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Cheat Code

When an alien armada attacks Manhattan, it's cool to be a mutant

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Published 7/8/2009

Prototype
Radical Entertainment
Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Living in New York City sucks. Rent is ridiculous, the Knicks blow, and Mariah Carey hails from somewhere around there. Most importantly, when shit goes down, it always goes down in NYC. When was the last time an alien armada attacked Detroit? Think about that!

Prototype's disaster du jour is a viral agent that causes its infected to mutate into raging monsters, and, with so many New Yorkers crammed into tight quarters, this gets bad really, really fast.

Our protagonist, Alex Mercer, starts the game dead, but quickly gets better ... and, oh, does he get better. After escaping the coroner's table, dude begins to rediscover why everything's happening, quickly realizing that he's part of a something much bigger, something that's dragging the city down to hell.

Luckily, Alex is up to the challenge. And you know he's baaaad if he can scale and jump from the tallest building with no pain. Add a plethora of abilities and our Alex might actually be overpowered: He can morph into weapons, absorb people and take on their appearance (and occasionally their memories, adding more depth to Prototype's storyline). Though, when you think about it, can you really be overpowered against an entire city of vicious zombie monsters?

Initially, controls are easy to pick up, Alex moves smoothly and gracefully. As you gain more abilities it can be a bit difficult to remember the proper button combinations to activate your vast powers. It's a minor issue, a small price for the ensuing payoff.

The gameplay is balanced, challenging but never like the AI is taking cheap shots at you. And Prototype spares no details. You can explore, see the oncoming epidemic wreak havoc, and the city deteriorate from bustling metropolis to hell on earth. You can watch the infection invade city folk.

Monster virus epidemics may suck, but with so many gameplay options, a balanced challenge, and an engaging story that unfolds on multiple levels, Prototype's the real deal. Other than Alex's odd, hasty foray into badassness, it's difficult find fault here. Now, if only Mariah Carey were one of the infected. ...

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