order to drive the hiding virus above ground where it can be fought directly, causing Elizabeth Greene to emerge as a towering, oozing, monstrosity. Greene falls from the monster in human form once she is defeated, and is consumed by Alex. Through her memories, it becomes apparent that General Randall, head of Blackwatch, is prepared to destroy Manhattan with a nuclear device. The contact, revealed to be Cross, and Alex infiltrate the USS Ronald Reagan to stop him. Once Alex consumes Randall, Cross is revealed to have been earlier consumed by the regenerated Supreme Hunter and attacks Mercer. Mercer defeats the Supreme Hunter and moves the weapon out into the Atlantic Ocean, where it detonates safely but catches him in the blast. His remains float back to the city and regenerate after consuming a crow. Thereafter, he muses on what he has become: "Something less than human, but also something more."
After the credits, Manhattan is shown to be slowly recovering, the virus almost completely wiped out. Alex is seen standing on top of a skyscraper, commenting that his work is almost done.
In an interview, the president of Radical Entertainment stated that Prototype would be a trilogy, if the game sold well.
A comic book series made by DC Comics Wildstorm was released along with the game. It reveals more about Hope Idaho, Elizabeth Green, and the viral outbreak. There are a total of 6 issues of the comic.
|GameRankings|| 79.76% (39 reviews) (PS3)|
|Metacritic|| 79% (53 reviews) (PS3)|
|Game Informer||7.25/10 (360)|
|Game Revolution||C+ (360)|
Prototype was released on Steam as well as in retail stores and topped the Steam sales on the week of its release. The Xbox 360 version of Prototype was the top selling game of June 2009 in North America, with over 419,900 units. The game received generally positive reviews, earning an aggregate score of 80% on Metacritic. GameSpot gave the game a 8.5/10, praising the game for its "intriguing storyline and protagonist" and "massive arsenal of moves and abilities", but criticized the game for its "occasionally fiddly controls" and "dull scenery". The Escapist said the game was a perfect "summer fling," praising the combat and movement systems as well as the unique mechanic of the Web of Intrigue. The Onion A.V. Club gave the game an "A" ranking, calling the movement style "exhilarating" and saying it was a "mature, science-fiction superhero fantasy that somehow makes players feel simultaneously powerful and vulnerable."  SPOnG.com's Marcus Dyson awarded the game 84%, stating that "The complex controls can be daunting, but once mastered, unveil a huge array of dramatic moves and impressive weapons."
Prototype was released two weeks after Sucker Punch Productions's Infamous, a game with many similar concepts including a character with superpowers, and a large open world environment that can be traveled by climbing up buildings and gliding about the city. This led many game critics to compare and contrast the games. In his sarcastic Zero Punctuation review of Prototype, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw compared the two games point for point, and determined that he could not tell which was the better game - Prototype won on open world gameplay and combat, while Infamous won on story and side missions - and challenged the respective studios to "produce the best image of the rival game's main character wearing women's lingerie" as a tiebreaker. To his surprise, both development teams rose to the challenge, producing said images, and forcing Croshaw to call it a near-tie, edging out in favor of Infamous, though he still noted that, like their games, both images created independently were nearly equal in the assets that they included.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Brudvig, Erik (2009-06-10). "Prototype Review". IGN. http://ps3.ign.com/articles/993/993690p1.html. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- ↑ Jeromin, Falk (2008-04-22). "PCGH interview with Radical Entertainment about Prototype". PCGamesHardware. http://www.pcgameshardware.com/aid,641131/PCGH-interview-with-Radical-Entertainment-about-PROTOTYPE/News/. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- ↑ Purchese, Robert (2009-04-08). "Activision sets firm Prototype date". Eurogamer. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/activision-concretes-prototype-date. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- ↑ Prototype PS3 Reviews. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2009-06-19.
- ↑ Prototype Xbox 360 Reviews. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2009-06-19.
- ↑ Prototype PC Reviews. GameRankings. Retrieved on 2009-06-19.
- ↑ Prototype PS3 Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-06-15.
- ↑ Prototype Xbox 360 Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-06-17.
- ↑ Prototype PC Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-06-17.
- ↑ Lee, Garnett (2009-06-10). "Prototype Review". 1UP.com. http://www.1up.com/do/reviewPage?cId=3174734. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- ↑ Reiner, Andrew. "Prototype Review". Game Informer. http://www.gameinformer.com/NR/exeres/4FE2551B-856D-45C1-B717-FA978B0F57F0.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- ↑ Costantino, Jesse (2009-06-15). "Prototype Review". Game Revolution. http://www.gamerevolution.com/review/xbox360/prototype. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- ↑ Calvert, Justin (2009-06-11). "Prototype Xbox 360 Review". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/prototype/review.html. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
- ↑ gametrailers.com "Prototype Review". http://www.gametrailers.com/video/review-hd-prototype/51502=gametrailers.com. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- ↑ Orry, Tom (2009-06-15). "Prototype Xbox 360 Review". VideoGamer.com. http://www.videogamer.com/xbox360/prototype/review.html. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
- ↑ http://news.bigdownload.com/2009/06/15/prototype-tops-weekly-steam-sales-charts/
- ↑ Faylor, Chris (2009-07-16). June NPD Sales: Prototype Tops Another Slow Month. Shacknews. Retrieved on 2009-07-16.
- ↑ http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps3/prototype
- ↑ http://www.gamespot.com/ps3/action/prototype/review.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gssummary&tag=summary;read-review
- ↑ http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/reviews/6179-Review-Prototype
- ↑ http://www.avclub.com/articles/prototype,29456/
- ↑ Dyson, Marcus (2009-06-19). SPOnG PROTOTYPE Review. SPOnG. Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
- ↑ Bramwell, Tom (2009-05-20). inFamous Review. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ Ackerman, Dan (2009-06-17). Battle of the suspiciously similar superhero games: Infamous vs. Prototype. CNet. Retrieved on 2009-07-03.
- ↑ Schiesel, Seth (2009-06-24). Slaughter on 14th Street: Laying Waste to New York by Pressing a Button. New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-07-03.
- ↑ Cacho, Gieson (2009-07-07). Why I liked inFamous better than Prototype. San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved on 2009-07-10.
- ↑ Kuchera, Ben (2009-06-15). Prototype review: One thing you can't destroy is yourself. Ars Technica. Retrieved on 2009-07-10.
- ↑ Croshaw, Ben (2009-06-24). Zero Punctuation: Prototype (Flash video). The Escapist. Retrieved on 2009-07-03.
- ↑ Croshaw, Ben (2009-07-03). Yahtzee's Prototype vs. InFamous Challenge. The Escapist. Retrieved on 2009-07-03.