Oh, a reader review, by Michael Hart! Haven’t seen one of those in a while! Oh, it’s about Prototype 2? I’d sort of forgotten about that game! Nice job Michael! Take it away buddy!
Prototype 2 is the sequel to strangely enough, Prototype, the 2009 game where you played as a genetically mutated superhuman that wreaked havoc on a city while a viral outbreak was going on. In Prototype 2, you play as a different genetically mutated superhuman that wreaks havoc on a city while a viral outbreak is going on. How does it stack up against its predecessor? I realise the game is a few months old now, but just in case you’re still on the fence about it, here’s my take on it.
And Hulk…Smash – Prototype 2, like the original game, does a great job of making you feel like the ultimate superweapon, causing copious amounts of death and destruction without breaking a sweat. The new protagonist, Sgt James Heller, obviously possesses many of original protagonist Alex Mercer’s basic abilities, such as running really fast (including up skyscrapers), jumping really high, gliding through the air, consuming people to steal their memories and faces, and morphing his arms into various weapons. Before too long though you’ll start acquiring some unique powers such as Tendrils and Bio Bombs that make him feel unique, and each one can be used to cause a satisfying amount of carnage.
The Overmind will be proud of you – One of the best improvements in Prototype 2 over the original game is how the side missions and upgrades are handled. In Prototype 2, there are various collectables to obtain, in the form of blackboxes dropped by killed soldiers to pick up, scientific field operations to kill and lairs for you to administer your personal method of cleaning to. Obtain all of that type in a specific area and you gain the ability to upgrade a power in one of several categories. Also found in the game are side missions you can gain access to by hacking computer terminals found around the city, and if you complete these (which can consist of between one and three specific parts) you’ll also gain an upgrade. This is in addition to the regular experience points which allow you to level up in a more traditional way. This method is a far cry better than the drab time trials or inane score challenges and gliding tests that the first game used, and can actually help you understand the story a little better too. Many of the missions have bonus objectives as well that if completed give you a big experience point boost, but unfortunately there’s no way to replay the mission (that I found anyway) to try again should you mess up the bonus objective.
Think with your stomach – Despite how good it is to blow stuff up, some of the better sections in the game are more stealthy affairs, where it is your job to infiltrate a military base without raising an alarm. You generally do this by hunting down and consuming someone who has access to the base, such as a commander or scientist, then getting in there and sabotaging operations in some way, perhaps by killing the base commander, or letting the infected specimens out of their cages to create a distraction for you to move in and finish things off, before morphing back into your disguised form to leave the base as if nothing happened. It’s always satisfying when you wander around a large room, systematically consuming the military and scientists in there one by one after waiting for a brief moment when they aren’t being watched to pounce. Although the question “why don’t they notice that their colleagues are going missing while their backs are turned?” does need to be asked… surely there would be cause for concern that half the room just disappeared. Of course, you can usually do things the old fashioned way and just waste the place if that’s what floats your boat instead.
The Not So Good
You kiss your mother with that mouth? – Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big boy and I can handle swearing in my MA rated video games, but the amount of swearing in Prototype 2, particularly the f-bomb, is just completely over the top and un-necessary. In the first half an hour of the game alone you’ll probably hear it at least a dozen times and it doesn’t slow down from there, with just about every cinematic and Heller’s own internal monologues dropping it at least once (even a priest says it once). Random people on the street and military guards will verbally abuse you if you bump into them too. In all, the frequency of it just makes it lose any and all impact, to the point where you just roll your eyes when you hear it again and it almost becomes comical. A copious amount of swearing doesn’t make your game more dark or gritty or mature, it just makes it look silly.
Leave your brains at the door – Let’s just say that the story in Prototype 2 isn’t exactly the game’s strong point. There really isn’t much character growth through the course of the game and most of the missions have an end goal of screwing up the plans of either the evil military or Alex Mercer. It’s not until you get to the last few missions of the game where you actually get to see another side of Heller and the motivations behind his actions make a little more sense, but by then you’ve been going from one mission to another wondering how they are all connected for so long that you probably won’t even care.
The little things don’t quite work – There are just a number of little things in the game that don’t quite seem to hit the mark. The cinematics are mostly all black and white (I realise this was probably for artistic effect, but it does get bland after a while), you can’t use your extendo-arm to hijack helicopters anymore (one of the coolest things in the original), you are rarely put in a situation where dying is a possibility (and even if you do, a checkpoint is never far away), the pacing of when you receive your new powers seems a little off, the visuals are good without being great, and there are some occasional control hiccups such as the game deciding you want to grab a military soldier and raise an alert instead of stealthily consuming the scientist behind him. None of these things are dealbreakers, but you most likely will notice them while playing, which can get in the way of the experience at times.
If you enjoyed the original Prototype, you’ll no doubt enjoy this. Despite playing as a different character is still feels very much like a worthy sequel. If you didn’t enjoy the original however, there is little here to convert you as it’s pretty much more of the same with an improved sidequest and experience system. It’s not without its flaws, but despite them you should find it another entertaining romp as a genetically mutated superhuman that wreaks havoc on a city while a viral outbreak is going on. It’s a pity Radical has shut its doors since the game’s launch, as it might have been interesting to see where they might have taken the series in a third game, but I guess we’ll never know now.