Prototype proved to be an interesting concept marked by rough edges when it first released way back in 2009. With the sequel, Radical Entertainment set out to create a game that not only smoothed out the problem areas, but to also create the game that you wanted the first one to be. Alex Mercer has now transitioned into the villain role (which tends to suit him much better) and the city has opened up even more giving you plenty more activities to do. So did they succeed in this endeavor or should they return to the drawing board once more?

Full review after the jump…

14 months have passed since the events of the first game. Alex Mercer is still on the loose in New York City New York Zero and you pick up things with Sergent James Heller on his way home after serving overseas in the military. Unfortunately for him, he returns home to find his family murdered during the second outbreak of the “Mercer Virus.” Heller is filled with rage and joins up with the military force in charge of the city, Blackwatch, on a mission in the red zone. His real motivation however is to track down Mercer and make him pay. Things don’t go according to plan however as their helicopter crashes and Heller is left as the only survivor. As luck would have it, Mercer is waiting for Heller and the chase begins until Heller is actually given the superhuman abilities to be like Mercer. With Mercer’s motives a mystery and Blackwatch now hunting Heller, it’s up to you to unravel just what is going on. Meanwhile, the death of your family is still running through the back of your mind.

Overall, the story doesn’t quite pan out like I may have eluded it would above. Sure, there is a story here, it’s just that it’s never feels fully fleshed out to its full potential. It’s satisfying and there are a number of twists and turns (most of which you can predict before they happen), the real reason why you want to play this is for the gameplay. Ultimately, Prototype 2’s story isn’t something that’s going to stay with you month later. It’s kind of like a summer action movie. Just what you need for the time, but ultimately forgettable.

Also something to note, the swearing seems to be over the top and really excessive. So much so, that it paints Sgt Heller in a very stereotypical light. Heller is an African American man and I don’t know if it was intentional, but he comes off as very one dimentional and playing into racial stereotypes like excessive swearing, which may make it a bit off-putting for some people. It just seems like a missed opportunity because the game seems to want to make Heller a likable character and one that you want to root for because you feel for him when he discovers his family murdered. Through out the game, you never really see a different emotion out of him outside of ‘angry’.

The graphics have definitely improved over the first one’s blandness, but it’s still nothing to write home about. The city itself seems to be more detailed and is even split into 3 very different zones each with their own look and feel. Once aspect that I really enjoyed was the fact that the game’s cut scenes are presented in a black and white style with only blues and reds shown. They’re really well done and very stylish.

In terms of gameplay, Radical went back to the drawing board to pick out the things that worked well and fix the things that were broken or annoying in the first game. What they came away with was a much better balanced and fun game. Sure there still may be spikes in difficulty at times but for the most part, the campaign is much more fair and balanced. When hijacking vehicles, you won’t be thrown off, enemies didn’t juggle me around, and there were no attacks that took half of my life away in one hit. The stealth mechanic has also been vastly improved, though at times it’s a bit ridiculous to think that just because you’re disguised as a soldier, no one notices that you’re jumping 20 feet in the air or running up walls. Oh, is that not normal behavior? Overall, the pacing was much better so you’re not stuck in constant, heavy action sequences. On the flip side, these changes also made the overall difficulty drop considerably. I never once feared for my life or got stuck in a mission that was really tough. In fact, I went through the game again with New Game + on Hard difficulty and felt that it was even easier the second time through. Probably because Heller was almost fully upgraded by this point.

The powers you gain here are all pretty standard from the first game. You’re going to be consuming people, taking their identities, sneaking into bases and exiting alarms. New to the game are Tendrils which are fun to use. Think of a more meaty Spider Man web strand. Charge them up and watch as the point of impact expands out and pulls things back into it like a black hole. Expect to get your hands on the normal weapons like Claws, Blade, and Hammerfist abilities. They’re all back and behave just as you’d expect including the screen clearing devastator attack. One change that works light years better is the shield. They’re now a viable option in fights as you can keep them active for as long as you need them and can even counter hits provided your timing is good. This also extends to redirecting rockets back at the person who shot it. Another new power is the bio-bomb. You can infect a person and watch him explode into tendrils grabbing and destroying anything near it. Really fun to use in corwded areas.

There’s also plenty to do in the game outside of the relatively short story missions. There’s a ton of collectables to gather including blackboxes which fill in more back story, creature lairs, and Blackwatch Field Ops teams to take out. Doing so will give Heller EP which once again is used to upgrade Heller in various categories like Locomotion and Health for example. Completing a set of these activities will also unlock mutagens which are sort of passive perks that make you even more of a badass. Strangely enough, a perk that makes you bulletproof to gunfire is available quite early on. Believe me when I say that this makes things much easier in the long run.

Web of Intrigue from the first game has been scrapped in favor of Blackwatch side missions which behave in a similar way. You consume specific people in the world and can access terminals which will unlock missions. If you haven’t already consumed the character you need, you can use the new hunting mechanic which will send out a radius from your location and will ping back from the location of the character you need to find. It’s really well done and a neat mechanic. Not only that, you’ll see short snippets of their time with Blackwatch once you consume them which is supposed to give you a better grasp on why they’re corrupt and evil. The missions are fun at first but the lack of any real variety means you’ll be doing the same style of missions just in a different locations over and over.

I really have to hand it to Radical Entertainment with Prototype 2. They seemed to really take the feedback to heart for the first game and made a superior game while correcting the nagging issue from the first. While this one may not be perfect, it is more balanced, less frustrating, and a better representation of what the Prototype franchise should be. Don’t come for the story or dialogue, come for the gameplay. If you’re in the mood for unleashing chaos and don’t mind some over the top violence mixed with a protagonist who enters into stereotypical territory then look no further than Prototype 2.

Prototype 2 gets 4 mutations out of 5

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