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Prototype 2 Review: No Lessons Learned

Posted on May 23, 2012 AT 09:29pm

Prototype 2 Review

Prototype had one thing going for it: the gameplay. Not all of it was great, but jumping from helicopter to helicopter, hijacking one and shooting all the other copters down, and jumping out, only to disguise yourself and exit the crime scene without being noticed was just one of the fun moments you could have in that game. Beyond that, however, were PS2 level graphics, a dull story, characters you couldn’t care less about, and side missions that were neither fun, nor added to the overall story and experience. Radical Entertainment, developers of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and many other titles, bet on Prototype to be their biggest game yet, and the reception was lukewarm at best. It certainly didn’t help that Prototype released alongside inFAMOUS, another game about a guy who accidentally obtains powers and must learn how to use and apply them in regards to the city that they inhabit and the people that live there. While their gameplay styles are hard to compare because they’re different styles, inFAMOUS’ story put Prototype to shame, not to mention the overall feel of inFAMOUS looked like it belonged in present times. Despite being hit hard, Radical made enough back, and there was enough interest to take another shot at rebuilding the franchise. And thus, Prototype 2 has been released. How does it deal with the problems of its predecessor?

I was one of the few gamers who stuck by Prototype when people bashed every bit of it that they could. I stood by the fact that the core gameplay, while not the best in the world, was fun and worth someone’s time and money. When rumors of Prototype 2 emerged, I was partially glad that Radical got a chance to prove everyone wrong. They knew what they did right and what they did wrong (they got a clear blueprint from all the criticism!), and now that they had funding to make another, they were going to knock it out of the park. But there was another part of me that knew something was off from the moment that they showed a bit of video from the game. That nagging feeling kept with me until I put the disc in the console, and my fears were confirmed: no lessons were learned.

The beginning had something promising, introducing a protagonist named James Heller who is (supposedly) scarred psychologically by the death of his wife and young daughter, thanks to the infection unleashed by Alex Mercer in the first Prototype. This sets up an interesting way of dealing with morality, and how one perceives what’s real and what’s not. Unfortunately, it falls flat on its face soon after you gain control of Heller, as is it revealed that the government is full of mean people and Alex is trying to help people. Psychological scarring apparently disappears. They then try to muddle the whole issue so that it looks like it’s a mix of who’s good and who’s bad, and instead of trying to figure it out, I was left with an “I just don’t care” attitude about the whole thing. Even where I’m at now, I don’t quite know what I’m doing in this mission, why I’m doing it, or how it enhances my gaming experience. The game seems to be switching back and forth between two different plots, and I just can’t get myself fired up about making progress in any of it. There are shimmers and hints that make it seem like a few people at Radical had something in their mind, that there was a deeper part of the story that the player could delve into, but whoever is in charge of the final product definitely made sure that it was hidden under this “tough guy” look and feel, which ultimately made the whole game overall pretty shallow.

Prototype 2
“I fuckin’ hate computers!” – James Heller

You know that vibe. The one you get from a game that’s just too cool for school. It’s thankfully become something of the past, for the most part, but it pops its ugly head out every once in a while. Anyone remember Rogue Warrior? The first-person-shooter that is riddled with cursing and hilariously-cheesy one-liners and cool guy clichés? Prototype had a slight bit of that, but god, does it come out here in Prototype 2. The dialogue of all the characters found in this game can be painful, and it made me want to just yank the disc out of the console and play something more worth my time. Slight improvements have been made to the city that you jump around in, but it’s only slight, and you probably wouldn’t see the differences anyway since that old “fog” that used to heavily plague old sandbox games (because the consoles weren’t powerful enough at the time) is still there, despite games like GTA IV and Saints Row: The Third having at least extended the distance between you and the fog since then.

Actually, that’s a major thing theme in this game: signs of a game being old. As you go through, you run into types of missions and gameplay that just isn’t used anymore, and with good reason. It’s part of the sub-par brand of games that got dropped from the spotlight with the recent up in quality that the last half decade has brought us. Because of this, Prototype 2 just feels old, and it serves as a reminder of where games used to be. Now, to be fair, I’m not saying this is the worst game in the world. No, games like Call of Juarez: The Cartel and many others are more deserving of that spot. I mean, Prototype 2 functions, and if you for whatever reason need to have some sandbox fun, it could tide you over for a day maybe. But for a sequel that gets a lot of marketing, and is one of the biggest things Radical Entertainment has ever done, and is a second chance to get everything right, with a map telling you what you should keep and what you should toss, Prototype 2 joins the ranks of Lost Planet 2 in the tier of games that should’ve improved and saved a franchise, but didn’t. Hell, at least I think Lost Planet 2 had the ambition to reach for the stars with something new.

Prototype 2
I hope you’re looking forward to being bored by every type of enemy soon after they’re introduced.

If you haven’t gotten the gist of what I’m saying, or just skipped to the last paragraph, I will gladly summarize, ’cause that’s the kind of guy I am! Prototype 2 is a functioning game that is competent enough. That is not to say that it is good, and it certainly doesn’t help that it’s worse than the previous game in almost every way. The writing is sub-par, the overall vibe of the game seems like it’s targeting (and encouraging the behavior of) the kids playing Halo, trying to curse like big men without comprehending what they’re saying. The gameplay seems to have devolved some from the original, diminishing the one thing that the original Prototype had going for it. The graphics have improved from the previous, but in 2012, you’re supposed to have graphics that don’t look like they’re from 2005. While an improvement, they only met what is expected of games today. Other than that, nothing stands out and shines among the muck in Prototype 2, and with the lack of any gamers aware of its release despite all the marketing combined with the poorness of the game itself, it’ll be a miracle if Radical gets another shot at making something of this franchise.

Final Score: 6.0/10

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