Prototype 2 Preview
I still remember the day fondly. I remember logging onto the net, checking some emails, before getting a link from a friend regarding a new game coming out. Clicking said link sent me to a pretty disturbing page, blood trickled down its pixels, and I just knew I was in for a scare.
What actually sat on the page was a video on an upcoming game, Prototype, and showed off the game’s disturbingly satisfying gameplay and mechanics, impaling and absorbing people was the name of this disturb-o-rama. And oddly enough, I wanted more.
Playing the game of Alex Mercer was both amazing and highly upsetting; until my brain got used to the gruesome murder, then it was just amazing. Sure, the game had its downsides, the story was thinly spread over an open world and character development wasn’t Final Fantasy levels. But despite its weaknesses, the game still stood out. Mainly because it came out of nowhere.
However, Radical Entertainment haven’t got the element of surprise anymore. Having Announced Prototype 2, everyone was expecting a ride to death city once again, with the ability to freely murder and please their inner psychopath once again.
Sitting down to start Prototype 2, I was greeted with a fresh start to what many people are assuming to be a blast from the past. An emotional video opens the game, showing a solider going through the moments of losing his wife and children to the ‘Mercer Virus’. Upon starting properly, you are dropped into the Red Zone, an area of New York City that has been completely overrun by the virus. And while you may think you’re safe in that Army Tank, it gets attacked, leaving you helpless on a street full of flesh eating, virus-ridden monsters.
Prototype 2 pulls no punches. Within the first 20 minutes you have already been introduced to the new protagonist – Captain Heller – and had several near death experiences. You have also attempted to murder Alex Mercer for killing your beloved family, failed, and had to deal with a monstrous Titan as punishment.
Possibly a lot to take in, but the game eases you through this craziness incredibly smoothly, allowing you to interact with everything around you. Nothing goes to waste, the detailed backgrounds and attention grabbing scenery allow players to really take in the utter chaos that is surrounding them. If you thought things were bad by the end of Prototype, you’re in for a shock.
Not long after narrowly escaping death – again – Alex infects you with the Mercer Virus, but in a similar way to himself, in that you can control it and use it to do your bidding. From this point on, you’re no longer a respected soldier. The story flips, and you face the same treatment as Alex did in the first game. You’re forced to partake in testing and pushed to murder before escaping to find out what exactly is going on. Welcome to Prototype 2.
Throughout the entire play session I couldn’t help but notice how fluid the controls were. Whilst the first game attempted to create smooth combat, it always suffered slightly, but Prototype 2 makes up for it beautifully. Sure, you’ll still soar in the wrong direction from time to time due to an odd thumbstick movement, but as a whole the game allows you to swing from one kill to the next without penalising you for the smallest of mistakes.
The one exception to this – once again – is the vehicle controls, which remain sluggish and awkward. Whilst jumping into a helicopter may seem like a fantastic idea to begin with, being unable to control or shoot the firepower it holds means wasted murdering time.
But that may not be a problem, as the game holds a huge amount of new features, including ripping the rockets and cannons from helicopters and tanks and using them remotely. On top of these new murdering methods come added slaughtering techniques in the form of what can only be described as virus bombs. Pick someone up and implant a device in them that after a small amount of time will explode, shooting out many tendrils that grab onto nearby enemies, pulling them in.
The storyline has taken a complete 180, due to feedback Radical Entertainment received about the first game. Heller serves as a fantastic platform for an interestingly emotional story. Within the first few missions, I was already sold by his performance, clouded by grief and driven by revenge. Everything that I thought Prototype 2 would be (in terms of story) was blown out of the water after spending some time with Heller, who creates a believable, followable story.
Unfortunately, the combat, whilst a lot smoother, still suffered from the incredibly repetitive feel. After one or two battles, I found myself repeating the same moves, even though I was using up all the combinations. The ability to have two weapons at once to create combinations is fresh, and whipping civilians whilst slicing them another simultaneously was fun. But the overall experience was once that was very familiar to the first.
Be that as it may, Prototype 2 does what it’s supposed to do, and that’s make you feel like an absolute beast. Running up buildings to divebomb off and destroy a tank only feels this good in a Prototype game. It may be the only game that allows it, but I highly doubt anyone could make it feel more satisfying than Radical Entertainment do.
As such, they don’t deter from what was already a great foundation from the first game. Doing what every developer should do, they took to the internet to see what people had to say about their first baby to make their second one as close to perfection as they could. Whilst the formula still has a way to go, and the convincing storyline could fall flat on its face later in the game, what I had a chance to get my hands on leaves a very convincing impression that Prototype 2 will be as surprising as the first one. With more gore, more action and more believability, it looks to be a really fun experience overall.
Reality? Pfft, who needs it. My devil arms slicing up thousands of innocent civilians is enough to get me through the day.
Prototype 2 is set for release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 24th.