Does Prototype 2 Have a Chance in Hell?
Prototype had its fair share of problems, though the biggest one had nothing to do with the game itself. It was released a mere two weeks after another open-world superhero game, one that you've probably been hearing a lot more about for the last year: Infamous.
Yes, Prototype was most definitely a victim of the release date blues, much like this year's Medal of Honor, sandwiched between Halo: Reach and CoD: Black Ops, and the Dreamcast, released in the US little more than a year before the PS2. But unlike Medal of Honor and the Dreamcast, whose contemporaries were arguably superior, Prototype was by some accounts even better than Infamous.
Prototype was a solid game. At its best - its most chaotic, its most empowering - it was a great game. It's not high art, and it was never intended to make you think. It was silly, campy and ridiculous, but it was fun. It didn't deserve to get overlooked. Thankfully, the series is getting another chance, and Prototype 2 is set to be released sometime in 2012. But it's going to have to get a few things right if there's ever going to be a third one.
Of course, Prototype 2 won't be suffering from a post-Infamous release date this time around; Infamous 2 comes out some time in 2011, well before Prototype 2's release. It may even benefit from the success (or failure) of the Infamous sequel, with just enough breathing room between the two for fans of open-world games to regain their appetites.
And a 2012 release date leaves plenty of time for Radical Entertainment, Prototype's Vancouver-based developer, to run the hype-train into the ground, if they know what's good for them. The first Prototype's summer release left it in a strange position; instead of being a big fish in a small pond, as Radical no doubt intended it to be, it became a medium-sized fish in a somewhat stagnant pond in which another medium-sized fish had already staked its claim.
As over-saturated as the fall gaming market is nowadays, I think a fall release would suit Prototype 2 much better. With all this development time, why not let it compete with the big boys?
Of course, the gaming landscape in 2012 could be different in a number of ways - 3D or motion control may have really caught on by then, for example, and given its multi-platform format, Prototype 2 likely won't include either of those. It probably won't have multiplayer, either, unless the folks at Radical have got a surprise or two up their sleeves.
Then again, I'd like to think that there will always be a market for good old-fashioned single player games, played on a normal TV, with a real controller. Maybe I'm just being naive.
Will a better release date and a more pushy marketing campaign really do the trick for Prototype 2? Of course, that's assuming all the other improvements that come with any sequel will be carried out with equal competence. The game will need a graphical overhaul - that's a given. It could also use another coat of polish over the original, which, while fun, was sloppy in places. They'll need to tighten up the gameplay and make everything bigger and better.
In fact, a whole new engine would be nice, though that may not be in the cards. Still, with three years in between the first and the second, Radical should have more than enough time to make Prototype 2 everything it should be.
Add to that a lengthy hype campaign and a strategic release date, and we may have a hit on our hands. Let's hope they can pull it off.