Just Like All Diseases, It Starts With a Little Man-on-Man.
I have a vague recollection of playing the first game in this series, but I’m pretty sure I got really bored halfway through and stopped playing. I remember not being particularly impressed with the story and, more often than not, frustrated by the controls, so I just decided it wasn’t worth it. When they made a sequel to that game, I noted its existence but never felt any more interested in playing it than that. When my coworker Captain Hookah told me that he had the game if I wanted to borrow it, I still didn’t really care to play it. But I figured, if nothing else, I’d get a review out of it. And I did! And here it is! This is my review for Prototype 2, developed by Radical Entertainment, designed by Matt Armstrong, published by Activision, and starring the voices of Cornell Womack, Darryl Kurylo, Lindsay Ames, Tara Lynne Barr, Ivan Basso, Melissa Disney, and Daniel Reardon.
After the events of the first Prototype game, James Heller (Cornell Womack) has lost his wife and daughter to a virus released by the main character of the first game, Alex Mercer (Darryl Kurylo). Heller sets out with the military force called Blackwatch to try to kill Mercer, but instead gets infected by Mercer and starts becoming more like him, able to shapeshift his body to turn his arms into weapons, or even change his entire appearance into another person. With this new ability and the help of a few people around town, Heller moves between the three infected zones in town, fighting other infected and military people as he tries to get closer to Alex Mercer.
Well, it’s apparently too late to review this game. According to Wikipedia, Radical Entertainment went under as a result of the disappointing sales of this game. If I had to hazard a guess as to why, it would probably be because this game isn’t that good. It’s not bad, but you had better be offering me a lot if you expect me to shell out $60 bucks for your game, and this game just doesn’t bring it. The story is nothing special. I did appreciate that they give you a video recap of what happened in Prototype, but it felt somewhat unnecessary. I figured it out from what they mentioned in the course of this game, and it’s not like the story of the first game was that complicated. It was roughly the same thing except I wasn’t Alex Mercer this time, I was a black guy trying to kill him. It started differently, and in a little more realistic fashion. I mean, we all know that all major diseases start with a little guy on guy action, right? Well that’s how Heller gets it, with Mercer fisting him … in the stomach. After that, the story never really feels like it’s very much more than just running back and forth between checkpoints, eating someone to take their form, and then killing everyone on the way out. The actual story itself has very little by way of surprises, and most of the dialogue is just bad. It’s mostly just Heller finding different ways to say, “I’m going to kill you,” without bothering with cleverness and wit. I also don’t know why they felt the need to change the main character on us. They control basically the same, and I liked Mercer’s look way better. Heller just looks like Jax from Mortal Kombat. Also, I’m a racist, so I just want to play the white guy. In truth, they didn’t really make Heller out to be the smartest kind of person. He mainly just comes off like a big, dumb goon that smashes things. There’s an entire part in the game where he has no idea how to work a computer. But that’s fine if all he wants to do is smash things and not talk about it. How well did he smash things?
Heller smashed things fairly well. You have a decent variety of ways to smash things. His arms can turn into claws, fists, a sword, a whip, or tendrils. He can also use a variety of guns. The problem with all of this is that it gets a little repetitive fairly quickly. Once you get the whip, any smaller enemies around you are defeated in one hit. Once you get finishers, all vehicles are destroyed in two buttons. Much as with other games, I liked the free running aspects of this game. I don’t know what it is about free running in open worlds that does it for me, but it does. The problem with this game is that any semblance of precision is right out the window, and only gets worse as your speed and movement evolves through the game. This only really became an issue when you had to do the missions where you had to come at least close to little crates (but let’s just call them checkpoints because this was only a thinly veiled race mission). I would typically jump too high or my dash would lead into a glide that would make me sail right over the area I was aiming at, but it wasn’t that much of an issue. Something that did get on my nerves was how they would change the powers I had selected each time one of them evolved. I would typically roll around with claws and whip as my powers as I didn’t find the other ones that useful, but every time one of them would level up, the game would automatically change to it, fucking up my whole power scheme right before I had to fight someone. I assume you want me to experiment, game, but don’t force it on me. The tutorials in the game also wore on my nerves. It made me think the developers had very little faith in their gamers. They would not only tell you what move you just learned or are about to need, but they force you to use it and slow down the pace of the game so you can get it through your head. Then it might come up a few dozen more times as they think you need to be reminded of the things you’ve been using regularly.
There’s not much to say about the look of the game. It looks good. I found no problems with the look. One thing I liked even more than the usual was the cinematic scenes. They were stupidly-written as was everything else, but I enjoyed the look of the black and white scenes with only the red having color. It was like you were watching Schindler’s List and you were about to kill that little bitch that was running around, bragging about how she has a super sweet red coat and everyone else is naked. Or maybe I was reading something into the movie that wasn’t there…
The achievements in the game are pretty friendly. I was able to get 100% on the game within a week’s time. All that you need to do is basically beat the game once, getting all the collectables and side missions, then play the game again via New Game + so that you retain your abilities so that you can finish leveling up, not to mention making the Hard playthrough a piece of cake. They’re mostly pretty fun to get as well, as long as the game’s repetitiveness hasn’t gotten to you yet. After that, it’s mostly just killing things until an achievement dings.
Prototype 2 is a decent enough game, but it certainly doesn’t prove itself worthy of $60. The story is entirely simplistic and the gameplay – though enjoyable – can get repetitive and tended to cause me to play for not much more than an hour at a time. The best part of the game is the look and the achievements. Nothing negative to be said about the look, and you can get 100% on achievements in less than a week. It’s worth a play if you can find it in the $20 range. Prototype 2 gets “Fun, but a little repetitive” out of “Fun, but a little repetitive.”
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