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In the red corner, released on May 26th, 2009, a PlayStation 3 exclusive title, and starring the lean mean fighting machine Cole MacGrath, Infamous! And in the blue corner, released on June 9th, 2009, a game for all platforms, and follows the shape shifting protagonist known as Alex Mercer, Prototype! These two games are very similar in style, story, and even release times. But which one is better? Will it be Prototype, the fast paced in-your-face action game? Or will it be Infamous, with its strategy and storyline that is second to none? Two will enter, only one will emerge victorious. Who will it be?
Prototype – Prototype is a game based in the near future. The story begins with Alex Mercer (the player) about to be dissected by two scientists. Just before the scientists carve you open and pick at your insides, your character suddenly wakes up. You are then chased outside, where you are shot several times. Alex becomes stunned but is not out for the count. He manages to escape with little to no damage thanks to his new found regeneration abilities. The player is then told that Alex has amnesia, and can’t remember anything about his past or who he is. That’s right people, you guessed it, you’ll now have to spend the entire game figuring out who Alex Mercer is, and seeking vengeance for whoever made him the horrible creature that he is. Along the way you will be given several weapons and ways to kill and destroy things, which range from an extending arm much like Mr. Fantastic, to stealing a poor and pitiful soldier’s assault rifle, and using it to kill all of his other soldier buddies. You will also be given the ability to “consume” an enemy, which plays a major role in the games framework. Consuming will appear in almost everything you do, you consume to learn about your past, you consume to trick enemies, and you consume to gain health back quickly, pretty much everything. This can become a little tedious, but the massive amount of ways to consume enemies keeps it from getting stale. Military and the infected are your main enemies throughout the course of the game, you may choose to help one or the other more, but both will attack on sight.
Infamous – Infamous takes place once again in a near future world. This story however begins as soon as you press the play button. Your background will immediately explode with what looks like an EMP shockwave, leaving the player shocked and confused. Cole MacGrath is your main guy in this adventure. It begins with you waking up in a half destroyed city, your buddy Zeke will immediately call you and inform you that you need to escape from the mess of a city that you’re currently in. While running away you realize that you have superpowers (who would have guessed?), and you don’t know how exactly you got them. Once you make it to the bridge leading to the next city, the sky will rain down with lightning, and all nearby police and civilians will be killed. Once you make it across the bridge, Cole with conveniently pass out. It will then give you a comic-book style slideshow explaining what exactly happened. Your main objective here is to kill the people who caused the destruction of your city, get out of the city (which is on lockdown after the first mission), and either save or destroy the city along the way. Cole has the powers of electricity, which allows him to do pretty much anything he needs. Kill, fly, heal, destroy, you name it; Cole can do it using his electrical powers. Along the way you will fight upwards of three different types of enemies. Your first will be the Reapers, a ragtag group of thugs who come in large groups but are easily destroyed. Next is the Dustman, a group of homeless people, who band together after the explosion in order to take over the district in which they live. Lastly will be the First Sons, an ancient fraternal organization, who are the strongest and most persistent group of enemies.
Infamous – In Infamous you will be given the option of doing several side missions along the way. As you do these side missions, the city will clear out of any bad guys, and will allow you to walk freely without getting shot at. The missions will consist of doing anything from your basic kill missions to posing for pictures for a local photographer. Although every side mission is repeated 2-3 times throughout the entire game, the large number of different missions and randomness of the mission order keeps it fun and interesting. There are jobs specific to your karma level (good or evil) that will appear. Good jobs generally requires you to help the cops and get rid of the baddies in a clean and lawfully just manner, while choosing the evil missions generally involves a massive amount of bloodshed usually demanded by the people. These jobs will help your karma level swing one way or the other, which will unlock more upgrades for your abilities. However, there is one negative to the side missions, once they are complete, the area is clean, for good. Meaning if you finish all the side missions, there will be no more enemies for you to play around with.
