Prototype 2 - Total empowerment!

Prototype 2 is all about player empowerment. It hands you ridiculously over-the-top powers and then encourages you to go on massive killing sprees with little to no repercussions. It doesn’t judge you for wanting to kill thousands of people; instead it hands you a tank just to see how many people you can run over in thirty seconds. That’s how it rolls (pun intended). It understands that sometimes games need to forget authenticity and realism in favour of plain old fashioned (sadistic) fun.

Prototype 2 takes place a few years after Alex Mercer destroyed most of New York with his new found mutated powers. Our new protagonist, James Heller wasn’t in town when that happened but unfortunately his family was. Blinded by rage, he seeks to avenge his family but now Mercer is a mutated God who in-turn infects Heller to do his bidding. Heller welcomes these new found powers reluctantly but learns he can use them to exact his revenge and so begins a game of cat and mouse between maker and uh makee? An engaging story isn’t one of Prototype 2’s selling points so it’s all right if you haven’t played the first game. In fact the game half expects you not to and presents a quick recap which gets by just fine.

All right so New York’s in ruins, your family is dead and you’ve just received rad powers. What next? Anything your heart desires. Prototype 2 is an open world game which you’re free to explore from the get go. The game world’s been divided into three zones – Green, Yellow and Red, each of which will be unlocked by completing certain story missions. Between missions however you’re free to indulge in a bunch of side-quests that allow Heller to earn new mutations and even upgrade his existing ones. The side quests, though enjoyable are quite repetitive and in all of them you’ll either be killing scientists, killing military dudes or tracking down lost cargo before a timer runs out.

Now that I mention it, the entire game can feel kind of repetitive because you’re essentially doing the same thing in nearly every mission. However the over-powered powers you unlock keep things fresh. You can grow gigantic claws, sprout a blade-whip hybrid or convert your fists into hammers that would put Thor to shame. In the older game, you could hijack vehicles but now, you can even weaponize them which means you can rip a turret from a tank and then mow down an entire street or yank a rocket launcher from a helicopter and blow stuff up. You won’t really understand how satisfying and primal this game feels unless you actually play it yourself. Bounding up entire buildings in a single leap only to completely decimate a tank with the speed of a comet or karate kick a helicopter is something you see in cut-scenes but Prototype puts you in the driver’s seat at all times.

You’re the boogeyman everyone fears and its intoxicating in a way when you sit back and reflect on the chaos and mayhem you can cause in a matter of seconds. Of course, causing an excessive amount of destruction will grab the attention of authorities who’ll send everything they have in their power against you. Now you can chose to hold your ground and fight or you could flee from the scene and shape-shift into a law abiding citizen. 

Shape Shifting is what allows Heller to consume an individual and take his/her form. This mechanic also ties into some of the game’s stealth segments where you can enter a heavily guarded base without triggering an alarm as long as you’ve consumed and taken the shape of a local guard. Stealth sometimes is actually a welcome change of pace from the relentless action but it does feel a bit wonky. The game advises you not to behave abnormally while disguised so you don’t attract any unnecessary attention but no one bats an eyelid if you were to run up the side of a building or fly over their heads. If they really wanted to implement stealth, I personally feel it should have been strictly implemented.

But of course stealth is never forced upon you, except for maybe a handful of missions. The rest of the time you’re given complete freedom of choice while tackling both the main as well as the side quests. If you get a bit bored of slaughtering folks with your gigantic claws, you can boot up Radnet, the game’s online hub and indulge in a bunch of fun mini games. Complete a certain amount of challenges and you’ll be rewarded with extras like a behind the scenes video, a player skin or even bonus mutations that can be used in-game. While connected, Radnet also tracks the mayhem you’ve been causing so you can compare stats with friends and see who the most insensitive one really is.

Unlike most open world games, Prototype 2 is not terribly long. Stick to the campaign and you could probably run through it in around ten hours. However if you pace yourself and tackle all the extra content, the game throws at you, you’re looking at a good twenty plus hours of complete mayhem. The wanton mayhem unfortunately takes a toll on the game’s frame rate that constantly dips during some of the more intense segments. The game itself is not great looking and some of Hellar’s animations feel quite stiff and outdated. It also isn’t the deepest game on the block nor is it authentic by any stretch of imagination but it is without a doubt the most amount of fun I’ve had in an open world game all year. A must buy for action gamers.

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