Developer: Radical Entertainment
Platform: Xbox360, Playstation 3
Genre: Open World, Action-Adventure
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Prototype 2 is the sequel to the 2009 game. The first game was released two weeks after another open world game, Infamous, came out and was compared. Critics agreed that while Prototype had the better gameplay, Infamous told a better story. So with the sequel out, does it further improve on the gameplay and the story in which it tells?
After Mercer stops a nuke from going off, New York City (New York Zero) seems to be going back to normal until a 2nd outbreak occurs 14 months later. You play as Sgt. James Heller: a former US Marine sergeant whose wife and daughter was killed due to the Blacklight Virus (now being called the “Mercer Virus”). Heller blames Mercer (for the obvious reasons) and signs up for a suicide mission to kill Mercer, only to fail miserably and get infected himself. What happens from there is Heller finding out the true cause of the outbreak, the conspiracy behind blackwatch, and to kill Mercer. The problem with the presentation though is that the protagonist isn’t really someone you can find yourself liking at first. Mercer was special since you connected with him, figure out why this is all happening to him and watching the world fall apart around you. Here, it is Heller shouting “Fuck!” like a battlecry and just taking the Hulk’s way of storytelling. As for the story, it seems to not be as interesting as well; who causes the outbreak? Take a guess… Will Heller kill Mercer? What do you think? Will Heller give HoTD Overkill a run for most F-Bombs? Maybe… but unlikely.
The graphics are about the same as the last game. For those who haven’t played the first Prototype, the look of New York Zero isn’t much different (and just as plain) as other game renditions of New York City (minus the infected). What is a nice improvement for the environment here is how you aren’t exactly running around Manhattan Island the whole time, but also you will be in (a combination of) Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Staten Island. You would think this would be a grand tour of NYZ except for the fact how Manhattan play area is cut in half (can’t go to the other side of the island). The game doesn’t have that much of a draw distance as you can tell by the fog covering the ground.
For the environment, the game does do a nice job making the three zones feel different: the yellow zone looks like it is in a struggle to keep the infected out (although Blackwatch unleashing Hunters every so often doesn’t help), the green zone looks to be the safest with Blackwatch in almost every corner, and the red zone pretty much looks like a hell hole, compete with wrecked cars, infected running through the streets, and the virus literally growing out of the buildings. My only gripe with the red zone, is how you don’t get to see the whole island; granted it is understandable since you already have a big enough playing area with the other two zones, but wouldn’t it have been awesome to see how central park looked after the events of Prototype?
As for animations, they are about the same as well. At times I feel like I’m playing Prototype just because Heller moves & attacks the same as Mercer from the first game; I can understand that when you play the same character from the first game, they will attack the same, but if you have a completely different person as the protagonist, it seems strange how he attacks the same way.
Once again, the music and sound are pretty much the same as the first game. The music score does what it needs to do as it picks up in those intense moments of sneaking around and getting into large scale fights. Sound effects (from what I could pick up) was improved from the previous game: with each kind of attack, you can hear the clarity of your claws and blade cutting through enemies, the ground when it erupts, and even the gun fire from vehicles actually sound pretty nice. Then, there is the voice acting… While it does what it needs to do with a good performance, you can tell it is people reading a script. Also this game does love to drop F-Bombs whenever it gets the chance, especially Heller, who can’t seem to go five sentences without without saying “fuck”.
If you played Prototype, then you know what to do here. If not, the game is nice enough to hold your hand during the first half of the game. It isn’t bad, but for those of us that know what to do, it can slow down things a bit to know how to use “this new attack” and the “this is what happens when you punch a guard”. Controls are also the same, with a few minor changes, including the ability to Dodge and to shield yourself. In the first game, this was a problem since all you could do a roll to the side and get slapped to death, but here, you can use the shield (an actual button command, not a power you select on the power wheel) to counter and reflect missiles, while dodging allows you to not only roll out of the way, but to jump over enemies to get behind them to attack.
The weapons in Heller’s arsenal isn’t much different as what Mercer had to use. Claws are still your best means to cut down soldiers and infected, with a new addition of being able to “Pounce” towards a target to help give chase to those units just out of reach or running away. Hammerfist is still the slow but powerful means to attack the more heavily armored units such as tanks, with a new addition to shoot spikes from the ground when you hold down the button. Whipfist still works as your anti-crowd, and long range weapon, and (as my personal favorite) Blade is still the weapon that can take on just about anything as it deals greater damage than the claws with a bit slower attack rate, but the spin attack is a nice touch. There are only two new tool at your disposal here is called “Tendrils” which allows heller to ensnare enemies with biomass, and also has the “black hole” feature which, after ensnaring an enemy, reaches out and grabs anything that isn’t a building and crushes the enemy with it (cars, concrete, other enemies, etc). There is also the Bio-bomb, which can turn any person into a “Black Hole” grenade and can also be used with stealth to throw off other guards.
