Wot I Think: Prototype

By Alec Meer on June 16th, 2009 at 3:45 pm.

On sale now is the oft-delayed open-world anti-hero killathon by Radical Entertainment, they of the hugely enjoyable console romp The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. Prototype’s concept is similar, but it now stars a surly guy in a hoodie rather than the unjolly green giant. Promising an absurd level of mayhem and violence, can this possibly achieve the omnipotence it promises? Here’s my take on it. I even wore a hoodie while I wrote it.

“Do whatever you want” says the cackling devil on my shoulder, as I impale 40 people with bio-spikes then throw a lorry at a helicopter. “Anything“, it whispers, as I cleave a tank in half with my bare hands.

“No, you’re enjoying this too much” says the frowning angel on the other shoulder, as I’m knocked on my arse before I can reach my target again. “Do what you’re told”, it orders, as the game announces it’s turning off my superpowers for a while.

Angel? Devil? I’m not even sure which is which. Morality is non-existent in this game of mass, consequence-free killing, after all. All I know: half of Prototype wants me to have sustained, undiluted fun. The other half wants to keep that fun from me at all costs. This is a game that regularly strikes close an unprecedented degree of fantastical wish-fulfilment, but similarly seems determined to punish anyone with the temerity to play it.

It grants a slew of incredible powers, a sort of superhero greatest hits, then elects to remove most of them for an infuriating two hour stretch. It grants absurd amounts of health, and the ability to recharge it anywhere and anywhen, and then besieges you with so many knock-back attacks that you can barely hit half the stuff you’re supposed to. Prototype offers a sense of locomotion and destruction that gamers have bayed for for years (Crackdown and City of Heroes are the best touchstones here), then puts you in the shoes of a characterless, unsmiling goon based on some half-formed (prototype, even) idea of urban cool. It’s the game with two brains – and if only they’d been fused, this could have been one of gaming’s highest-ever watermarks.

We want the game that lets us do anything: it’s why GTA is so big. Against that is the problem of challenge: when there’s no serious obstacle to your crazed orgy of destruction, all that unbridled fun soon collapses into tedium. Prototype gives you the tools to pull a helicopter from the sky with a tentacle shot from your shoulder. Prototype gives you the tools to devour ten-foot monsters or to dropkick men into the horizon. Prototype gives you the tools to power-jump and glide across the length and breadth of New York in minutes. Prototype gives you the tools to assume the form of anyone you encounter. In free-roam mode, you can clock up jawdropping kill counts within moments, and become an unstoppable engine of carnage. But what then? How many tanks can you trash with a single elbow-drop from the top of a skyscraper before your interest wanes?

And so, Prototype understandably builds in purpose – a central campaign, telling the tale of the curiously unlikeable Alex Mercer and his similarly characterless comrades and enemies. There are bosses, there are daring chases and escapes, there are twists… It’s paperthin, but bar the relentlessly grim tone and Mercer’s disappasionate actor, it’s a workable enough loose structure for a game that’s only really about splatting people. He’s been infected with something dark and sinister, the military wants to kill him because of it, and meanwhile an even more ‘orrible strain of the malady is gradually spreading across the populace of New York, creating zombie-like creatures who also want to kill him.

Where this really works is in the effect of the tale upon the city – it begins as a crude Liberty City, wherein box-faced civilians bimble around doing nothing important and failing to react to anything, but as the infection spreads, turns into hell on earth. As Mercer glides across the skyline, screams echo up the concrete valleys, explosions and unearthly gas clouds flicker in the distance, while helicopters or hulking fleshbeasts will occasionally attempt to pull him to Earth. Many games – especially of late – have shown us the post-apocalypse. Prototype shows us the apocalypse itself, as it happens – this is an Armageddon simulator.

