Prototype 2 Hands-on

By on February 16, 2012

Does everything better than the first, one helicopter-punch at a time.

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Upon hearing that I would be having a go at Prototype 2, I had a sit down and tried to remember the redeeming features of the first Prototype game, but the problem that I seemed to come across is the fact that it is was so specifically un-memorable. While I had a vague idea about the plot of the first game, and a murky image in my mind’s eye of what the game looked like; it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to remember something about the first Prototype that made me think it was a particularly interesting game. Of course, what I’ve come to realise is that Prototype was a good game that set up a blue print for what could turn into a great game series, with the possibility of Prototype 2 being the first of great games in said series.

“But what’s different about Prototype 2?” I hear you ask in that oh so high pitch voice of yours. Well, little girl. Let me show you. With my words.

Sitting down in front of a rather large TV screen with nothing but an Xbox 360 controller and a note pad – adorned by some hastily scribbled interview questions and a crudely inked badger – can make even the most green of video game journalists imagine themselves as some of intrepid high priest sent around the world to sample the arts of diligent and wondrous video game designers before the lowly cretinous under beings (aka normal people) are allowed to get their grubby hands on the game.

With that being said, this sapling of a game reviewer was brought back down to earth very quickly after dying in the game within about 20 seconds thanks to a creature, I dearly nicknamed Big Sally, chasing my character down a very narrow, and rather cluttered street. Well the end of that story is that Big Sally ran me over. To say that this is a bit of a metaphor for Prototype 2’s outlook on life is a bit of an understatement. This is an exact metaphor. Prototype 2 sees you take control of Sergeant James Heller; a man without any fear of death. An empty shell of a man who has lost all hope, with the only thing that keeps him going being his unrelenting hatred of Alex Mercer, who he blames for the death of his wife and child.

Reasonably light story fodder then, ey?

Being run over by a giant monster aside, the beginning of Prototype 2 sees Mercer and Heller come face to face within a matter of minutes. At first I thought this was going to be the shortest game ever but, Heller – still being a human at the beginning of the game – can hardly get within reaching distance of Mercer before he is out of his league. The conversation that plays out basically sees Mercer infect Heller and then convince him to help sort shit out around NYZ. Whether you end up actually killing Mercer, seeing as you are now basically doing is his dirty work, is another question and not one that I can answer seeing as I didn’t get that far through the game. Of course I’ll say that you definitely get to fight him at some point. There is no way the developers went through all this trouble just have Mercer and Heller settle their differences, move to LA and adopt small orphaned children, although, if they did they would totally be called Jamex by the paparazzi.

While I can’t say a lot about the storyline, due to the short amount of time I spent actually doing missions, I do think people will able to relate a hell of a lot more to Heller’s plight, especially as his core motives in the game are all emotional ones. Then again anybody would be easier to relate to than the cardboard box that was Mercer.

So as the storyline seems somewhat more mature and less vague, other aspects of the Prototype world have grown up and put their big boy pants on to; one place where this is evident is in the aesthetics, both in the cinematic cuts and in game. The cut scenes look like samples from a rather grim and dreary comic book series – think Sin City with its damp greyness and splashes of vibrant colour -, and seem to give the game a sort of sad beauty. While much of the time I like to remain quite cynical and displeased with video games that try to make me feel ‘feelings’ with their ‘real world’ aesthetics, i have to say Prototype 2 has done well. It’s not so bombastic and in your face that you want to gouge your eyes out, but it’s also subtle enough for you to actually sit through the cut scenes as they add an extra texture to a game that makes Japanese gore movies seem relatively boring.

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