Very rarely is there a better feeling in a video game than that of unstoppable power. Knowing that the character you have been working on has now reached the point that nothing can touch him/her. Radical Entertainment had that same thought for Prototype 2, only they wanted to take it one step further. They didn’t even think you needed to work for that power.
When you begin the game you’re a mere mortal version of protagonist SGT. James Heller who was overseas during the 2nd outbreak of The Mercer Virus and returns to find that New York City, now referred to as New York Zero, has been mostly overrun and that both his wife and daughter have been murdered by the infected. The blame for the outbreak is laid on Alex Mercer, the protagonist from the original Prototype, and Heller vows to seek revenge on him for the deaths of his family. It only takes a few moments of cut-scenes before Heller’s search for Mercer takes a turn for the worse and he finds himself infected with the same strain of virus as Mercer himself. This is when the roller coaster of fun begins.
I know what you’re thinking, enough of the same old story starting off every game. You want to know about the meat of the game. How does it look? How does it sound? Most important of all, how does it play? Well wait no longer.
I was pleasantly surprised with the sound quality of the game. While nothing was really off the charts amazing, there were not any game breaking moments where sound cut out at any point. In a game with so much action happening at nearly every turn, that cannot be understated. Even the massive crowds of infected and civilians clearly created different audible sounds while running either to or from their demise. The part that really impressed me the most though had to be the voice acting. When Heller was angry, which granted is most of the game, you knew. Whether it was a cut scene or one of the many phone conversations he has with the contacts met during the story, the actors did a great job of supplying their own emotions to the characters. Though be warned, that there is no shortage of explicit language in the dialog. It just happens to be well spoken explicit language.
There’s likely little argument, on my part anyway, that the best part of Prototype 2 is its appearance. Plainly speaking the game looked great, the graphics were crisp and its physics engine is everything you could hope of an open world hack and slash. The world around Heller is more fluid than any I can think of in its genre as you get just as realistic of a reaction from running through a crowd of civilians as you do from smashing every window in the city as you jog up and down its many skyscrapers. The cut-scenes are without a doubt the highlight of its appearance as the top notch voice acting meets up perfectly with motion capturing that really helped to make the world and its problems seem real. The very Sin City like qualities of black and white with very few splashes of color, in most cases just Heller’s red shirt, gave a much darker feeling to those moments and really pushed the belief that these were dangerous times for Heller and those around him.
As I stated above Radical Entertainment had no interest in making you work for the unlimited power that we all hunt for in video games. While on one hand who doesn’t love being able to rip your enemies to shreds from start to finish, the other hand is that come hour 15 or 16 you’ve grown tired of being presented little to no challenges throughout the game. (I clocked roughly 20 hours in to complete everything)
There’s no easy way to put this but, if it weren’t for the cut-scenes and how great the world around you looks, it would be far too easy to forget that you’re playing Prototype 2 and not the original. Seemingly very few improvements were made for the newest addition with the exception of how you get around town. While you still can only run and glide throughout most of the game these actions have become much more fluid than in the original and once you get the hang of the rather simple mechanics of it you will be making your way across NYZ in no time. Gliding through the city was at its best during side missions which required you to use your hunting ability to find a target by producing an expanding globe of echolocation.
While side missions in many of games can seem completely unrelated to the gaming world around them side missions in Prototype 2 were fairly well written and didn’t seem to take away from the gaming, or story, experience at all. In fact they seemed to mold into the main story so well that it often times felt like you were missing out by not going after them. The same can be said for the various collectables hidden throughout NYZ. Blackboxes, Field Op Teams, and Infested Lairs are all yours for the finding and with each complete set you gained mutations to various skill categories such as Offensive, Defensive, and Locomotion.
The part that makes it the most difficult to really love this game as a separate entity, is that there are so few changes. You are limited to obtaining the same weapon mutations as in the original and with the exception of Heller’s stealth attack, Bio-Bomb, there were no new ways of mutilating your enemies at all. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun. The action is high paced and there are often dozens, or more, of the infected coming at you during most of the fight scenes. Meanwhile hijacking and destroying tanks and helicopters is just as fun as ever to start but everything took that much less time before it felt old because if you’ve played Prototype, then you’ve done most all of it before in almost the same exact fashion. It could have been so much better with just one or two new weapon types.
If you can say one thing about Prototype 2, it’s that the name says it all. This is indeed a sequel to Prototype so much so that it’s a hindrance to how good the game feels like it could have been. If you just loved the original then this is likely the game you’ve been waiting for. Otherwise consider this game just a rental and you shouldn’t walk away disappointed.
Reviewers rating: 7/10