I think I must have really liked Prototype 2
. A lot. There are currently only two games with which I have unlocked all achievements; Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which stands as one of my favourite games of all time, and Prototype 2. Is it also one of my favourite games of all time? I'm not too sure. Most of the time, one can only come to such a realisation with considerable hindsight. For me, Prototype 2 was a week of pure mayhem and devotion, a game which attained a considerable achievement as one of the few games I started over as soon as finishing it a first time, and will continue with several more hours sunk into the Radnet bonus feature, a mode which allows participation in some mini-games and challenges, with competition against your friends scores. It is a game which has made me double back and consider how much I loved inFamous 2, and whilst that game attained much acclaim from me, I feel perhaps Prototype 2 struck more of a personal chord.
Now yes, there will be comparisons to inFamous 2. They're just about similar enough for such comparisons to be inevitable. However, the more obvious comparison is the original Prototype. Therefore, I feel the easiest way to describe my love of this game is to break it down into sections.
The improvements that needed to be made have now been made. Heller is a much more effective killing machine in your hands than Mercer ever was, thanks to a refined combat system that really helps you feel in control, the improved power system, which allows you to wield two powers at the same time, allowing for a more diverse and free flowing combat environment, and the same movement controls which have been lightly tuned to enhance the satisfaction of cruising the skies of NYC/NYZ. Fighting Brawlers (the big pink dudes) is much more satisfying with these refinements. A combination of whipfist and blade powers, calling in back up in the shape of a squad of Brawlers and the improved defensive manoeuvres in the shape of Block (where Heller morphs his arms into shields, allowing him to block incoming attacks, and even counter them when done right) and dodge (where Heller can leap over an attack and hack away at an opponents exposed back) mean more control, more satisfaction and a much better experience than the slightly more kack-handed approach brought to you in Prototype. Not to mention, a seven way fight with APC's, helicopters, Brawlers, Juggernauts (big infected dudes who pretty much hammer you to death given the chance) and Gentek's super soldiers is just something spectacular to behold. And when you're the last man standing, you'll have a bigger smile on your face than you might muster during inFamous 2's decent but less visually impressive combat scenarios. Prototype 2 is better at providing you a superhuman to control. You feel incredibly powerful, but that isn't to say the game is a cake walk.
Missions seem more varied this time round, as do locales. You'll zip about areas other than Manhatten/The Red Zone this time round, infiltrating bases, chasing military personnel, and of course, putting a stop to Mercer's plans by hunting and consuming the various lieutenants he has posted throughout Gentek and Blackwatch. New powers allow new and interesting ways to do this. One amusing one is the Bio-Bomb, where Heller infects his victim with an explosive strain of the virus, which when detonated, distracts guards from watching you as you get up to no good scuppering their evil schemes. Vehicle sections work quite well, and there was even a mission where you infiltrate a Blackwatch patrol, posing as a simple soldier, having to take down all kinds of infected nasties whilst staying undercover. Changes in location and a slightly better mix of mission types help keep the game fresh until the end, speaking of which, works quite well. Add to that the Blackwatch Dossier; a bunch of side missions which helps unlock additional mutations, and Radnet, the previously mentioned bonus mini-game mode which allows special unlocks and bragging rights, and Prototype 2 ends up being quite the package.
I make Cole McGrath look neat and tidy mo’focka Sight and Sound
Sound is a tricky one to comment on. Whilst Prototype 2 does have a half decent score, there were few moments which audibly wowed me. This is supposed to be a city gone almost literally to hell, with tanks blasting, explosions and roars from twenty storey tall behemoths, yet the sound does take a back seat in the experience. Visually however, the world of Prototype 2 is much upgraded from Prototype 1. The world seems alive, with civilians walking around in face masks going about their business, before panicking and running from the horrors that suddenly emerge (including Heller himself). Buildings are more detailed and actually seem like buildings as opposed to textured cuboids sticking into the sky, and I'm fairly sure that time has allowed refinements here and there, simply adding up to a better looking game. Just a shame about the lacklustre sound.
In two words; surprisingly good. Prototype 1 always seemed a little muddled and weirdly paced, but Prototype 2 does a better job of keeping you in the loop. Unfortunately, you do have to read the Dark Horse comic tie-in "The Anchor" to be understand what's going on, but that aside, Heller makes a compelling hero, Mercer a great villain, and the supporting cast are not too bade either.
