Prototype Updated Impressions - Super Powers, Stealth, and Combat

We get an updated look at Radical Entertainment's open-world action assimilation game and why sometimes it pays to pretend you're someone else to get the job done.

It has been only a couple of months since we last saw Prototype, but Radical Entertainment's take on the sprawling open-world gameplay genre has made leaps and bounds forward, continuing to impress us at every development milestone.

Set in current-day New York, the game places you in the role of comic-book-style antihero Alex Mercer, a guy who wakes up suffering from amnesia and, unsurprisingly, has no idea what's going on. Your job is to use the many physical forms and abilities at Mercer's disposal to find your way through the world in search of answers. This much we know thus far: Alex was--or perhaps still is--involved in some kind of government conspiracy regarding top-secret biological research. It looks like someone put more than a spoonful of anger in the recipe, and now Alex is out to pay it back in spades.

In Prototype, you'll play as a mysterious character with superpowers and a bad case of amnesia.

Our hands-off demo of the game at Sierra's recent press event in San Francisco joins the story a little way into the action, and showcases many of the abilities that you'll unlock throughout Prototype's story.

Our guide began at street level, with Alex jogging along through wide and detailed New York streets and surrounded by cars ripe for tossing around. We broke into a run, and at a reasonable clip we hurtled past street blocks quickly, although that was only a glimpse of the character's superpowers. Rounding a corner, we found ourselves facing a large, disorganized crowd of mutants with their sights firmly set on taking us down. Think an angry, clumping group of zombies from 28 Days Later stuck in a giant cement gauntlet. Rather than stay and fight, we ploughed through the crowd, pushing bodies out of our way as we went, and throwing the odd punch just in case any of them got any funny ideas. After stopping in the middle of the street at a spot with some breathing room, we picked up an abandoned car and lobbed it effortlessly into the masses. Content with the amount of destruction and ruckus we had caused, we took off, jumping high into the air and running along a building's external walls parkour style, and scampering onto a rooftop out of sight.

We've mentioned it several times before, but it's worth noting again simply because it plays such a pivotal role in the way that you interact with the gameworld: Like in any other open-world game with even basic artificial intelligence, the "deceive or destroy" mechanic in Prototype will determine not only your relationship with the environment, and how much it bites back, but also your level of success in completing challenges. Obeying the laws of the land will keep you alive. We were shown several examples that showcased the system, the first of which saw us attempting to destroy 12 "virus sniffer" towers on rooftops scattered around the city. The first few were cakewalks, easily taken out without raising suspicion by simply locating and attacking them. Subsequent sniffers were more heavily guarded by soldiers and required us to stealthily "consume" military personnel without being spotted. The first was easy, given that the target was not in the line of sight of the other characters. Simply sidling up, attacking, and stepping through them consumes their biomass, and best of all, there are no messy corpses to be found later.

You'll need to use stealth as well as brute force.

However, another patrol saw us consume the second soldier. This group opened fire and forced us to go from stealthy to seditious in seconds, lashing out violently to neutralize the situation before others could be informed. Taking on more than one soldier was a bit much, and because the action was too hot for us, we needed to escape. We bounded across rooftops, weaving through structures and strafing through incoming helicopter fire until we could drop quietly into a back alley to reduce our threat level. The work-in-progress version of the game that we saw included a circular, colored ring to indicate our aggro level, similar to the wanted or suspicion meters in the Grand Theft Auto games or Assassin's Creed. White lets you go about your business unnoticed; yellow shows potential risk; orange indicates a local risk that can be solved by killing all of the witnesses in the immediate proximity; and red tells you that your cover is blown and it's time to bug out, kill, or be killed.

Consuming has many functions. First and foremost, it provides you with health, and seeing as how you won't find first-aid kits with giant, glowing red plus signs scattered around the city, you'll need to take on the biomass of your foes to keep going. Consuming also helps you unlock Alex's past; devouring characters not only replenishes you, but also bestows on you their memories, further driving the game's story and unlocking the secret behind what's happening. Eating people also powers up your energy bar, which lets you unleash devastating moves such as launching exploding tentacles from your body that impale those around you.

