Prototype 2


PROTOTYPE 2 (XBOX 360) Review

PROTOTYPE 2 Review (XBOX 360)

In 2009 we were introduced to a new game character, Alex Mercer. With no memory of his past and a whole bunch of super-powers we took to the streets and rooftops of Manhattan in a story which would see us take on the military, mutated creatures and an evil corporation. Prototype was the name of the game and upon release it received a lot of praise for a decent plot and quality gameplay.

Now Activision and Radical Entertainment are back with a sequel, Prototype 2, which is available now for X360 and PS3 with a PC version due in the summer. In this sequel we take control of James Heller, a man on a mission to get revenge for the death of his family… but who is to blame and how much death and destruction can we cause along the way with our newly obtained super-powers?

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Gameplay
Like the original Prototype 2 is a sandbox based game meaning we are essentially free to roam about the game world, picking up side missions as we go or progressing the main story. This isn’t any normal sandbox game though because our enhanced main character, who finds himself in a quarantined New York, has the ability to run faster, leap higher and even climb walls or glide if we wish. This opens up every area of the city to us for exploration and gameplay and the fact that most of the environment features destructive objects is an added bonus.

Moving around the environment is a very simple affair, we use the left stick to move, A to jump (or dodge) and X to fight. B tends to interact and Y is mainly used for a special power, consume. This allows us to take on the memories and shape of a particular character, or draw health from them. Holding the right trigger causes us to run, or scale buildings and the shoulder buttons activate more advanced powers. These, like the D-Pad, offer quick access to various abilities such as shape shifting.

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Although we are pretty much super-powered from the get-go the game introduces more advanced abilities as we progress and this goes hand in hand with experience points and bonus achievements which both allow us to enhance our character. For example allowing them to run faster, recover quicker and so on.

Prototype 2 also varies the pace of the game and is very much split into three gameplay styles. Exploration has us walking about, finding secondary missions or black boxes which are scattered about the city, revealing information which will be of use to us. Other areas require us to use stealth, sneaking past guards, taking out others silently and hacking into systems for information without being detected. Then there is combat which kicks in often through the game as we try to evade capture, or take out a particular target.

Finally, as always, we have a selection of achievements for our gaming profile and Activision allow access to RADNET for events and challenges (including against friends) which get us rewards including the Alex Mercer skin.

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Graphics and Audio
Prototype 2 uses the Titanium 2.0 engine, an evolution of the technology used in the original game and on the whole it offers a good visual experience. The game world has a decent, though not spectacular, view distance with no pop-up issues and there is a good level of variation at street level, even if many of the enemies are dressed the same due to the bio-threat. As is normal for a modern game there are some nice lighting effects used throughout and the animation is smooth.

One real stand out aspect are the cut-scenes, these offer a stylish view of past events through the eyes of Heller or one of our enemies and are always well drawn and directed. Overall the voice acting is also good in these cut-scenes, as well as the main game. The actors all sound convincing and this is no doubt down to a good script, though Heller falls a little too much into the swearing for the sake of it category. Elsewhere we have plenty of good sound effects ranging from sensors, to the hustle and bustle of our location mixed in of course with plenty of gunfire and explosions.

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User Experience
One of the key items in the main menu for Prototype 2 is a catch-up video for those who didn’t play the first game and that sets the scene well for this game… as well as showing the developers want to make it as accessible as possible. From there we enter the main gameplay and to be honest were a little disappointed initially. The intro segment/video was great, very cinematic but from there the gameplay initially saw us go through a few scenes with minimal input, essentially quick time events where we had to hit various buttons… very boring and uninspiring.

This segment is meant to work as a short tutorial and it does succeed, just, but it is only when the game proper kicks in that things really take off, literally. From the moment we are granted our main super powers we have access to a game which offers huge potential and it plays lovely.

Think of all those times you have been running about in Assassins Creed but felt a little limited… you couldn’t go as far as you wanted or as high… not a problem in Prototype 2, James Heller is Altair (Assassins Creed), Spiderman, Alcatraz (Crysis 2) and Jackie Estacado (The Darkness 1+2) all rolled into one and we can use the powers of each to fly, jump, smash and destroy… consuming bodies while slicing and dicing at will also.

This is no kid’s superhero game, this is very much an adult themed universe and while the content is almost always graphic, we frequently see Heller pound an enemy to death, caving in their face with blood spraying everywhere, it is also often out to get in our head. Pick up and listen to one of the black boxes dotted around the game and we hear the screaming, pleading voice of a mother who is watching as her child is tested for infection by the virus which has closed down New York… "he’s not infected, he’s autistic…" before gunfire fades into static.

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The game is also paced very well with the three distinct styles of gameplay mixing well to keep the player interested through the 12hr+ of content. There is always a waypoint to head for but how we get there is up to us. We might take on a combat orientated task, or maybe something more stealth based and as we progress things are also kept fresh with a constant stream of new abilities or variation of objectives which can include weapon based gameplay too… of course including favourites such as rocket launchers and the option to pick up scenery and throw it at large groups of enemies.

Prototype 2 isn’t immune to faults but they are few and far between. The slow initial segment is one. A slightly buggy auto-save feature is another and the controls can feel a touch on the sensitive side but really we are looking at minor issues and to be fair in terms of using the controller Radical have packed a massive amount of moves/actions/skills into the limited buttons available with great success.

It could also be said that Prototype 2 borrows, maybe even steals, from a wide range of popular gaming franchises, the aforementioned Assassins Creed, Crysis 2 and Darkeness as well as Resident Evil and a few others but it really doesn’t attempt to hide this. Like the rest of the game the borrowed content is here to allow as enjoyable a story as possible, strung together on some excellent, varied and always entertaining super powered gameplay.

One of the most enjoyable games of 2012.

86%

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