Perhaps that’s why its characters are so cold – this isn’t a game interested in hope or humanity. It’s only interested in decay and destruction. And punching a man clear through the chest then absorbing the bloody remnants of his body into yours, of course. This is a remarkably brutal game, though I didn’t realise quite how gruesome it was until I saw the screenshots – freeze-framed moments of the horror I was causing. At the time – well, I was just doing it. It’s why I’m here. I didn’t notice, didn’t even think that I was killing. I’m not sure I ever do, really – I’m either removing an obstacle or pressing a button to watch a man-shaped collection of pixels dance spectacularly.

Anyway, that’s another, well-trodden argument – the point is that Prototype takes its carnage very seriously indeed. To that end, there is very little colour and zero humour. The end of the world is hardly a happy place, but the dispassionate bleakness becomes wearying. As soon as you drop down from that birds-eye view of the end of the world, New York becomes an unwaveringly dreary city. Its cheek is entirely without tongue – which seems a terrible shame, given the open insanity of what you get up to in the game. The billboards advertising medicines in a time of bio-horror, the pedestrians failing to even blink at a man with a sword for an arm plunging towards them from the skies, that the areas of the city still free from infection seem oblivious to the fact there’s a zombie outbreak a block away, the fact Mercer is dressed like middle-class Britain’s bogeyman of the hour…

It all goes unremarked on, and even just a touch of GTA-esque satire would have made it an infinitely more characterful game. Its mechanics of movement and violence are glorious, but stylistically it’s hard to call it anything other than a failure. Additionally, jittery controls and and a cavalcade of pointless “are you sure?” pop-ups in the menus will do little to endear it to PC gamers convinced consoles are a halfwit blight upon the gaming landscape. It’s true this isn’t the most loving port, but really, on a technical level it’s all fine, and the controls eventually feel more natural.

Just as well, as there’s a lot of controls. As it wears on, your powers will escalate to godlike levels – able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, roundhouse kick a helicopter out of the skies, take down entire armies in a single move… The unbridled power is glorious, ludicrous and, much of the time, an entirely adequate substitute for the game’s absent charm. Follow the core missions, however, and it’ll do everything it can to undermine this omnipotence. In the late game, you’re knocked infuriatingly off your feet every other second, while there’s a clutch of bosses so punishing and grindy they prevented me from having a single good thing to say about the game when I first attempted this write-up yesterday.

One, a mammoth slug/anus creature who takes over Times Square, seems to have been designed by a guy thinking “oh, there’s still a chance the player might be having even a tiny bit of fun here. Let’s add an insta-kill attack. Nope, he’s still smiling. How about infinitely respawning henchmen? Hmm. Let’s throw in homing rockets. Huh. Alright, make most of Mercer’s hard-earned powers useless against the boss. And then make him repeat the fight three times. There! That’s it! There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that he’ll enjoy even a millisecond of this encounter. My work here is done.”

The angel and the devil. That a game can be so much fun and yet so jawdroppingly cruel makes little sense – I would guess it was the problems inherent in finding a compromise between omnipotence and true challenge. Prototype is one of gaming’s all-time greatest playgrounds for sure, a veritable ode to obliteration. A more individual art approach and an acceptance that most people who play it want to mash buttons and watch amazing things happen would have elevated it to one of the best experiences of the year.

As it is, I can gladly recommend it to anyone curious to see what action games are like when they do earnestly try to grant their players’ every wish. You’ll have fun. You probably won’t remember it a year hence, for better or for worse. You may walk away from it after one too many frustrated goes at one of the vertical-learning-curve bosses. But, God help you, when you make Mercer erupt into a hundred 50-foot spikes that instantly dismember anyone within range, you’ll have fun.

Oh yeah – the lack of multiplayer of any kind is absolutely criminal.

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189 Comments »

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  1. James Tao says:

    Hoernchen:
    Because it’s fun! :D

    But seriously, surfing a zombie before flip-kicking him into a tank stunned me the first time it happened by accident. I would not want to be near those devs when they have cutlery, but their psychosis made a fun game.

  2. Mman says:

    “the boss fight with Greene is most comparable to the boss fight at the end of Tomb Raider: Legend … in other words, it’s frustrating, and nearly impossible.”

