Saturday, June 6, 2009
I decided in this particular case to also include my review of a videogame. The game in question is [Prototype] developed by Sierra Entertainment and published by Activision. If you like action, and especially superhero style action, this game is a must-play. It has everything a destruction-junkie could ever want. The large scale battles with hundreds of soldiers, tanks, and helicopters are just a small part of the things this game does right. It is the first game I've ever played where you get to feel the sense of power a superhero must feel. These moments are presented in such a way that you get totally into it, and really feel like you're Alex Mercer, the game's protagonist. You can run much faster than a normal person, jump higher, and sprint up the sides of buildings. Running up the walls of the closest tall building and admiring the breathtaking views from the ledge at the top is one thing. But jumping off that ledge, free-falling for 10 seconds and then slamming to the ground with a shockwave that launches all the people and cars in a 5 foot radius into the air is an absolute joy. One of the interesting superpowers you start out with in the game is the ability to consume any person you can find. Consuming them assimilates their genetic material into your own, and gives you the ability to essentially change your appearance down to the molecular level to theirs and you change so exactly and precisely that everything is translated down to fingerprints, eye color, and the location of the veins that criscross the white of their eyes. There are many, many more other powers that I won't spoil for you but every single one at your disposal feels satisfying. In the past, games of this genre fell victim to pacing problems with respect to your powers (i.e. getting them all at once and taking all the fun out of the game after you get them). Prototype shows that it is possible to overcome this with an experience point based progression system whereby you unlock powers periodically as the game goes on. You start the game with a small amount of abilities and as you complete certain story missions and gain particular amounts of experience points, new powers unlock and can be purchased using the experience points you gain from killing enemies, finding and consuming persons of interest, and finishing story missions. The game's plot is driven by the protagonist's inability to remember any parts of his life before he gained his abilities and who or what gave them to him. The answers to these questions are fleshed out in an extremely interesting game mechanic. Every once in a while in certain areas of the city your minimap will alert you to the presence of a person of interest walking the streets nearby. These are people that know pieces of the story and you get at this information by grabbing them and consuming their entire body along with their memories and then any pertinent information is displayed in a cutscene. These scenes are very nicely done and each one gives you a snippet of the story. Most interestingly sometimes you'll assimilate someone who was at the same event as another person you've already consumed, so you'll get to experience it from another angle. There are always at least two sides to a story and these events are a very novel way to experience the plot of a videogame. The game world looks as though it is based on Manhattan Island and includes large skyscrapers, specialized parts of town that have different architecture and streets that are populated by tons of civilians and vehicles going about the business of their daily lives. The population of the game's metropolis are not just part of the scenery however, they are living, breathing individuals who, just like everybody else, will panic at the first sign of trouble and run from danger because they value their lives. Anytime you do anything super human around civilians they will scream, cover their heads, duck, and run for their lives in sheer and utter horror, attempting to flee from the absolute carnage you will invariably unleash. There are some flaws of course, but none worth mentioning and none get between you and your enjoyment of this AAA title. The developers of [Prototype] should be proud because I believe this game will be viewed as a landmark in gaming, and is a testament to the fact that videogames are able to convey stories in a very powerful way and sometimes can be as impactful or more so than any well made film.
Honestly: 9.5 out of 10
Genre: Superhero, Action, Open-World, Sandbox, 3rd Person Action, 3rd Person Platforming
In the Same Ballpark: Superman Returns the film and the videogame, Superman I-IV, the Spiderman movies and videogames, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Batman, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins,
Somewhat Related: Any Action films, Godzilla, The Siege