Attacking also has changed too as you can select two powers and have them map to the X & Y buttons (Square & Triangle). This allows Heller to be more versatile in combat, since you could have something like Claws to do quick attacks, while having Hammerfists to do more heavier damage, or having Blade to do more cutting damage, while having whipfist to attack groups of enemies. Then for those of you who want to just destroy everything, you also have “Devastators” which in this game only have two: Tendril Barrage pretty much destroys everything around you while Pack Leader lets you use Brawler Hunters to attack enemies. While these are powerful, the problem though is that it feels too powerful, and recharging the attacks can become too easy once you get the mutations that can recharge the attacks as quickly as you use them. Stealth has also been improved (somewhat), as you can now “Scan” the area to see if you can stealth consume someone (I’ll explain this below). Granted it can still be annoying, but at least you are now given a prompt of what you want to do to a guy instead of just simply grabbing them, however in close areas, if you aren’t locked on, you can still grab a table, and have that be seen as a threatening action that will cause people to open fire. In fact, the soldier AI has also improved as they are a bit more aware of when something isn’t right, such as a guy jumping 20 feet in the air, and flying, so you can’t be careless if you want (and have) to be stealthy.
Speaking of Mutations, customization has changed a lot here. In the previous game, you would need to collect evolution points in order to get more moves, health and abilities, however here, you already have all the moves available to you at the start and as you get more powers. What happens here is that as you do missions and side-missions, you can level up and assign a point to Movement (run faster & jump higher) Health (self-explanatory), regeneration (recovering said health), Shapeshifting (how you can consume people and escape out of alarms), Mass (how powerful your devastators are) and Finishers (instant kills on tanks and helicopters). Alongside with leveling up, if you do side-quest activities, you can also get specific mutations that improve aspects of gameplay, such as being able to do more damage to enemies (offensive), move faster & Jump higher (Locomotion), reduce damage and have better defensive abilities (defensive), be able to get more mass and be harder to detect (predator), improve your weapons (power specialist), and more (Radnet).
90% of the missions in the game are just about the same: You need to find person A, (sometimes) do what person A wants you to do, then consume Person A. While it isn’t as cut and dry like this, you will see this is how the game does its business: Hunt, Fight, Consume. There are also times when you have to play a bit more stealthy, and this can be seen as interesting or frustrating since you may need to consume person A, but he is being watched by person B, and C, who is also being watched by person D, E & F. If you are patient, you can just consume everyone in the area before getting the guy you want, or if you are impatient, just grab person A, consume, and run for it. Each time you consume a person of interest, you will get to see their thoughts of what they know. Not exactly like the Web of Intrigue from the first game, but it is a nice touch to allow for exposition. It can get repetitive, but it can still be fun to see the different ways they use this same formula.
Like the first game, Prototype 2 has a New Game Plus, which allows you to carry over your stats and powers to a new game for you to enjoy, although once you max out your stats, get the mutations, complete the side missions, and get all the achievements (which can easily be done in two playthroughs), the game won’t last for long.
The only other thing Prototype 2 has going for it is “Radnet” which is a rather interesting experiment. During a course of seven weeks, challenges get released in intervals of three days. These challenges vary from rooftop races, fighting arenas, and more. As you do these challenges, you unlock exclusive metagens, exclusive videos and a playable Alex Mercer Skin. This is great for the game’s initial release as it keeps bringing back players every few days, but after the seven weeks are over, this can probably be seen as another gimmick.
If you caught onto the theme of this review, you can see why it is hard to suggest this game to those who haven’t played the first game. Prototype 2 feels just like Prototype with little to no changes. Now don’t get me wrong, if you liked Prototype, you will love Prototype 2 since the changes that were done did actually make the game more fun and make the controls better. If open world games are you cup of tea, then I would say check it out, however it is hard to say to buy it unless you really enjoy these kinds of games. If you haven’t played the first game yet, I would probably say for you to watch the recap if you don’t want to play the first game and have fun with the sequel. It is a game that does what it needs to do: improve on its predecessor and make a good game even better (although using a cast that drops F-Bombs is a bit more questionable).