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Review: Prototype 2 Has Redeemed the Sins of its Predecessor

I’ll be blunt with you.  I did not like the original Prototype.  I’m not sure if it was a mix of things going on at that time in my life or what, but when I played the original I didn’t even enjoy it enough to finish the campaign.  With that being said you can imagine my state of mind going into the sequel – Prototype 2.  I had low expectations from the day it was first announced until the day I put it into my Xbox 360, but within 15 minutes of booting it up I quickly realized that Prototype 2 wasn’t going to be the same boring experience as the original.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I played it straight through until completion pushing my Witcher 2 experience to the side, which is something I can’t say for most new games that I get.  In the end I couldn’t have been more wrong about Prototype 2, and I’m extremely satisfied with the experience.  So much so that I’m considering finishing up my campaign on the original, which has sat stale since 2009.  Please feel free to continue on with the in-depth review of the pros and cons of Prototype 2 to see if this is a game you should spend some coin on.

 

Prototype 2

EB 9 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome: Tight gameplay, More coherent story, Feelings of raw ultimate power

The Not so Awesome: Low sound profile, Horrid targeting mechanic, Length and difficulty

 

The Awesome

Tight gameplay

One thing I do remember about the first Prototype is that its overall gameplay didn’t quite feel polished enough.  Something was missing when I compared it to inFamous, which came out just before the original, and probably the reason why I didn’t take to P1.  I can say with full confidence that this is not the case in Prototype 2.  The improved gameplay is noticeable in almost every aspect of the game.  The camera was much tighter and presented a more traditional 3rd person feel, and never once did I feel like I had to fight it.  On top of that the visuals had more pizazz than the first game in the series as well.

More importantly than the improved camera and visuals is the fact that the game’s controls felt much more fluid.  Outside of targeting enemies, I found traversing NYZ to be a breeze with the refined controls of P2.  I could run, jump, and glide all the way across one of the city’s islands with a few simple button presses.  This made the illusion of being a super powered freak much more vivid and real than the first experience I had with the Prototype franchise.  I felt how I did when I played the original inFamous, which is a similar game in that it features a regular dude who happens to get turned into a superhero/villain complete with awe-inspiring special powers.

The tight controls make Prototype 2 a much more enjoyable experience

Prototype 2 is definitely not as punishing as the first, which could be a bonus, or a negative depending on what type of gamer you are, but overall the easier difficulty does make you feel even more like the ultimate bada*s.  Outside of a few gliding and retrieval missions, I found Prototype 2, even on Hard, to be a breeze, but that’s not a bad thing when you’re trying to transport yourself to a fictional world that is supposed to make you feel even more invincible than Superman.

The same can be said for the Events and Challenges, which in this game don’t have to be mastered to earn the full 1000G that Prototype 2 has to offer.  On top of this the Events and Challenges definitely provide for some competition amongst your friends, because anytime they or you take down a record, a message quickly displays on the screen letting you know that you’ve been bested.  It definitely provided the same feel as the recent SSX with its innovative leader board system.

More coherent story

A few of my gaming buddies have contested that the story of Prototype 2 isn’t as good as the original, but I must disagree with them.  I’m not claiming that Prototype 2’s story is in the same league as a Heavy Rain, or a Halo, but I found it to be much more coherent.  The first game told the story in bits and pieces in a scattered fashion.  At least in P2 I could follow the trials and tribulations of James Heller from start to finish.  That is what I appreciated about the story in this game.  I wasn’t left sitting there for hours on end thinking to myself, “What the f*ck is going on in this game anyway, and why should I care about it?”

Heller is a likable F-bomb dropping type of guy

I actually liked Heller and his potty mouth.  It was nice to play as a non-traditional lead character even if he really only knows how to kill and say the F-word with perfection.  I understood why he was doing what he was doing, which is something I can’t say about Alex in the first game.  This again is another reason why I’m considering playing the original to completion.  Maybe I was having my man period or something while playing it, but I absolutely did not get sucked in by its story like I did with Prototype 2.

Feelings of raw ultimate power

Let’s be honest.  The most awesome part of Prototype 2 is the fact that your abilities are absolutely insanely powerful and gnarly.  With each new power that Heller learns he grows ever more indestructible.  By the end of the game you can literally jump city blocks and take tanks out with a single hit.  One friend compared it to playing the HULK game from many console generations ago, and considering how HULK takes care of business I can’t disagree with him.  Heller really is the HULK, but instead of being a mindless pile of muscle he’s a transforming weapon of ultimate destruction.  The thrill of taking out 20-40 enemies at once with a single move is something that never got old for me, and at times I’d find myself just strolling around the red zone to see how many different ways I could take out masses of mindless zombies and mutants.

