Prototype Performance Analyzed

Playing Radical Entertainment's new action title Prototype will give you a hint of what immortality must feel like. You control Alex Mercer, a man who is transformed into a creature that is in command of his genetic makeup. He is able to survive almost anything and can physically alter himself to accomplish whatever he chooses. He can leap up buildings in a few bounds, glide above the skyline with ease, run over anything, morph into a disguise, pick up huge objects and chuck them like pebbles, and transform himself into any number of deadly weapons. It's almost impossible to feel like your character is ever in any real jeopardy as you can simply evade faster than your pursuers can chase, and if you choose to allow them to engage you, the enemies don't seem to pose any real threat. At least, that is the case in the beginning levels.

This game doesn't necessarily steer you into a benevolent or a malevolent role, as the ultimate power the game bestows upon you is one of ambivalence. As a player, I found myself struggling to maintain a shred of the character's humanity by sparing innocent lives when I could. The game makes it pretty much impossible to avoid civilian casualties, and it certainly doesn't reward you for it. If anything, it's a lot easier to play with indifference, and there is certainly an ugly fun to be had when sacrificing the population to make for an easier out when a strike team attacks you. A quick way to regenerate health is to “absorb” people, and if there aren't any enemies around, then the citizenry makes for an easy snack.

The game takes place in Manhattan, and it amuses me that one of the lead character's main traits (his loss of humanity) reminds me of the Doctor Manhattan character from the Watchmen. Aside from this, the setting provides a huge sandbox for our anti-hero to play in, including bonus challenges all over the map.

Scattered throughout the city you'll find characters that are part of the “web of intrigue,” which is a clever device to narrate the story. If you absorb these characters, you see short movie clips of their memories and another piece of the puzzle to help you understand Alex's history and situation. This helps a great deal as Alex is suffering from amnesia at the beginning of the game, so the player joins him in his discovery of who he is and why he has his powers.

The title also includes a bit of a role-playing game (RPG) element in that the player can choose how to upgrade Alex's abilities by making purchases with accrued experience points.

Is it fun? At times deliciously so, although with great power comes the potential for great indifference. If you're intrigued enough to give the game a try, you might want to know what hardware you need to get the most out of Prototype. That's our mission here today.

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  • Wayoffbase
    I don't see anyone upgrading from a C2Q to an i7 for a game that's just not all that great looking on high settings, the performance discrepency there was odd. The gameplay itself looks like it might be interesting though.
  • Ramar
    Already beat the game a week ago, but it was a thrill-ride. Not sure why the article's so late getting up though.

    At the least, it'll convince people that their older rigs -can- run it. It's basically an optimized and mostly un-buggy Web Of Shadows engine; I'd expect a 7800GT could probably run it okay.
  • Ramar
    Wayoffbase...just not all that great looking on high settings,...

    In action it's much better than these screenshots. It pulls a lot of the same tricks MGS4 does on the PS3, where you can tell it's not actually doing that much processing but it looks like it is. Screenshots don't do the game justice because you rarely see a texture or polygon for more than a few seconds at most; in action the particle effects are actually pretty impressive.
  • apache_lives
    could this be the first game that takes full advantage of an i7's 8 threads?
  • mcbowler
    Hmm.. all its takes is an XBOX 360! $200.00 It is a great game.
  • neiroatopelcc
    What happends if you add 8gb ddr2-1200 (ballistix or similar) to the old quadcore ? the i7 had 50% more memory available as well after all - if the game's 64 bit enabled, perhaps the difference isn't the cpu alone - since even at 2.4 the difference is huge.
    Even saints row, which has shit for graphics, runs close to the 2gb memory limit of 32bit games all the time - so perhaps this actually uses whatever is available?

    I saw this game a few weeks ago running great on a laptop that usually does inventor stuff ... I don't know what processor was in it, but I bet no more than an old dualcore T something processor
  • radium69
    My Q6600 @ 3.0 Ghz and Geforce GTS 512 runs this game flawless on high settings. I've tried with aa on 4x but found it runnign at 20fps sometimes. It's a fun game. And not to hard on resources.
  • Tknockers
    p.s. not so great difference between i7 and core2quad on that site..
  • chovav
    my Q6600 @ 3.2Ghz and 8800GT 512mb run the game smoothly at 1980x1080 with anti-aliasing x4 and high details.. I actually don't mind the graphics so much, i think they are better than GTAIV's..

    One of the best games ever BTW!!
  • Anonymous
    Apache Lives: It barely takes advantage of more than 2 real threads on the Core2 quad, why do you think it's using all 8 virtual threads on the i7? It seems Intel want's to push i7 as a gaming CPU(even though everyone knows that C2Q and PhII are just fine), perhaps they struck some kind of deal with the devs? There's no logical reason for how such a CPU spread could happen.
  • neiroatopelcc
    chovavmy Q6600 @ 3.2Ghz and 8800GT 512mb run the game smoothly at 1980x1080 with anti-aliasing x4 and high details.. I actually don't mind the graphics so much, i think they are better than GTAIV's..One of the best games ever BTW!!

    It's not fair to compare a pc game with graphics from a pocket calculator. gta if anything sports only gameplay. Graphics aren't a selling point for that title.
  • JeanLuc
    I see on this page you were a bit stumped by the poor showing of the 8800GT/9800GT when the 9600GT was out preforming it.

    I think the answer is the lack of VRAM on the 8800GT which I believe only had 512Mb where as the 9600GT has a full 1Gb which eliminated any bottlenecks when processing all those textures with 4x AA being applied.
  • goalguy02
    Should throw in a phenom II 940 or 955 as well as test SLI and Crossfire cards. I want to see how well the game scales using SLI
  • San Pedro
    Well, I can run the game maxed with my core 2 at 2.8 ghz and a 512 4870, including 4xaa at 1680x1050. I wasn't impressed with the graphics at all though. I think GTA looks much better. The gameplay didn't do anything for me, but I only gave it about ten minutes of my time, in which it had already felt repetitive. However, maybe I'll go back and give it a longer try.

    Anyway, keep articles like these coming.
  • cracklint
    4870 512, pII 720 black, 4 gig 1066 memory no over clocking - game runs maxed out with v sync enabled. I have yet to find a game that needs more with the exception of Crysis and maybe Far Cry 2. Crysis was good, but not great. Far Cry 2, well... it kinda sucked. I couldn't justify the hundreds of dollars more it would cost to get a good 50fps with max settings out of these 2 games.
  • fadirocks
    Directx 10.1 vs 10.0 anything interesting in that aspect like CPU usage, frame rate...etc?
  • jp182
    I have a phenom II Triple core AM3 running on an AM2+ mobo with 4gigs of ram (really less since its XP 32bit) and an 8600GTS videocard and with high detail and medium shadow at 1680 x 1050 the game runs flawlessly (no AA) and fast. I don't think the frame rate has ever dropped past 25fps.

    So unless this CPU is the business (which it isn't on this platform), anyone with a computer that made in the last 3 years can run this game no problem.
  • jp182
    btw, I'm not really impressed by the game as I thought Infamous was more engaging.
  • doomtomb
    I have a Core 2 Quad (Q9550 @ 3.6GHz), 8GB of RAM, and two GTX 275s. I should be able to play this game maxed out no sweat. It is fine but I drop below 60FPS at many points in the game and I tried using FRAPS to record and it is unplayable, like 5fps. I can in-game record for Left 4 Dead and even GTA IV but this game is unbearable! With my setup, Prototype should be crushed!