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Game Review: Prototype 2

The hit series makes a huge comeback with this great installment.

They say New York is the city that never sleeps. That’s probably because it can’t seem to go more than a few days without an apocalyptic disaster dropping in to ruin everyone’s week. Between giant monsters, sweeping plagues, foreign invasions, alien invasions and attempts at domination by supervillains it’s a wonder that the citizens of said city even bat an eye anymore.

So here we have Prototype 2, a game about an apocalyptic disaster in New York City. This particular series has decided to go the way of sweeping plague, but it threw in a few superhero elements as well (although the protagonists are anything but heroes; more on that later). 

Plot and Characters

In case you’re an idiot, Prototype 2 is the sequel to the hit game Prototype for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. It takes place in New York City, obviously, and centers around a second outbreak of the same virus that tore the city apart in the first game. This one follows a new protagonist, Sgt. James Heller, an Army commando who lost his wife and daughter were killed during the outbreak (not sure if it’s the first or second outbreak they were killed during).  Heller blames their deaths on Alex Mercer, the protagonist of the first game who is a manifestation of the virus itself.

Heller is sent with a strike team into an area swarming with infected humans (who act like deranged maniacs and try to eat everything in sight, natch).  His transport is ambushed and Mercer himself makes a show-stopping appearance just long enough to infect Heller and transform him into a superhuman mutant like him.  Heller subsequently gains all of Mercer’s powers, including the ability to run up the sides of buildings, move at incredible speeds, glide long distances, and fall from any height without taking damage.

Heller pursues Mercer, who convinces him that his only goal is to stop Blackwatch, the private military force protecting Gentech, a corporation of absurdly evil and emotionless bastard scientists that is responsible for the outbreak, as becomes abundantly clear very early on. Heller takes this with a grain of salt, but agrees to leave Mercer alone for the time being and focus on sabotaging Gentech.

As the story progresses, Heller learns about this vast conspiracy surrounding Gentech, Mercer, and Blackwatch. It’s all kind of hard to explain because much like the first game much of the plot is revealed through consuming the minds of various individuals which will lead to a short clip which explains very little about what’s actually going on. It gets pretty confusing. Here’s all you really need to get by: You good (sort of), Blackwatch bad, Alex Mercer probably lying, kill everything—the end.

Sadly, Prototype 2 has the same problem as its predecessor in that it tries to portray Heller as a good man who has lost everything he loves and is simply seeking justice, but you’ll find that you’re constantly running over, squashing, or eating hundreds of innocent civilians in your quest to avenge the deaths of a few people. Granted they probably mean more to you than any Joe-Schmoe on the street, but Joe probably has a wife and kids, too, Heller!      

Gameplay

Much like the first game you’ll be free to roam New York City, flying and jumping 300 feet into the air and abusing flimsy soldiers and infected humans with zombie-like characteristics to your heart’s content. This time, though, you’re not restricted to only the Manhattan area. You’re free to visit other areas which I believe are supposed to be Brooklyn and Jersey City but are never specified as such.

Different to the first game is the new leveling system. As you rack up experience points for all the destruction and murder you leave in your wake you’re given the option of choosing one upgrade per level gained. You can also complete side missions to gain upgrades to your weapons, defensive capabilities and agility.

I found this system to be much better than that of the previous game, where you simply racked up the points and then spend them on whatever you feel like you want. The new system requires a bit of strategic thought, though admittedly you soon become so powerful that none of it matters much. My personal choice was to sink all of my early upgrades into agility because I like to be able to move as quickly and freely as possible.

The bio weapons also seem to be much more balanced than before. Recall that in the first game the whip pretty much overshadowed all the other weapons because it cause huge amounts of damage at insanely long range. Well it’s still there in Prototype 2, in all its torso-severing, helicopter-stealing glory, but its damage capabilities have been significantly balanced, so there’s actually a reason to use the other weapons. Personally I prefer the claws, except when dealing with a juggernaut, then I go with the hammer fists. I’m sure you’ll develop your own style as you play.

There are also some super moves that you can unlock over time and with enough upgrades in the correct categories that make things a little too easy. There’s the all-powerful devastator that fires massive tendrils in every direction and ruins everyone within a fifty foot radius’s morning coffee, and new to the game we have the Pack Leader ability which allows Heller to summon a few brawlers to the battlefield to fight his enemies for him.

Look, I’m all of strategy games, but I really hate it when game companies try to blend it into games that are primarily centered on action combat. I just find that I never bother with it. Since both the mutant spaghetti and loyal stooge attacks use the same energy bar, I always go with the former because I prefer to fight my own awesome battles and not have a couple of loyal dogs do it for me. 

Multiplayer

None. Good for me. 

Overall

It has to be said: Prototype 2 rocks. I had a lot of fun with it. I didn’t get to the end, which sucks because I really wanted to try and unlock everything.  Oh well, maybe later. Investment suggestion: buy it. I normally wouldn’t say that with games that don’t have much left to do after the campaign, but the side missions are fun enough to keep you occupied for a good bit of your play time and from what I understand they release new content in intervals after the game was release. It’s a marketing scam, I’ll give you that, but this one might be worth it.

So that’s my take. Buy it, play it, kill everything in sight and get through another weekend. 

Where to Purchase

Here's some great local places to pick up this game: , , , and .

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