Are you after a game where your brain can go on holiday? One that isnâ€™t particularly original, has its fair share of flaws, but also makes you feel like a superhero? Then welcome to Prototype 2, the gaming equivalent of a late-80s Schwarzenegger flick.
The virus that plagued New York City in the original Prototype has returned. More importantly to new protagonist Heller, his wife and child were murdered, and heâ€™s out for revenge in a city thatâ€™s in full lockdown. Shortly after entering, heâ€™s infected with the virus himself, gaining an impressive swath of superhuman abilities in the process.
What follows is a veritable slaughter: as Heller, your general approach to exposing cover-ups and crooked scientists is to hack apart and consume everyone in your path. Thereâ€™s no subtlety here: you can tell the main character is angry because he says as much, and because he swears a lot.
The supporting cast of characters are even less interesting, whether itâ€™s a friendly priest who doesnâ€™t seem to mind you killing a ton of people, to a succession of soldiers and scientists whose memories are forced on you, inevitably posthumously. Regardless of who they are, you definitely wonâ€™t be able to remember their names five seconds after theyâ€™ve shuffled off.
Of course, they play second fiddle to the main mystery, which involves Mercer â€” he of the original game â€” keeping an oddly close eye on your activities. Is he a friend? A lying foe? Will you still care by the time questions are answered? Probably not.
You wonâ€™t care much about the plot, then. What you will care about are the powers at your disposal. Full credit to the developers: leaping and gliding from rooftop to rooftop is seriously fun. If gaming is about feeling empowered, then Prototype 2 has got it down. Itâ€™s reminiscent of the first Crackdown, and just as fun. I highly recommend maxing out your movement abilities as soon as possible, because then you can leap really, really high into the air.
Itâ€™s lucky the simple task of getting from A to B is so entertaining, because repetition sinks in quickly. Nearly all your missions degenerate into the same old pattern: sneak into this base, kill that guy, fight this new monster, get to that new location. Thereâ€™s a fully fleshed-out skill tree to unlock, and a healthy number of collectables scattered across the city, but it doesnâ€™t disguise the fact that youâ€™re repeating your actions for much of the game. Youâ€™ll fight bigger and bigger threats, gain access to cool new means of dismemberment, and unlock access to different parts of the city, but thereâ€™s little variety to be had.
The combat system largely holds up, at least â€” which is lucky, considering how much itâ€™s used. Slashing and tearing at enemies is well done, and the number of moves at your disposal grows impressively. If youâ€™re into your third-person combat engines, you should find this one satisfyingly solid.
Most of your time is either spent looking at vistas of New York or having gore cover half the screen â€” either way, itâ€™s nicely rendered. Maybe not the prettiest game on the current crop of consoles, but itâ€™s definitely proficient. The pavement cracking as you fall 30 stories to the ground is a nice touch. The voice actors, meanwhile, perform their cliched lines in an appropriately over-the-top kind of way, and the audio in general services the rest of the game well.
Thereâ€™s not much else to say about Prototype 2. Itâ€™s big, dumb fun, presented in a package that might be derivative, but at least has a lot of polish. The story is forgettable, and the jumping is entertaining; if thatâ€™s enough to pique your interest, give this one a rent.