Published by Activision, game developer Radical Entertainment are back with the sequel to their best-selling open world action game Prototype 2, available on PC, PS3 and XBOX 360. You can expect to have everything you love from the original Prototype plus more; ripping infected enemies to shreds, absorbing your adversaries to gain new identities, running up walls, jumping from rooftops and customising your mutations. But times have changed from the New York in Prototype after being overrun by theBlacklight virus outbreak, so much so the post-viral wastelands have been sectioned off into three distinct zones, quarantined and renamed New York Zero or NYZ for short, so expect a whole new adventure. For the purpose of this review I played the game on the XBOX 360, so experience from other formats may differ.
The sequel steps away from the story of Alex Mercer, although he is still heavily involved, and introduces a new protagonist in Sgt James Heller; a decorated soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the husband of a deceased wife and daughter killed by a group of infected monsters. If you haven’t played the first though don’t let this put you off as the story is easy to follow, ad a recap of Prototypes storyline is also available. Anyway back to the story, Heller blames Mercer for the virus and holds him responsible for the death of his family, so he volunteers to help contain the virus in the affected NYZ area while aiming to seek out revenge for what has been taken from him.
After an attack on his patrol, Heller finds himself face-to-face with Mercer but is unable to take him out. Instead he is knocked unconscious and wakes up in a Gentek lab to discover he has become infected with the virus, giving Heller God like powers. After breaking out of the lab he encounters Mercer again and discovers that Mercer wants his help to take down Gentek and Blackwatch (the military organization ruling over NYZ) to put an end to the virus. However after absorbing numerous members of the Blackwatch and Gentek staff, gathering information from their memories, you soon find out all is not as it seems.
As mentioned, Prototype 2 brings a new map in the form of NYZ. As you complete missions in the story and get further into the campaign, you will gain you access to new zones which you reach by helicopter or an Air Bridge as it is known in the game. You have three distinct areas; the ‘Green Zone’ is a safe area that is heavily militarised and set up so that survivors can continue to live normal lives. The ‘Yellow Zone’ is heavily policed, full of small shanty town camps in place to act as shelter for refugees and also an area that sees Blackwatch and Gentek carrying out experiments on the infected. The ‘Red Zone’ is the worst of them all; the home of Mercer and where the viral outbreak began; it’s now a warzone where the infected creatures are in constant battle with Blackwatch.
The controls for the game are easily learnt with thanks to a brilliant in-game tutorial system; it starts giving you the basics of how to move about and attack, then as you learn new abilities throughout the game it’ll put you in situations where it educates you on how to perform the new moves. Usually when you gain a new ability you’ll be given bonus objectives in missions to utilize the new powers or skills which are rewarded with bonus XP to help you level up. With levelling up you will be able to customise your mutations to suit your gaming style; whether you want to inflict or withstand more damage because you like to get into the middle of the battle, run and jump further so you can flee from alert zones and evade strike teams quicker or even to enhance your disguise abilities to blend in with your surroundings and take out enemies with stealth.
Another feature of the game is the devastating tendril power that Heller possesses; a mutation that allows you to tear military vehicles to shreds, entangle some of the most powerful infected beasts and demolish large groups of surrounding enemies. One way of getting the most out of this power is by absorbing enemies to fill your Mass bar, which when full unleashes an overwhelming attack to everything around you. It would be better if the game made it a little harder to achieve a full Mass bar making the special attack…well…more special, because it just seems too easy to fill at times and you can literally use it several times a mission making easy work of everything.
A second new power to Prototype 2 is Heller’s capability to use a sonar-pulse ejecting from your body to hunt down anyone who stands in your way. You will have to learn to track down members of Gentek and Blackwatch, killing and becoming them to infiltrate the corporations and find out information about what is really going on. The possibilities are endless you can disguise yourself as a member of the Blackwatch elite, a soldier, a scientist or just random people on the streets; some of those you will absorb may unlock new missions, some may upgrade your rifle skills, some may just offer bonus XP for collecting their DNA. It’s not always as easy as it seems however, you can’t absorb someone while others watch without raising an alarm, so time your movements perfectly and all will go off without a hitch, alternatively you could just transform into Heller using his abilities to unleash hell and do what want…I mean seriously no one can honestly stop you.
That is probably one of the games only downfalls, the game is too easy. You’re more powerful than anything else meaning everything is light work, even when you meet a boss it is pretty easy to dispose of him, I’ve had a tougher time washing dishes. There is just no real challenge. Don’t get me wrong the game is great, but even when trying to absorb an enemy and having to do it without raising an alarm it is just so easily done even on the hardest difficulty. But then again the game is all about being excessive and over-the-top and that is why it’s so enjoyable to play, because you can do what the hell you want when you want.
Along with the main storyline, you also have several fun side missions. These come in the form of searching for black boxes that hold the last conversations of dead Blackwatch soldiers, finding lairs to which Gentek have been keeping infected creatures and tracking down small field-ops teams you need to take out. All in all they’re fun to play but do get a bit repetitive, and if you aim to complete all the side quests along with the main story you’ll only get about 15 hours out of Prototype 2, which is what it took me to complete the game. Although I enjoyed it that much I did go and start a second campaign to tear up the streets of NYZ as I found it fun and good to take my anger out on.
Graphically I thought the game could have done a little better. I enjoyed the look of the city when standing on rooftops, but certain points in the game didn’t really look great and lacked quality; for example when Heller absorbs some of his enemies it looks like they’re going through him not into him. I really liked the cut scenes though; they seemed to be of a much higher quality graphics wise, especially when they went with the black and white effect, which I really liked.
One thing I never had access to on the game is restricted Radnet access available for the game. Unfortunately I never received the code myself so cannot review on this area but if you pre-ordered or bought Prototype 2 right away you gained an in-pack voucher code you can redeem, allowing you access to exclusive Radnet content. You get a load of extra content with this code; new challenges that set up leader boards to compete with others around the world as well as themes, videos and more. Just to clarify I won’t be letting the fact I never had access to this content affect my review.
Overall I’d have to say if you are thinking of purchasing this game you’d better prepare for one of the most over-the-top, excessive and extremely fun games you have ever played. I really enjoyed the movement of the character nothing seemed impossible; running up walls, floating from skyscraper to skyscraper and jumping from the tallest of buildings to crash to the ground without receiving a scratch; and the fact you could customise Heller’s mutations to suit your gaming style really made it appealing. The combat was great as well with an arsenal of deadly attacks, whether you used your God like powers to destroy stuff or go for the more human approach to even things out by stealing a tank and blowing your enemies apart. The story although it wasn’t anything special was still quite fun to follow, and I really liked completing the side quests too gathering all the collectables. However the game is far too easy and needs to be made more challenging. In addition some of the missions do become repetitive and the game doesn’t last very long even when completing all side quests in sync with following the main story (though it definitely deserves a second playthrough).
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.