    That boss can be killed in less than a minute and is nowhere close to “nearly impossible” (frustrating is certainly a good summation of it though). It doesn’t sound like the Greene fight at all in that from what I’ve heard even people who found the Greene fight easy took 10-15 minutes on it, so at the least it sounds pretty grindy (I haven’t got that far yet).

    This is one of the few sandbox games I’ve played where just moving around feels enjoyable. It makes me realise how much I like the increase in superpower-based sandboxes lately; it’s always felt kind of limiting to me to be stuck on the ground as a puny human for 90% of the game in something where you’re supposed to be able to “go anywhere”.

    Considering I see multiple mentions of it implied as some sort of negative I was actually really surprised when the “lose your powers” section didn’t annoy me at all; pretty much all the missions in that section are based around disguise or vehicles (and also helped work as a tutorial for that aspect of the game), which means you avoid combat in most of it anyway. The few bits of combat I did get in also gave me perpective on how far I had come since the start; the first Hunter near the start of the game (that you fight without powers) kicked my ass the first attempt or two, yet I got ambushed by a few of them in that part and took them out powerless without even breaking a sweat.

    I also like that your character is portrayed as asshole (if not an outright villain); it removes the usual narrative dissonance in most sandbox games, which is even more important in this considering it’s hard to even walk down a street without accidentally killing about fifty people. It’s something I liked in Saint’s Row 2 as well.

    The only thing that’s really led to some frustration so far is how much context sensitivity there is; its led to some major annoyance in more chaotic situations where each button does about five things depending on where you’re standing or how quick you press them; in the trickier ones the amount of times I’ve accidentally did the wrong move because I pressed a button a few frames late or grabbed a car instead of a person I wanted to eat is pretty big, although I guess that’s partially due to it being built around a console controller where there are far less overall functions. The knockbacks can be annoying sometimes, but for the most part its just been a sign I’m doing something wrong.

  3. Bhazor says:

    I think that this may be the closest to a third person Japanese style bullet hell game ever.

    Also thank god there’s no multiplayer. Imagine if they’d had to make the hero balanced. No screen filling attacks, no ability to leap clean across the city on a whim, no ability to single handedly flatten whole streets and worst of all no ruddy edit button. That isn’t the game I wanted from the Hulk guys.

    But I do agree that the story is too serious for the uber death and shenanigans the game consists off. The story of Hulk Ultimate Destruction is often overlooked but added a lot of character to the game as did the more comic booky moves like bowling boulders. Red Faction has the same problem of taking itself too seriously in the light of its own mechanics.

  4. Dominic White says:

    Again, I repeat, I am not a gaming god. I consider surviving Ninja Gaiden on NORMAL difficulty (with two more with about 60 deaths under my belt to be my highest achievement.

    Prototype is nowhere near that level of difficulty. Not even close. If you find yourself dying repeatedly, woe be unto you if you ever try playing a genuinely hard game.

    Don’t blame the game if you’re dying repeatedly. Try a different approach, and experiment with your powers.

  5. Dominic White says:

    Err.. Yeah, edit feature, come back! The above post should read “I consider surviving Ninja Gaiden on NORMAL difficulty (with more with about 60 deaths under my belt) to be my highest achievement.”

  6. Mman says:

    Oh yeah, the camera (and by extension, vehicle) control also feels kind of odd; like its purposely limited to be like console movement and has this weird laggy feeling to it, although some of that may be because of the framerate (which isn’t exactly great on my system).

  7. Alec Meer says:

    Dominic – once again, there’s a big difference between difficulty and frustration. The you-are-rubbish-at-games argument is not without its strawlike component, and is the reason the elite vibe is still being conveyed. The problem is the regularity with which Proto interrupts my fun, not that I’m failing at it.

  8. Alex says:

    Frankly I agree with Dominic, the boss fights were not really all that. Also (spoilers I guess) did you guys steal vehicles to kill Greene, particularly for her vuln phases? Tanks work hilariously well, gunship rockets moderately well but don’t last long while she’s up. Other than that, yeah, just sprint and hammertoss cars. Took just a bit over 5 minutes, was repetitive but not difficult on medium.