Prototype – With the complex storyline of Prototype, it is hard to see where side missions would come into play within the life of Alex Mercer, and Radical Entertainment doesn’t attempt to explain how they fit in. The side missions in Prototype are general used to gain extra experience points, which are the main way to upgrade your skills (along with consuming). However, the experience from the main missions and the amount of experience you gain from randomly killing is sufficient enough to get 90% of the skills you need and want, so most will be doing them to get some break from the main storyline or just to have a little bit of fun. Missions come in three forms, the first and most random is your standard race missions. Get to checkpoint A, checkpoint B, checkpoint C, etc. in the allotted time, the faster you get there, the more experience you get. Your second and most enjoyable will be the kill missions. Most will give you a set power, and let you run amuck killing as many enemies as possible, the more you kill, the more experience you gain. The last type of mission will be your consume missions, which begin by consuming marked army personnel. You will then be asked to consume X number of people. Do it all correct and in the time given, and you’ll get a nice chunk of experience. Although these missions are fun and good break in the main storyline, they will get old fast. And for those overachievers, Prototype will tell you how many more side missions you have to complete, so if you’re like me, you will want to finish it just to say you did.
For those who don’t know, when someone mentions the word “Sandbox” in a video game, they are referring to the ability to reign free and do whatever you want. Well some games, like Call of Duty are extremely linear, others like Grand Theft Auto allow you to explore freely and do as you please. Both Prototype and Infamous are set in a sandbox style game play, which means you choose when you want to do the missions, and how many side missions you would like to do.
Prototype – Prototype does an excellent job of allowing the player to really feel like they are in control of the city. The city itself is extensive and is mapped out to look exactly like Manhattan. Alex himself is able to climb up buildings very easily, and jump off of buildings and fly to the next one using his “Glide” ability. This makes just running around the city fun in itself. As well, since the game has no moral obligations to be good or evil, you have the ability to kill who you want when you want. And with the abundance of civilians noticeable around every turn, you will find yourself pulling out one of your many weapons and going to town on the nearest patch of passersby. This part of the game (unlike almost every other aspect) never seemed to get old; I enjoyed just running into the middle of a military base and fighting for a good five minutes before sprinting away. I have to give serious ups to Radical Entertainment for the work that was put into the sandbox style play.
Infamous -While his counterpart (Alex Mercer) is able to run straight up walls with no problems at all, Cole must literally climb up buildings. He will have to grab onto windows, gutters, wires, dents, and scratches in the buildings in order to get to the top. This can make the free roaming ability a little more tedious and slow paced, but gives a good challenge on those buildings which have few notches to climb up. As mentioned earlier, the side missions will put a serious cramp in your style if you choose to finish them all. Once they are all complete, you will be left with civilians. If you choose the evil route, and choose the evil ending, there is no major problem with this, however, if you are good, you will run out of things to shoot, and fast. Once and awhile a few enemies will appear in contained areas, but the civilians along with the few remaining cop members will usually take them down before you can even get a shot off. More than likely you will end up turning bad, or starting a new game in order to keep having fun.
Both Prototype and Infamous are extremely well developed games, both are worth purchasing. If you have to choose one, and you own a PS3, go with Infamous. Its superior storyline and ability to keep you entertained is an extreme plus. However, if you are more of a sporadic gamer, who usually doesn’t finish games, Prototype may be your game.
o Amazing storyline that is captivating and interesting
o Simple and fun, easy to pick-up and play
o Enjoyable side-missions
o Karma decisions, resulting in different storyline, skills, and ending
o Fairly short if played straight through
o Climbing can slow game down and frustrate
o Enemies become very difficult to kill
o Completing side missions can cause player to run out of enemies to fight
o Fun sandbox mode
o Many different weapons and abilities to choose from
o Movement and travel is easy and simple
o Map/layout fits Manhattan exactly, and looks well done
o Confusing and complicated storyline
o Fairly easy, even on hard difficulty
o Repetitive missions
o Repetitive action
Overall Prototype gets a 4/5
Overall Infamous gets a 4.5/5