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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is absolutely not intended for children. It is exceptionally gory, thanks to the protagonist's ability to grow claws and use them to slice through enemies. Streets often become painted in blood and littered with body parts. It's also extremely profane. Topping things off, our hero is morally vacuous. His only interest appears to be revenge, and he doesn't care who he has to hurt to get it -- including innocent bystanders. Even something as mundane as walking down the street often becomes an unavoidable exercise in aggression as our avatar automatically shoves everyone out of his way.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
PROTOTYPE is an open world action game designed for adult consumption. As Alex Mercer, a man who wakes up in a Manhattan morgue with super-human powers and a hunger for revenge, players lay waste to New York, killing scores of military personnel and pedestrians in horrific ways that often involve impalement or dismemberment. Civilians are often caught in the crossfire, sometimes dying in greater numbers than Mercer's legitimate enemies.
For adults able to stomach the gore and questionable morality, there's plenty to do. Players will spend much of their time leaping from rooftop to rooftop, \"consuming\" enemies to gain memories of Mercer's missing past. You can also search out side quests, such as checkpoint races, and learn new abilities, like how to glide and generate a shield. Completing everything in the game takes dozens of hours.
Is it any good?
Though not exactly original -- there are lots of adventure games that allow players to freely explore massive cities -- Prototype is nonetheless well constructed and surprisingly easy to play. Players can move through the streets unhindered, automatically leaping over obstacles such as cars and running up the sides of buildings in spectacular fashion. And while Mercer has enough different moves to make controlling him a bit more complex than the average action game, they are introduced slowly, giving players time to master his claws, kicks, dodges, and leaps.
Prototype does, however, begin to drag after a while. The missions tend to fall into a few different categories and eventually become repetitive and predictable. Plus, there's something distasteful in the fact that even careful players will accidentally kill hundreds of pedestrians along the way. The narrative could have been much more powerful had players been given the option to try to make Mercer a little less amoral; You ought to have greater control over whether or not you injure innocents. Still, its scope is remarkable, and its action leaves an impression. Worth a look for mature gamers with a taste for the genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. When is it appropriate? When is it not? Is it more or less offensive if it appears sensational and without purpose? Do you prefer it when violent games offer some sort of morality meter, so that players are encouraged to avoid civilian casualties? Do you believe the type and extent of violence in this game is warranted within its narrative context?