by Leif Seifert
So about three years ago, this game called Prototype was released, right? And I was super pumped to play it because it looked crazy awesome with its super powers and its shape shifting and its free running, and I just couldn’t wait to play it! Then I did. And it was ok. Very VERY ok.
It felt like they hadn’t finished it on release day, so they just shipped out what they had and hoped for the best. It was a cool concept wrapped up in a very unpolished shell of a game that left me wanting. But now there’s a sequel, and we can find out if the first game was a major stepping stone for its successor, or if it was just the “prototype” (bad but necessary pun) for a game that’s finally met expectations three years behind schedule.
What The Game Does Right
Without a doubt, the most important aspect of a game like this is providing solid gameplay that is both fun and rewarding for the player. Capturing the feeling of playing as an iconic superhero has proven difficult for all but a few game developers that pull from the vast source material of comic books. Despite unfavorable odds, this is what Prototype 2 does best. Playing as James Heller is a blast through and through, thanks to navigation and combat controls which allow the player to player to feel superhuman while traipsing around the bustling streets of NYZ.
Right from the get go, the player is able to run, jump, and glide across the cities skyline in a fun and effective manner, while continuously acquiring new and more deadly powers over the course of the game. You’ll throw cars, smash tanks, shoot down helicopters, and wreck havoc in a manner fitting for such a lawless and recently endowed superhuman. Where most fail, Prototype 2 undoubtedly nails the physical aspects of what it means to be a super-powered vigilante.
What The Game Does Wrong
Aside from the main story quests, Prototype 2 offers very little in the way of putting your powers to use. Yes, there are the occasional blacknet missions or filed ops oppurtunities, but for the most part, you’re limited to executing story mission after story mission, which begins to feel repetitive. There’s very little variation in the objectives you’re tasked to complete over the course of the story. While not as much of a problem during the first playthrough, this lack of variety negates almost all replay value and leaves the whole experience feeling a bit lacking in the absence of any other modes beyond the single player campaign.
And while we’re on the topic of the “story-driven campaign”, it’s important to note that while cool at first, the game’s heavily stylized cut scenes, reminiscent of Sin City, quickly lose their appeal and make it difficult to discern what’s happening during these frequent interruptions from combat. This amounts to a decent but ultimately forgettable tale that does little to motivate the player towards the ultimate goal of “murdering your maker”, as seen in the game’s tag line.
This game’s focus isn’t on telling a deep and immersive story that challenges the player’s aspiration of vengeance at the expense of others and ponders the struggle to preserve one’s humanity as one slowly drifts away from the bonds and connections that solidify humanity itself. No, it’s more concerned with fun gameplay and a protagonist who says, “I’M GONNA EAT YOU MUTHA F**KA!!!!!!”.
And you know what? That’s totally ok, because the game establishes itself as perfectly justified and determined in its clear approach. If you know what to expect, it won’t leave you disappointed.