Why Prototype is Awesome and Needs to Make a Comeback


Today we will be talking about a series which in my opinion really needs to make a comeback. Once very popular and well known, the Prototype franchise has fallen out of favor but I do not feel that that is fair.

What is Prototype? What do you do in this weirdly named game?

In Prototype players take control of either Alex Mercer (Prototype 1) or James Heller (Prototype 2) who are extremely, and I do mean extremely powerful beings with shapeshifting powers and the ability to absorb memories and disguise themselves as other people.

Of course, brutal amounts of super speed and super strength are added on top. The idea of the games is to uncover a conspiracy involving the US government and a corrupt PMC organization while fighting off a dangerous virus called Blacklight which is destroying Manhattan. During the game the players will face off US Marines, Blackwatch mercenaries, infected (zombies), monsters created from the virus’s mutations, super soldiers, tanks, helicopters… the list is exhaustive. And the factions in the game can fight one another too!

The parkour is awesome!

One of the coolest aspects about Prototype is the navigation – players can run across buildings, glide and parkour in a dynamic manner. The animations and their blending have barely started showing their age – they are still decent even to this day and make movement seamless throughout the large open world. It being such a city full of tall buildings really aids with this!

A chaos sandbox!

Prototype 1 and 2 are sandbox open-world third-person action games and dare I say – they are amongst the most fun ones. Playing as a super-powered anti-hero/villain (really depends on the perspective) is a lot of fun. The amount of carnage the player can unleash is staggering, running at over 200 km/h and punching someone with force that can even shake up an M1A2 Abrams tank is just fun. The shapeshifting powers allow Alex or Heller to create things like biological battle armour, giant blades that can cut through man and machine with ease, tendrils that can hit helicopters… add to this running up on buildings and being able to disguise yourself as almost anyone – this is one hell of a fun game.

The NPCs are in on the fun too I guess.

Due to how powerful you are, for the game to be a challenge at all this means that the opponents are coming in armed too. Marines or mercenaries come with rifles, machineguns, Javelin missile launchers, even grenade launchers – and hell those are among the weak opponents in the game! The NYC police force with their pistols barely register as a threat, but the tanks and IFVs, Apache gunships and super soldiers, not to mention the infected monsters which can go toe to toe with them – those guys mean business.


Stealth can be overpowered here…

This is where the game’s stealth gameplay comes into focus. The player can assume almost any human form they can find within the game world. Are you being pursued by American heavy armour? Quickly hide behind a building, capture one of the unfortunate civilians hiding from the carnage and consume the – taking their appearance. Not only will you heal a part of the damage, the military will not shoot at you now. Want to enter a Blackwatch base? Disguise yourself as one of their soldiers and enter inside – hell accuse someone else of being you and watch the soldiers shoot them themselves. Fighting with powerful infected who really are not letting you breathe? Capture a military commander, turn into them, order artillery bombardment and hide behind the soldiers or take their weapons (they are effective actually, very effective if used well!) and hold the line like a super powered soldier alongside your new, temporary comrades! Or capture a tank or Apache and end the battle in style. This game is just … insane.

A story that has some potential…

One of the things I really liked about the initial Prototype was the sense of intrigue and mystery to the game’s storyline before it unfolded. Now, the actual story and characters are quite mediocre, but I do believe the ingredients are there for a competent writer to exploit well.

Alex is so edgy he is actually cringe… but at the same time I love his cringe :D

Cold war genetics and viral testing? Possible corporate or political espionage? A rogue pariah scientist taking things into his own hands? A monstrous virus threatening at the very least a whole state? A very questionable paramilitary force being put in charge over the situation, causing friction with the Marines? There is nothing revolutionary here, but these ingredients can make for a fairly interesting experience.

Also, while I do appreciate New York as a location, I do feel something with more… rural areas too would be even better. I am sure the developers can think of a perfect location for this. But honestly, even Manhattan again is fine for me…

The game’s systems would work better with modern technology

A few of Prototypes biggest gameplay problems are in my opinion probably due to its original target platforms – the Xbox 360 and PS3. Those platforms had relatively weak CPUs and low levels of RAM and VRAM. This meant that memory management had to be extremely aggressive when handling an open world game – especially one with lots of active NPCs and firefights.

These fights are still so fun though…

Due to this the game’s AI is quite stupid in all honesty. The marines, cops, and mercenaries do not use anything really resembling logic or tactics. In fact, when a large group of them is facing off the infected, it isn’t really the infected that are usually doing the damage – friendly fire is.

I like Prototype 1 more than 2, but 2 has its moments too…

This game can also really benefit from a real dynamic day/night cycle. Weather too! The original versions did vary this across missions or events, but only slightly. Having epic battles between the infected monsters, the US military, and our main character would look so good at 4K HDR with a storm going on in the background.

Object persistence and the number of destructible props / vehicles / buildings is also an easy thing a modern version of the game can fix. It is really silly to be able to destroy a tank but not be able to place a dent on even small houses. Or to turn around and see the traffic behind you just a few seconds ago be replaced with new traffic and NPCs – just because the game’s wacky RAM management doesn’t know that a modern gaming PC can handle this all just fine.

Finally, all of the game’s individual systems can be made better or more fleshed out. From better stealth to better handling of weapons and vehicles (though this was pretty good in the original games too!).

I would also really appreciate a remaster…

One way to make money for a Prototype reboot would be to release a remastered version of the original two games. Now, this is one of those times where I would even argue that this would be the optimal strategy. Why so?

The originals are broken. They are flat out two of the most broken PC releases I can think off. The games can be made to work on modern systems, but it is a pain to do so. Prototype 1 itself does not launch if it detects too many cores and threads and will requite players to turn off parts of their CPUs before they can play. The list of issues people may experience and the workarounds is vast. Prototype 2 is somehow even worse! The game is 32-bit (the original at least was 64-bit) and is just as hard to get running as Prototype 1, maybe even harder!

These are games released in such a poor state that they make Cyberpunk 2077’s last-gen console editions look like some sort of divine Kardashev-3 style accomplishment of engineering next to them. So, a re-released, upgraded version with these issues resolved would be sweet and should sell well!

It is fun and will be unique next to modern games.

Ultimately the biggest reason why I want Prototype to make a return – it is just fun. It is a silly game with its weird grimdark edginess and subject matter but its gameplay and insane chaos are a breath of fresh air. The fact the protagonist has been and is bound to be some sort of morally grey demi-human psycho is also something we rarely see in modern games. Prototype was never the absolute best game, maybe so… but it was good and it was fun and unique. That is all its theoretical sequel or reboot needs to do to make me happy!

With this we finish our brief look into Prototype – a series that deserves to make a return!

The articles content, opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in SAPPHIRE NATION are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent official policy or position of SAPPHIRE Technology.

Alexander Yordanov
My name is Alexander and I am an enthusiastic PC Gamer from Sofia, Bulgaria. Video games have been my go-to hobby for as long as I can remember. I started with good old DOOM and Warcraft 1 and also had a Terminator console. In time my often outdated hardware has made me read up Tech Guides and try to understand what goes within a game as well as how to appreciate it or understand it better.