As Alex Mercer in the original Prototype, you had a gruff, deep voice and you killed three groups of weaklings : Civilians (usually - that is, hopefully, by accident), infected people, and soldiers (who were the bad guys, because the good soldiers, our excellent, uniformed protectors, are all presumably still in Afghanistan). You also fought the plague that transformed normal people into grunting, smelly, subhuman beasts, just like Tea Party members. Very few games have ever made gamers feel so immaculately powerful; you could cut and shred a swath through entire boulevards without the need to even consider own well being.
With Great Power Comes Lots of Awesome
|Men Who Scowl at Cell Phones|
- Your protagonist is no longer some random, white schmoo in a hoodie. Now you play James Heller, an angry, black, hulking soldier in a hoodie.
- The hoodie is covered by a jacket with a high, popped collar.
- Alex Mercer, the antihero from the first game, made Heller into what he is: infected with superpowers.
- Mercer is now a bad guy, with some sort of nefarious plan that appears to be preventing the cure from ever being dispersed.
- Your powers are pretty much the same, except now you can go so far as to summon beastly mutants to help you slaughter people and break stuff.
- You have full run of two islands and much of Manhattan, divided into green, yellow and red zones. Manhattan itself is totally overrun with infected.
- You say fuck a lot. So does everybody else. The profanity quotient has been upped tremendously.
|That's Sandy Duncan beneath the disguise|
Kicking off, we have James Heller trapped in New York City believing his wife and daughter have been killed by Mercer. Heller is understandably upset, but Mercer tries to make up for it by infecting Heller with the virus. Heller immediately develops claws, incredible speed, and hunger for transforming victims into noodles of red goo and devouring them. Through the last ability, he can learn everything his victims know, take on their likenesses, acquire new powers, heal, feel what it's like to have sex as a woman and wear braziers, etc.
Most of the powers from the first game are present and accounted for, with some altered and most endowed with alternate attacks. For example, the claw power has a pounce attack, which switches the camera into a prey-view so you can witness Heller soaring through the air toward the unfortunate victim and tearing him pieces. A tendril superpower has an attack called Black Hole: once hit, the soon-to-be casualty extends tendrils that grab various objects and creatures and pull them powerfully toward the target, smashing him to pulp.
|Prototype 2 features at least one explosion.|
Lots to do!
The game isn't limited to story missions; there are lots of side missions, and they vary widely enough from the Diabloesque, kill 20 rats and then report to someone bullshit to keep them interesting. In addition, there are interactive collectibles (find "black boxes" (which are actually cellphones with saved messages on them, found on soldiers), wipe out hives of infacted, and break up field operations by killing evil scientists and their soldier guards) and lots of challenges similar to those in the game's predecessort. Cap the whole thing off with new game plus, and Prototype 2 is easily worth its price in replay value. I've clocked 23 hours so far, and it's still fun.
|Who hasn't seen a mime do this in Manhattan?|
It's not a game for everybody - gamers with weak stomachs, people who insist on coherent storylines, and players with absolutely no taste for terrific experieces, may be turned off by Prototype 2. Me? I'm hoping for another sequel, but the prospect doesn't look good considering the developer no longer exists as a studio. That's a shame, because Prototype 2 deserves:
4.6 MESSY PILES OF BLOODY HUMAN ORGANS OUT OF 5!