    That said, I did this on the 360. I’ve read about the control scheme on PC and that does sound like a classic console port failure. Highly recommend using a controller if you can.

    Oh and when using guns, don’t bother targeting unless it’s a missile launcher. He’ll auto-oneshot people in the direction you’re facing. Hilariously powerful, like everything else you can do.

    Overall enjoyed this game a lot, will probably play through it again in a couple weeks on hard. Like Alec says, the plot and related stuff isn’t great but I just didn’t care about it that much. Except for the ‘memories’ videos which were really well done, I thought.

  9. Paradoxish says:

    This review mirrors my thoughts so perfectly, that it almost feels like I wrote it myself. Also, I agree with Alec – the game isn’t HARD, but the boss fights just aren’t fun. In fact, that’s exactly my problem. I wasn’t dying fighting the bosses, but I also wasn’t having any fun. Fighting the same boss three times in a row with absolutely no variation at all is a grind. Dealing with enemies that knock you down more than they hurt you is tedious. Doing this all when you’re so powerful that you can’t possibly die is especially unfun.

    I really did love Prototype, but I was completely sick of it by the time I was done.

  10. Diziet Sma says:

    I agree with the review. Having finished inFamous I launched straight into Prototype and whilst I’m enjoying it there are moments that are supremely frustrating. inFamous is the better game here for my money.

  11. ChaosSmurf says:

    Also making Alex actually move around with the basic PC controls, quickly that is, is infuriating. Sprint is fucking rage making.

    Boss fights were … meh. I wasn’t enraged by the Times Square fight, but it was annoying, particularly the insta-death move. The fact that the other bosses were pretty much impossible if I didn’t just throw things at them (or, atleast, that was massively easier than proper combat) was a little annoying.

    What else … er … oh yeah, Blade is OP as hell, I don’t really get why you’d use anything but that and the throwing one once you have it and you’ve upgraded them both. The section before it is so dire, I agree with Alec. Also, was it just me or did the game have a much too high opinion of the amount you would be comboing? Pretty much every fight I just spammed left click until things fell over…

    The pure destruction of the game nearly makes up for it, it’s so hilariously destructive. I actually laughed with malicious joy in my first hour.

    PS – Alec MeerAlex Mercer
    If it wasn’t for that damnable x.

  12. catska says:

    Plugin a 360 controller. This game has QTEs and no manual aiming, its made for a controller.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    “Oh yeah – the lack of multiplayer of any kind is absolutely criminal.”

    Why can’t we get away from this sentiment? Why is it not okay for a singleplayer game to do just that, and do that well? Quit taunting developers into wasting resources on half-assed multiplayer implementations. I can see it now… “Prototype 2: Unimproved Singleplayer, Crap Multiplayer!”

  14. JohnArr says:

    Spent most of my time in the game as an attractive, leggy blond, simply because Mercer is such a cock. Still walked and sounded like a bloke though, which probably confused any potential suitors.

  15. Azradesh says:

    @Freudian Trip

    “Is Alex Mercer supposed to be an utterly empty vessel of a human being or what?”

    Yes, as the game will show a bit later on.

    I didn’t find the story as bad as everyone seems to be saying, just average like most games really. I’ve seen a lot worse. I did love the web of intrigue though.

  16. bansama says:

    As fun as this game could have been the mere fact that I have to shut down XP and boot into Windows 7 just to play it properly without annoying cutscene sound garbling and then still sufer from muted sound in game just removes any real desire to want to continue playing.

  17. Funky Badger says:

    Haven’t got to the annoy-o-boss fights yet but there seems to be a strange dichotomy in the mission design – some of the more vanilla mission types are done superbly (I’m particularly thinking of the tank-escort, the lost-powers and the chase missions which were all really enjoyable) – and then some really fiddly boss fights – particularly the mission where you first meet the hunters in the warehouse… but I suppose that does train you to sprint and bounce, a lot.

