So I saw the Prototype 2 commercial with Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” playing in the background as the new Prototype plummeted to the street below then sent an explosive wave spreading out from him and thought “damn that looks amazing, I bet that is just a cinematic though and probably not really in the game.” Well the commercial was a combination of live action and CGI but if you liked that then the game itself has far better treats in store for you.
You play as James Heller, a family man who comes back from service to find that his family has been murdered by Alex Mercer, the anti-hero of the first game. You swear revenge and try to get transferred to duty in the Yellow Zone where Mercer is reported to be infecting people and creating monstrosities. At first you are denied for being mentally unstable but due to the mass number of military casualties in the zone they decide to give you a chance. You aren’t in zone for long before you get a chance to chase Mercer, witness his destruction and indifference and make a vain attempt to stop him.
This all happens in the first few minutes so I am not throwing a spoiler alert up, just as you know from every trailer, commercial and image that Heller is the one to wreck havoc on the already havoc stricken streets. The story is so much deeper than this, unfolding and refolding as twists abound in your journey with Heller for hate filled revenge. Just when you think you have figured out the plot a cinematic unfolds and gives you a new direction, a new target for your unquenchable anger. Heller is vengeance incarnate as much as any game character out there and with this new found hatred all morality is lost.
Graphics And Audio:
Prototype 2’s storyline is told almost completely through cutscenes between missions which are a slightly higher graphic quality than the game itself but almost always begin and end with a slow in game graphic push on Heller to make the transitions surprisingly clean. In most games where the cutscenes are of a higher quality it is almost disconcerting or jarring enough to pull the player out of their temporary suspension of disbelief but in this case it is so smooth that it only stands out to a video game junkie who notices how well it is done.
With so many possible actions and peripheral characters that exist in the crowds the makers did a great job creating a diversity of people both visually and in their audio. Every person who passes you on the street or you bump into or chase has their own voice reaction and interactions amongst themselves which is a lot to do in such a big sandbox environment. At one point I swore I saw one of our staff reviewers and heard his voice, I followed the character hoping to hear the code word “pancake.” There is so much graphic and audio detail to everything that a person could spend hours just watching the crowds and running around the city doing nothing but taking it in.
Gameplay starts out a little challenging getting used to controls and making sure the camera angle shifts right during initial battle but once you get the feeling for it all it is easy WASD and the mouse with a couple other keys thrown in. The difficulty can be set depending on player comfort but I would suggest at least normal or harder. It may seem odd to suggest a certain difficulty but I found that if you go with at least normal or harder the game can be a challenge and the play difficulty corresponds pretty well with the character skill development. You still get to experience moments which remind me of super hero games in their scope and ability and yet at the same time you won’t just clobber everything in sight. The first game did this part of the time but then sometimes would break down in group attacks, added moves and skills in this game help counter that problem. These skills and attacks are improved through collecting the side item collectibles make it one of the best reward examples in a game.
The smoothness of these mechanics are insanely fun and addictive with the camera angles matching the action during regular movement across town. Sometimes your leaps and flight from skyscraper to skyscraper remind me of Neo making “the leap” or Spiderman taking Raimi-directed cinematic flight through the air. As you improve your skills the leaps become like Superman in the fields or you glide like Batman over the city. It can almost be as addictive as the carnage creating fighting. The attacks start simple and get more and more magnificent as the challenges increase. In the beginning your enemies number just about anybody with a gun but towards the end they just become collateral damage as you fight it out with tougher and tougher “villains.”
I have to put “villains” in quotes because though there are definite levels of villainy in Heller really pushes the levels of anti-hero. Just like the pedestrians, cops and military in a GTA game can be alerted and chase or run from you they will generally do so when you unleash massive damage on them. Your attacks and regeneration are not particular on who they damage and though there are other terrible things being done to the populace your rampage of revenge does it’s own share. The collateral damage doesn’t necessarily jive with the storyline since you are avenging your wife and child and you destroy other peoples’ husbands, wives and in theory children (since there are no kids in the city) to help heal yourself, do an overpowered attack or just rampage. Personally I just try not to think about it much like in GTA, it is a game, it is meant to be fun and sometimes to make gleefully overcharged attacks you have to break a few heads. Or cars, tanks, helicopters, you get the point.
There really isn’t anything original in the game and before you take that as a bad thing, this game is more like a greatest hits of every good game taken and amped up a notch. The smooth superhero movement is just like other games like DC Universe Online but just done better. The attacks are just like very similar to other games, whether it’s the melee or the special attacks but the damage done is epic. The passive abilities such as sonar has been seen before too. Even the idea of consuming someone as energy, to read their minds or taking their form has a deep root in science fiction and video games (it screams “The Thing” to me!). But they are all put together to make this one anti-hero, this morality lost creature that is revenge.
This game made mass improvements over the first as well as being an amp up homage to all the great video games and science fiction movies. Enjoy the storyline but try not to attach too much between it and the gameplay. Don’t play it on the easiest level, that’s boring, play it on a harder level and you will find the action amps up with your skills, as you create more carnage you will find enemies that require it and ones that can not quite be easily taken down with your new power. You are infected but it is more like the infection Peter Parker got from the spider, an infection with all benefits and no downside (unless you consider loss of morality). I recommend this game for people who like DC Universe Online, GTA games and just a well made sandbox. You are a superhero of revenge and the world is your playground.