Prototype, Radical Entertainment’s open-world game was pitted against InFAMOUS when it was originally released. Both are very similar games. Despite the fact that InFAMOUS was generally declared the better of two games, Radical was given another chance and the result of this is Prototype 2.
The protagonist of the original game, Alex Mercer is no longer whom you play as. Instead you play as Sgt. James Heller, a Marine who is out to destroy Alex Mercer who he blames for killing his family. The reason for this hatred is the return of the Mercer virus, reportedly spread by Mercer. As the game kicks off, a mission goes wrong and Heller comes face to face with Mercer who infects him with a strain of the virus that gives him a similar skill set.
The movement in Prototype 2 still feels very similar. You can still run around New York at will leaping over buildings, running up walls, gliding across the cityscape and landing back on the ground without missing a beat. That being said there are still the moments when you are running down the street and due to the nature of the movement you start climbing a wall, but that is easily looked over due to how fun it is to just run around the environment.
James Heller is literally a weapon of mass destruction that has five unique weapons his arms turn into. These include the hammerfists, claws, tendrils, blades, and the whipfist. While initially they aren’t all unlocked, by the end you will be switching between them depending on who you are fighting. In the first Prototype one of the biggest complaints was the ridiculous spikes of difficulty that occurred on certain missions that left you feeling powerless. A great example of that is the first time you fight one of the enemy types the hunters they are very difficult for you to defeat, however by the end they are very easy to take down making it feel like you, as a character, have really evolved into a powerful force. The biggest problem with the combat in the game is that sometimes when fighting large groups of enemies the lock-on system can get overwhelmed and you can end up hitting the wrong target which can be frustrating.
Throughout the game Heller will be evolving in many different ways including the ability to pilot helicopters and tanks to being able to throw a car as fast as you can run. There are many different ways Heller has the opportunity to evolve including absorbing specially marked enemies, which improves weapon and vehicle skills. You can also evolve by investigating mutation points, by finding hidden collectibles in the forms of black boxes, and completing a list of objectives in a side quest format called Blackwatch. Mutations of these variants are split into a series of categories including Locomotion, Offensive, Defensive, and more. Within each category there are a list of powers, each with its own illustration and description that give a very familiar vibe to that of the Fallout perk system. Lastly you can improve your basic ability set like health, movement speed, and shape-shifting powers each time you level up. The customization and depth they have added to the character progression allows you to craft your character to your play style.
The ability to absorb and disguise yourself is still one of the biggest plot and gameplay mechanics within Prototype 2. There are two reasons you should be absorbing people, for health regeneration and sneaking around. Any human or basic infected can be absorbed, and you can either perform it stealthily or forcefully. The stealth consume ability is the focal point of many missions that require you to sneak through military bases consuming people, slowly getting to a certain target and consuming them for their memories. You also have the ability to search out targets in the environment by clicking in the left stick and following a pulse that targets that individual. This also allows you to see what enemies are currently not being looked at so you can safely absorb them without putting yourself in danger.
The only ability that has been removed is the ability to patsy enemies, which is when you would point at an enemy blaming them to be you and they would get killed. While it’s a disappointment it was removed they have replaced it with something I enjoy even more a move called a bio-bomb. When you use it you plant a sample of the virus in an enemy and they start freaking out which draws all people nearby to them. They then exude multiple tentacles that attach to anything nearby pulling it towards the infected person killing all living things within them.
The improvement that holds the most weight to me is the choice to throw all the meaningless challenges that cluttered up the map in the original game and creating a series of side missions that actually have story within them. These side quests are called //BlackNet and are a series of missions separated into different operations that Heller is trying to stop. There are four different types of missions they can give you in each operation, with only the Cargo Delivery missions really falling flat. If you were a fan of the challenges from the first game don’t be alarmed because, within each new copy of the game, there is a code for RadNet that offers similar challenges that change each week.
Radical Entertainment did a great job addressing a majority of the problems such as bland boss fights and a more fluid combat system. That being said one of my biggest complaints is that the game never really escalates due to how insane the game starts, which starts to be tiring towards the end. The lack of variety within the mission types also becomes a drag after sneaking into a base for the fifteenth time or doing another escort mission. There is an attempt to keep the New York environment fresh by separating the world into three different zones. The relatively safe green zone where life goes on as normal, the yellow zone where there is a decent infected presence and military law is being enforced, to the all out war in the red zone. However, past the change of scenery the same missions are being done which wears thin.
However that being said the story in the game is quite entertaining with some great twists and turns. They do a much better job developing the main character into a very deep and twisted man. Alex Mercer is given more personality showing him to be much more charming and seductive. The conflict between him and Heller is given an amazing climactic rumble that is worth seeing for any fan of the first game. After finishing the game you can go back in and finish up any collections or side quests you may have finished or jump straight into New Game Plus.
Radical Entertainment did a great job making a much more polished and superior game compared to the original. While it drags at points, it is a great step forward in what could potentially be a new franchise for Activision. For anyone looking to cause some mayhem or is looking for a game at this slow time, you won’t be disappointed if you choose Prototype 2.
I give Prototype 2 a 4/5