    It’s marvellous fun though. And the production quality of the cutscenes – well, the Web video snippets is marvellous even though the quality of the dialogue and writting is abysmal (really, saying “fuck” a lot does not make one edgey).

    Also, also, the plot’s just F.E.A.R. relay, innit?

  18. PaulMorel says:

    MMan:

    “the boss fight with Greene is most comparable to the boss fight at the end of Tomb Raider: Legend … in other words, it’s frustrating, and nearly impossible.”

    That boss can be killed in less than a minute and is nowhere close to “nearly impossible” (frustrating is certainly a good summation of it though). It doesn’t sound like the Greene fight at all in that from what I’ve heard even people who found the Greene fight easy took 10-15 minutes on it, so at the least it sounds pretty grindy (I haven’t got that far yet).

    Maybe if you know how to do it, it’s easy. I went into it blind. I finally beat it by just repeatedly hijacking tanks … maybe I’m slow or something, but trying to kill her using powers on medium was basically impossible for me. All her attacks are knockback, and most of them are auto-targeting.

  19. Tei says:

    For the first missions I have played the game like a normal person, say… roleplaying a tourist in new york. The good part in my love the “normal” areas, and hate the brutality, chaos and carnage of the infected areas. Is also somewhat like sad wen you are like trying to capture (abduct?) a contact, and he die for other random stuff.
    Talking about random… the USA army shotting at random people for no reason. I was simply talking a normal street wen suddenly 3 USA tanks started to fire to anything.

  20. ChaosSmurf says:

    You stay the hell away from her and shoot her with the intense pain ultimate and tanks, that’s how I did it. Helicoptors work too.

  21. Mman says:

    “Maybe if you know how to do it, it’s easy. I went into it blind. I finally beat it by just repeatedly hijacking tanks … maybe I’m slow or something, but trying to kill her using powers on medium was basically impossible for me. All her attacks are knockback, and most of them are auto-targeting.”

    I was talking about the Legend fight, not Greene (which, as I said, I haven’t reached yet).

  22. Taillefer says:

    I beat Greene by jumping from rooftop to rooftop, and hitting her with a fully charged whipfist in midair each time (You can kill pretty much anything this way). She could never hit me because of the movement and the buildings in the way. Then I switched to blade power and armour when she was down, and stab stab stab. Doesn’t take too long. You can also play peekaboo, just pop out of an alley, or from around a corner, whipfist, diveroll back. But you’re going to get knocked about a lot by everything else that way.

    Also, I said before about using “sprint(shift for me) + direction” instead of double tapping a direction. Make that “direction + sprint”. So, say you’re in midair, keep the direction down, and tap sprint to airdash in that direction.

    A lot of the powers don’t seem that interesting to me, so I have 6 million points to spend, atm. And I seem to be approaching the end.

  23. Dominic White says:

    Manliest way to hurt Greene: Switch to Muscle Mass (ideally with the 1mil point power-boost upgrade), run up the side of the nearest skyscraper to her until you’re at least halfway up, kick off it until you’re right over her, and do a charged stomp attack. Takes off about 1/4 of her shields total, and looks AWESOME AS HELL.

    This also gives you some really intense camera angles if you’re locked on the whole time, as all the debris and shots flying your way will smack into the building right behind you.

  24. James Tao says:

    My ridiculous, strangely effective tactic for Greene was climbing the tallest skyscraper, shifting to armour + hammerfist and then elbow-dropping her from the absolute maximum height. It was slow and drops were regularly broken up by the green orbs, but it’s was stupidly satisfying. Sure, tanks would have been more efficient, but where’s the fun in that?

    Edit: Curse you, Dominic White.

  25. Arca says:

    RE Greene: Dive down alleys to nom infected/hunters for health. Spam the tentacle devastator until the army show up. Jack helicopters, spam AT missiles until the ‘chopper falls apart. Rinse, repeat.