At first glance, Heller is a big sweary maniac on a nasty bloody quest for revenge. However, once you start playing proper, he becomes a bit more than that. Yes, his primary motive throughout the game is revenge, and later, the recovery of his daughter, who despite previous insinuations, is alive and well in custody, and used as leverage against Heller. Heller jokes in a dark manner, has some absolutely brilliant lines, and pretty much tells it how it is. His exchange with Mercer before the final battle really shows his anger and what has driven him to this point, as he yells and spits "WHERE'S MAYA" and after allowing Mercer to speak, yells back "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR FUCKING WEIRD...FUCKING RAMBLING SHIIIT! GIVE ME MY DAUGHTER!" Yes, he may be something of an anti-hero, but when you consider his targets; a group of scientists with no regard for human life who see New York as their giant Petri dish, a group of mercenaries who actively enjoy terrorising and killing innocent people in the line of duty, and Mercer's Evolved, the spies within the two former camps whose ultimate aim is to eradicate mankind and rebuild it in Mercer's image, it's hard to not be totally on Heller's side. Heller actively shows concern for the wellbeing of innocent people, jumping in to save them from "tests" where infected creatures are unleashed in inhabited areas. He even spares the Blackwatch commander Rooks, who throughout the game has tried to command a more morally thorough tour, and whom Heller spares at an opportune moment when he discovers Rooks on the phone to his own daughter, not only humanising Rooks, but Heller for sparing him. He really is a man with nothing to lose, until he discovers his daughter has survived, which only intensifies his motives.
Alex Mercer, on the other hand, seems to have done a 180 on his motives from the first game. Originally, he sought revenge on those who had sought to create this bio weapon, and to stop them in their tracks, going so far as to sacrifice himself by diverting the nuke at the end of Prototype. "The Anchor" however, explains this u-turn, as Mercer travelled the world looking for a reason and a way to reclaim his humanity, but instead finding selfishness, violence and evil, which leads him down a road to purify mankind by eliminating their greed and lust for violence by putting everyone on the same page; his page. No more disease, no more violence. He can be compared to The Beast from inFamous 2, who seeks to eliminate mankind and activate the conduits like Cole McGrath, so that the world can continue and be what he considers a better place. However, Mercer is much more devious and sneaky, and rightfully earns his title of Antagonist. Whilst I loved his character design in Prototype, his personality and actions always seemed to lead him more towards a villainous conclusion, which I'm glad to see has been fully realised. Whilst Prototype 1 was good, by the end of Prototype 2, I was glad Mercer got slashed up, dismembered, and eaten.
Better evil and dead than alive and playable. Who’d a thunk it?
Does this mean no Prototype 3? I hope not. I could write Mercer back in right now. How about, because he’s the originator of the Mercer virus, he escapes Heller’s digestive tract or wherever he’s kept and manifests himself in a host whom is seemingly “purified” by Heller’s massive tendril attack during the end cut-scene. You could even create a new protagonist, who for the third game, must ally with both Heller and Mercer, who themselves must ally also against a greater threat to themselves and mankind. The player could summon them from time to time, depending on his allegiance (might side more with Heller than Mercer, or vice-versa) and ultimately reach a conclusion where he must pick a side and either fight for Heller and mankind, or Mercer and his vision of a new world. Multiple endings; could be cool…
All in all, I think I’ll look back on Prototype 2 with much fondness. I’m giving it a 9
to match the score of inFamous 2. Whilst inFamous 2 was prettier, and exemplified a more comic book feel by the end, along with its interesting and better written plot and multiple endings, Prototype 2 delivers what I feel to be a better protagonist, a better villain, and all in all a better feel. Both games are amazing, so play both, but they do different jobs, and thus can comfortably exist together without rivalry.
Also, a short paragraph on House of the Dead 4
which has been released and no one has noticed. It’s reasonable to look at, fun on your own but better with a friend, works well with Playstation Move and is just as cheesy and badly written as ever. For £6.29 on the PSN, it’s a steal, and should provide a few nights of hilarious simple minded fun. 7
In other backlog news, I’ve started playing Forza 4 again (loving it), Split/Second again (kinda loving it) and am trying to shove myself back into LA Noire and ICO, but those two feel like a bit of a slog. Bye for now.
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