Archive for October 17, 2012

Prototype 2 Review

Posted: October 17, 2012 in Review
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Destroy New York City for fun and profit… again

The first Prototype was a fun, if flawed, title seeing you rampage your way across a zombie-plagued New York with a variety of hilarious and destructive superpowers. The second game offers essentially the same experience, with a few gameplay tweaks.

The most major change is that Alex Mercer, the first game’s protagonist, is now the story’s villain, infecting new character James Heller with the Blacklight virus and dishing out the franchise’s famous superpowers. The second is that the playing area has been divided into three islands, with northern New York now completely out of bounds, scaling the action down to smaller spaces. You also have the new ability to hunt for your targets with sonar, although this can only be activated at very specific points in certain missions.

Another key change is that there are now only six powers to cycle through, along with a shield ability. This streamlines the focus and prevents a lot of fumbling confusion during the many frantic battles. Other, more minor changes include tweaks to the side missions and the vast number of collectibles, all of which can now be located from the map screen.

Aside from these changes, there isn’t all that much different from the first game. You still wander around New York, although much of your exploration is hampered by the size of the islands and having the play the story to unlock the other areas. You still perform missions for various characters, many of whom inevitably betray you for one reason or another. The missions still involve sneaking into bases, murdering people, disguising yourself as someone else, causing massive amounts of damage, or a combination of all these objectives. Side missions try to add variety with the ‘race against time’ objectives, but these are few and far between. Probably the most enjoyable challenges are finding all the hidden items, simply because you’re forced to rely on your wits more than in any of the missions. There are also the ‘events’, challenges dotted across the city to test your skills to the limit. Unfortunately, these are only available to those who purchased the Radnet edition of the game when it was first released.

At roughly eight to ten hours, the game doesn’t outstay its welcome, although it doesn’t offer much in the way of replayability. Once you’ve done it, you’ll only feel obliged to go back in to pick up what little you missed the first time.

Prototype 2 is a hard game in pin down, as it does correct some of the flaws with the first game – namely the whiny protagonist – but doesn’t add much else to really qualify it as a true sequel. In fact, one of the first game’s best features – the slow spread of the virus over the course of the story – is entirely done away with here, leaving you with three islands at different stages of disaster. That’s not a bad thing, but it somehow feels less evolved than the ongoing outbreak of the first game. There are also no new skills, abilities or mutations this time around, as Heller simply learns everything that Mercer once discovered. Given how much fun it was to learn how to use new abilities effectively, the lack of any additional attacks is really disappointing. The only new abilities are very minor, allowing you to summon Brawlers and turn people into time bombs. Both are funny, but hardly pushing the boat out. Would it have been so hard to include a few extra new powers to use, or other areas to explore, or a little more variety in the missions?

Whether or not Prototype 2 is a worthy investment is mostly down to the individual. It’s every bit as good as the first game was, no more and no less. It’s probably more a spin-off than a true sequel, something that disappoints massively given the three years of development. What remains is a fun game that’s recommended, but no more or less than the first game.