It took me five years to finish Prototype and while I don’t necessarily want to review it the game did provoke me to think about what games have become, where they’re going, and why Prototype is perhaps one of the more important games for me of last generation.
I am almost certain that Prototype is the ten year old version of me’s favourite game. The game in some ways feels like a conversation with an adolescent boy, explaining what he’s seeing on the playground, or about the abstract picture he’s drawing in crayon. It has that unbounded outrageousness about it that the 30 year old version of me would struggle to think up without trying to rationalise it. Kids on the other hand are pretty amazing architects of worlds, mainly because they aren’t confined to what we know to be the rules of the world, but also because they don’t ask questions of their own thought processes. “What if your hand turned into a blade and then you could make spikes come out of the ground and then run really fast and you’d kill them and blood and guts would go everywhere but you’d just eat monsters and be better.”
Prototype reminded me of how I used to enjoy games. As a pure piece of entertainment Prototype is almost flawless as it gives you the means to not only run riot through a recreation of Manhattan but also to regress to an almost primal sense of enjoyment. It was like being transported back to my childhood bedroom where I would spend hours upon hours playing Turrican, entranced by everything that was happening on the screen, absolutely unaware of what was happening in the outside world. Prototype was simply an escape from reality and a meaningless power trip that allowed me to be someone I’m not. Whenever I’d play the game it was almost like a reverse version of the storyline of the film BIG in that for those moments I was playing it I was given the opportunity to be a kid again and let my imagination run wild to surround myself in a fantastical and faraway land. Prototype truly was escapism at its very best.
I’m not the same person that sat in my room playing games and enjoyed them for what they were rather than what they weren’t. The adult version of me would write that the narrative wasn’t fully formed. The adult version of me would write that the game’s controls were sometimes fiddly or its difficult curve erratic. But while the adult version of me can’t always turn off the critical parts of my brain or divest myself entirely from his responsibilities, he can learn from that more innocent and less tainted version of myself. I’m not a religious man but perhaps the one thing I can get behind is recognising and being thankful for the things we do have rather than lament the ones we don’t. Never did I think that would be my take away from a game that took such joy in giving me countless ways to mame and massacre thousands of mutants. But it is a takeaway nonetheless and for that I’m grateful. So thank you Prototype for those ten hours I was allowed to be a kid again.