Game Review Roundup: Prototype, Red Faction & More

Game Review Roundup: Prototype & More

Yeah, well, we’re a few days late on this bad boy, but June was a busy month. We’ve got a roundup of some notable releases for June here, in an atypically active month. There is certainly plenty to keep your gaming plate full this summer, so let’s jump right in.

Prototype

From: Activision

Reviewed on: PS3 (also available on Xbox360)

Reviewed by: Lucas Siegel

It’s a superhero action sandbox game featuring a character that skates the line of dark/light, good/bad, as he uncovers a conspiracy that gave him his powers, while the world degenerates around him. Oh, and he moves with “parkour inspired” moves.

So far, I’ve been talking about two games released this summer. The similarities pretty much end with the broad description though, as Prototype brings some new things to the genre, but falls short of brilliance.

The game is fun, for sure. There are several different powers that can be unlocked and upgraded, vehicles to hijack (flying helicopters is one of the most fun things in the game), easy-to-do combos, and the very original consume/disguise function. That last part is by far the coolest and most original thing this game brings to the genre. Throughout the game, you have to consume other characters in order to uncover information, unlock powers, and as a method of healing. It can be anyone you see, human and infected alike, though there are specific targets that open more of the background story, called the “Web of Intrigue.”

The Web of Intrigue is an incredible storytelling technique. Little bits of story are pieced together via the memories of people you eat, all building a complete picture of events as far back as 40 years that lead up to everything in the game. These are told through flashes of images, both computer generated and photographs, just like Alex is actually accessing someone’s memory. It’s skippable, too, but the presentation and the story itself is riveting enough to make you want to watch the whole thing every time.

The general tasks, side missions, and even the story missions, unfortunately, don’t reach the same level of innovation. The majority of them are decent, and not bad, but I wouldn’t call any of them great or all that exciting either. I never felt invested enough in the game that I just had to play one more mission or retry a failed one immediately after. Instead, I’d play for a couple hours, and when I was done, I was done. As such, it’s not a game I’m likely to replay on the Hard difficulty or even have that completist sense on. It’s fun for a playthrough, but probably won’t make its way back into my system again. That’s not to say it’s not worthwhile though, as a single playthrough with a decent amount of upgrading and side missions will run the average gamers somewhere between 15 and 20 hours of playtime.

Overall, Prototype is a fun game with some great innovations, solid gameplay, and an interesting story. It’s not likely to blow you away with any one piece, but the whole package is worth diving into at least once.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

From: THQ

Reviewed on: Xbox 360 (also on PS3, upcoming on PC)

Reviewed by: John Stvan

“Your brother’s been killed just as you arrived on Mars and you have just lost your last tie to your family, your way of life, and your civilization. How do you feel?!” “Meh.”

While most would assume that this is the crucial moment in the games intro sequences, it’s not. In fact, you forget it happens just as quickly as the main character does. Immersion setting aside, Red Faction begins with you - Alec Mason – a former miner and professional smash-rocks-with-bigger-rocks-guy. Coming to a freshly terraformed Mars, Mason quickly falls in with the rebel crowd and begins his fall from law abiding citizen to anti-establishment hero of war. While the last sentence may seem like a summary, it’s not. In five minutes Mason goes from “I’m not involved,” to “I’m involved, hardcore,” without so much as a twitch as he watched his brother gunned down.

The story points of this game begin to unravel as you rescue other guerilla members in their fight against the EDF (Earth Defense Force) – which is on Mars. Ironic. The gameplay is smooth, however, as you race across the desert in an assortment of vehicles or on foot. You have a choice of weapons but are only able to carry three at a time as your fourth is permanently reserved for your sledge hammer. As a miner you never leave home without it and with good reason. Like other Red Faction games, you are able to demolish pretty much anything you can see. It’s really quite remarkable how real the physics of your swings with the hammer change based on what you hit. You also have a salvo of other weapons at your disposal (rocket launcher, mines, etc) that aid you in your destructive rage.

The game system is surprisingly familiar. “Go here and grind, go there and rescue them, go here and blow this up, now go here and start the mission for this area”. As I’ve already played Assassin’s Creed I felt I didn’t need to complete every little mission in Red Faction: Guerilla. I was incredibly let down by the amount of “do this first before you unlock your boss fight” events in this game. The game lends itself as an action/adventure game but begins to come out as an RPG.

The multiplayer is a redeeming quality. The most fun can be had with this title is joining with a group of friends and watching the building they’re in come crashing down.

While this isn’t a game that will be played over and over again, I will finish it eventually. I won’t bother with the multiplayer more than a few times and once I finish the campaign, I will ship it back to the game-renter (because I’m not buying this one).

