Prototype 2 Review
Developer: Radical Entertainment
North American Release Date: 24th April
European Release Date: 24th April
Trophies: 1 2 15 26
When I first purchased my Playstation 3 and was still reading gaming magazines, one of the games I was anticipated for was a game called 'Prototype'. It just sounded like GTA with powers. I had such excitement for this game, running around New York destroying everything in my path. The game ended up releasing alongside 'InFamous', a game based around special powers and that game was in a very similar mould. Prototype released and in all fairness was a little sloppy. The game often over-loaded you with bad guys but one of the few saving graces for me was the story. Prototype 2 carries on the same story but this time you'll be controlling a different protagonist, James Heller.
Straight from the start one of the first improvements that I loved was how much better the combat feels in this game compared to it's predecessor. Quite often in Prototype 1, It felt like you were being thrown into situations with so many enemies, sometimes in a really small space, that the game was struggling to handle it. Prototype 2 has struck the right balance here. More often than not you'll be in a smaller fight that feels more wave-based than anything, in the sense of you beat one group of enemies, and another will follow, rather than every man and his dog turning up to fight you. This made the combat feel much less clumsy, and even in sections where there was a fairly big fight going on with multiple enemies, I'd often see fights between humans and infected happening around me, rather than having everyone zoning in on you. The game offers health in a unique way. Rather than unrealistically dotting health kits around the city, you get your health when you wish. Although a more evolved Heller will eventually regenerate health over time, the main way of gaining health is through consuming people. Thankfully, there is always a group of civilians to consume nearby, or easy to kill marines.
The combat variate's a lot which is great, and there is a wide variety of different enemies that you will come across, all of which require a different fighting style, mainly based around dodging or blocking. The enemies are often different forms of infected, so clearly there is a lot of space for different types of enemies to be introduced. These vary from infected humans that have turned into monsters, to infected humans that are in a similar mold to Heller and Mercer, only weaker. Something that I found odd about that game though, is that an enemy will be introduced to be some completely massive, almost indestructible enemy. You'll have a battle against one and you may struggle. But then the game throws them at you later on as though they're nothing special. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and it sets the stage for some massive battles based around this big variety of enemies. The best example of this would be one of the last battles, it takes you three attempts to kill the enemy, each time the enemy evolves once more and you'll need to change your battle plan each time.
Gliding through New York City never gets old
The way Heller navigates through New York is really enjoyable, with his super-human abilities you can make Heller reach quick sprint speeds, you can sprint up the sides of buildings before jumping off them and gliding through the New York City skyline. This makes moving between missions a fun part of the game, which is a rarity. I had a good time recognizing real-life buildings, sprinting up them before hammerfisting my way into a massive crowd of civilians or infected.
The game also tries to involve a stealth aspect. Heller can sneak up behind enemies and 'stealth consume' them. With this he slips in and takes the form of the enemy, without anybody noticing. By doing this, Heller can sneak into bases in complete disguise, and more often than not, you'll need to consume certain soldiers to gain access to the building you want access to. Whilst this is a pretty entertaining part of the game at the start, it often gets a little unrealistic. It sounds like a rich statement to make about an aspect of the game that's completely unrealistic in itself, but at times it really bugged me. So you can take form of a soldier and nobody will notice, that seems reasonable, right? But you could go through a base of twenty soldiers, stealth consuming all of them slowly, one at a time, and the final soldier would be none the wiser. It's not too much of a big deal with this style of game, but a more in-depth stealth system here would've been impressive.
Prototype 2 is based around both a virus outbreak and the main character James Heller. Straight from the start you learn that the virus has affected Heller's wife and daughter in New-York. Heller was away on military duty whilst the virus outbreak happened, he returns home to find that his wife and daughter have been killed. Heller is hell-bent on vengeance, and the game presents this brilliantly. After he sets foot in New York, Heller has the sole purpose of finding the man who started it all, Alex Mercer. Mercer soon finds Heller. But after events unfold Heller becomes infected with the same virus. 99.99% of people eventually die from the virus, but Heller is among that small % and it just makes him more powerful. Throughout the game all you can see is this burning anger coming from Heller, the game shows you this through his constant comments whilst he tears apart every enemy that he comes across. He shows no remorse as he brutally (And I mean brutally) kills everything in his path.
There is nothing delicate about the way Heller does anything, you watch the cut scenes and you can really see that Radical Entertainment have just created an absolute bad-ass of a character. He just doesn't care. And when you watch the cutscenes you just want to play like Heller, and destroy everything. A prime example of this is one of the first lines that you hear from Heller " Red Crown be advised. I'm not in ####-ing Blackwatch." It really shows Heller's true intentions from the start, along with his feelings towards Blackwatch, and in no way does he hide this. Every other sentence contains curse words, but contrary to what you'd think, this isn't overkill and it kind of helps build up Heller's attitude. The story contains a large number of twists and turns, and for the type of game it is, it isn't too bad. Cutscenes were a personal highlight as they show a lot of the previously mentioned emotion that's bubbling about around the game. However the length of the whole singleplayer campaign felt a little disappointing. It shouldn't take you much more than 8 or 10 hours to finish off the main missions, to wrap up the platinum it'd probably take the same again.