    RE Parasite: Urgh. I can’t imagine this sequence being anything other than hell on any difficulty besides Easy/Casual. On Easy/Casual w/ New Game+ it’s bearable, if only because dropkick spam owns Hunters. No really, try it, a fully charged dropkick from on-high is really effective.

    Part of the fun of free-roam for me is just running around NY like a crazy bastard hunting down those suicidal Web of Intrigue targets who I constantly find in Red Zones, though I once hit the jackpot and ran into three right as I left the morgue one time!

    After a while you’ll get the knack of freerunning and parkouring over the rooftops, just keep at it. Timing, charged jumps, double dash and glide are key. Kudos to he who can run in a spiral up the very top of the Empire State Building to get the Landmark Reward there. I just ran straight up it.

    PS: Musclemass and Whipfist have the best consumes ever. Particularly Whipfist. Tentaclicious!

  26. Simon says:

    I have a feeling that possibly all the people saying ‘this game is really hard’ are playing it on PC while all the people scratching their heads and saying ‘it was pretty easy’ (myself included) played it on 360.

    I can’t imagine doing half of these fights with a mouse and keyboard.

  27. Mechazawa says:

    One thing i really like about this game in a non-gameplay related way is how perfectly it runs on my PC. I don’t have a state of the art graphic card or anything, and yet i haven’t spotted a single slow-down, even in the most explosive heavy parts of the game.

    Huge kudos on that. It’s so rare these days.

  28. Guhndahb says:

    I hear a lot about the freedom one has, but does one have the freedom in this game to be restrained? To not kill without remorse? I don’t sure I can enjoy a game where I have to be quite so evil as what I’m hearing. (Mind you I’m not saying the game should be different, I’m sure lots of people feel playing a goodie-goodie is done to death, I’m just trying to ascertain if this is a game I’d enjoy.) Essentially, can I at least TRY not to kill innocents and have a chance at succeeding? That’s big with me.

    Also, one person mentioned QTEs. Are they prevalent? I loathe QTEs. A few QTEs I can tolerate (never like though), but if it’s core to the gameplay, it’ll ruin a game for me.

    Thanks for the info.

  29. El_MUERkO says:

    i’ll grab it when it’s sold for a fiver :)

  30. leth says:

    @Simon:
    The control scheme on PC is surprising pleasant. Being a PC gamer only, I love the fact that you can bind all the different powers to a different key, which make power shifting on the fly so much easier.

    I do wish that you could strafe in the game and shoot people that way. But that only really matters when I am on a mission that requires you to be a soldier and use conventional weapons.

    I do wish the mouse support is better though. I wish I didn’t have to bind Mouse 4 and Mouse 5 to keys (this becomes a issue when I have to do the stupid QTE mini-game to deactivate detectors, since I bind them to keys like . , ‘ and they are hard to distinguish :(.)

  31. Simon says:

    @Guhndahb:

    There are no true ‘QTE’s that I’ve encountered, sometimes you have to eat an enemy at a certain time or whatever, but I’d not personally call it a QTE.

    You are also never forced to kill civilians, although honestly, you’d have a hard time not hitting them when they’re all over the place. You can, at least, never kill one intentionally.

  32. Salt says:

    @Guhndahb:
    I haven’t completed it (stopped at the much-mentioned Greene fight), but I haven’t needed to kill any civilians yet. That said I have killed plenty, and most without really meaning to (lots of explosions, and hitting people as running or driving a tank.) You do need to kill a lot of military people, the vast majority of whom are just doing their jobs.

  33. leth says:

    @Guhndahb

    I actually make a point to not kill or consume pedestrians. But unfortunately when you are in a vehicle and pressed for time it is almost impossible to not have collateral damages :( .

    As for QTE, as far as I know the only QTE is the one involving deactivating the “virus detector.” It is only annoying because it forces me to remember which keys I binded to my 9 mouse buttons (I love the G9 :) ).

  34. Salt says:

    QTEs:
    There’s a kind of QTE when you hi-jack a vehicle. But it’s very relaxed, to the point I’m not even sure you can ‘fail’ it.

