I don’t see it. It’s entirely coincidental that a free-roaming action/adventure title launched in the same month as another free-roaming action/adventure title. Debates were formed, the Obama administration was undecided and scientists spent billions of dollars researching a decision. There never was a decision, even Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Crowshaw had to hold a deciding vote with a lingerie competition. But tonight, to much controversy and world-wide acclaim, I shall attempt to discover which game comes up top. Which game is the one you should look back on and think “Yeah, that was the best.”
Purely for context, lets just say you only have $60 and you want to buy a free-roaming title. You only have a PS3 and you’re say… around fourteen to seventeen years old. You talk with your friends and they show you some clips from Infamous and Prototype, you’re torn between the two. Your mother is about to take you to the store to spend your money (yeah you’re a mummies boy) and you look around your bedroom. There’s a picture of Cole McGrath from Infamous and Alex Mercer from Prototype. It’s time to choose. Time to choose.
Infamous tells the tale of Cole McGrath, who is out just delivering a package, which suddenly explodes and kills him. He wakes up in hospital with special abilities and a city in peril from the explosion, and must take on many dudes in order to save the city. Although you can also be an evil guy and basically be a modern day Adolf Hitler, terrorizing and killing everything, except without the ideological political motivation. The story also tells a under layer of betrayal and regret, which seems sort of out of place in a game like this. Nevertheless, the narrative is perfectly fine.
In Prototype you play as Alex Mercer, a dead dude who wakes up with special powers (coincidence?) and these powers include giant blades coming out of your wrists. Awesome. Apparently there’s some sort of infection and you have to make people pay because they’ve given you awesome powers. Logic? The story takes a backseat to the entire game, thankfully, and Infamous’ wicked comic like graphic cutscenes look like Oscar-gold compared to this. There’s a few characters and main antagonists, but you’ll mostly just be skipping those and slaughtering dudes.
The problem with Infamous’ hook is that there’s only two paths – Good and Evil – and it rewards going in just one direction. There’s no true “I’m a hero!” and “I’m an evil man bwahahahah.” in fact, for the most part, there’s generally no change. The whole purpose of this shallow moral choice is to reward you with certain powers if you go down one of the roads. It’s a little trick that Sucker Punch has done to make you play through the game twice. It’s like playing the whole of COD4 but then being told that you can do it all again, but with different weapon sets.
Infamous plays out in a detailed city full of stuff to do. I would go as far to say that it’s even on the same levels of GTA IV’s Liberty City. It genuinely feels alive. Whereas in Prototype’s take on Manhattan… well lets just say things just aren’t the same. The textures and buildings are copied and pasted throughout the town. It feels drab and dull, the color palette that barely goes past four flavors. There’s no inspiration or ‘love’ anywhere in Prototype, it just feels lifeless and everything you kill is either a mannequin or made of jello.
Infamous is a one trick pony. You can electrocute enemies, knock out enemies with electricity, recharge your electricity and make bombs out of… yeah… electricity. There’s innovative uses on how to use your sparks, such as a defibrillator (which wouldn’t really work in real life) and even lightning. Yeah… On the other side of things, there’s Prototype. Where in Infamous you have to scale buildings and climb stuff a la Uncharted 2 or Assassin’s Creed, in Prototype… things are much more different. You can run up walls or even fly using your blood. There’s a faster pace to it which just satisfies your senses a bit more.
Cole has electric powers but Alex has everything. Blades, claws, whips, armor, shields, battering rams. He can surf peoples bodies, turn into an elderly husband, run up a building and then shoulder slam into the deceased man’s widow. It’s shockingly tasteless but on the levels of GTA. So it’s alright then. It reminds me of the early days of playing with GTA 3, not sure if I should actually be clubbing that policeman. But in this case, you’re running down walls and jacking tanks. This is a balls to the walls free roam adventure. This is Grand Theft Auto (yeah I say that way too often).
So who’s the superior one? There isn’t. Yeah I said there would be a choice of a better game but I can’t make my mine up. When it gets down to it, they’re cons and pros balance each other out. They can even be compared to a twin of brothers who look out for each other, but both have different jobs. If so, lets call them Bill and Ted, Bill is an electrician and Ted is a scientist. Bill likes to read science fiction and also cares about the choices he makes whereas Ted owns a tank and blows stuff up. Ted also has giant blades for his arms and also doesn’t know if he’s doing the right or wrong thing most of the time.
Do I have to choose? Really? Fine. If I was forced at gunpoint then I’d pick Prototype. It’s just a little bit more fun and reminds me so much of Grand Theft Auto. If Niko Bellic had blades growing out of his arms then I might have warmed to him a bit more than I did. Infamous is still a great game, and you should check it out. There’s no right or wrong when you compare these two, it depends on what you like more. In terms of style and innovation, Infamous is where it’s at, but for balls to the walls, Prototype is your man. Or woman…