6211877NoneJumping out of a chopper to retrieve one of 200 collectibles.
Perhaps the most interesting challenges are those in which you have a time limit to consume a number of highlighted pedestrians in different areas of the city. These pedestrians, of whom there are more than 130 to find both during challenges and during regular play, are special because they each have some knowledge of what's going on in Manhattan, and when you consume them, you're treated to a brief montage of their relevant memories. Few of these contain much information individually, but they're slickly presented, and unlocking a large number of them adds an extra, dark layer to the occasionally predictable story that's well worth the effort. Similarly, if you choose to infiltrate military bases and consume specialist soldiers inside, you can learn abilities from them (how to fly a helicopter, for example) or improve your effectiveness with guns. Prototype's core story missions can be beaten in less than 10 hours, but you can comfortably double that number on your first play-through if you're not in a rush and take the time to check out all of the optional extras.
If those extras include the aforementioned military bases, you'll find that Prototype's camera definitely isn't at its best when Mercer steps inside a relatively small, confined space. It occasionally has trouble keeping up with the action outside too, but it's rarely detrimental to gameplay and you can always pan it down yourself after running up the side of a building if you want to make sure you land on the roof, for example. Furthermore, there's a lock-on targeting system that will keep enemies in view at all times, which is especially useful during boss fights. It can work against you on occasion, though, because on a street crowded with civilians, zombielike infected, and abandoned taxicabs, hitting the lock-on button will almost always default to one of the cabs, or a bench, or a chunk of concrete, or some other inanimate object. That's great if you're looking for something to throw at a troublesome helicopter, but less helpful if you have almost no health left and desperately need to consume some folks.
There's at least one achievement to unlock that discourages targeting innocent civilians, incidentally, but Mercer isn't a character who shows any remorse as he tears up Manhattan and is a danger to anyone and anything that's living. And make no mistake: Prototype is a truly brutal game when Mercer is on the warpath. Enemies will be cut in half horizontally, torn in half vertically, have holes punched clean through them, and be decapitated, skewered, and even used as projectiles. And all the while, there's a plentiful (though not overly excessive) supply of blood spilling onto the streets. These particularly gruesome kills are accompanied by sound effects that do a decent job of letting you know exactly when an enemy's flesh is being compromised, and screams from the crowd and radio chatter from the military do an excellent job of reminding you that the trouble in Manhattan isn't always at Mercer's location. Mutants and the military can be played off each other on occasion, and a quick look at the city map makes it easy for you to identify which neighborhoods are controlled by which group and which are contested.
Hijacking enemy vehicles is often easier than destroying them outright.
Frequently, battles that you're not directly involved in can be seen playing out as you negotiate the rooftops above, as can large crowds of fleeing civilians and mutants shambling toward their prey. Prototype isn't a game in which any one visual element is remarkable, but it looks good, and it's impressive that the frame rate holds up even when the number of characters and the amount of action onscreen border on insane. Furthermore, Mercer is brilliantly animated, which makes the parkour, the combat, the shape-shifting, and especially the gliding between rooftops all the more satisfying.
That's a word that can be used to describe almost every aspect of Prototype, and although there's no multiplayer component, you're free to remain in Manhattan long after you've beaten the story or, if you prefer, go through it a second time while retaining all of the powers that you already unlocked. Prototype is good enough that you'll almost certainly want to keep playing either way, and even if you don't, there's more than enough fun to be had here in a single play through for us to recommend the game without hesitation.