Publisher: Radical Entertainment / Activision
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Sandbox Adventure
As the original Prototype was a very good game but with some room for improvement, I was genuinely quite excited for this release. Avoiding the usual approach of depowering the lead in the opening levels to justify regaining all their powers in-game, Prototype 2 places you in the role of new character, James Heller, who lost his family to the Mercer virus and now wishes to kill the original games protagonist Alex Mercer. The confrontation does not go as planned and Mercer infects Heller with his own powerset and gives him the mission to track down the real culprits. So begins Heller’s war on the mercenary army, playing god with a new virus and an innocent populous but can Mercer really be trusted? Since it has been openly acknowledged that Mercer is in fact the bad guy for quite some time (and the game does little to dissuade you from that belief) it isn’t too much of an issue.
Like the better Spiderman games and the Infamous series, Prototype does the superpowered sandbox game with some style. It has a big city to explore with side quests that are justified with rewards of new powers, small McGuffin items to be located and most important of all: a quick / fun means of travel. From the get go, Heller can jump great distances, run with increased speed –including vertically up buildings- and glide for a limited time. Thanks to the travel mechanic, traversing the city never gets old even on the most pointless ‘point A to point B to point C’ side mission but much like Assassins Creed you begin to feel that everything is just a bit too automated. Hold down R2 and occasionally press X will get you pretty much anywhere without much thought.
Your power set increases at a nice pace but, to be honest, much like the first game you quickly feel over powered. Once you get the claws, regular mooks are nothing but a tap away from being a stain on the ground. Even most of the earlier tougher opponents need only semi-careful attention to dodge blows and then whittle down their health. Outside of the offensive powers, the most notable ability is to absorb any other character. This allows for regaining health, getting key information and disguising yourself as the last person you "ate". It is fun to sneak up on a squad with their own man but it does mean there are a worrying amount of missions where you simply walk through a base disguised as a grunt.
AI can be problematic at times. I can understand how turning into a random citizen when out of view can clear my wanted status, but how does it make sense when I have absorbed a commanding officer in front of his men, ran away and 'disguised' myself by turning back into the wanted James Heller? The passersby are worse. Transforming between identities can instil terror but there is a 50/50 chance that walking down a street absorbing everyone for health will cause no reaction. They may give a little scream but they don’t bother running away from their obvious impending doom.
Prototype 2 is a good game but didn't really deliver anything new compared to the original and did not even fix the issue of overkill. If anything, this game feels far easier. Worse, the switch between main characters, while interesting in concept, just didn’t work for me. Mercer’s rational for needing to create Heller seems weak at best but far worse is that Heller just isn’t that likeable. He has a more sympathetic background but his in-game dialogue, particularly in the opening stages, will not warm you to the character, his repetitive profanities and computer illiteracy more often than not came across as an issue of designing a character with a twelve year old player in mind. Overall, not the most challenging game but a fun cathargic sandbox of destruction worthy of your attention despite some minor fault.
Rent or Buy: Buy
Gameplay : 4/5
Reviewed by: JP Gallagher