Before continuing this review, sync your Spotify account (other music subscriptions are available) to a song pre-lockdown era called 21 Seconds by So Solid Crew. Replace those lyrics with 41 Hours Prologue. Regardless if it sounds dope or not.
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A prologue, it’s in the name, you play the hardest scientist since
Morgan Freeman Captain Morgan Gordon Freeman from Half-Life. Your missus has disappeared and been turned into a machine. A bit like Vision. Well, nothing like Vision, but use your imagination.
She follows you about in the early training sequence and tells you it’s ok to use her to blow stuff up. Wha..? Targeting an enemy, she’ll merrily trot in their direction then send an EMP-like wave into their fleshy bits and knock them out. It applies to tanky mechs as well.
But it takes energy to do this. Not the graceful index finger’s journey to the Q, but the energy consumed by ‘your powers’ to do so. Scientists don’t have powers?! Err, hello? Peter Parker (ish), David Banner and Rick from Morty and Rick Adventure Land Time. Unfortunately for Ethan, the scientist, it’s an external device he uses but is free to use to the full, including the cloaking device.
Like that dude from Crisis, you can go all Predator-like and sneak around enemies until your energy runs out and they blast you. Ammo in 41 Hours Prologue is a bit scarce and a little like a survival horror in that you have to be resourceful, or perhaps a little more accurate, and stop spunking the bullets around the enemies, and instead, in them. Eww.
However, there are difficulty levels that you can adjust if you want to go that route. These enemies are relentless and will keep tracking you, even if you run away. Fortunately, they don’t understand how to open doors, like off-ground tag, find an unoccupied home and hide in the spare room until you have enough energy to put on your cloak and sneak out. An invisibility cloak, not that one you picked up in Mordor.
While I did have a quick attempt at setting this up on the controller, I couldn’t get it working, so it was all about my fingering technique – stretching to the E’s and Q’s where necessary. But 41 Hours Prologue has a few aces up its sleeve where other first-person shooters don’t follow suit. Well, maybe some degree of it has been done, but this game is quite ambitious.
For starters, other than your better digital-half, you can traverse through wormholes. Thankfully this doesn’t open up a can of worms with paradoxical references, but it can be a bit tricky to create them yourself. You mean you can create a wormhole on command? Of course, you can – you’re a scientist! However, you have to use Robo-Sally, point her in the desired direction and press the right mouse button to set up a node of sorts. You can then bypass forcefields, security doors and long queues for the loo at a music festival.
It’s a cool mechanic, and the physics are surprisingly good. I say that as I would stack boxes willy-nilly then bash my way to the top but knock them down in the process. As frustrating as this was, it was my own bloody fault. It looks cool, but the device doesn’t sound so as nifty: optical tweezers. I know, right? Oh – you can slow down time, too – like that game back on the PS3 – Haze but without the drugs.
Aside from your magic science hands, you’re pretty apt with machine guns, and you can swap them out on the fly. Initially, you can only carry two at a time, but as you shoot more things and complete objectives, you’ll gain XP to invest in the amount you can carry, energy efficiency, the use of scopes, suppressors and other Rambo-like abilities.
The scopes, in particular, are a highlight as you can swap these out by cycling through X and C. Instead of being restricted to a close-quarter sub-machine gun and a long-range rifle, you can effectively use your preferred gun and swap out the scope. On one end of the spectrum, you can shoot enemies close up but going for the stealth technique? Apply your long-range scope and shoot them before they finish tying their shoelaces.
Aiming in 41 Hours Prologue’s not always accurate, and I somehow managed to balls up my sights several times. Targetting with the sights, the guns would shoot about a body length up, without any impact from the wind, distance or what colour pants I was wearing. It was a bit hit and miss – forgive the supposedly clever choice of words.
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Also, that whole AI was a bit weird too. I loved how neurotic enemies were and would follow you for a long time, but the minute you went into a building, they’d run around outside like headless chickens but not come in. They also didn’t pick up that you’re running into them at full speed in the cloaking mode. Surely they could feel that or at least smell last night’s garlic breath?
Still, little things, and for the most part, it was a good experience. The story is an interesting one without being overly convoluted or too cliche, though the voice talent for Ethan was a bit lame. Sorry old, pal. I wasn’t buying it. He didn’t sound like a man of science, but one of contempt. At least he knows how to kick bottom, though.