Take Your Stand! (A look into inFamous vs. Prototype)

Hello and welcome to the first actual article here on WrmH0l3! In this post we are going to be discussing the heated competition between Sucker Punch Studio’s “inFamous” and Activision’s “Prototype”. To get things going, lets get a little background on the games for those who have either never had the opportunity to play them, or just live under a rock. Starting with inFamous:

In a gang riddled Empire City, bike courier Cole MacGrath is assigned to deliver a parcel across the city. Little does he know the dangers and devastation that await him and Empire City on his route. A massive explosion goes off during his journey across the grimy streets and wipes out a chunk of the island city. Laying unconscious at the center of the explosion is none other than Cole who is awoken by a phone call from his best friend Zeke Jedediah Dunbar. The gangs in Empire City have risen from the alley ways to claim the city as their own! People hide in their homes for dear life, the city lies in shambles from the explosion and there doesn’t appear to be any help in sight.

The wastes of Empire City span for miles. What will Cole do? Rise and defend? Or control and destroy? (Image provided by http://www.dextress.com/2009/07/now-playing-infamous/)

The wastes of Empire City span for miles. What will Cole do? Rise and defend? Or control and destroy? (Image provided by http://www.dextress.com/2009/07/now-playing-infamous/)

Who will rise from the ashes of the devastated city to take control back? Why our favorite bike courier that’s who! Cole has been given strange and powerful control over electricity and intends on fighting back. The only question remaining; will he be Empire City’s guardian and the bane of evil? Or will he create Hell on Earth? Only you can decide.

Here is a link to Sony’s E3 reveal trailer to inFamous back in 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cwNtyfdiaE

And now a glimpse into the dark world of Prototype:

Waking up to your own autopsy isn’t exactly the greatest way to start the morning, and unfortunately this is how Alex Mercer begins his adventures. With absolutely no memory of his past, he staggers through the alleys of Manhattan trying to regain his strength and figure out what happened to him. A squadron of armed soldiers head him off at the exit of the alley way and try to take him away. His only option is to get out, and that’s exactly what he does. What Alex has lost in memory he has gained in super-human capabilities. He is capable of incredible feats of strength such as pitching citizens by their skulls at one another and bounding the sides of New York’s iconic monuments. On top of super strength, he has also learned that he can shape-shift, consuming passers by, scientists and important military personnel Alex takes on their appearance and gains their memories. Paving the foggy path to what is going on in Manhattan.

The mysterious virus has claimed all of Manhattan.  What hope is there for the survivors? If there are any that is... (Image provided by http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/04/is-new-york-overplayed/)

The mysterious virus has claimed all of Manhattan. What hope is there for the survivors? If there are any that is… (Image provided by http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/04/is-new-york-overplayed/)

Oh, did I mention that he is also the ultimate bio-weapon? Yes, Alex can also turn his body into various tools of unimaginable destruction. However, the human science project isn’t the only weird occurrence in Manhattan, a mass virus has grown rampant infecting civilians and turning them into hideous monsters with an uncontrollable need to kill and spread the infection. Wielding his new found powers, Alex Mercer carves a gory road to uncover the secrets of his past and why all of Manhattan has fallen into chaos.

Here is a link for the trailer for Prototype: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN5ZsnFV2KU

Now that we have introductions out of the way, lets get into the real story behind these two games. We will take a look at several aspects that the games share, do comparisons and overall ratings of each super-human, and give you WrmH0l3’s final verdict. Lets jump in shall we?