Heller could give Wolverine a run for his money

You get 5 assignable powers that each has their own unique benefit.  The claw allows you to pounce on unsuspecting enemies as if you channeled Wolverine himself.  The tendrils allow you to turn the environment into a weapon by attaching themselves to an enemy and every movable object in the vicinity to create a rubber band effect that crushes anyone in its path.  The arm blade turns your appendage into a massive sword that you can in turn spin around making you a top of death.  The hammerfists turn your hands into over sized paws that look like you have elephantitis, which in turn can be smashed into the ground resulting in a circle full of death spikes that will destroy anything in your blast radius.  Finally, there’s the whipfist which allows you to turn your arm into a chain link whip that just so happens to have a blade on it.  This essentially gives you the same ability as the Bionic Commando allowing you to latch on to helicopters and pull yourself up to them for a finisher.

The whip fist gets the job done right

 

I really can’t stress how powerful Heller feels in this game.  His combination of the above weapons, and his HULK-like agility make you as the gamer feel like you too are a superhero/villain.  You can literally wipe out a room full of enemies in seconds flat with a bloody symphony of guts and body parts!  It’s a beautiful thing I tell you.

 

The Not so Awesome

Low sound profile

I’m a huge believer in superb sound design within the video games I play.  Hence the reason why I own a 7.1 channel surround sound system in my man cave.  Prototype 2 has solid sound design, and it definitely makes use of my surround sound, but for some reason I had to turn my receiver’s dial up to a decibel level that I usually don’t approach out of fear of blowing out my ear drums.  This was done just so I could hear it at the same level as my other games.  This isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but I did find myself switching inputs on my receiver without turning the volume back to a normal level only to be greeted by an extremely loud sound profile on said input.

Horrid targeting mechanic

It’s a good thing that Heller has some massive areas of effect for most of his powers, because the dude can’t single out a specific target to save his life.  Prototype 2 relies on the tried and true targeting method of most 3rd person games, but for some reason it’s almost impossible to lock on to the exact target you want.  I constantly found myself fighting with the targeting system to lock onto the enemy that I intended to attack, and it got frustrating especially when I had specific targets that I wanted to consume for their powers.  Like I said you don’t exactly need precise targeting with Heller’s power set, but it would have been nice to not have to fight with the camera every time I wanted to lock on to a precise location.

Targeting a single enemy in a group can be a challenge in Prototype 2

Length and difficulty

This not so awesome feature of Prototype 2 really depends on what type of gamer you are.  Some gamers may have no qualms with a game’s campaign being no longer than 10-20 hours, as well as with a game’s easy difficulties.  I for one appreciate games that are easy even on their hard difficulty setting, but at the same time this sometimes leads to a quick play through.  If I didn’t tirelessly hunt down every collectible, and go for every achievement, I really think I could have beat this game in under 10 hours flat.  At the same time I enjoyed its brevity because I had just come out of playing monster sized games like Mass Effect 3, and The Witcher 2, so it was nice to be able to beat a game within a couple days.  Although, if you’re a gamer that likes to get the most bang for your buck I’m not sure if Prototype 2’s content will keep you coming back day after day to earn its $6o price tag.

Enemies don’t really challenge you even on Hard mode

 

The Final Verdict

I don’t like admitting that I’m wrong, but when I am I’ll let everyone know.  I was definitely wrong in saying that Prototype 2 wouldn’t be able to hold a stick up to inFamous 2.  Sony’s exclusive was a solid experience, but I definitely had more fun with Prototype 2.  Everything about its gameplay has gotten better since the first, and I looked forward to playing it everyday whilst embarking on my first run through.  I felt like the story was more clear and not as muddled, and I actually liked Heller as a non-traditional lead video game character.  His powers imparted a feeling of invincibility to me that in turn made me feel like a superhero/villain myself.

Outside of some weird sound issues and an unreliable targeting system I didn’t find many faults with Prototype 2.  For this I give it an EB 9 out of 10 Buddhas.  It’s well worth the price of admission even if you can beat it in 10-20 hours depending on what type of gamer you are.  It was so entertaining that it will probably lead me to replaying the first game to see if I was just being a moody mother f*cker, or if it really did kind of suck.  I’m glad that I didn’t let my past experiences with this franchise prevent me from giving it another chance, because Prototype 2 definitely has potential for being in my top 10 games of 2012 list.  You’ve been thinking that you should also give this franchise another shot if you haven’t already done so…

Prototype 2 “The Red Zone”

 

 

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Tags : ImpressionsOpenWorldPrototype 2
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.