Prototype 2 Hands-On (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
When Radical Entertainment and Activision released Prototype a couple of years back, it incorporated an admirable idea. Take the mass destruction that the developer had become known for in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, add a new secondary character with unspeakable mutant like abilities, craft it around an original science fiction-laced storyline, and you’ve got success. The game brought unparalleled chaos, destruction and fun at the time, and folks have since been clamoring for a sequel. Well, in just over two months time, you’ll get one, and Prototype 2 is set to bring more of the pain — even if it’s from a different perspective.
Right from the start, the sequel introduces a new character, an Army sergeant by the name of James Heller. He’s on the squad that’s hunting down Alex Mercer, the anti-hero from the original, for personal reasons — he believes that the maniac killed his family. After the rest of his squad gets easily departed with, Heller spots Mercer and begins to chase him down, only to narrowly escape the path of a gargantuan mutant trying to ram him with a plated shield. After finally catching up with the superhuman, Mercer stops just short of killing Heller, subdues him, and does the unthinkable — injects him with a taste of his powers.
Moments later, Heller is discovered and brought to a laboratory, where the powers that be immediately put him through testing. But rather than stick with the old medical procedures, they shove him in a room with the Infected to see how he fares. Undaunted by his enemies and suddenly realizing his condition has pitted him against his old team mates, Heller makes a break from the lab, only to run into Mercer, who tries to convince him that the Blackwatch team he works for is not as they appear — and that their attempts to contain the infection of New York City are anything but. So, Heller finds himself torn, wanting to find the truth but still not entirely trusting Mercer. And so the game goes…
Like the original, your powers progress as you go throughout the game, so don’t expect to go ripping through folks in the very beginning. You’ll adapt to a number of familiar superpowers, such as being able to temporarily hover between distances, running up the sides of buildings, and absorbing critical targets so you can obtain everything they know and apply it to your situation. New to the game is a Hunting ability, where you can send out a sonar-like wave to seek your objective, with the waves telling you which direction they’re coming from. It's not a clear indication of your target, but solid enough that you know which way to go.
You’ll also be able to gain new weapons from enemies, such as huge mandible claws that would put Wolverine’s to shame, and an awesome Bio-Bomb. Using this, you can plant a glowing blob on an enemy, throw them away, and then watch as it sucks up objects all around it, smashing them together in quite the effective manner. We’ve also come to love the dive bomb, a move in which Heller slams into the ground and sends everything flying. (It’s ideal for taking out trucks filled with soldiers — just watch ‘em fly!) Other powers can be tuned up through the sub-menu, and you’re also able to use weapons, like tearing a turret off a tank and going to town on everyone. And we mean everyone. Vehicles also make a return, should you feel like coasting around in a tank and blasting everything to smithereens.
Along with the main story missions, which move your personal revenge against your family’s death along, you also have side missions that can be completed, including areas that the developer wasn’t able to show us just yet — but sound promising. You can also tackle mini-games that challenge your newfound mutant skills, such as racing from objective to objective on a pre-set map and taking part in a bowling-like game with soldiers, knocking down as many as you can in one straight shot. (Someone should definitely think about forming a league.)
Prototype 2 doesn’t look vastly different from the original, but Radical Entertainment still has the open world design down pat, and it’s gloriously fun picking up cars and hurling them at helicopters, sending them crashing back down to Earth. What’s more, the transformation effects are freaky, whether you’re stomping someone and absorbing them through your legs, or devouring them from up top. The enemies look pretty cool, especially the larger mutants who actually pose a threat to Heller. And the cinemas go the extra mile this time around, telling the story with plenty of effective flashbacks and dramatic scenarios. (You can skip them if that’s not for you, though.)
Likewise, we’re liking the dialogue so far. Some of it’s a little hard to follow without seeing the complete game (we only got to try a few stages), but it all ties together into a mysterious new storyline — one written by comic book scribe Dan Jolley. The actors sound good in their parts, and the sound effects are very good ambience for when you’re doing all sorts of damage.
Prototype 2 definitely appears to follow very closely in the footsteps of the first game, but with some added chaos, a great new story, and some interesting new mini-games. But obviously, the big draw is being able to create a whole bunch of chaos in a short amount of that. In that regard, we can’t wait till this arrives on April 24th. Be sure to check back for the Bio-Bomb-filled review.
And a big thanks to Activision for showing us the game. Now, um, where can we get one of those spiffy Mercer jackets?