Prototype 2 - Xbox 360

Game Description: The sequel to Radical Entertainment's open-world game set in New York.
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Prototype 2 Hands-on Preview -- A Heller Good Time

Prototype 2 Hands-on Preview -- A Heller Good Time

By Kevin Kelly - Posted Feb 16, 2012

Activision had unfortunate timing with the original Prototype coming out about a week after the original inFamous. It felt like people were only talking about Cole McGrath and his electrical powers and totally ignoring Alex Mercer and his infected abilities. But Prototype still represents a fun and challenging gameplay experience with a unique dynamic that let you explore New York City as a superhuman, drawing a lot from Radical Entertainment’s own experience with The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

When Prototype 2 was announced with the focus shifting to a new protagonist, James Heller, the game promised to pit Heller against Mercer, as Heller blames him for the death of his wife and daughter. If you played the original Prototype through to the end, you would have been wondering if Mercer had gone entirely off the rails and decided to target innocents (which you can totally do in the game, by the way) so that he could become the bad guy.

But Radical recently let us play through the entire first hour of the game, and it seems like Mercer and Heller will be buddies throughout the game, fighting off Blackwatch while trying to find out what Gentek was up to and exactly what the Blacklight Virus is. So while I’m a bit disappointed that there isn’t a titanic slugfest with two super-powered guys going at it (aside from the preliminary bout to set the story in motion), Radical again delivers a compelling game with enjoyable combat physics and mechanics.

The game opens with a multitude of footage from different sources, documenting a second outbreak of the Blacklight Virus 14 months after the outbreak of the original, and the response that comes with it. James Heller, a sergeant in the military, is away on assignment while the infection spreads throughout New York. Increasingly frantic phone calls from his wife along with news reports document the growing panic in the city, and she expresses her unease with Blackwatch, but he tells her to trust them.

Prototype 2

Big mistake, right? Obviously as both she and their daughter end up as corpses on a burning pile of other infected civilians. Heller, just returned from a tour of duty, snaps, and is originally classified as too unstable to return to active duty. But as activity increases in the Red Zone (the center of Manhattan where the virus spreads unchecked), he is returned to duty and assigned smack dab in the middle of that area; which is perfect for him, as he has a death wish, and a definite desire to hunt down and kill Alex Mercer.

When his squad is killed, apparently by Mercer himself, Heller takes off after him, armed only with a combat knife and telling his superiors on the radio “I’m not in f*ckin’ Blackwatch anymore.” This is where you first step into the driver’s seat, learning how the controls work and driving Heller through destroyed NYC while chasing Mercer and avoiding some of the infected monstrosities that are spread out throughout the city. Eventually, Heller manages to confront Mercer himself, stabbing him multiple times. Mercer only flinches, however, and then infects Heller with the Blacklight Virus before taking off.

Heller is then taken into custody by Blackwatch, and after initially believed to be dead, he is tossed into a test chamber and run through a battery of tests, but after he shows signs of abilities like Mercer, the order is given to burn him, with someone mentioning, “I don’t need another Mercer running around.” Heller doesn’t take well to being torched, and he also learns that he can string combos together, as well as consume other infected humans to gain health.

Prototype 2

After freeing himself from the lab, Heller has another run in with Mercer, where Mercer tells him that he chose him for a reason. Mercer also reasons with Heller, telling him “Think about it. The same virus, two years in a row, the same Blackwatch.” When Heller continues to resist, Mercer shares memories with him, via a sort of Spock-like mind-meld empowered by his viral abilities. Heller becomes a believer without even a single blow between the two of them, and then he’s let loose in the city.

This is where you finally get to use Heller to the full extent of his fledgling abilities, climbing buildings, using the Blackight Virus abilities, and learning how to expand them. Heller and Mercer share some abilities, but Heller also has some of his unique powers, one of which is Viral Sonar that allows him to hunt a lot easier than Mercer had it in the original game. Clicking the left thumbstick sends out a viral pulse, and Heller can follow the ripples back to their source, allowing him to pinpoint targets fairly quickly, especially if he’s using it at altitude or from on top of a building.

