Reviews// [PROTOTYPE]

Posted 19 Jun 2009 15:10 by
Have you ever noticed how when a good movie idea is in production, often a number of "me toovies" get made at the same time. When Spielberg was making Jurassic Park, Roger Corman was beavering away on Carnosaur. While Tom Cruise's lamentable War of the Worlds was being made, director Timothy Hines was working on an even more lamentable screen adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic. It is impossible, it seems, to keep a secret in Hollywood. I wonder if Wolverine Heights will be hastily rushed out to coincide with (shamelessly ride on the coat tails of) the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie.

It seems that the video games industry is going the same way. The similarities between Prototype and inFamous are so great that it is hard to believe the two were developed in isolation. Both feature uncannily similar protagonists who have been, through no fault of their own, bestowed with unimaginable and unwelcome powers. Both have had their loved ones put upon, and their lives interfered with in the most intolerable manner. Both have the word terrorist used in reference to them (terrorists being the new Reds under the bed, now that the former Reds are all capitalist oligarchs, buying our sporting establishments wholesale).

Both of our protagonists inhabit a post-apocalyptic city that is being over-run by mutant antagonists. There is a military presence in both games, and an air of conspiracy that leads us to believe that the military are in some way involved in the cause of the current unpleasant situation. Both Cole (the (anti)hero of inFamous) and Alex (the (anti)hero of Prototype) have the ability to climb up to, glide between and fall from great heights without sustaining injury.

I mean REALLY great heights, in fact. Prototype, which takes place in a passable facsimile of New York City, enables Alex to step off the top of the Chrysler Building (around 300m) and drop to street level. inFamous's city has no comparable height, but Cole can still walk unharmed away from falls that would liquidise the skeleton of real mortals who experienced the same drops.

Both games feature a parkour (street running) element to them, and while Alex is free to drive vehicles - he only tends to do so when required by a mission, otherwise a combination of running up the sides of buildings and jump/gliding is by far a more efficient way of navigating the city, specifically because when he drives, other traffic and pedestrians fail to get out of the way.

The pedestrian thing is not the issue you might expect it to be, because Alex is shockingly amoral. If you run him around the city, he will spontaneously punch, grab or otherwise accost innocent pedestrians he passes.

If you use an armoured vehicle as you are required to do in some missions, it is inevitable that you will flatten some, maybe many, civilians. The toll is counted and added to your level statistics, along with the military costs of the mission, but there is no apparent penalty for killing innocent civilians.
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