    Later in the game you encouter QTEs when fighting a beefed up version of soldiers – if they grab you, you have a fraction of a second to PRESS X NOW and counter-attack. Except the button you need to press is different each time, and really is a fraction of a second. No need to let yourself be grappled by them in the first place of course. QTEs are not prevelant.

    As with much of Prototype, the QTEs are either very easy or old-skool-action-game hard.

  35. gryffinp says:

    …Dudes.

    Groundspike devastator next to Greene, chews her shields straight to hell. Follow it up with murder vehicle of choice when she becomes vulnerable, although I generally used the Critical Pain attack (Or as I call it, the Kamehameha). Grab the health orbs she spews when she retreats, then fall back to dodge the Red Wave. Repeat X3.

    I object to the classification of any boss in this game as the worst boss ever. Nothing even comes close to some of gaming’s worst. (Nihilanth cough.)

    I actually remember being impressed about how well the controls translated to mouse and keyboard considering, and I’m surprised that my feelings aren’t echoed by others. The lock on system was effective, the power wheel was easily usable. I never felt like I was being screwed over by the controls. More often I felt like I was being screwed over by those damn missile launcher jerks. But anyway, I loved the game, despite it’s flaws, and I didn’t have the problems that many seem to have had. Mostly it was those damn homing rockets.

  36. Taillefer says:

    @Simon – I’m on PC.

    @Guhndahb – There are lots of quicktime events. But some are just clicking the same button repeatedly, some can be avoided altogether. The ones you /have/ to do are generally very forgiving. As somebody who also doesn’t like QTEs, I didn’t find them too intrusive. Although I always avoid melee combat with a certain enemy because they force you into QTE combat, ugh.

    It’s difficult not to kill civilians. But you’ll have some success limiting the casualties if you’re determined enough.

  37. Taillefer says:

    I am slow.

  38. Dagda says:

    I hated the protagonist at first, but one of the first web of intrigue tidbits you acquire is this gem:

    “Subject exhibits a classic flat-affect personality. A psychopathic disregard for others, narcissistic worldview punctuated by self-obsessive disorders.”

    . . .which, if you know a little psychology, is a spot-on psychoanalysis of the main character, right down to the monotone voice acting and frequent “What I am” ruminations. Suddenly everything about the guy and the story makes perfect sense.

  39. OutOfExile says:

    This is the first game I’ve played in a while that’s just plain fun. GTA has a great campaign but it’s free roaming looses it’s charm after a bit. Whipping your arm around and tearing everyone around you in half never loses it’s charm though. The only disapointing things are the particle effects and the acting. I don’t mind the graphics since so much on the screen can happen without lag (unless it glitches, which it does a lot), but the blood particles look ridiculous. And I fully agree with all of you, the acting was terribly bland.

  40. OutOfExile says:

    Also I forgot to add, this game has wonderful gamepad support. Automatically detected my Logitech Dual Shock and changed the control icons perfectly.

  41. Simon says:

    Yeah, I suppose I did forget about the virus-detector-sabotage. It’s pretty easy though. Pounding a button repeatedly isn’t really a QTE to me but I accept that there probably isn’t a specific dictionary definition :)

  42. Dhomochevsky Static says:

    No idea why everyone’s moaning about Greene. As long as you never stop moving (which, given the frantic pace of the rest of the game, should be a given by then) she should never be able to lay a tentacle on you. Failing that, Musclemass and start charged throwing anything within reach at her. Jumping to the tops of buildings and throwing stuff at her keeps the fight at a slowwer pace, but also keeps her from ruining your shit. Then, when the army show up, jack a tank and ruin her healthbar. The first part is hard going, but the second the tanks show up, there’ no real excuse for not finishing her quickly.

    My one real issue with the game? Go to the official forums (might only be on the US side, I’m not sure). Check the tech support forum. Read up on lots of people having problems with the sound, graphics and controls. Read that one thread asking if there’s a patch or any official help on the way. Discover that Activision have given an allegedly bullshit reason as to why they’re not bothering to support the game on the PC. Discover the major cause is a 44k file. Wonder what the hell Activision are playing at.