Heller has plenty of weapons in his arsenal
After Heller becomes infected by the virus, he encounters constant 'evolutions' of his power and picks up more individual powers. Each time you evolve to a new level you'll get a skill point to use on the likes of powering up your speed, health etc. and it gives you a fairly restricting way of customizing Heller to your own liking. As you fight your way through the game you'll consume bigger enemies and gain new powers which work as weapons. The game bases itself around consuming and evolving to benefit Heller. When Heller consumes a person he sees all of their memories. So when Heller needs information, he gets it. This makes a lot of the character development always boil over in the same way. You'll find out and learn more about a person, until eventually Heller consumes them and it all becomes clearer.
There are five powers to gain throughout the game which work as Heller's weapons, and each is unique and adds a different fighting style to your arsenal, which is important as you then begin to face off against a variety of new enemies. Gaining the new powers is mandatory, so there's no risk of missing out. However there are a large number of consumable enemies dotted around New York that level up your powers, and I quite liked this. It gave you a sense of allowing you to try and make Heller into a powerhouse if you wish who'll walk straight through most enemies. But consuming enemies isn't just for adding strength, you'll also consume soldiers and gain new abilities and skills such as being able to fly helicopters, or access to new areas. You'll take Heller from being a hardened marine, to an entire different species that can wipe out an entire group of people with one swipe of his claws, or literally pick a helicopter out of the sky. And throughout your time of evolving Heller you'll get a great understanding of exactly how you want to fight.
So you see those features there and feel pretty impressed by what the game is offering, right? Well these features were all present in the first Prototype. Nothing has changed there. This ends up leaving me in two minds. Prototype 2 is a fun game, the fighting is great, leveling up is a little restricted but it's still fairly satisfying, and wreaking destruction around a realistic New York City is always going to be entertaining. But I've done it all before, and it just feels really lazy to me. But why should they fix what isn't broken? It's not so much a question of that, but more of why would they add so very little to the formula. The powers you gain in the game are the same. You'd feel that the developers have pretty much a free-reign on what powers they could give you as they're all from consuming enemies, so why keep them the same? You could see Heller doing so much more, but instead we just have slightly adapted versions of the first game, which leaves me with a disappointing taste in my mouth. So on the other-hand it's probably gonna feel like a great game for someone new to the franchise, but for everyone else, you're left feeling a little disappointed. Thankfully other areas excel.
In the graphics department I could clearly see where the game had improved. I can always remember Prototype 1 for going overboard with this constant gorey looking red stuff being everywhere, which clearly came from the infected. It was nice, but it was everywhere and really gave the game a dirty, ugly feel for me. Radical have done away with this now and whilst it still features in areas, it feels natural that it should be there. Again this fits in with the theme that I keep finding with the game, in that it feels like a much cleaner game compared to before, which is great. Certain areas look a little dull, and a few textures look pretty out-dated when close-up , but they've captured New York well again, which I think always helps with this kind of game. Cutscenes look good, they use a theme of having everything in grey-scale but show the colours of a few key areas (Such as Heller's red hood), however you'll come across some unrealistic looking animations in both the cut-scenes and in the game. The problems in the cutscenes are that certain things just don't look that real, especially aggressive actions from Heller. The animations in the game come across as lazy again, the games ugly recurring theme, as certain moves look like they could've been copied and pasted straight out of Prototype 1.
Some of the enemies in the game can be absolutely massive
The game handles all of the action sufficiently, I came across no issues in frame-rate or lag, which allowed for the combat to flow with ease. I also didn't come across a single glitch within the game which is always a pleasant surprise. As I mentioned previously, the way Heller speaks and acts is completely over the top, but it works. Credit to the voice-actors, a lot of emotion is present in the game, mainly aggression from Heller's side, but it's still been captured well. The emotion and panic is ever-present in the civilians you see aswell, whilst they act in a pretty generic way, there's always some kind of reaction when anything violent is happening. There's also a cool feature with the consume power, you can consume any civilian that you see, so if you like the looks of walking around as someone you've just walked past, go for it. It would've been nice to have hidden civilians in the game who hold certain powers or skills that you gain if you consume them, in the same way you earn the skill of piloting helicopters.
As mentioned previously, the game isn't very long. You can blast through the main story in anywhere around 8-10 hours on hard difficulty. From there it's just wrapping up on side-missions in a new game +. The trophies make it fun to level up Heller after you finish the game, but ultimately there isn't any more than 20 hours in the game.
Prototype 2 is good, but that's about it. Some areas are great, but they're overshadowed by this feeling of laziness that seems to come as part of the package now with any Activision published game. I'd definitely recommend playing Prototype 2, but most likely as a rent. You'll have a fun time with the game, but if you come here expecting much more, you'll be disappointed.
The combat here is great, albeit a little too similar to that found in Prototype 1. C'mon, give us something new to play with next time around!
A back and forth story which will keep you entertained, but more often than not, it just felt like a side show to how fun the game is.
No major flaws, but nothing stands out here, this isn't a game you'll be recommending to your friends based on any of the technical aspects, but that's not to say that it's a bad looking game.