Prototype: NYCC (Much) Cop?

By Kieron Gillen on February 12th, 2009 at 2:54 pm.

KER-DEAD!
[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.

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58 Comments »

  1. El_MUERkO says:

    “It’s a dead-cat bounce from a 10th-floor suicide.”

    tested this much?

    nom nom splat!

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m a serious journalist. Do you think I’d have said that without serious empirical support.

    KG

  3. AndrewC says:

    How do you go about finding suicidal cats?

  4. Markoff Chaney says:

    Getting properly done gore or violence in any medium is difficult, as you can’t really go out and do much field research without landing in jail.

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for quite a while now. I’ve heard it’s Hulk Smashy (and from the same devs of Ultimate Destruction was it?) fun with even more stuff you can do than just smash. I’ve heard good things about the narrative too. A sandbox is the perfect way to do this, especially if the promise of locked environments that only open when you gain certain knowledge or powers fulfills a MetroidVania collect and go exploring in new areas itch. Do want.

  5. A:\Big.bat says:

    I’m looking forward to this! I had no idea cats were involved.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Note to self: Turn down metaphor use.

    KG

  7. Heliocentric says:

    You don’t find suicidal cats, they find you or you find cats and make them suicidal.

  8. Vivian says:

    Cat’s can fall ten storeys and be fine. Trust me, I’m a scientist, and my friend is a cat scientist

  9. Kieron Gillen says:

    But are they suicidal cat scientists?

    KG

  10. Acosta says:

    So a game about suicidal cats eh? looks interesting!

  11. Nighthood says:

    So, from this I assume you are a dog person, throwing these cats out of 10 storey buildings. But I suppose that then it’s ASSISTED suicide, so I put it to you that you murder cats!

    *Calls RSPCA*

  12. Scuzzeh says:

    They’re still trying to fill their vacancy for a cat psychologist.

  13. phuzz says:

    @AndrewC: It’s all about what music you play to them as they’re growing up.
    The contents of a hypothetical “Suicidal Cat” playlist are left as a provocation to the comments thread….

  14. FunkyB says:

    I can’t help but think that picture is begging to have a caption that reads ‘Falcon PUNCH!’

    No? Maybe just me then.

  15. AndrewC says:

    So about violence:
    Melee in games is rubbish. If a game is about the gore it should be honest and upfront about it, and do it well. In most games where punching/stabbing happens, it feels like the characters are ghosts to each other, with their animations just overlapping and clipping over each other.

    In Assassin’s Creed, when you put a blade into a poor fellow, it would go in very staisfactorily, but would then not move as the poor fellow writhed about, even though it was deep within him, thus destroying the illusion that I was killing somone, which is the point of all games.

    So – what games do it well? What are games doing to solve this problem? I’m guessing that it’s a right bastard/very expensive to solve but if a game is selling itself on its violence it needs to get its priorities straight.

    Like in the top picture – If I punch through someone, I want him to stay on my arm, swinging about as i punch further people, until I decide to shake him off. I want the poor fellow to be SOLID.

    Is this ever likely to happen, or should I continue getting my thrills pushing cats off balconies?

  16. Jenny Creed says:

    I have two questions about the game: Can you steal cars? And can you do anything with a car that you couldn’t do without a car?

  17. AndrewC says:

    @phuzz That would certainly explain why there are so many suicidal cats around Kieron.

  18. Lars BR says:

    AndrewC: Clearly, a suicidal cat is one which chooses not to land on its legs and walk away when you toss it out of a 10th floor window. I reckon Kierons experiments have shown that most cats are suicidal.

  19. aldo says:

    That would certainly explain why there are so many suicidal cats around Kieron.

    Not bad catnip?

  20. Bhazor says:

    Glad to hear this lives up to it’s heritage though I dearly dearly hope this is all there is and they won’t try and sneak stealth in when you’re not looking.

    Also Suicide cats.
    Not as sexy as suicide girls.

  21. James Tao says:

    “Occasionally, there’s one guy who needs to have Mr Torso bisected from Mr Legs.”

    It would be wrong of me to say that this comment makes me want the game even more, right? As a mature, intelligent gamer, this should probably not make me *grin*.

    I’m so very much looking forward to this game. For now I must entertain myself with Ultimate Destruction (Banner skin, natch), reminding myself that soon I can do it with shapeshifting and suicidal cats.

  22. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    I would like to find out more about the stealth aspects, the whole ‘stealing identity’ mechanic. I hope it’s not just a tacked on extra, because, although destruction is fun and all, I felt that Crackdown did lack the option to do stuff stealthily.

  23. Skurmedel says:

    Yeah Crackdown certainly lacked a stealthy options. You could be quite stealthy, and even stealthier with the cloaking device you got from the DLC, but it was always “sneak… sneak… kill a dude” and then all hell breaks loose. Any foe on the compound seemed to instantly know your location too.

  24. manintheshack says:

    ‘thus destroying the illusion that I was killing somone, which is the point of all games.’

    I like this attitude.

  25. ChaosSmurf says:

    Elbow dropping a tank is good, mkay.

  26. phil says:

    Weirdly, I never realised real dead cats bounce, I’d only ever heard of the phrase in terms of collasping national economies, though ours doesn’t seem to have bounced yet.

    Crackdown failed, for me, because the enemies were to domestic (would a small mech have killed them?), your character was too prone to lead poisoning and it was horribly annoying to climb a building for over two minutes only to get blown off the top. You could pick up a hatchback? So could Geoff Capes, and Mr Capes probably has a more satisfying melee move set.