Prototype and inFamous share about as many aspects of their game-play as they differ. One such similarity is their mission based campaign. Whether you play as Cole or Alex, you will be running, leaping and soaring through the streets to your objectives. Completing various tasks to bring yourself closer to the truth. This form of objective completion complements these games due to their free roam capabilities and sandbox play-style. Bounding from rooftop to rooftop as Alex Mercer laying waste to anything in front of you becomes regular activity when you have side objectives to complete, landmarks to be educated on and military bases to infiltrate aside from your campaign objectives. The same goes for the lighting bolt tosser Cole as you clear the districts of Empire City of the goons that have garrisoned the streets. But who did it better? In Prototype, Alex is tasked with a very shallow pool of things to do: killing things, infiltrating military bases and learning about the events leading up to the chaos that has taken Manhattan. After so much you feel a sense of redundancy in the campaign and start getting lost in tossing civilians at one another like a carnival game until the military sends elimination forces your way. As for inFamous? Cole is given a vast array of tasks to complete; anything from eliminating surveillance equipment off of apartment complexes and clearing sections of districts of hoodlums to races and reinstating the electrical currents in the city. inFamous has more than enough for the player to do until the end of the game. Which leads us into another part of game-play discussion, “post-campaign content,” neither game had much to offer in this department. inFamous doesnt offer much to the player after the campaign other than collecting blast shards (objects that increase your electrical capabilities) and trying to preform stunts for XP. I love sniping goons and citizens with electric bolts as much as the next guy but I can only take so much before I want a bolt of electricity to my head. Prototype on the other hand, while not offering many objectives has the fun of causing as much carnage and destruction as possible, and completing minor objectives such as races, infiltrating bases and stealing identities. Being somewhat sadistic this activity has kept me glued to my T.V. for hours, tearing apart military bases and pummeling monsters. So, to take the final score for game-play, inFamous comes in strong in the first round with a rich and open amount of activity during the campaign where Prototype is rather flat and repetitive in its campaign. The roles get reversed however as Prototype, still having a very slim pickings of side objectives but also a sandbox environment full of baddies to kick around and dive-bomb at.

Narrative, being the next topic, is a huge portion of gaming (well, unless you play League of Legends all day), without it the game would be an empty husk. Having the skeleton but nothing to keep it standing. The narrative in a game is what I find keeps me coming back, I begin to empathize with the characters emotions, develop memories of what I have done and accomplished in the game and work to see what becomes of the character. It’s always an exciting experience to me; much like a reader finds themselves thrown into the world that the author creates, a game does the same. The only difference is the interactivity that a game provides that books don’t. In a game, YOU control what happens, YOU experience the events first hand and are the reason for emotions of characters and major events. It’s as if you live a life that normally wouldn’t be a possibility. inFamous and Prototype both give the player an interesting plot to trek through and experience. Prototype is treated as a giant memory up until the present day Alex Mercer at the end of the game, recapping all of the events that led him to his final objective. during inFamous, you progress daily through the events of the game, however the outcome of the game depends on your actions and decisions throughout the game, you could rise up and be Empire City’s guardian or end up being its downfall. Guess what? Comparison time! Prototype taking the path that it does, throws the player into the mind of Alex Mercer, seeing his frustrations and emotions about his blank past, discovering it piece by piece and empathizing with him when you discover whats really going on. It’s a progression that becomes clearer the more you dedicate to playing, revealing a massive web of deceit, secrets and tragedy that all stems back to Mercer. Watching the development of the virus, discovering the governments involvement and trying to fix things. I found I was enthralled with the different connections that were being made as I consumed people and saw their memories, which are conveniently stored in a memory web on the main menu of the game. I wanted to learn more about who Alex was, who was involved in the chaos of Manhattan and why Alex became what he is. You get close to Alex, as distant of a person as he is by seeing all of the emotions he reveals through out the game. Now, in inFamous, you walk as Cole from day one of the events that take place in the game and experience his growth and development as a character in the game, whether you play as hero or villain there is always a twist that makes you wonder “how did I not see this coming?!” Even though you develop Cole and his powers based on his decisions, hes a rather stagnant character, not really showing much emotion, and what he does display is a huge radical from very noble to sadistic and cruel. There isn’t a real medium where you see just a person. So when something happens that puts him back a step, there isn’t much emotion other than “did this have to happen right now?” The events in inFamous are certainly interesting, tossing and turning as Cole changes the tides of street war and conquers his opponents. But, Cole as a character has much to be desired in my eyes. So Prototype takes the trophy for creating a dynamic character, but both games have great plots that are both engaging and interesting.

To begin looking more at the characters themselves now, lets check out combat and mobility in each game. Cole carries in his arsenal the power to project electricity in various forms of weapons such as bolts of electricity that are shot like a gun with a site circle to capture targets in, shock grenades, electric rockets, a shield and summoning the forces of nature as a giant lightning bolt comes down from the sky to ravage your foes. He also has knowledge of street fighting which he utilizes in close-quarters. The game continues to get challenging however as you progress, forcing you to learn how to efficiently fight with what he has to offer.