One of the most unique abilities at Alex's disposal is shape-shifting. Consuming someone lets you assume the form of your target, so you can pass yourself off as a lowly grunt or a superior officer, each with his own access level to military data and abilities. Soldiers won't bat an eyelid when an officer commandeers a tank, but your cover starts to slip when you begin attacking your army comrades. Although we didn't have a chance to see any examples for ourselves, the Radical representatives did explain that in some cases, preserving your cover will be of the utmost importance. For instance, one mission will require you to steal a Black Hawk chopper and to complete the mission using your false pilot identity before returning to base. Once there, you'll receive a confidential briefing to which you would otherwise not have been privy.

The dangerous streets of the city will be full of hostile mutants and enemy soldiers.

The gameworld is described by the developers as "persistent-ish," which means that battles will continue to rage between mutants and the army even while you're not present. This means that it's not uncommon to come across action in midstride, and as a result, to end up keeping your nose clean where normally either faction would have attacked you on sight. Given the flexibility of the gameplay style, you may decide that you're not in a peaceful mood, in which case you can break out the tentacles, grab the nearest officer, jump into a tank, or call in an air strike to play the two sides against one another. Thinning out the ranks--before you go about doing whatever it is you're there for--is a viable tactic and can make things a lot easier. After all, you're a one-man army, even if you do have superpowers.

Even with several months of development time left ahead of the game's as-yet-unannounced third-quarter 2008 release date, Prototype is already looking great. We'll be following the game all the way to the finish line when it busts its way onto the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms.

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287 comments
lildarrien62308
lildarrien62308

i think this game is going to be great the powers and skills seem likem there going to to a big part od the game than just a whole lot of videos scens

Deimonian
Deimonian

InFamous only comes for the PS3, Prototype comes for PC, X360 and PS3. Ergo; Prototype - Game of The Year :D

Infamous149
Infamous149

Assasinnation has pretty damn good point

Assasinnation
Assasinnation

Infamous & Prototype two super-heroes but one game of the year....

DeafMonkey39
DeafMonkey39

I'm tototally bying this game!!...although they could work alittle more on the graphics!!...but graphics don't matter much alot!!...i reserved(pre-ordered) mines already and payed for the whole game already!!...now all i have to do is wait!!...[PROTOTYPE] ROCKS!!...

galzalan2008
galzalan2008

This is the game I bin waiting for a long-long time. It will go to the top.

halo1579
halo1579

this game looks absolute brutal and destrutive with good gameplay and top quality graphics!! its going to beat gta and infamous

raith616
raith616

looks like carnage on a massive scale how sweet will this be n based on marvel could get more intresting as it goes

beekayjay
beekayjay

This is the reason why I won't be buying Infamous immediately: I'll be waiting til this comes out to make a fair comparison between the final builds and their scores. In all honesty, even if Infamous looks visually more polished, the action and powers and just pure mayhem looks WAY more satisfying in Prototype! The powers are absolutely GODLY! I dunno, there's something very weak and impotent about Infamous' powers and how they're represented. Plus the enemies in that game look stupid and unthreatening. Prototype, though graphically not nearly as stunning as GTA4, and not as polished looking as Infamous, seems to have my attention more. I'm in.

yoshi_311
yoshi_311

This is goin to the top of my must get list right next to Resident Evil 5 and Possession

Djdiddles77
Djdiddles77

This game sound freakin awesome!!!!! Hope they post more info on it or at least a release date!! Can't wait for this one!!!

LYTEK
LYTEK

Infamous looks good, but Prototype looks waay better. More powers, better looking/sounding storyline, plus possbile multiplayer (which they've been back and forth on) all make this game a potential good buy. Hopefully neither game (Prototype/inFamous) pulls a Haze, which was the last super-hyped game that sucked, on PS3.

gamesgreatest91
gamesgreatest91

so who do you think will win in a fight between cole (infamous) and alex mercer (prototype) i think alex would win because all he has to do is consume cole and take all his powers lol.

