Does this super hero action game become leader of the pack? Or is it simply an evolutionary dead end? 411maniaís Marc Morrison finds out inside.
The sequel to 2009ís semi-hit game Prototype wasnít something many people were clamoring for. The popular consensus was that it was a decent game but was somewhat trounced by the more popular Infamous. Thereís a small minority of people who liked it though (including me), so a sequel isnít an entirely unwanted proposition. Whether or not it fixes some of the flaws the first game had is something to be explored.
An earlier column I wrote for the original Prototype on PC (found here) can largely be applied to this game. Iíd venture at least 75% of what I wrote for that game, can be also put to this game. James Heller (your playable character) moves, jumps, glides, assumes, and kills largely like his predecessor Alex Mercer. There are a few improvements but a few weird bits.
As Heller you can run, parkour, jump and glide largely like Mercer can. The jumping is a bit different in this game though. Instead of jumping straight up, Heller jumps on kind of a forward arch. Itís good for clearing distances but leads to some problems with fine control in tight situations. Also the dash and glide buttons
You can still consume people in this game and itís largely the same. You can either just grab people consuming them in a public way, drawing the ire of everyone, or you can go the stealth route. You can walk behind someone grab them, and consume them without drawing suspicion. The stealth consume is unlocked from the start of the game though (unlike in the first one) so itís helpful to use.
Attacking and defense are handled a bit differently in this game but it works out largely for the better. You can equip two of your powers to the X and Y button. So you can have Claws for X and Tendrils as Y, or the Hammerfist on X and the blade on Y, etc. You can do quick combos by pressing the button frequently, or hold it for more powerful attacks. Along with this you can also press the RB button to bring out a forward/backward shield at any time to deflect attacks. Along with the shield you can also press the A button to dodge out of the way (it also prompts you to do so at times), with specific timing letting you unleash counter attacks. You can finally use the B button to consume enemies (in combat) or to deliver a final killing blow. Combat generally works better in this game, than in the first one. The shield power is fixed from the first game where it barely worked. Thereís a good sense of fluidity to this gameís combat where you can just decimate legions of Blackwatch guys and mutants. The only real problem is the aiming system and targeting mechanics. The targeting mechanic gets a little finicky when youíre trying to focus on one target, or if you have to switch between targets. It was slightly worse in the first game but they didnít really fix it in this one, so itís somewhat disappointing.
Prototype 2 pares down some of the powers from the first game but itís not anything hugely noticeable. You no longer can accuse an enemy soldier of being infected (thus letting other soldiers kill him), for example. There are no air strikes in this game. They removed the armor and muscle mass abilities entirely. They combined the thermal and infected vision intoďHunter SonarĒ. When you press it, Heller sends out an orange pulse to find a target. When a target is located it pings back to your location. What direction and how long it takes to ping back is the distance to your target. Itís best to use this ability on top of buildings or high places so you can better see where your target is.
There are a few Devastator moves that you can do, once you fill up your mass bar. The first is a general earthquake that causes your tendrils to go out and kill enemies. The other involves you summoning two mutants on your side where you can direct them to attack targets of your choice. Itís slimmed down from the 4 or 5 you had in the first game but they are still effective.
The issue of upgrading is a bit different in this game. Heller gets exp from consuming, finding items, completing missions and killing enemies. Instead of a big skill tree to unlock powers and upgrades you get a fairly small general power tree. This tree includes: Movement, Health, Regeneration, Shapeshifting, Mass and Finishers. When level up you gain a point to put into one of these categories. Putting a point into Health gives you a 25% health boost, or putting a point in Movement lets you jump 50% higher and run 10% faster. It may not sound like a lot but the big thing to let you personalize your character is with Mutations. As you go through the world you unlock various side missions to do. When you complete a set youíre given a mutation in a given field. So if youíre given a Locomotion mutation, youíre given a list of your powers, and you can choose which one you want to evolve. You can make your jumping higher, your air dashing longer, a higher top speed, a quicker run to get up to top speed, or a longer glide. These are unlocked in which zone you find yourself in (Red, Yellow, or Green) but they go a long way into making Heller a unique force. The old way of getting upgraded skills (Rocket Launchers, Rifles, Helicopters) is also there, with you having to consume specific people in the game world. Thereís also collectables to be found in the game, Black Boxes, that some dead soldiers have. Once you complete a set, youíre given another mutation to unlock.
The story of Prototype 2 is the biggest blotch against the game though. Itís completely atrocious, with horrible lines of dialogue and half-assed characters that are just archetypes. Every Blackwatch soldier you find is a sociopathic, Modern Warfare inspired ďBrahĒ who only wants to kill as many people as possible. Likewise, every Gentek doctor you find is to the right of a Nazi, as far as their own ethical compass. Donít get me wrong the story in original Prototype wasnít great, but it was at least passable. Cut-scenes are interwoven in the game, basically stealing from Sin City. It includes black and white scenes with little bits of color (usually red) to give you the next target to focus on, or for more people to swear. The story in this game is just so odious and psychotic that it becomes a hindrance to actually enjoy playing. Heller himself isnít immune to this machismo behavior. In one of the first missions in the game he has to use a computer. His dialog at the computer includes the immortal line ĒIím pressing the red button. Shit. Now the screenís all fucked up. Shitís broken.Ē Come on, really? Iím surprised there isnít some dialog about playing MW3 while smoking blunts in the game.
The graphics havenít been improved much in this game. Actually the draw distance seems to be worse than in the first game (at least on the PC). Thereís a fog that permeates the city when you get high that can limit your visibility. Heller himself generally looks ok, but enemies are a bit underdeveloped. The city itself is split into three zones now (as opposed to one big map), which each zone having its own general look. Some of the tendril stuff is cool to look at though when youíre creating black holes and such.
The sound does its part also in bringing the story to itís weird ends. Heller sounds like the angriest man alive, all the time. Soldierís voices also take glee in killing various civilians around you. Sound effects are standard for the game with nothing of huge surprise. The music is very subdued but there are occasional moments where it swells up (usually after you complete a boss or fulfill a mission). The biggest crime by a country mile though is the exclusion of Barry Pepper. Heís not in the game anymore. WHAT. THE. HELL.
Overall, Prototype 2 is a decent game. Itís less frustrating than the first, with more options for customization, better abilities and more stuff to do. Itís hampered though by a garbage storyline and a serious lack of Barry Pepper. Itís worth a look if you liked the first game, or if you like super hero games at all.
The city still looks good but a bit cloudy. Great looking combat that is fast. The Sin City ďinspiredĒ cut scenes are a bit much.
Improved from Prototype 1 in a variety of ways. Easier than the first game as well but just as fun. Still a blast to go on a mass killing spree.
Sound effects and music are there and competent enough. Voice acting ranges from laughable to terrible. Give me back Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, please.
The game has some good stuff for you to do. Unlockables, side missions and upgrades abound. Plus a healthy New Game + mode to mess with when youíre finished.
More of Prototype 1.5, it fixes some of the original problems of the first game. There are minor problems but flying around the city never gets old.