- Street Date:
- April 24th, 2012
- Reviewed by:
- Daniel Hirshleifer
- Review Date:1
- May 23rd, 2012
- Game Release Year:
- Radical Entertainment
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
IntroductionEver notice how Hollywood studios tend to release competing movies on the same topic? Volcano and Dante's Peak for example, or Armageddon and Deep Impact. Well, sometimes video game publishers do the same thing. In 2009 gamers had the opportunity to play two open-world games featuring super-powered people. The first, Infamous, featured a character with electrical powers and a decision-based gameplay system. The second, Prototype, featured Alex Mercer, a man infected with a virus that allowed him to change shape, float through the air, and turn his hands into a bevy of deadly weapons. Infamous was a delight. A well-realized open world, combined with sharp mechanics led to a well rounded game that rewarded multiple playthroughs. Prototype, while arguably boasting a cooler set of superpowers, fell apart in design and gameplay. Visually, the game looked drab and uninspired, and the gameplay was often overly complicated. In short, it was a disappointment, but it got decent enough reviews and sold enough copies that it prompted a sequel.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Surprisingly, the game's developers must have taken a hard look at the first game, because the second one is a big improvement in many areas. To start, the gameplay mechanics are much, much simpler. You have two buttons for attacks, and a simultaneous press of two of the four face buttons give you a charged attack. That's it. As the game progresses, you get new weapons and abilities, but the basic controls remain the same. This is a far cry from the last game, where advanced moves required a complicated series of inputs that were far too complex for the hectic action you were expected to keep up with.
Another surprise is that the game doesn't follow the previous' protagonist, Alex Mercer. Instead it follows James Heller, a former soldier whose family is killed by the general mayhem Mercer has inspired. Heller goes for revenge, but instead is infected by Mercer and ends up with a similar set of powers. The plot unfolds through a series of cinematics and in-game sequences. The cinematics are incredibly serious, far more serious than the kind of insanity the gameplay provides. They are infinitely preferable to the in-game sequences, which stop the action entirely so Heller can take a phone call outlining his latest mission.
The game tries to mix up the type of missions you get, but most of them involve you absorbing some generic military guy, getting his memories which incrementally advance the plot, and then blowing some stuff up real good. There are variations on this theme, and as you progress you get bigger toys to play with, including tanks and helicopters, but ultimately Prototype 2 is still repetitive. That doesn't mean it's boring, but it could have been really stellar with a little more variety.
The plot itself is utterly forgettable. Having only beaten the game a few days ago, I could barely tell you what it was about. Characters drop in and out, and no matter what the plot is doing, the missions end up the same. I wish the developers had allowed themselves to be crazier, because the gameplay itself is outrageous and, in the thick of it, a lot of fun. The story is so leaden and boring that it drags the surrounding insanity down as well.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The last Prototype had some real graphical issues. Clipping and framerate drops were rampant, especially during the later portions when the game threw everything and the kitchen sink at you. The final boss was practically unplayable because of how much slowdown you encountered.Thankfully, Prototype 2 fixes many of these glaring errors. I did notice a few instances of screen tearing, but that's about it. At no time did it seem like the system was being overloaded by what was going on in the game. Visually the game is still a little bland, with only a few character models and a drab-looking city. However, there's nothing really wrong with the graphics, I just wish they were a little more exciting to look at.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The game does a good job inundating you with sound. For most of the game, stuff will be happening all around you, so the surrounds get a good workout. There is no shortage of gunfire, explosions, absorptions, screams, and other chaos to keep your ears occupied. The voice acting is hit and miss. Heller is an angry guy who tends to read each line like he's resentful of it. Perhaps the best bits of audio come from the NPC's who freak out when they discover you're in their midst.
Prototype 2 offers a fair amount of collectibles and side missions to enhance the main story. Taking time to do these are fairly rewarding as they allow you to upgrade your skills more quickly than you would be able to otherwise. However, once you've beaten the game, there's no real reason to go back. There are side challenges you can choose to do after you've finished, but they add nothing to the gameplay. And there's nothing about the game itself that would make you want to start over and play it all again from the beginning.
Prototype 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor. The developers have scaled back the difficulty, simplified the control scheme, and fixed many technical issues that plagued the last game. However, it still takes itself too seriously and doesn't offer enough variety to really get off the ground. It's a decent enough diversion if you're starved for new games, but not worth more than a rental.
- Blu-ray disc
- Dolby Digital 5.1
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