Alright, don’t all shout at once. Prototype was a game that was excellent for free-roaming and mass civilian mutilation, but what really let it down was a hyper-sensible biohazard storyline told in a game that focused on murdering and eating thousands of people in the bloodiest way possible. So, armed with a host of reimagined abilities and a bigger game world, Prototype returns with a vengeance and a new hero accompanied by the least subtle attempt at humanisation I’ve ever seen. The game takes the same principal as its predecessor and drops you, a superpowered mutant, into a zombie-ridden New York City filled with somewhat less able monstrosities to rub your tentacles against until you reach satisfaction.
Rather than playing the previous ‘protagonist’ Alex Mercer, you take the reins of the horrendously stereotypical James Heller, a military man who may as well be wearing a leather jacket branded with ‘Feel sorry for me’ for all the superfluous attempts at garnering sympathy for him. It’s clear the development team came to believe that they hadn’t gone far enough in the absurd exercise of trying to make Alex Mercer a vaguely relatable human being, and decided to renew their efforts with the sequel. Ergo, Heller loses his wife and daughter in the original outbreak and he’s pretty keen to remind everyone about that at every opportunity, alongside the paradoxical past time of casually munching on passers-by to refill his health bar and lobbing old women from skyscrapers in an attempt to beat a previous record.
If Radical Entertainment simply gave up on adhering Prototype to such a deadly serious plot and took a GTA approach to the storyline it wouldn’t hamper the game so much, it just makes the bizarre polarity between Heller mourning his family and gleefully executing hordes of people truly un-relatable. At the same time, Alex Mercer – the subject of Heller’s revenge – has been turned into such a moustache-twirling supervillain that any semblance of character development surviving the original game becomes comical.
The story does very little to keep you interested, and as with Mercer, Heller just becomes a vehicle for whatever you fancy inflicting on the general population. The fact you get most of the story missions from a particularly zelous, pro-life priest inevitably does little to impact against the giant wrecking ball of fun to be had if you throw morality out of the window and plough a tank through a crowd of innocent people. In fact, Heller probably kills more people alone through collateral damage and tentacle genocide, incurred from the ample breaks required from playing the maddening storyline, than the virus and the evil Blackwatch organisation combined do throughout the course of the entire game. After all, it’s okay, he’s a good guy with a wounded heart, really!
Story flaws and poor characters aside, has prototype 2 improved on its predecessor? It looks marginally better, and a lot of graphical rough edges have been ironed out. It looks great on PC and the keyboard controls are very well mapped if you decide not to invest in a gamepad. Combat is much more balanced than before, rather than having a one-tentacle-solves-all power, different mutations are better suited for different things – giant murder hammer fists slam through vehicles, invasive tentacle arms are good for dealing with the big monsters, and the giant bladearm is your best bet for fighting other ‘evolved’ enemies. Everything can be combined and experimented with to make combat the massively destructive, enjoyable staple of the game, and it really is the strongest of Prototype 2′s offerings. Stealth missions, whilst succeeding in making you feel like an insipid master of disguise and face munching, don’t let you whip out one of your mutations and swing it about the place as you please. The energy of the game is built around mass amounts of destruction, not sneaking around military fortifications like you’re worried about chipping a gigantic infected claw. Why bother creeping into army bases when you could punch a hole through the wall and wipe out everyone inside with one swipe of your oh-so-friendly mutant arms. Whilst many missions let you decide how to approach a challenge, the most enjoyable response is to charge headfirst into danger and start hurling trucks around without a care in the world. Who in their right mind, when presented with the truck-hurling option, prompts instead for the “worm your way through the base like a bad case of herpes”? It’s not even that satisfying when you reveal yourself to be the living genetic weapon Blackwatch is hunting as opposed to Corporal Leroy Jenkins or whatever generic name they’ve slapped on the military drone, because no-one seems that shocked. You’d think after a while someone in the Blackwatch chain of command would put a memo out about that.
The unleashed, unlimited feel of being a totally upgraded James Heller is truly glorious, swapping between powers on the fly and swatting away tanks and helicopters effortlessly. Tossing a car over a New York skyline is an empowering thing, and Heller’s progress from plain old killing machine to a mutant Swiss army knife is genuinely enjoyable. The upgrade system has received an overhaul that requires you to play through sidequests in order to evolve, and it’s good to have a decent incentive for doing all the extra stuff instead of just padding out some skinnier elements of the gameplay. Hopping around New York is addictive in itself, and dropping down into a crowd of civilians and soldiers to unleash a massive virus attack is cathartic in one of the most bizarre ways possible. The only major problem with gameplay itself is a lack of set pieces, or at least anything more grandiose than chasing a scientist across the rooftops like he just stole your last popped collar. As such, Heller’s powers never come to any more use than mulching through enemies, slightly bigger enemies, and if you’re lucky, big enemies that are rooted immovably to the floor. There’s a lot of missed potential here with Heller’s huge power set, and some cinematic set pieces against gigantic mutations would have done a lot for the game’s atmosphere
The story may be flawed but it’s not bad enough in the slightest to stop you from enjoying what the game does well, and although this might be a slightly limited appeal to some, others are going to find it as liberating and fun to play as the first title. It’s enough of an upgrade to make it feel like a sequel, but the name Prototype 1.5 clings to it like a dirty pair of underwear in certain sections that feel identical to the first game. Overall, it’s a huge improvement on the first game, continuing to do what it does well and elevating carnage to whole new heights. A lacklustre story and a tendency to take itself too seriously makes the story itself an unimpressive affair, but the gameplay– when not limiting Heller’s murderous capacity – is deeply satisfying. If you’re after more of the same, here it is, but if your problems with Prototype ran deeper, it won’t do anything to change your mind.
Prototype 2 would of been much better if we had seen the implementation of HD Graphics and DX11 Technology, to take full advantage of what a PC can do these days.
Welcome to New York Zero.
The sequel to Radical Entertainment’s best-selling open-world action game of 2009, Prototype® 2 takes the unsurpassed carnage of the original Prototype and continues the experience of becoming the ultimate shape-shifting weapon. You are Sgt James Heller, husband to a deceased wife and child and a soldier left simply to die.
As the game’s all-new infected protagonist, players will experience Sgt James Heller cutting a bloody swathe through the wastelands of post-viral New York Zero. Equipped with unparalleled new shapeshifting powers,players will gradually build a vast genetic arsenal of deadly new biological weapons and abilities as they hunt, kill and consume their way toward the ultimate goal – to kill…Alex…Mercer!
Are you ready to murder your maker?
PROTOTYPE 2’s NYZ open-world sandbox is broken up into three completely distinct zones. From the heavily militarized “Green Zone”, to the overcrowded refugee shanty town camps of the quarantined “Yellow Zone”, all the way to the war-ravaged nightmare known as the “Red Zone” – this is a city unlike anything gamer’s have experienced before. The home of Alex Mercer, the Red Zone portrays a nightmarish vision where the Blacklight virus has completely overrun the city’s shattered skyscrapers and population, with infection and the risk of death at every corner.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
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Prototype 2 PC Review,