The first Prototype saw you step into the shoes of an innocent man, caught in the middle of a government/agency run biowarfare conspiracy - which for the most part was a hell of a lot of fun, mainly due to the massive over the top damage you could rain down on the city of New York. Prototype 2 sees you step into the shoes of an innocent man, caught in the middle of a government/agency run biowarfare conspiracy...and has a different name. Frankly the narrative is pretty much irrelevant which is a damn good thing as it is poorly executed throughout. Random quick cut flashback cut-scenes are the primary form of storytelling along with key plot points in game, sadly these scenes do very little to allow you to make head nor tale of what is going on.
Who cares though right as you can run up walls and **** people up in a heartbeat...indeed you can and it is damn fun.
It’s a shame that the story itself and the way it is conveyed holds Prototype 2 back from being the huge epic game that it clearly aspires to be, yet it there is fun to be had within. If you are interested, our new anti hero’s mission is to unravel a global conspiracy (course it is) by hunting down (hunting is a new Batman like mechanic) and consuming the next unlucky soldier or government official to feast on their DNA and memories. The main problem with the story aspects and the delivery of them is that they don’t piece together particularly well. There are so many snippets of information to be found in the collectibles, the side missions and in the main plot but game flat out fails to tell a story, it simply points the way to your next encounter.
The ending of Mass Effect 3 with its rich branching narrative built up across multiple games was considered to be poor, with fans screaming out that it had not answered some of their outstanding questions. The ending of Prototype 2 is woeful but you don’t see the internet going mental now do you? Therefore neatly highlighting both the vacant narrative in both Prototype games and why people play them - to feel superhuman and to **** **** up.
The main story is not helped at all by the main character and it is particularly odd you are meant to feel for our enraged hero as we witness him find his fallen family, setting off on seeking revenge against Alex Mercer (the first game’s anti hero) mainly because he instantly becomes a complete dick. At first you do feel for him for sure; the opening cut-scenes are a little moving, (who wouldn’t feel for him finding his family dead from the virus?) but as soon as Mercer gets hold of him, injecting him with the virus making him super human, he turns into a potty mouthed bully hell bent on swearing and growling the entire time. This creates a bit of a disconnect in the story as you don’t really care if he gets his revenge, you don’t care if he manages to unravel the frequently silly plot, heck you don’t even care if he gets his head ripped off by a mutant - luckily the action saves you from really being all that bothered.
Levelling is handled in a series of ways all of which are fairly commonplace but mixed up nicely to allow for freedom of gameplay. You level up routinely through your actions as you gain EP (not XP, get with the programme) for almost everything you do, you also can find Black Box collectibles (a full set gives you a certain upgrade) and Black Watch side missions which once completed also reward the player with a power up. Collectibles are nicely handled with an approximate pulse being shown on the map so you can scoot over to a designated area and when close they pop up on the map. After a few hours of open world adventuring with a smattering of the main quest you will quickly find yourself becoming a very potent killing machine indeed. The upgrades themselves are a mixture of standard fare (some carried over from the original) ranging from defensive improvements to passive abilities along with the more desirable epic finishers which can see you wiping out an entire area in one double button press. The game rewards creativity and exploration, giving you the ability to easily run up walls, jump tall buildings and glide huge distances through the air. All of this feeds into those gamer addict instincts as the player eagerly works their way to the next level in anticipation of what brutal and bloody delights await them once they have levelled up.
The powers and the use of them in the set scenarios are why Prototype was fun and it is exactly why Prototype 2 is fun. Consuming a random passer by to regenerate your health, or a military officer to take his form during a mission never really gets old, add to this the ability to rip someone from limb to limb with a simple button press and you quickly realise that it’s a popcorn movie, a summer blockbuster if you will - leave your brain at the door, do not expect a deep tense narrative to draw you in, do not expect it to challenge you, just pick it up and start causing utter chaos on the screen.
The action is by far and away the main draw here and the game plays upon this strength time after time, perhaps too much in places as it can become a tad repetitive but for the most part it’s glorious bloody fun. Putting your powers to work is gratuitous fun and a quick nod to the team that put Prototype 2 together, they have arguably nailed sandbox gameplay combat. The controls are incredibly tight and responsive, only really failing when there is so much coming at your hero it’s impossible to get a grip on the situation - the camera also loses the plot in such situations making it strategically a wise move to leg it up the side of a building for cover. The action makes the game worth playing and worth putting up with the pointless plot, the equally pointless cut scenes and the repetitive sandbox mission structure.
The mission structure is pretty much carried over from the original game with seemingly little innovation and more importantly variety thrown in to the mix. There are some minor tweaks through such things as collectibles which add some flavour; we also have side missions which award powers, these however are not vastly different from the other mission types and soon you will find yourself going through the motions simply to obtain a desired power up. Ultimately it is all very repetitive and hasn’t come anywhere near far enough compared to the original.
Hunt, consume, obliterate...repeat. If you are anything of a completionist (or achievement whore as they are often referred to) then be prepared to experience the same mission scenarios over and over and over. The game breaks from the repetition briefly later on in the game with the introduction of helicopter jacking and some quite intense escort missions but it’s too little and far too late. It’s tough to say in a positive way that there is a good base here for a sequel as there really is...but this is the sequel. It doesn’t even feel particularly rushed, it just feels too much like the original game and not enough like a new title to warrant any kind of huge excitement.
Graphically it’s an upgrade from the first game but far from the best looking game on the 360/PS3 and at times particularly when up high the use of fog effects makes if feel a few years old, competing on a Crackdown 2 level rather than a 2012 AAA title. There is some good to be found in the graphical style, mainly centred around the brutal destruction, death and general mayhem your character can wreak across New York City.
It’s really not the AAA title it wants to be but that said it’s also far from bargain bin fodder, landing somewhere just above the middle. With a weak story, a truly unlikeable lead character it badly needed some redeeming features - luckily it has some in its gloriously brutal, bloody combat as well as the excellent way in which your character becomes more and more of an effective killing machine throughout the game. You will want to complete it, it is easily picked up and played for brief periods, it’s also not difficult. Just don’t expect it to be a game of the year contender. If there is to be a third some new ideas are required.