Prototype 2 isn’t going to win you over with its narrative. The Intriguing plot of the original gives way to a simple and forgettable tale of revenge and conspiracy here. However, this simplicity is also Prototype 2’s greatest strength, and how it emanates through its sandbox style and gory, intricate yet intuitive combat puts it top of its class for mindless fun.
After Alex Mercer saved New York back in the original title, Prototype 2 has you play as James Heller, a former Blackwatch soldier who lost his wife in the new virus outbreak that ex-protagonist Alex Mercer has unleashed. Having been infected by Mercer, Heller begins to mutate, gaining variations of Mercer’s abilities.
Mercer’s exact intensions are sketchy to say the least, with a large chunk of the narrative having been told through a digital comic that not all players will be familiar with and receives no mention of here. But it soon becomes apparent that the storyline is the least important aspect of the experience, and Hellers quest for revenge against all who have wronged him acts as enough driving force to pull you through the tale.
Fortunately some above average voice acting helps keep you engaged but it’s the script that steals the show, although not necessarily for the right reasons. It’s equal part cringe-worthy and brilliant. It’s over dramatic and clichéd but the odd utterly hilarious line redeems it completely. It’s a shame really that it tries so hard to maintain a serious tone when a Saints Row 3 approach would suit it so much better. It certainly keeps you entertained and looking forward to the next plot point, however Prototype 2’s main focus is with the combat.
Combat is intricate and varied as well as a joy to let loose with. Tearing through humans is child’s play and even the mutants don’t pose much of a threat. Instead you’ll often find yourself ambushed and out gunned, which just gives you more targets and options in dispatching them with.
To begin with you attacks are limited to melee but you soon gain some more interesting moves. Slicing things apart with your claws is a sight that never gets old and is likely to become your go-to attack but as you mutate further and absorb the DNA of other people and mutants, your abilities evolve. The options available to you soon become quite vast and complex, however using them remains simple. You can select which two attacks to have active at a time through a sub menu then you can let rip to your heart’s content. And thanks to a significantly reduced difficulty to the original game, no matter what attacks you’re using you’ll find little can stand toe to toe.
However, your varied move-set may offer some impressive visual results but they are never really utilised to their full potential. You won’t find yourself in a fight that requires any creativity with how you approach it, and as such combat can become very repetitive and mindless.
The missions from both the main storyline and side quests also suffer from repetition and a lack of cerebral engagement. Many ask you to use stealth through the use of your unique absorb ability to turn yourself into a copy of certain people and steal their identity, but if things get noisy then brute force will still get the job done with ease, and often quicker too. It all tends to lead back to combat scenarios, so at least the repetition still remains fun.
Actually getting to mission locations is a joy. Traversing New York is easy and hugely enjoyable, as you dash up buildings and leap tremendous heights with no effort before gliding through the sky. The open city is your playground for you to enjoy, and as you unlock the abilities to hijack tanks and helicopters, getting around and engaging people, armour and creatures in combat become even more enjoyable.
Indeed, Prototype 2 is a simple idea with excellent mechanics but a weak and ineffectual plot. It falls short of realising its full potential but it does successfully tap into what makes it fun: the mindless spectacle of the combat and traversing an open city.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PS3 /Xbox 360 Release Date: 24/03/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a phtsical copy of Prototype 2 by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of two week on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.