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Prototype 2 Review

publisher: Activision
developer: n/a
genre: Action Adventure

ESRB rating: M

release date: Apr 24, 12
» All About Prototype 2 on ActionTrip

Three years ago, Activision and Radical Entertainment came up with this nifty little action adventure called, Prototype. While it may not have lived up to its pre-release hype, it certainly delivered some memorable gaming moments. We enjoyed its free-roam aspect, the hero's epic powers and the overarching story. The writing wasn't brilliant, although Prototype did stand on its own in the world of comic-style superhero action fests that continue to dominate the gaming scene. We were kind of worried when Activision announced they'd be churning out a sequel. The concern came from a number of reasons. For one, it kind of seemed like they exhausted every possible idea for the main character's powers. Also, it was revealed that the story would no longer focus on Alex Mercer, but rather on a completely different character.

Oddly enough, the change of central characters works just fine. You are now James Heller, who is infected by the deadly virus carried by Alex Mercer (now presented as the bad guy). When you think about it though, it was never really entirely clear whether Alex was a good guy or a villain. In the original game, his intentions seemed honorable because he fought to stop the spreading of the deadly virus called Blacklight. Eventually, he grew to despise humanity and is now determined to spread an even deadlier version of the virus. So, New York City is now facing the repercussions of a second, even more dangerous virus. At the same time, Heller and Mercer join forces to fight Blackwatch, the ruthless military organization that specializes in combating biological warfare.

Since the original, the story successfully makes the transition from one central character to another. The problem is that the fast-paced cut-scenes and story segments do little to explain who Heller is. He wants to stop the virus from spreading; that much is clear. Little is said about the characters themselves. So, it's not necessarily about the story itself, but how it's told I guess. Simply put - don't expect to be interested in the characters too much.

We have to give Radical some credit when it comes to gameplay. Similarly to the original Prototype, players are easily drawn into the combat mechanics, as well as the free-roam element. All the ingredients that made the first game great have returned. Once again, you'll be dashing across skyscrapers, outracing helicopters, outmatching swarms of soldiers with super-human strength and cool mutant powers. The game is easy to get into. At the beginning, Heller's abilities are fairly limited and weak, so he's going to have to fight, complete various tasks and side-missions in order to evolve (i.e. level up). The system works pretty well. You go on a story-related mission, kill all the bad guys or consume them and usually you get enough experience to improve Heller's skills. Chances are most gamers will have fun with this, because it's a familiar and well-executed concept. The hero moves around the city with ease.

The first issues are bound to occur once you realize that both story missions and side-missions are kind of repetitive. The ultimate goals may be different, but they are often accomplished in the same way, usually by consuming specific individuals and inheriting their thoughts and memories. Heller races through the city, locates a Blackwatch base, consumes a high-ranking soldier or scientist, assumes their identity, enters the base, and then consumes more people and that leads to an inevitable boss fight. Luckily though, the main character's cool abilities will keep you engaged all the time. Also, the fact that you're constantly unlocking new skills keeps the action interesting. The trouble is that most of these skills are fairly similar to those we've already experienced in the previous game, when we were controlling Alex Mercer. So, we're returning to the issue I've mentioned at the beginning of this review, which is that the developers appeared to have exhausted their ideas for mutations and combat abilities of the central character.

This is one of the main reasons why Prototype 2 may not have the same success and impact as its predecessor. The first game felt unique and definitely different from most super-hero games. With the sequel, you just can't escape the feeling that you've seen it all before.

There were some technical issues that bothered us, as well, and they're mostly related to the camera. More often than not, the camera just seems to have a mind of its own, especially when you get close to buildings or other objects. The biggest problem is when Heller is fighting indoors. The camera unexpectedly pans around and zooms in on the action when Heller gets close to a wall or other large objects in the environment. The symptoms of this flawed camera system got in the way of gameplay, failing to capture the action on the screen.

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7.0   Good

Combat can be a challenging and fun experience, solid atmosphere, nice visuals and solid audio (voiceovers included);

Not a lot different from its predecessor, AI issues spoil the immersion, technical issues get in the way of gameplay.


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