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Discussion The Patient Gamer: Prototype - An Open World Game for the Rest of Us

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,513
997
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Over the years I have grown increasingly tired of the Open World game design philosophy. What started as a way to live in and inhabit a fantastical other place has slowly but surely been run through the processor a bit too many times until the original concept is nothing but a smooth grey paste of its original self. I now associate Open world games with shopping lists, a series of rote, mundane tasks that have to be completed to unlock the next dribble of generic story content. The pacing is off, the games aren't fun, and for all the proclamations of openness the games are often extremely restrictive of what you can and cannot actually do without either soft or hard consequences.

Enter Prototype. The game does not revolutionize the open world genre, but it does take off some of the shackles that bind it. Its a generally unpretentious game that understands why it is a fun game and really just focuses like a laser on those points.

The Story: You're Alex Mercer. You wake up in a morgue in the middle of your autopsy, with no memory of your former life. As you try to escape, it quickly becomes apparent that not all is right with the world. Alex himself has started to display strange abilities and powers while the city of New York has come under martial law as a zombie virus outbreak grips the city. The story unfolds through a series of linear story missions along with a feature known as the "web of intrigue" where you randomly come across "high value targets" to consume as you move between missions, which will unlock a bit more of the conspiracy behind the mystery that is Alex Mercer.

This game does a couple things right that I have not experienced in an open world game before (not that I play many):

The movement. A lot of fanfare surrounds the recent PS4 spiderman game, but Prototype definitely deserves some credit for making getting around the big apple much less of a chore. Movement is fast and well contextualized. You can run up buildings, dive off and piledrive the ground below and send streetlamps/cars/pedestrians flying from the shockwave. You can leap off buildings and glide around to cover vast stretches of ground quickly. Prototype really nails that power fantasy feeling of being in an open world and being able to finally get around like you always wished you could.

The combat. Fast paced and brutal. This is no cover shooter. Alex will find himself alternately in combat situations with the military, other times against the hordes of infected, and other times in a three way brawl as the military and infected vie for control over a section of New York. Civilians and enemies are the health pick-ups as you consume them in the middle of combat to restore health. Pick up cars and hurl them at enemies and buildings. Use an array of built in offensive and defensive powers to carve through enemies. Hijack Tanks/APCs/Helicopters for increased mobility and firepower. Enter stealth by consuming civilian or military personnel and assuming their form. There are a lot of gameplay mechanics here and while naturally the game follows a more broad and shallow approach, none of the mechanics are unsatisfying to use.

There are plenty of upgrades and upgrades to upgrades for the player to unlock. Experience comes cheap and easy and I never once felt that it took a bunch of grinding to pick up the powers and abilities I wanted. All the game's side missions consist of a variety of challenge missions. You get the standard movement ones where you have to parkour to objectives or glide off a building and land in a target zone. You have the Kill missions where you have either take down a specific enemy or structure or have to mow through a horde of enemies with a specific weapon/power/vehicle. Lastly are the battle missions where you have to take a side in the conflict between infected and army and push one side to victory.

The Sandbox. The game's small scale New York City is well realized, with good sized crowds of people walking around, cars driving, the usual stuff. Things get fun as you walk pass into an infected zone of the city as infected run around attacking civilians, cars careen around the road getting into traffic jams and pile-ups. The whole experience is strangely surreal, like a block over people are getting coffee and here they are fighting for their life as viral blight consumes the city. In zones where a military base and an infected zone overlap, things kick into high gear as the army and infected engage in full scale war. The experience feels so cleanly organic, like the AI was given some basic rules and told to go to town, it keeps the sandbox feeling much fresher than it has any right to.

The game is a bit dated and a little janky as it hales from the early PS3 era. Playing on the PC, you have to manually peg the game to 4 cores of it will crash right out the gate, but otherwise things are quite stable and the game runs well on a potato of a PC.

If you're in the mood for a solid couch/controller power fantasy GTA with none of the restrictions superhero/villain game, then Prototype is your huckleberry. Can get it for a song nowadays, have fun!
 

DeathReborn

Platinum Member
Oct 11, 2005
2,227
171
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Prototype 1 was indeed a blast to play, when you get around to the sequel try not to let the narrative/character let down sour your memories of the first game too much.
 
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GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,513
997
136
Prototype 1 was indeed a blast to play, when you get around to the sequel try not to let the narrative/character let down sour your memories of the first game too much.
- Yes,I've read the sequel does some strange things with the story, but I fully plan on playing it down the line. Damn shame we'll never get a Prototype 3 thanks to the sequel bombing.
 

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