Open-world games are certainly not in short supply on this generation of consoles. Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row and Borderlands are just a number of the titles that are dominating the genre. One open-world title that received mixed reviews from critics when it released in June 2009 was Prototype. Almost two years on, Prototype 2 has released but can it improve on its predecessor?
You don’t have to have played the original Prototype to understand the plot of the second. Prototype 2 takes place 14 months after the events of its predecessor as players take on the role of James Heller, a man who has been transformed by the virus released by Alex Mercer – the main character in the original game. Heller blames Mercer, who is looking to spread the virus, for the death of his family and is out to kill him.
The main campaign has Heller taking orders from people, although each of the game’s missions is very much based around the same idea: consuming humans. As a prototype, Heller can also consume human beings, which means that he can access their DNA and shapeshift into them. Unfortunately, this is a massive contribution to the game’s downfall.
Like the original title, Prototype 2’s main problem is that it’s very repetitive. Every mission seems to be a case of running to a particular spot in Manhattan, infiltrating a quarantined zone, consuming a human and escaping. Nevertheless, there are a number of improvements on its predecessor.
Heller has the ability to locate targets using his viral sonar, which makes for some interesting manhunt missions. Additionally, rather than going in all guns blazing, there are a number of side-missions that consist of sneaking into quarantined zones (known as Blacknet missions). Like the main storyline, these also get repetitive, though they do provide a welcome change every once in a while.
As players progress through the game, they gain evolution points (otherwise known as EP). EP can be spent on upgrades for Heller, including improved movement, health, regeneration, shapeshifting, mass and finishers. This is the most exciting aspect of the game as Heller develops new attacks and abilities.
Some of these new abilities include powers. Heller can assign powers to the X and Y buttons, which include claws, a blade, hammerfists, tendrils, a ‘whipfist’ and more. The powers have been well implemented into the game and come with some satisfying results, such as taking down helicopters by punching it into a building or defeating numerous enemies with a single attack.
While the powers aren’t in short supply, the game’s weapons are fairly limited, with only assault rifles, machine guns, thermobaric boomsticks (rocket launchers) and grenade launchers on offer. Whereas the selection is quite pitiful, they aren’t particularly useful in the game’s combat as players will rely on other forms of combat.
In the early stages of Prototype 2, combat often relies on simply button-bashing. However, as players progress through the game, the enemies become slightly more difficult. Nevertheless, more difficult enemies are easily defeated by blocking and counter attacking, even on the ‘hard’ difficulty.
While the original Prototype was criticised for being too difficult, it seems that Radical Entertainment can’t seem to get the balance right, as Prototype 2 seems to be too easy, especially when Heller is upgraded. Players won’t have many problems overcoming the game’s missions and may feel disappointed that it’s not much of a challenge.
Another way of upgrading Heller is through the game’s collectibles, which come in the form of Blackboxes. Finding the Blackboxes is quite enjoyable and, while there are only a small number of them on each of the islands, the in-game map gives players a general idea of where they are located and there are big rewards for collecting them all.
For those who purchase the game brand new, they’ll receive a code for Radnet content, consisting of weekly challenges, leaderboards, themes and videos. While it isn’t an essential necessity to the game, the extra challenges provide some additional gameplay time, something that the title desperately needs.
A speed run through Prototype 2 will take players approximately four-five hours, with an extra hour or two to clear up all the collectibles and achievements. Quite disappointingly, after the completion of the game, there are no additional game modes. There is the option to free-roam, though it doesn’t quite have the same enjoyment that players have had with Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row.
Graphically, Prototype 2 contains some great-looking environments, though this is let down by some poor blood effects that wouldn’t look out of place on an original Xbox title. Likewise with the audio, with the exception of Heller’s repetitive dialogue which is mostly comprised of curse words, there’s some great voice-acting and sound effects to prevent players from pressing the mute button.
Overall, Prototype 2 is an enjoyable title that is plagued with a number of problems. The repetitiveness and the easiness of the title are big factors in preventing it from being a truly great game. Nevertheless, this is a must purchase for fans of the original.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.