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Prototype 2 Review

With the release of 2005’s The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Radical Entertainment established the template which would spawn a succession of pulpy, open-world, action titles. From the Infamous and Crackdown franchises to Radical’s own Prototype, the sub-genre has centered on providing the protagonist with a customizable, ever-escalating arsenal. To flaunt the raw power of this weaponry, each title has not only offered a spirited sandbox stuffed with enemies, but also exhibited the capacity for collateral damage to demonstrate the sheer ass-kicking aptitude of your growing loadout.

Unsurprisingly, the recent release of Prototype 2 maintains many of these distinctive elements, providing players with an incessant array of antagonist annihilating options. From five different appendage-augmenting options, the opportunity to seize enemy weaponry, and even being able to deliver a bladed haymaker to vexing helicopters, the title rarely misses an opportunity for enthusiastic mayhem. Add the ability to scamper up the sides of buildings, glide assuredly across the skies, and even shape shift into antagonists, and the title becomes an accommodating playground of punishment. Much like the God of War series, obliterating swaths of weak foes conveys the sensation of near-invulnerability. It’s a feeling that is echoed by the ability to replenish your vitality by consuming lesser antagonists, which sporadically sends the player gobbling up the game’s populace like popcorn.

Like Kratos’ adventures, the game’s storyline is fueled by a vengeful bloodlust. Set a year after the events of the first Prototype, original protagonist Alex Mercer is recast as the sequel’s heavy, endowing new hero James Heller with monstrous abilities. Although Mercer was hoping the soldier’s battle experience and integrity would make for a valuable ally, Heller blames him for the death of his wife and child, becoming resolute on retaliation. While the change in lead character and general tone are a slight improvement over the first game, some players may have difficulty identifying with Heller. Between his incessant use of F-bombs and ability to infect people with bio-bombs which turn them into bloody geysers, the character is the personification of unmitigated rage. Ideally, a fragment of empathy could have kept Heller from converging on caricature. For players who overlooked the first title, ‘Prototype Recap’ offers an aptly named video which offers a two minute summary of the preceding events.

For players who did venture through Prototype’s adventure, the sequel offers a number of gratifying refinements. Scampering up the side of skyscrapers has been improved, with players only occasionally being stymied by the awnings of New York’s high-rises.  Radical revamped the combat system, removing the requirement to fiddle with the weapon wheel. Now, powers are mapped to two different buttons, allowing players to instantaneously select anti-vehicular hammerfists or tendrils capable of grappling infantry. Whereas Mercer’s defensive capabilities were limited, Heller has the ability to completely shield himself, using armor that absorbs damage until splintering and subsequently, regenerating.

Conveniently, Prototype 2’s defensive measures allows for reversals, sending rockets and other projectiles back at aggressors. Mounting vehicles allows Heller to tear off their weapons, destroy them in a brash finishing move, or even commandeer them, depending on the evolutionary state. Much like his ability to use enemy ordinance, the protagonist’s own aptitudes usually overshadow found machinery. While tank artillery is undoubtedly powerful, the speed of the vehicle is no match for Heller’s athletic abilities; usually players will control hardware only when a mission dictates.

Although Prototype 2’s controls show improvement, a few of the first game’s issues linger. Heller moves relatively quickly, so grabbing a specific soldier or weapon can be tricky. In crowded situations, expect to inadvertently grab a machine gun instead of a health-rejuvenating combatant. Fortunately, difficulty through the game’s fifteen-hour campaign is fairly merciful, limiting the number of occurrences where a player’s life hinges on the acquisition of certain commodity. The game’s camera normally frames the action suitably, yet intermittently Heller will become obscured behind an environmental object due to the game’s tight perspective. While the PS3 iteration of Prototype 2 exhibited a generally stable framerate, the Xbox 360 version succumbs to the rare fluctuation in refresh rate, and showed noticeable signs of screen-tearing.

Picking up the title at launch, gives player access to Radnet, a perk which grants access to seven weekly installments of additional content, all tied to leaderboard rankings. Once the code is entered, mini-events pop-up on your radar, challenging players to defeat a specific number of enemies in limit time or gather a number of collectables. On their own, these axillary assignments are wildly different from the objectives in the main game. However, completion rewards players with everything from evolution points, new powers, and behind-the-scenes videos making them obligatory errands for those hoping to supplement Heller to his fullest. Appreciatively, Prototype 2 is exceedingly adaptive. Players wishing to explore the game’s backstory are given slivers of information through short, stylized cutscenes; those seeking uninterrupted action will still be able to glean a basic plotline from in-game dialog. Similarly, the game’s numerous side-missions reward players help upgrade Heller, allowing players to lessen difficulty of the game by boosting the abilities of protagonist. Although amassing trinkets in most games often seems like a bit of a time waster, the title’s tracking system and clever concealments makes locating items such as black boxes surprisingly rewarding.