He begins hunting down military officers at test sites around the city, consuming them to learn more about the virus, and upping his abilities in the process. By the end of the first hour, you will have learned how to consume others, use disguises, and you’ll level up and gain access to claws as well. You won’t gain access to Heller’s unique Bio-Bomb ability until later in the game, but we did have a chance to take a fully amped-up Red Zone Heller for a drive, and you’ll see how fully tricked-out he can get as you progress through the game.

Prototype 2

During the opening hour, you’ll also link up with a Father Guerra who operates out of a large church, and he provides Heller with a moral voice and director. He also aids him in finding Blackwatch targets, much like Mercer’s sister Dana did in the original game. According to Matt Armstrong, the design director on the game, Guerra is just one of many different people Heller will link up with through the course of Prototype 2.

The good news is that Radical took everything that was wrong with the original game and have streamlined it. Gone is the lengthy and tedious abilities menu where you had to upgrade your powers by spending XP. Instead, a simple leveling up mechanic has been put in place, making it easier to understand and use your powers, rather than fighting with a huge radial wheel full of abilities.

The game also looks a lot sharper, and Heller handles a lot better than Mercer did in the original. From gliding to running up the sides of buildings to jumping, the game just looks and feels a lot cleaner. Cleaner menus, a better interface, and a much better powers system all combine to put the story in front of the game, putting you inside Heller’s head as much as possible.

With both Radnet and Blackwatch editions of the game announced for its arrival in late April of this year, there should be enough Prototype 2 coming to make you ask, "inFamous who?"

Comments are Closed

  • moneyninjq


    Posted: April 4, 2012 8:27 PM
  • Preyer

    I liked the Radial Wheel, I hope they don't pull a Fable 3 and end up over streamlining everything.

    Posted: February 20, 2012 1:08 AM
  • Luck702

    Absolutely loved the first one. Loved the gore, the combat, and the easy and awesome use of vehicles. And it's also nice to see a black protagonist for once. Can't wait

    Posted: February 18, 2012 4:02 AM

    i liked [prototype] it was the full of infamous with the gore of mortal kombat i liked the first game even the so so story it keep me intrigued so i say bring on a second game

    Posted: February 17, 2012 10:24 PM
  • MasterOfWeed

    I have said this before and I will say it again... Infamous and Prototype are two completely different games separated by different restrictions, since Infamous is a rated T game it can't get nearly as extreme and outrageous as Prototype can since it is rated M not only that but Prototype isn't a exclusive so EVERYONE can enjoy it.

    Don't get me wrong I love Infamous and I have played and beaten both of them but after playing the first Prototype and seeing how much potential the game has then proceeding to see how much the sequel has improved on the first one I just have to say that it's going to blow Infamous out of the water because in my opinion the only thing Infamous had on Prototype was the graphics.

    Posted: February 16, 2012 3:38 PM
  • daracantu

    Really, am I the ONLY person that thinks the first Prototype game just did not deliver? I mean, don't get me wrong, the mechanics were there and all, but I felt very uninspired to play through it. Gamplay-wise and entertainment-wise, inFamous was much better, and I had not played it first, as the beginning of this article might make you think (I had owned a 360 at the time and moved to PS3 much later). I'm honestly not excited for this sequel in any way...

    Posted: February 16, 2012 12:52 PM
  • DrowNoble

    I enjoyed the original Prototype, I thought it was a far better game than Infamous. Not sure about the new protagonist, I would of liked to see Mercer developed a bit more instead of a whole new character introduced. I'm in the wait and see mode right now, going to wait til it's released to read reviews before I get it probably.

    Posted: February 16, 2012 12:51 PM
  • wolflee

    I would not buy it, but it looks pretty cool. Just not my type of game.

    Posted: February 16, 2012 9:08 AM