  43. DK says:

    The dreary atmosphere is very important to the game – any GTA style “humour” (juvenile as all hell) would have ruined it. The Web of Intrigue alone has more atmosphere than many other games.
    Besides, there is humour – the Military has some hilarious reaction lines. They captured the “I’m gonna die anyway”-Sarcasm of real world military extremely well.

    “Not stumble unwittingly into spoiler town, but isn’t the player character meant to be unlikeable and characterless?”
    This ^
    Spoilers:
    Alex Mercer was a massive asshole – the whole point is that even the Virus is more compassionate and acts less egotistically than the actual Alex Mercer did.

  44. Corey says:

    This write up is spot on to my experience. The other night I spent about 2 hours running around the city just destroying everyone and everything in my path. Then i tried a mission, one fairly far on where you have to protect a military vehicle from being overrun by hunters, I tried til I was boiling over with rage, gave up and spent another 2 hours murdering civilians, infected, and military without pause or consideration.

    The most positive thing about the game is that you can unleash the rage it will undoubtedly fill you with without quitting out. I really must give it credit for that.

  45. Tei says:

    Yea, the military has a good lines. Most related with losing you… witty comments like “another day in the glorious army” and stuff.

  46. leth says:

    I don’t normally feel strongly about a game enough to post too much about it. But this is the first “console port” that I genuinely have fun playing (Actually ME was great too, but I resented the fact that PC gamers were only an afterthought…)

    Anyway, onto the game.
    I honestly didn’t even think of the other “QTEs” in the game, until you guys mentioned it. Really though, for things like hijacking a vehicle, the QTE sequences are so forgiving that I don’t even feel like they are there.

    But the best part about those QTEs is that, for the most part, you can skip them:
    – Want to hijack a tank? Disguise yourself first, and as long as you have not been detected, you can just slip right in the tank w/o any repeated button pushing.

    – Hate the virus detector? Destroy it!

    Oh also, I think it is worth mention that there really isn’t much DRM on it. As soon as it showed up on Impulse I grabbed it and installed on both of my PCs with no problem. Is there even an activation check?

    BTW, I am surprised that no one has mentioned how “fun” the whip can be. Cutting everything around you into halves just never gets old :P. Try it, when you raise an alarm inside a base. Wait by the garage door entrance that a line of soldiers will appear at and let the whip, whip… ;)

  47. Guhndahb says:

    @Simon, Salt, leth, Taillefer: Thanks so much for the excellent information. That’s just what I wanted to know. Sounds like the QTEs might be in-line with, say, the latest Prince of Persia, in which I was able to tolerate them. And I can handle the collateral damage aspect, so since I can at least try to avoid innocents, it’ll placate my warped gamer ethics. :) Thanks again.

  48. leth says:

    Nah, I don’t think you have a “warped gamer ethics.” I cannot play a evil character in any game period. And that is why I actually dislike GTA series of games immensely, even though I know that they are supposed to be the “next best thing since sliced bread.” :P

  49. leth says:

    Sorry for the double post again, (I wish there is an edit button) but does anyone know if there is some sort of hidden unlockable secret that you can unlock by actually somehow manage to not kill any civilians?
    I have this nagging feeling that tells me that I should restart the game and try my hardest to not kill any civilians and by doing so, some sort of new bonus will be unlocked (to help me kill pixels in game more effectively of course :P )

    thanks!

  50. Noerart says:

    Taillefer says:

    I also found the lack of humanity off-putting. I was always conscious of killing civilians, and I never wanted to do it. I was surprised the game just didn’t care. In fact it tells me how many I killed, as though it’s an achievement and I always feel like they didn’t have to die.


    The achievement for civilians killed is actually to complete the game without killing any of them. Which, for the record, is bloody hard.

    There is an achievement for 500 “Speedbumps” (running someone over) in one tank though…