The inclusion of Radnet not only dissuades players from buying a used copy of Prototype 2, but also encourages early adoption with the inclusion of time-sensitive voucher. Although this policy seems likely to draw the ire from a faction of vocal gamers, it shouldn’t hinder fans of open-world adventures from purchasing Prototype 2 at their earliest convenience. From the removal of irritating difficulty spikes, a revamped control scheme, to a graphical overhaul, the game eliminates many of the woes of the first game exhibiting the type evolutionary improvement displayed by its main character.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

29 comments

  1. Man, that blade into the belly of a helio shot is so damn cool.

    Tell me this- is the action crazier that Just Cause 2?

  2. “Ideally, a fragment of empathy could have kept Heller from converging on caricature.”

    It’s a video game with the tone of a comic book. What do you expect Shakespeare?

    • I think its fair to say we want better characters from games. I watch a movie and usually I’m really engaged with the characters. That usually doesn’t happen when I game.

      Still, coming from someone that play JRPG like they’re going out of style, it is surprising.

      • HighPriestPepper

        I think it’s cool they changed the character and made Mr. Emo Mercer the villain. Man, I hated him.

        • Hated?

          You know he was voiced by Berry Pepper, who was the sniper in Saving Private Ryan and was in Flags of Our Fathers. The best I’ll allow is mild dislike. 😉

          • You’re joking, right?

            I hated the sniper in SPR. Dude was a bible-thumping lunatic. If he lived he would have turning into a NRA, Tea-party dipshit.

          • Wow, didn’t know he was the voice of Alex. That’s cool and would have made a good trivia question for the show.

            Dude was a hardcore shooter in SPR. Loved him.

          • Didn’t know that. His voice sounded familiar.

  3. I watched someone play for a few minutes. Does the game autosave or do you manually save? Also install on the PS3?

    Also: REALLY PS3 is better? Or are you being a fanboy?

  4. I can wait for a price drop. I don’t really need Rad.net

  5. How come you didn’t review the extra content from the Blackwatch Collector’s edition?

  6. Just curious did anyone order the Xbox 360 steelcase that Best Buy was offering as a bonus and get the PS3 one instead?

  7. Thanks, Des. One question, what happened to Sean? I don’t see him reviewing and he wasn’t on the last podcast.

  8. So it doesn’t get all “throw the controller at the wall, curse like a sailor” hard like the last one?

    • omg thank you, thats why I have never been able to finish the game. The last part is so frustrating!

  9. Watched the IGN video review where the guy talked in an excited voice, but then said the animation was straight out of 2005 before 7.0ing it.

    Funny thing, in their previews they made it sound like at least an 8.0 game. Ah, that’s IGN for ya.

    • That’s Greg Miller. The guy is so unfunny its almost funny. First time I saw and heard him, I thought he was a lesbian. Once I learn he was just a dude, any interest at all disappeared.

      • Harsh.

        But I got to agree. Not funny. Youtubers seem to agree. His show comments are just filled with hate.

        • Well Youtubers are filled with hate. Considering it’s IGN, I’d expect way more than 50,000 views per show, though. That’s pretty sad.

      • Cant stand him on video. When he writes he’s ok, though.

        LOL’ed at your comment.

  10. Thanks, Des. Good review.

  11. Damn, long review is long!

  12. IS there any multiplayer/co-op or anything like that?

    • All single player Half a gig install on the PS3 which takes about 10 minutes for those who asked.

  13. Binary Domain was a really good action game that just as good as this. How come you didn’t review it?

    Side note: the review was good but a little too long.

    • Gotta agree. I think you might get more readers if you shortened the reviews. I see more than 4 or 5 paragraphs and I jumped to the score sometimes.

  14. good review. Deagle, there’s a world of tanks ad on your site, but you haven’t reviewed it. What’s up?

  15. Just finished this last night. Pretty fun, but I don’t know know if I’d play a second time. Anyone looking for the 360 version?