Cole using his Lightning Storm ability! A massive lightning bolt controlled by the movements of your controller. (Image provided by http://infamous.wikia.com/wiki/Lightning_Storm)

Cole using his Lightning Storm ability! A massive lightning bolt controlled by the movements of your controller. (Image provided by http://infamous.wikia.com/wiki/Lightning_Storm)

Alex Mercer on the other hand is a living weapon, turning his arms into giant blades, claws, hammer fists and a whip. He to has an understanding of street fighting, but would probably prefer to just chuck a tank at you and be done with it. With regenerative abilities in the form of consumption he can also shape-shift and walk through crowds of enemies unnoticed. He also develops a vast knowledge of military equipment and how to use it. So instead of just throwing the tank at you, he may hijack it and mow you down under its treads.

Alex's powers have no end! Sending a spike pyres all over laying waste to everything.  (Image provided by http://prototype.wikia.com/wiki/Devastators)

Alex’s powers have no end! Sending a spike pyres all over laying waste to everything.
(Image provided by http://prototype.wikia.com/wiki/Devastators)

The only thing I could say that’s particularly bad about this for Alex as a character is that he becomes so overpowered that the game becomes less challenging the further you progress. While Cole is fit to take down the goons and gang members of Empire City, his arsenal and versatility as a super-human don’t hold a light up to Alex and his bio-arsenal and capabilities as death-incarnate. As for traversing their environments? Cole can chose to walk the streets, grinding the rails of the local trains and the electrical wires of the cities power grids, or even hover a distance using electromagnetism to glide. Alex utilizes his super strength to haul himself at incredible speeds down the streets or scaling tall buildings and climbing them as well, along with being able to glide large distances. Visibility plays some role in these games as enemies are provoked to attack if you fall in their line of sight, so your choice in movement can make all the difference if your trying to sneak around and avoid combat. Cole’s got the upper hand in that his speedy and smooth grinding capabilities from one part of Empire City to the other gives him the sneaking capabilities he would need to avoid a lot of combat. If you’re looking to get from point A to point B however, Alex has the tools to get you there as fast as inhumanly possible. Cole seems to have the most handle on his mobility, being shaky and a little jerky at first is actually very versatile and smooth in his movements, where Alex’s strength can get the best of him and make him harder to control on occasion as you blow past your objective. Mobility is kind of a toss up, in that each game requires different things of each character. I personally enjoy the high speed, destructive movement of Alex, but that’s just me. Lets call it a draw for on that front.

Alas! The time has finally come. WrmH0l3 will slam the gavel and call a verdict to this case! Here is a simple comprehensive list of each games strengths and weaknesses that I covered in the article:

Prototype Strengths:

Entertaining sandbox environment that brings you back even after completing the game

– Intriguing character that is built and developed well throughout the campaign

– Dexterous campaign plot that draws the player in to learn more about what is going on

– Versatile combat that makes for exciting battles in any situation

Prototype Weaknesses:

– Little variation in tasks to complete in game

– Overpowered character that takes challenge from the game

– Can become hard to control the faster he moves, missing objectives or getting caught up on objects in the environment

inFamous Strengths:

– Wide variation of campaign and side objectives to complete

– Strong, surprising campaign that keeps the player wanting to see whats next

– Smooth and versatile movement that becomes easier and easier to use as you play

– Games increasing difficulty of play gives player opportunity to learn how to fight effectively with Cole

inFamous Weaknesses:

– Flat, radical character development. Not much to connect with.

– Minimal variation in powers and combat capabilities

– Little post-campaign content

Each game and it’s character have much to offer players. Super-powers, high end combat and intense campaign plots. But, WrmH0l3 has come to a decision that Prototype takes the cake. inFamous is certainly fun and highly enjoyable and worth playing, but I found Prototype the superior game, and Alex the superior character. I mean who doesn’t think that trashing the streets with hammer fists and sending spike pyres at anyone who gets in your way with your claws. Electricity is cool and all, but being the ultimate weapon is just too much fun!

Let me know what you thought of the article! What you liked, disliked etc. I’d love the feedback. As for those who follow me on twitter or would like too, tweet something about this article or either game to @connorhead2 with #Conduit for inFamous or #Evolved for Prototype!

Remember gamers, Stay calm and become Evolved

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