Saturday, 27 June 2009

Prototype, Bionic Commando And Red Faction: Guerrilla On X-Box 360 - Mini Review

If you know me then the fact that I'm a gaming addict isn't news to you. I've owned every UK console since the Atari 2600 back when I was about 4 up to the X-Box 360 (haven't invested in the PS3 just yet) and I've had literally hundreds of games across every one. I've even owned systems such as the old Amstrad CPC 464, Commodore 64, Amiga 500 + and of course various PC's through the ages.

I consider myself somewhat of a gaming expert, a Jedi-level gamer who is rarely beaten in any genre and I don't have a particular forte that I specialise in (that's not me being big-headed, it just a simple fact!). First person shooters, third person action games, driving, sports... you name it, I only usually have to play it once and I can master it. My only problem is being a little too lazy to worry about completing every game and getting all the achievements. That's why you'll see my gamer score is still under 17k. I buy the games for entertainment rather than ranking... I have less than a third of my potential achievements from the 73 games I own and I can't be bothered to go back to the old games and seek out all those lost points. Maybe one day when I have the time I will, but not whilst there are good new games coming out almost every month!

Recently I bought 3 games for the 360: Bionic Commando and Red Faction: Guerrilla first and then Prototype a week later.

Whilst Bionic Commando was 'OK' and kept my interest for a little while, it's not a fantastic game and has a large number of flaws that made me jump straight over to Red Faction within a couple of days. Don't get me wrong, it's enjoyable enough, but its linear level to level design feels claustrophobic, even on it's larger open levels, and too many frustrating mishaps and deaths can occur from the most minuscule mistake when arm jumping from one spot to another. Little things here and there did impress me at first, like the over the shoulder zoom view and the actual arm swinging (which is obviously the main selling point to the whole game), but these things simply wore off as time went on and it all felt a little too weak compared to other games in the 3rd person genre. I'll complete it at some stage but for now it's in limbo on my shelf.

Red Faction: Guerrilla is a better game than Bionic Commando, but there's just one small problem. I've played it before... as Mercenaries 2...
Yes Red Faction: Guerrilla is Mercenaries 2 on Mars. It looks and feels almost identical, apart from the obvious cosmetic differences that life on Mars presents. I admit that I haven't got that far just yet, I didn't give it enough of a chance before I bought Prototype, but so far the much advertised destruction capabilities of your weapons and vehicles, with the realistic physics that come with them, are very enjoyable, if not a tad repetitive. I'm looking forward to getting deeper into this game and experiencing new weapons and vehicles (I've heard there are some impressive mecha-type suits available later on) and seeing just how big the destruction levels can get... It's worth a purchase if you like sandbox-type wanton destruction, or even if you like clubbing the enemies heads in with a giant hammer (most enjoyable), but if you played Mercs 2 and didn't think much of it, you won't find anything for you in this game.

Now on to the best of the 3: Prototype. I'd heard about this a while back and had seen some impressive game play footage on Youtube (which you can see some of below), but the videos just can't give this game the justice it deserves. Again it's not fantastic, it's not a 10/10 game that I'd advise everyone to get, but it is one of the best 3rd person action games to have come out in the last few years. But guess what the problem is? I've played it before... 3 times over in fact... it's Spider-Man 3, The Incredible Hulk and Mercenaries 2 all in one.

Seriously, if you've played Spidey 3 or Hulk then you'll see exactly what I mean within the first 5 minutes of game play. You may not be able to swing on webs or be the size of hulk on screen, but apart from those two minor differences Prototype is a spruced up melding of those two with the weapons and vehicle entrance technique and usage of Mercs 2.

Despite the fact that some may find this a wholly unoriginal game that you feel you've been duped into buying, it's really not, and delivers some of the most enjoyable game play I've had since Left 4 Dead. The extras that you get set it apart from others just enough that it stands out enough to be better.

You play as Alex Mercer, a character who has lost his memory and is infected with a virus that has altered his DNA (that's the story to begin with anyway). This alteration now allows him to not only change his body into a number of sharp and blunt weapons with massive destructive capabilities, but also create armour and a shield to protect him too. On top of those offensive and defensive powers you also have the ability to 'consume' the humans and mutants of New York which allows you to not only absorb their memories but also take on their appearance's at will too. This feature is the single most important in the game as it powers the story of you getting your memory back and finding out why New York is turning into a chaotic battle zone flooded with the virus you seem to have.

As with both Spidey and Hulk you have to augment your abilities as you progress through the game by way of experience points. You obtain these points by killing and consuming beings around you, destroying military or infected buildings within New York and by completing missions. You'll find by the end of the game that you're the very proud owner of some of the most kick-ass moves and specials ever found in a video game. The 'Devastator' moves in particular are an awesome site to behold and don't really get old when you start to continually pull them off. The game also takes a whole new route when you gain the ability to steal vehicles from your military adversaries. You'll wonder how you ever survived without the use of a helicopter the first time you board one, and start tearing up the street with your missiles and chain guns. Even getting into the helicopters can be fun. When yours explodes and you eject, only to glide over to another and take that one, that's some enjoyable game play...

Even if you're not in a vehicle the use of adaptive Parkour (the running and jumping up and down objects and walls thing seen in the beginning of Casino Royale for example) is very natural and responsive. The addition of auto-jumping over cars and debris is especially welcome! You can run at speed, jump great heights and even glide over the streets to get to where you need to go, and all of those moves are upgradeable. All these progressive abilities are probably why I made the effort to complete it, and succeeded. It's addictive and visually stunning and you want to see more.

All in all this game is quite big, it's open, it's morbidly beautiful and it's certainly gory as hell. But it's not as big as you might want and it's not flawless... It's just one of those games you absolutely have to add to your collection if you loved the games that it resembles, which I luckily do, or you just like a mass-scrapfest. It's longevity is about 8 - 11 hours but is enhanced by the fact that once the main story mode is over you can still continue to rid New York of all the filth that still resides in it and gain those extra abilities you may not have grabbed before the finale.

I recommend Prototype over Bionic Commando and Red Faction, but if you have the money; get Red Faction too. RF is fun, it's huge and it won't be a waste of your time or money if you're into that sort of game.




Prototype Video:

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