Alright let's take a look at some video game elements that really appeal to me as of late: sandbox environment, urban gamescape, lots of action, third person perspective (overdosing on first person shooters lately), great graphics, very little puzzle solving, sci-fi story line, RPG flavor, lots of cool weapons and hey wow!...
Looks like the new PC game Prototype fits all that right nicely.
And after seeing the Prototype trailer, I was even more wowed. Like cool, you get to control Alex Mercer, a man that has claws and/or blades for hands, can run up the sides of buildings, fall ten stories without injuring himself and has this whole woe-is-me Spiderman/Dark Knight thing going on. And all of midtown Manhattan is his playground to free roam around in! Awesome! Wow!! Great stuff! Let me at it!.. (*wiping drool off keyboard*).
So on June 9th, 2009, the official North American Prototype release date, I went lickety-split down to my local video game store, snapped me up a copy of Prototype and ran straight home simpering with anticipation. Finally, I thought to myself, after a decidely mediocre season of new offerings from the video game industry, here's something that looks like I'll be able to place up there alongside the likes of Far Cry 2, Crysis and Bioshock. And I'll be able to write a nice Prototype review and everything will be just peachy...
So I installed Prototype, loaded it up and started...
Cool! I can destroy tanks with a few swipes of my blade arm? Kill these big bad Hunter monster thingies with my claws? Consume any organic being and refill my health bar? WOW!! Like, let's crank out some Prototype gameplay videos and upload them to Youtube! Wahoo!
Oh boy, oh boy! Okay, let's try...
(*sound of wind suddenly seeping out of sails*)..
Hmmmm... Okay wait a minute. Where's my blade arm? And my claws? Oh wait... mission one was just like a demo or something? I really start the game off with no special powers? Okay fair enough. And hmmm... if the mission two in-game tutorials are any indication, it looks like soldiers, tanks and helicopters are going to be a major threat throughout the game. Alright, so there's a badass enemy miltary to contend with. No problem. As a hardcore gamer, I'm used to that.
Okay but wait a minute—
There seems to be an issue with the controls. This targetting feature doesn't exactly work right. Like what exactly is Prototype's concept of the 'most threatening target'?
And WTH? Alex keeps going in the wrong direction. And doing the wrong thing. And sometimes doing nothing at all. I tell him to grab and he punches. I tell him to punch this way and he kicks that way. Actually, a lot of his moves end up inadvertently being flying kicks because well, when you're under attack you have to run everywhere. Like I mean really RUN. Like FAST. EVERYWHERE. And if you attack while running, it's always seems to turn into a flying kick.
And I can't seem to get Alex to pick up weapons very easily (or anything for that matter). And he really needs that rocket launcher right now. Like right NOW. Not ten minutes later. NOW. And the game is simply not giving me enough time to do the only thing that seems to work consistently to pick up stuff. And that is to proceed slowly towards an object, position Alex at the precise exact spot in front of and/or over said object and then press the 'grab' button while uttering three Hail Marys.
Realistically, Prototype gameplay is more like run, quickly try to grab weapon, ooops, I punched instead... try again, grab weapon, no not grab thin air! GRAB WEAPON! Reposition carefully (all the while taking massive damage from badass enemy military), GRAB, DAMMIT, GRAB!!
PICK UP THE F#@KING @#%&! ROCKER LAUNCHER, ALEX!! FOR F#@K SAKES!!
Okay calm down, I tell myself. Maybe I just need some practice with this game. Alright, mission two was a little annoying. But I'm sure I'll get the hang of it after I do...
Hmmm... okay, here's something I noticed way back in the first mission. Didn't seem to be an issue then when I was in overpowered-demo-mission mode but it's very quickly becoming an issue now. The plain fact of the matter is the game appears to enjoy teasing me when it comes to feeding me my next objective.
Want your next objective?
Can't have it.
Nyah nah na na nah!
No. Let's wait a moment or two while you flail about in utter confusion and eventually start screaming at the monitor, WHAT THE HECK DO I DO NOW?!
Yes I know you're getting blasted from all sides by enemy soldiers, tanks and helicopters. And yes the game is obviously turning into an exercise in surviving rapid-fire total chaos using split-second timing to control your character.
But why in the world would you want your next objective right away?
Well, I'm thinking, maybe that's a glitch. (Actually that would have been nice.) But alas..
Ooops. Here are some more monster thingies. And lots of them. And they're swarming Alex in an impossibly confined space. And the game is dragging its heels feeding me objectives while the monsters and the military tag team Alex six ways from Sunday and smack him around like a badminton birdie (a scenario that pretty much describes the entire game). And I desperately need to pick up an object, any object so that I can throw it at, well, anything.
But the wonky control issue continues. Alex darts spasmodically about the gamespace as if he has a mind of his own. Half of my time is spent waiting for Alex to recover from the move I didn't tell him to do in order to have another chance at getting him to do what I want him to do.
I finally manage to get Alex to pick up an object to throw but the so-called targetting feature is refusing to cooperate. Then I soon discover that even when I've got Alex locked on the right target, it's no guarantee that he'll actually hit that target when he throws something.
Who'da thunk it?
There is such a thing as video game hell.