Back in 2009, sandbox games were leading the charge in upcoming games, bringing with them plenty of freedom to players who just wanted to carve their own experience out of a game. It was during this time that the first Prototype was released. While not a phenomenal success, it did manage to inject some nice variation into the genre with its impressive mechanics and open playground of New York City. Four years later, Prototype 2 has hit the scene with a new story, a new protagonist and some new concepts. Can this open-world sandbox game manage to differentiate itself like the original or is it a mutated mess?
Prototype 2’s story takes place almost 14 months after the original. The game introduces players to Sergeant James Heller, a member of the US military who returns home to learn that his family has died at the hands of Alex Mercer, the main character from the first game. Heller vows to avenge the deaths of his beloved, and ends up being infected by the same virus as Mercer, giving him the same powers. From there, the plot trips and stumbles into telling a story of vengeance, betrayal and redemption. The plot twists are unimpressive and the story itself is pretty forgettable and with the beguiling structure of the game, the story soon fades into the background. In some ways, this works to the game’s credit, since the story doesn’t do the game any favors in highlighting its sandbox elements.
The gameplay feels lot better than it did In the last installment. Giving players the freedom to roam Manhattan to their hearts’ content, Prototype 2 addresses a lot of the nitty-gritty issues its predecessor had. The controls feel smooth and more responsive this time around and go a long way into immersing you into the game. Additionally, most of the major concerns from the last entry have also been rectified. The combat system has been overhauled and adds a lot of depth to the game. There’s the standard giant blade, the swift claws and the shield, along with the combination of light and heavy attacks. A blocking and countering mechanic has also been incorporated that adds more variety, and the steady progress marked by the assimilation of new powers gives players plenty of options to wreak havoc on the battlefield. The game still retains the ability to hijack powerful vehicles such as tanks and choppers, and using them to your advantage will be monumental in some of the fights. There’s also a stealth element in place that serves as a gratifying alternative from all the carnage (along with awarding bonus experience points). With the magnitude of tools at your disposal, you truly do feel unstoppable in your quest for vengeance, which makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
The game is structured with plenty of main missions and sub-missions to keep you busy. However, don’t be surprised if you find them unappealing and rather roam through the city causing chaos and destruction at random. It’s not that the missions lack variety: being given free reign to destroy anything and everything is just so much more fun. The developers apparently knew this was the major focus of a lot of players, which is why they have incorporated a new mode called RadNet that is available to those who purchase new copies. RadNet essentially acts as a challenge series of sorts and allows \ you to use your abilities/ in creative ways. New challenges are posted constantly, and you can keep track of how you’re doing on a global scale via online leaderboards. To some, it does help extend the replay value of the game, and with the ability to unlock bonus content for the main game, it’s definitely worth checking out.
As a game that is tasked with generating a sprawling urban metropolis, Prototype 2 does the job well when it comes to visuals. While nothing groundbreaking, it is nice to climb to the top of a building and survey the large playground available to you. The game is full of gratuitous violence, and the multiple explosions and blood effects really show the impact you have on the world around you. Apart from that, certain character animations may seem awkward, but it’s nothing to fret about. The voice work is good and the soundtrack helps in intensifying the atmosphere. All in all, it’s a package that’s a bit rough around the edges but works well regardless.
Prototype 2 may not be a dramatic reinvention of the first game, but it does follow the formula pretty well and addresses the complaints that the first game had. The story is fairly anemic, but the refined combat system combined with the sheer amount of options to toy with the world around you makes this an extremely great choice for hardcore gamers.