By Kieron Gillen on February 12th, 2009 at 2:54 pm.
[I was at New York Comic Con last week. Between doing what I do at comic cons (i.e. drink), I found some time to have a quick crack at a load of games on the floor. Quick cracks. I’m going to write up the ones that stick in the memory.]
A kid in his early/mid teens – 14 tops – is watching me play for all my time with Prototype. As we walk away, he virtually gasps “I am so getting that”. I can only agree, and I’m not that surprised that he said so. Despite being an adult game, it’s the sort of adult game that not-too-strictly-adults are going to adore.
I’m fine with that. I’d be a hypocrite were I not. Thinking back to my eighties teenagerdom, I remember of how Predator, Aliens and Terminator were most adored by 15 year old boys – or those men who were still in connection with their inner-15 year old boys. They were fundamentally silly. They were fundamentally glorious. Prototype grasps that.
It’s phenomenally gore-ridden. It’s phenomenally stupid. As I worked my way through the Times Square of the demo, winces and moans rose from the crowd as I found some new incredibly violent way to hurt other human beings. It’s the details which get me – in the animation. How, when you throw someone head-first into the floor, they bounce. It’s perfectly judged violent bounce. Any more and it would be a pure cartoon, flesh as rubber. Any less and it would imply that you weren’t throwing them that hard. What they’ve gone for looks like what a bag of flesh and bones would do if thrown into the ground with superhuman force against the floor. It’s a dead-cat bounce from a 10th-floor suicide. It’s pretty horrible. It’s pretty awesome.
The demo itself was structured to show off the variety of techniques available to the titular be-hoodied Prototype. While in the full game you’ll be able to switch between your various ‘orrible apendages, the demo moved you through a series of increasingly high-stakes battles – from soldiers to tanks to helicopters to some kind of similarly monstrous things – as it gave you these new ways of hurting. So, for example, when your hands were club-like appendages, you were ideal for cracking open tanks and causing enormous impact-things. As blades they… well, I think the blades allowed you to strike the ground and cause ebony-black incisors to emerge from the floor like deadly blossoms, tearing apart anyone caught in their way.
I say “I think” because I was spending most of my time running up walls and trying to work out new funny things to do with car-throwing and wall-climbing, and not much time making notes. Or any.
It’s an obviously busy game, with the streets filled with the military, infected humans, and plain old normal humans. As their main device is to allow you to carefully pick your target when you want to pick your target, the trigger enters a slow time mode allowing you to flick between major targets before going in for the kill. In practice, I used – and didn’t use – that depending on whom I was trying to sort out at any given moment. Occasionally, just killing everyone around you is fine. Occasionally, there’s one guy who needs to have Mr Torso bisected from Mr Legs. And, for those who watched the videos, I didn’t hit any Quick-Time-Events. Whenever a symbol flashed up, it was a reminder of how to activate a said abilities rather than a one-off canned event. In fact, I can’t remember seeing them in play. I was too busy looking at how splendid it is to do a sub-orbital elbow-drop on a tank.
So, yes, enjoyed it immensely. It is, basically, R-Rated Hulk Ultimate Rampage. But I don’t see that as a problem. The only problem I see with that is that I couldn’t work out a way to steal the entire stand and take it home for my own pleasure. Pah.