    Hulk worked because, well, Hulk SMASH HUGE THINGS (and small things). He was a durable, gorilla-like green ball of rage, bouncing though a city, plucking helicoptor from the sky with one hand and using a tank as a shield with other.

    Hopefully Prototype will be similarly ‘big.’

  27. Xercies says:

    I’m wondering if Prototype has the taking people’s identities anymore, from the videos and all the game stuff I have seen and heard it just seems to be this killing people and destructing scenery. What about the bit about sneaking in a missile base and firing all the missiles as your identity is the commander.

  28. Helm says:

    Your impressions are always interesting, but

    “Despite being an adult game, it’s the sort of adult game that not-too-strictly-adults are going to adore.”

    I don’t see anything ‘adult’ about this at all, really. In fact, back in the thread with the videos, to hear a grown man say things like “here, let’s do the elbow drop again. It is pretty cool even if I do say so myself” was kinda facegroany for me. This seems like total early teenager fantasy. I didn’t think the gameplay videos looked compelling and also since possibly Assassin’s Creed, all the high resolution modern renderer ‘realistic’ ways to style-kill what seem to be guards and spec ops just doing their jobs with daggers to the forehead or gratuitous decapitations actually have started to make me feel bad/queasy. When’s the point where “like, fucking awesome, man” *high fives* more becomes “uh, I kinda feel bad about doing this now”.

  29. Dominic White says:

    Just to be pedantic, it’s Hulk: Ultimate Destruction you’re thinking of.

    And to be less pedantic, that’s goddamn fantastic news. Hulk: UD was one of my favourite games of the previous generation. Having a bigger, prettier, bloodier followup is pretty awesome.

    I mean, how many other games let you elbow-drop tanks into submission?

  30. Dreamhacker says:

    I once met a cat that had survived a 6 floor fall without injuries…

  31. Kieron Gillen says:

    Helm: That’s kind of my point. But, in a very real legal way, it’s going to be an 18-rated game.

    KG

  32. sEnf says:

    “Note to self: Turn down metaphor use.”

    pwned.

  33. Tim James says:

    All those 80s moves you listed still hold up, except the stop-motion at the end of Terminator.

    Robocop, too, especially.

  34. Steven Hutton says:

    Helm: I guess those guys shouldn’t have taken jobs where you get brutally ripped to pieces for a living, huh?

  35. AndrewC says:

    I bet you haven’t read your own contract Steven Hutton, have you? Section 3, paragraph 4?

  36. sbs says:

    That picture on the top of the article made me laugh.

  37. Gunrun says:

    “It’s a dead-cat bounce from a 10th-floor suicide.”
    Actually cats have a non-fatal terminal velocity, if they are dropped out of a 7th story or above window there is a very good chance they’ll survive it, Any lower and they might not have time to get their legs beneath them.

  38. Klaus says:

    Gunrun, nobody cares for cat facts. Just gratuitous violence.
    Also, if the guards don’t want to be killed then they should become static background characters.

  39. PHeMoX says:

    Lol, I always wanted a game where you can punch through your enemies..literally. ;)

  40. Steven Hutton says:

    AndrewC: Wow, that brings a whole new meaning to the term “severance pay”.

    Ahahahahaha…. sorry everyone… that was terrible.

  41. Helm says:

    Kieron: oh if by ‘adult’ you didn’t mean a value judgment but just the sticker on the box yeah… sorry for misunderstanding you.

  42. Pags says:

    Are the cats that weren’t deemed good enough to be used as billboards for FEAR 2 used as test subjects for your crazy cat-dropping experiments?

  43. JKjoker says:

    again, this game looks cool and all, and im sure screwing ny with a pint sized godzilla will be really fun, but the question is, is that all there is to this game ? will it have a story mode ? will you go somewhere else ? because this will get old in about 2 hours

  44. Dominic White says:

    Yes, there’s a story. The devs have estimated that start to finish will be about 12 hours. I expect it’ll be fairly standard ‘beat the conspiracy’ stuff, but if it’s anything like Hulk: UD, the scale of the violence will constantly escalate.

    In UD, you started out powerful enough to throw cars. By the end, you could grab a giant robot and piledrive it through a tower block, destroying both of them. If they can nail that feeling again, where you start out superhumanly strong, and end up a god of destruction, I’ll be rather chuffed.

  45. JKjoker says:

    12 hours ? i hope this doesnt end like assassin’s creed running arround capturing flags in the top of buildings, oh well, resident evil 5 looks like crap, fear 2 and shellshock 2 are ugh, any kind of hope i had of anything good coming out this year is gone, my general expectations are at a record low, its the right time to surprise me with unexpectedly good gameplay…

  46. Radiant says:

    Resident Evil 5 looks like crap?
    What kind of flowery golden rainbow shits do you do?

    Resident Evil looks awesome.

    Truth be told this game sort of slipped under my radar although I didn’t really like Crackdown I do like a good destruct ‘em up.

    when is it out?

  47. Radiant says:

    And who is it by?

  48. JKjoker says:

    @Radiant: it looks like resident evil with better textures and everything else ruined by a forced coop feature (which was done much better by l4d btw) that will turn into a full time escort mission because there is no way you can get a buddy to play 40 hours with you, also the ai looks a lot dumber and for what preview said everything other than shooting sections are gone (understandable since they are focusing in the multiplay and it wouldnt work with slow paced horror/exploration/story areas), so yeah, it looks like crap to me, i dont really care about the coop and thats all the game has going for it

  49. JKjoker says:

    *it looks like resident evil 4

  50. A-Scale says:

    Evidently we’ve got very different taste in games. I could not be less interested in this game.

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