New York City lays sprawled below me as I glide through the air in a descending arc. An air dash restores my momentum, extending my flight and allowing me to reach the skyscraper in the distance. I land on the side of the skyscraper, and smoothly transition into a vertical run, defying Sir Isaac Newton and his thoughts and discoveries on gravity with my actions. As I reach the top of the building, I somersault off, and begin a new glide. I send out a radar ping, and find an object of interest in a nearby clearing. I continue to jump and glide until I find the object of interest below me, at which point I dive down and shred the poor man to bits with my giant viral claws.
Did I mention that I did all of that while in the form of a little old lady, bent with age?
Welcome to Prototype 2.
I won’t bother you with the details of the plot or story in Prototype 2, because Prototype 2 doesn’t even bother you with the details of plot or story in Prototype 2. It’s one year after the events of the first Prototype. You’re Sgt. James Heller, father to a murdered daughter, husband to a murdered wife, and you place the blame on Alex Mercer’s shoulders. For about five minutes. Then, you get infected by Mercer, turned into a super bad-ass, learn that GenTek and Blackwatch are the true villains, and run around having your way with New York City. You didn’t watch The Expendables for the gripping romantic subplot, and you’re not going to play Prototype 2 for the tragic tale of loss and revenge. You watched The Expendables because they blew shit up, and you’ll play Prototype 2 to blow shit up.
Prototype 2 seems to draw from many inspirations. During my time with the game, I experienced moments that reminded me of playing Spider-Man 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, inFamous, Grand Theft Auto, and more.
Spider-Man 2 has earned my eternal appreciation for how beautifully it allowed Spider-Man to simply BE Spider-Man. Web-slinging your way through New York was fluid and exhilarating. Prototype 2, while it doesn’t offer web-slinging, offers the same feeling of fluidity of motion through the buildings and streets of New York. Running up the side of buildings feels just as wonderful, while the gliding and air dashing make for a good alternative to Spider-Man 2’s web-slinging mechanics. There are many ways to get around New York Zero in Prototype 2, and all of them are fun.
inFamous is, honestly, one of my favorite PS3 games. The game is split up into three separate open areas, all a part of the same city, with collectibles and upgrades strewn across them all. Whether you’re searching for a dead drop, or restoring electricity to an area and earning a power upgrade as a bonus, inFamous did a great job of slowly building up the power set of your character and of providing you with a great game of collectible hide and seek. Prototype 2 does it better, for a few reasons. With character progression, Prototype 2 gives you basic level stats, mutation choices, and new powers. As you develop each of these, you feel the dynamic of the game shifting. You FEEL Heller becoming more powerful. Combat choices become more varied, and your creative use of powers can make for some spectacular scenes of violence. With collectibles, Prototype 2 offers a wonderful map mechanic that lets you look at the map with only collectibles found, and radar points for collectibles remaining, giving you a bit of direction in your search.
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X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while an AWFUL Wolverine story, was a PHENOMENAL Wolverine game. The healing factor, the claws, the enhanced senses…it was beautiful. The first power you get your…hands on…in Prototype 2 is the ability to turn your hands into giant claws. Oh, those claws are fun. That’s all I really had to say about the comparison to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Heller makes a good Wolverine.
Grand Theft Auto was the first game I remember where carnage for the sake of carnage was encouraged and rewarded. I recall playing Grand Theft Auto 2, back in the day. I’d camp a single major intersection, start carjacking unfortunate motorists, and park their cars in the middle of the intersection, always bumper to bumper. I’d continue to do this until I was able to fill the intersection, and parts of each street leading into it. By this time, I’d at LEAST be up to SWAT level of law enforcement, if not Secret Agents…which is when I’d throw a handful of molotovs from a nearby rooftop and watch the beautiful cascade of destruction as the entire intersection was engulfed in flame and explosion. A quick drive through the auto shop for a new coat of paint, and all was forgiven. I’ve found myself doing much the same thing in Prototype 2. Not the carjacking bit, but picking massive fights, causing untold destruction, and shifting to another form to clear the heat.
Now, the Radnet edition of Prototype 2 offers bonus events and challenges in the game that add to your experience in a social way. These events and challenges feature friend list leaderboards, with bonuses awarded for successfully taking, and re-taking, the top spot. Radnet content will be updated for the first seven weeks of the game’s release, and copies are supposedly limited. If you’re going to buy the game, and want the bonus content, best do it quickly.
I’ll summarize in just a moment, but let’s just say that I agree with everything in this pitch:
Going into Activision’s backstage E3 appointments last year saw me most excited for X-Men: Destiny. Well, we all know how that one turned out. Instead, the incredibly luxurious Prototype 2 appointment, complete with reclining leather home theater chairs, seems to have followed through the most on its E3 promise. Movement through New York Zero is smooth and graceful, with beautiful transitions between combat and motion. Combat is entertaining, developing in complexity and creativity as the game progresses. Content beyond the main story missions keep the game going for quite a while. All in all, Prototype 2 is a genuinely entertaining experience.
|Graceful movement and combat with great transitions|
Creative combat options that develop as you play
Great social challenges extend replay value
Karate kick a helicopter
|Story takes a back seat to the gameplay|
Missions are almost all structured very similarly