Columns & Blogs

‘Prototype’ and ‘inFamous’ similar but not the same

Playing “Prototype” for a few hours produced two thoughts.

The first is that the Radical Entertainment-developed game has similarities to another recent release. The second was that those similarities aren’t a bad thing.

“Prototype” — released June 9 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows — resembles the recent PlayStation 3 exclusive “inFamous” in many ways. The plot of both games — the protagonist receives super-human powers and must decide whether or not to protect humanity while gathering a measure of revenge against those who made him the way he is — travel along the same lines, as do the powers that each hero possesses and the open cities they traverse.

I’m not saying “inFamous” or “Prototype” rip each other off, which would be nearly impossible since both share a similar production timeline. But it’s odd that two games so eerily similar got released around the same time and perhaps even more odd that both games are loads of fun.

Since the games share many of the similar plot points, it’s easier and more noteworthy to point out the differences.

“Prototype” is the R-rated version of “inFamous.”

The protagonist of “inFamous” uses electricity as his means of destruction, making most on-screen deaths largely kid-friendly. The player has control over who to kill, and one can conceivably stroll through the game without any collateral damage.

“Prototype” lead Alex Mercer doesn’t have much of a conscience.

He consumes citizens to take on their forms. His on-screen performance resembles Wolverine meets the Incredible Hulk meets buckets of gore. Mercer can manipulate his form to become another person or morph his limbs into instruments of destruction. He can form Wolverine-like claws, but unlike the popular “X-Men” character, his hands can also become rock-solid or morph into swords.

These weapons help Mercer progress through the 31 missions that help him discover what happened to him and why a virus that changes people into infected monsters is being leaked throughout Manhattan.

The developers designed a pretty accurate representation of New York City, and Mercer can sprint up the side of any building in it, be it the Empire State Building or the United Nations.

Just like in “inFamous,” giving the player the keys to a massive city and superhero powers creates some pretty exciting gameplay.

“Prototype” differs, however, by creating different mission types. Some missions require assaulting a target, while others require a more covert approach. It gives the game a little variety, rather than allowing gamers to play through the game the same way each time.

In the end, “Prototype” stands alone because of its darker tone and mission structure. And the similarities it shares with “inFamous” are also a selling point, because what made the the Sony exclusive shine does the same for “Prototype.” And it’s the reason that makes both games worth more than a cursory rental.