Revenge is Sweet
Prototype 2 starts off a little more than a year after the events of the first Prototype. Alex Mercer, the first game’s hero, has been lambasted as the villain behind a new mutagenic viral outbreak that now cripples New York City (since renamed New York Zero). Sergeant James Heller, a man who has returned home from overseas military conflicts to find his wife and daughter murdered, supposedly by someone infected with what has now been dubbed the Mercer Virus, plans revenge on Mercer, who he blames for his loss. But Alex has other plans for our dear Sergeant, whom he promptly infects with the virus. Now, with power comparable to Mercer, Heller looks to take down all who get in his way on his vengeful path.
The first thing you pick up on when you start playing Prototype 2 is the drastic change in the tone of the story. Whereas the first game’s plot was very conspiracy theory heavy, Heller isn’t here to play detective. He has one purpose and one purpose only, and if on the way to that he blows a lot of stuff up that hurts Blackwatch and GenTek, so be it. People who love plot and story may not enjoy just how simple things have gotten, but simplifying the plot also makes the game a lot easier to relate to, helps the story pace flow more smoothly than the convoluted conspiracy theories of the first game, and helps keep the main focus on the action.
And there is a lot of action in this game, especially as you start to evolve Heller’s powers with a streamlined upgrades tree. Not only are many of Heller’s powers different from Mercer’s beyond the wall-running and gliding, but a lot of the control issues from the first game have been done away with and so a new game play element has surprisingly crept in: stealth. In the first Prototype, if you picked something up, you automatically set off an alarm. Now, it just raises your suspicion level and you can place it back down and wait for things to cool off without entering conflict. You also have a new sonar sense so you can tell who is most vulnerable in a group of enemies, sneak up behind them, stealth consume them, and work your way into Blackwatch bases or GenTek facilities without ever tripping an alarm. And seeing the reactions of soldiers and scientists as they realize their co-workers are slowly disappearing is hysterical.
Of course, if you want to be a bull in a china shop, you can do that, too. And with powers like “Black Hole”, where you fire a cluster of tendrils at someone or something and when the cluster makes contact, the tendrils explode outward and pull in whatever is within reach, doing massive damage, it’s not going to be easy to take Heller down.
The one downside to all this is that the game play can get very repetitive after a while. There is very little in terms of mission variety beyond murdering high value targets for information or new powers as you build up to the final confrontation. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d get bored suplex-ing a tank, but it can happen in Prototype 2. And the mini-games that are present are good for building up experience, but really are a sad attempt at changing the pace of action as they are not at all necessary on your path towards completing the game and aren’t as fun as they were in the first.
The game also has a fair amount glitches in it. It’s understandable with such a complex physics system in an open world that sometimes things won’t go as smoothly as they should, and these can be patched later on, but some of these glitches are in the vein of Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption where they are more humorous than game play hindering. I’m talking NPC hobos randomly flying across the screen for no reason or bouncing around in the middle of the street like they’re having a seizure or standing in place and floating up the side of a building like they’re in some invisible elevator.
All in all though, if you enjoy superhero games, then you’re going to really enjoy Prototype 2 because I imagine this is what it would feel like if you had a Spider-Man symbiote to play around with. There is never a slow moment (although they are repetitive) and the story is solid, if not as good as the first. The voice acting is superb, the graphics are awesome (when not glitching), and at the end of the day, I had more fun than not smashing up a virus-laden NYC.
SUMMARY: The rough controls of the first Prototype have been tweaked and revamped to allow for a more user-friendly experience. The story also flows a lot more smoothly than the more conspiracy-driven first game. Unfortunately, even with Heller’s different powers, Prototype 2 does become tedious at times as there is little variety in mission parameters, but you should still find some fun in blowing up everything that gets in your way.
- THE GOOD: Many of the rough edges from the first game have been smoothed out
- THE BAD: Lack of game play variety
- THE UGLY: All non-human bad guys look like something you would puke up.
Prototype 2 is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.