9th_SolBadguy
9th_SolBadguy

people keep talking about Infamous or Prototype i say Prototype BOUGHT on he first day just like SF4 and I'm a PS3 owner just hoping that the game really looks as good as they say like on a GTA 4 level and not as repetitive as some game like Spiderman and we will have a game worth sinking our teeth into

Stoooovie-land
Stoooovie-land

Those people who only own an XBox 360 dont care about infamouse. you rich asswholes

Molezzi
Molezzi

Hmm... there's gonna be ALOT of competition between this and imfamous. But im thinking infamous looks better graphically. BUT YES GIMME BOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

megatomm_
megatomm_

safe, i cant wait, allthough i recon little big planet should keep me busy till its out :D

emorainbo
emorainbo

looks awesome. I just hope the world is huge and not linear.

CN007U4rek
CN007U4rek

I want this GAME! Looks like its going to be GORY and I like that its open world game style

Galagoger
Galagoger

damn i hate this.Its a great game but it will come ot in 2009.it sucks!!!

Darkestrah
Darkestrah

man this is on my must buy list.... ever since i've downloaded the trailer .. like last year. also eagerly waiting for Resident Evil 5. . . look at that graphics man. even though i have a SLI ready machine i still prefer my Xbox 360. its going to be a very expensive yaer ... Gears of War 2 is also coming out. **** man all these great games !!!!! BRILLIANT

DFWisely
DFWisely

woww this game is just gonna be great end of, a darker superhero game thats been long overdue

skywalkerforce
skywalkerforce

I think this game is going to be better than GTA IV but im sure many won't agree with that. This game is going to be def. one of the best games to come out for the New Gen. Sytems

BMX-BOY
BMX-BOY

looks sick cant wait till it comes out but thats in a while DAM!!! LOL

IzumonoRyuu
IzumonoRyuu

good graphic mean heavy system requirement...

kye3k1
kye3k1

Looks like a gory version of spider man without the swinging around and weapons instead of web So it should be much better.

td_tempest
td_tempest

Do want this. I hope they have some collector edition or pre-release offer.

sony-cac
sony-cac

I think that the game will be awesome.I will wait is many is it has just to get this game. :)

Aminal_basic
Aminal_basic

The game sounds great. I do hope they do a good job of it even if it means delays. I'd rather wait 3 months extra for a game than have it full of bugs and having to add 6 patches before it's actually playable. All in all I would love to play it. It is just different enough to say that is is unique. There are so many run of the mill games that it's a real pleasure to play something that challanges the mind while fullfilling the need to kill and destroy.

luckygamer07
luckygamer07

sounds awsome ima get this game for pc, so if any one wants to play wit me add me on xfire (luckytrooper7) lets have a blast lol

chechak7
chechak7

interesting game and ......weird game?? but ALOT OF blood and violence yaaaa

Dualmask
Dualmask

Sounds interesting. I wish games like this had more diverse protagonists though. The powers seem fun enough but must it always be the 'guy with no knowledge of what's going on and strange powers'? Still, the game may be fun.

The_Godfather_
The_Godfather_

looks like this is going to be an interesting game..

vufor
vufor

Amazing gameplay and stealth packed action game, a lot of blood and violence. like it. Would be great act to drive superpower super-duper hero!

sumo915
sumo915

hes not the only infected.

Jagrofess
Jagrofess

Looks really cool. A bit like 'I Am Legend' only the main character is infected and there are still people about. I already want it...

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

gfile Looks very interesting, thou I am worried about PC controls and camera. -------------------- If you have ever played GTA3 on PC you will know this will control better then the console versions... plus if you hate it so much just buy a wired 360 controller and call it a day...

gfile
gfile

Looks very interesting, thou I am worried about PC controls and camera.

Razrak
Razrak

I'm always leery of open sandbox games. The previewer seems to think they can put it together. I look forward to playing it.

Gameboy2k
Gameboy2k

I want the prototype of prototype. Give me the demo Nowwwwwww.

bush66
bush66

This game is going to be incredible, I absolutely can't wait for Prototype to come out (but sadly I have to).

demi_veritaz
demi_veritaz

If they flesh it out and make it work right, this will be a great game. I can't wait to see how well they perform.