Alex Mercer, a virus infected shape shifter is set loose in New York city, teeming with what look like zombies, helicopters, tanks, and a bunch of mutant beasts. Mercer jumps, runs and glides across the skyscrapers, seeking revenge on the scientists and military personnel who infected him. Mercer’s body grows in strength and abilities throughout the game, which can be upgraded using Evolution Points (EP), which you can pick up on the many missions in the game. The player can transform the whole body, based on the DNA of anyone Mercer “consumes”, convert his limbs into weapons such as adding blades or claws, and the “Devastator” attacks which involve massive chunks of dangerous biomass blossom out of his body and the surrounding environment, in various shapes and sizes that can take out a whole bunch of enemies at the same time.
Make no mistake about it, Mercer is a rogue beast, madly running through the city. The sandbox style encourages you to experiment, and the experimenting is fun. You can pick up and throw anything – hurl people across the street, throw cars into the sea from the top of the building, or lob a helicopter at an attacking helicopter. The moves and combos are spectacular, you can deliver a spinning kick to a helicopter in mid-air, surf down the road on the bodies of people you have just killed, and hammer the ground taking out a ring of enemies.
Unfortunately, there are missions, and a storyline to follow. These mess up the game terribly. The AI is horrible. The army will ignore you right under their noses, and attack you when you are doing nothing but running down the road. The lack of AI is compensated by numbers. The city has an endless supply of tanks, helicopters and soldiers, who will keep coming at you if you keep taking them out. Eventually, you have to run and hide, to escape them. There is no scope for acting on the stealth, even if the mission demands it. There are certain delicate operations, involving consuming specific human targets, or neutralizing some detectors. When you approach them chances are, you will attack them, consume the wrong person, or end up a block away because of an unintentional jump, glide and wall run. This is because the controls are not precise enough, and cool looking moves are executed half by the game itself. The controls overlap for a number of moves, and can be used only in very particular situations, which you discover at the cost of many retries. You can pick up weapons whenever you want to, but using them is a pain. You have to press the Tab button before aiming at anything, and this is an unnecessary additional button to press while shooting. Moreover, the Tab locks on to the nearest enemy, so you will probably end up firing behind you while looking ahead of you.
Then there is the endless barrage of unnecessary and distracting information. Some of the people you consume can tell you their stories from inside you, in a mind-map called the web of intrigue, which is more difficult to navigate and keep track of than the city itself. The storyline requires you to run between the houses of Mercer’s sister and girlfriend, who sit on computers and throw up leads, which could easily be obtained by any random soldier during a mission. There are hint-points and area exploration points, which are obtained in the form of glowing orbs scattered around the city, a la PoP. The storyline itself is not captivating at all, Mercer eventually discovers that he is the reason why the whole city is infected, and in fact, infected himself too.
The game play is not captivating enough to justify the torture of the storyline and the missions. The look and feel of the game is OK, with most of the city always being covering in an obscuring blue or brown mist. This was a release a lot of gamers were looking forward to, and has disappointed heavily.
Consoles : PS3, XBOX 360, Windows
Publisher : Activision
Developer : Radical Entertainmen
Score : 5/10