What do you get when you mix mutant powers, Crackdown and a protagonist who wears a hoodie with the hood up at all times? The answer is apparently Prototype, Activision's forthcoming open world brawler. I was ready to write it off during the panel Activision held about it. After all, do we really need another game about stylishly dressed super mutants who wage a one man war against zombies and the military? Then I played it.
Prototype is about a man with the power of a god. And for once, I really felt like a god. Alex, the lead character, can do things like grow huge claws,make spikes explode from the ground and disguise himself as enemy characters. And these are only a smattering of his dizzying array of the powers, all of which are absolutely ridiculous. However, none of these powers can really hold a candle to the ability to run up the side of buildings and jump off them into a controlled glide to another building. Running vertically up buildings was, I realized, the missing ingredient in all open world action games to date. Spiderman 2 had it's web slinging and Crackdown had its jumping, but somehow it all feels archaic after you tear up the face of that first skyscraper in Prototype.
This game's other great asset is its ability to portray vast amounts of carnage. There are a lot of characters on screen at any one time and it's pretty amazing to hurl a taxi at a group of ten and watch them all go flying. Likewise, seeing the same group of people impaled on a spike explosion attack is similarly amusing. There is plenty of vehicle combat as well, and one of producers commandeered a chopper and then a tank to illustrate even more ways of making things explode.
Open world sandboxes of destruction are nothing new, but from what I've seen, this game has the solid and entertaining execution that might make it the perfect gaming fit for the sometimes slow month of June. The one thing that may hurt it is that I don't think the developers are quite ready to acknowledge how ridiculous Prototype is because it looks awfully generic on first glance, with it's overly serious yet cool hero and storyline. That said, I think all that stands between this game and a million sold is a good demo.