Back in 2009 there was a battle between two unwilling supers. On one side of the ring was Sucker Punch’s InFamous and on the other was Radical Entertainment’s Prototype. Both featured choice as a key aspect within the narrative, as well as putting you in the role of a morally dubious role. When the dust settled it seemed that neither game had come out on top, essentially they cancelled each other out and sadly Prototype (not being a platform exclusive) was seemingly forgotten. It didn’t deserve that fate, it was a great title, coming from the makers of the best Hulk game ever (Ultimate Destruction, fact fans). Now with the sequel due a release early next week I have sat down in the familiar world of Blackwatch, Mercer and more conspiracies than a bus full of foil hat wearing Yanks.
Prototype put you in the boots of Alex Mercer, who after surviving a mysterious attack – albeit only just, waking up on the mortuary slab during his own autopsy – sets out to restore his fragmented memory and try to make sense of the strange happenings that are occurring in New York City. It wasn’t too concerned with throwing a story down your throat, but offered up an interesting method of offering story expansion via consuming specific characters and viewing their memories, which made up a web of memories. This meant that many folks could just plough through the main story, while others could sit into the side-quests and exploring the extended storyline.
Now, four years later we are about to see the sequel, this time taking control of James Heller, who after requesting deployment in the Red Zone following the death of his wife and daughter, find himself stood face to face with Alex Mercer himself. Heller blamed Mercer for his families untimely demise and while battling his foe with all the anger such loss would bring out in any war veteran. As their battle reaches it’s climax Alex infects Heller and explains that the new outbreak in NYC has nothing to do with him. Heller reluctantly considers the potential that Blackwatch is up to something and sets off to investigate – while utilising the powers that come from the Mercer virus infection.
With Prototype 2 Radical haven’t changed much, mostly as a lot of Prototype was perfectly conceived, instead it is a sequel in which the game is more refined, more polished and far more stylised. Cut scenes take on a Sin City style mono-chromatic feel with a splash of colour, and the city is definitely more ‘alive’ than ever before. Buildings have banners hanging from windows, lamp posts have ‘Missing’ posters affixed and folks in the streets are aware of the threat that they are facing. Consuming targets has been improved with the addition of a ‘Who is watching?’ scan that helps you take out a series of enemies to ensure that you’re cover isn’t blown – which in some cases turns the game into a pseudo-version of Jenga.
Through my first hour I was impressed with the polish and refined nature of the game, but I was even more impressed with the implementation of RadNet, which acts much like Rockstar’s Social Club or Call of Duty Elite, offering up challenges at certain times, in return for in-game upgrades, content and Avatar Items (on the 360 at least). Redeemable through the early adopter code in the case – and this may be exclusive to some pre-order editions of the game, I’ve not seen a regular edition – it offers up even more value to the gamer, by extending the longevity and interest in the title, and pits you against your friends on a series of challenges. OK it isn’t going to hit the same spot as Trials HD/Evo for pure unadulterated competitive nature, but it is a welcome inclusion into what is essentially a solid single player experience.
Prototype 2 has been pushed hard by Activision and thoroughly deserves to be a success. With a series of great teasers for the game and a just-announced live 18+ live trailer to be held in Covent Garden on Sunday it’s clear that the mistakes surrounding the muted launch of the first title are not being made again. Many retailers are offering great prices, and pre-order incentives are in place to draw in the gamers who lap up the added value of pre-ordering in exchange for free stuff. Obviously Prototype 2 is a large game, and I’ve barely scratched the surface, but the time I’ve had is exactly what I wanted, more of what was great, with the more questionable decisions being rectified.
Prototype 2 is released in the UK on 24/4/2012 and we think that you will enjoy it if you fancy having a city to play around in, creatures to obliterate and a conspiracy to uncover. Who doesn’t like that kind of stuff? Eh?