1 vs 100 BETA

From: Microsoft

Reviewed on: Xbox 360 via LIVE

Reviewed by: Seth Robison

Newsarama Note: This is Seth’s impression of the BETA version of this new type of game. It’s big enough that we decided to include it here, and if significant changes/improvements are made with the final edition, we’ll review that again when it comes out.

One year after its announcement at E3 2008, the XBOX exclusive 1 vs. 100 premiered free for Gold level members of Microsoft’s XBOX Live online service. The game takes the format almost exactly from the television game show of the same name, but unlike other game shows or board games available for home consoles, 1 vs. 100 will exist, after a brief download, entirely on the network and take place solely in real time at scheduled intervals on the Live Primetime channel.

At just before 7:30pm on the west coast, fleet fingered and fast connected gamers (it has been reported that participation was limited for the first night, the Host announced the capped ‘attendance’ at 50,000 players, and the in game participation meter largely backed that up) were placed ‘backstage’ in the bodies of their NXE Avatars. Players were grouped into sets of four, allowing both local and online friends to play together.

Instructions whizzed by on a monitor behind the milling crowed of Avatars and on a pop up, explaining both the rules and how to play. This being a quiz game, the controls were largely limited to the face buttons, three for selecting one of the multiple choice answers and one to make your Avatar cheer in game show fashion. In short order the voice of the show’s Host, a thoroughly enthusiastic and entertaining Chris Cashman, came on live and welcomed players to the Sprint™ Theater and the premier of 1 vs. 100. Ten thousand plus sets of four where then organized into three groups: the Crowd, everyone not selected to play in the actual game were allowed to play along, earning both points for a chance to win a prize given to the top three Crowd players (and as the host explained, a hidden reputation stat that would boost your changes for selection next time). The Mob, the 100 players who’s goal was to take a share of the prize money by out lasting the One, the primary contestant who is offered both lifelines and the chance to take home the whole prize if he is able to survive or a portion if he quits early.

Once the One is selected the game moves very quickly, all but Google-proofing the game with just a three second window given to submit an answer. The questions tended to focus moistly on pop culture and current events, which no doubt reduced the stress level of players. The game also seemingly went out of its way, by design most likely, to highlight its ‘live’ nature, as one question dealt with an event that occurred as recently as this year’s MTV Movie Awards, aired just days before the first night of the game. Every five questions, or when a One loses, the game literally goes to commercial. The Host will either read e-mails he’s received, talk to guests in the studio or on the phone (last night featured Larry Hryb, XBOX Live’s Major Nelson, talking up their E3 presentation that morning and the band Taking Back Sunday who has a new album coming out), and then shows an ad for Sprint or Axe deodorant. Since the final version of the game (might) be free and will award actual prizes like Microsoft Points, this is seemingly how they will pay the bills.

The show lasted two fast hours in which eight One’s were able to play, with the top prize being 6,000 Microsoft Points, although as the Host spelled out frequently, no prizes are going to be awarded in the beta outside of a sweepstakes that simple participation will earn players entries for. Aside from the Host’s voice occasionally dropping out (leaving the robotically controlled co-host’s speaking its canned banter and announcements to no one) the beta was a stable, genuinely unique and thoroughly entertaining gaming experience. How it will work when the caps come off on Saturday’s show will tell if this really is the start of something great.

Bleeps and Blorps- Small Reviews of Big Games

The Punisher: No Mercy; PS3 via PSN; Review By Lucas: This game is an enigma. It comes at an odd time, 7 months after a bigscreen flop for the character. It’s only on PlayStation3, and has a heavy multiplayer focus; somewhat odd for a character typically depicted as a loner. However, it does feature artwork by Mike Deodato, Jr. and actually plays well. This isn’t an award-winning game by any means. It’s a fairly formulaic first person shooter, set up in the vein of Unreal Tournament. In single player, you run around as The Punisher, racking up X number of kills before Y time runs out. You’re killing the same 5-10 people over and over as they respawn just like it’s a multiplayer match. There are basic upgrades for weapons, shields, and speed, and decently varied multi-level arenas. Multiplayer lets you use weapons and characters you unlock in the single player game, and offers a very similar experience, with humans on the other end. At $9.99, Punisher fans who own a PS3 have no real excuse to skip this one, and shooter fans will find it a welcome diversion for some quick play before diving into story and option heavy big budget titles. It’s fun, and the audience it’s aimed at (Punisher and FPS fanatics) will find it a good addition to their collection.

That’s it for this edition, but stay tuned for another in just a couple of weeks, featuring The Sims 3, Battlefield:1943, Tiger Woods, Transformers, and much more in this busy summer of games!

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