Review: Prototype 2

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I still remember the internal struggle I had when Prototype and inFAMOUS were set to be released at roughly the same time. Both involved an anti-hero protagonist with radical abilities in an open-world setting. At the time I wasn't in a position to purchase both games when they were released and, ultimately, Cole McGrath - his story, his environment, and his super powers - won out over Alex Mercer's much darker tale.

I eventually completed inFAMOUS and moved on to Prototype but was quickly disappointed. It may have been a combination of Prototype not living up to the recent experience inFAMOUS left me with and a struggle to manage the controls that Prototype utilized. Either way, my interest in the Prototype universe didn't last very long. For some still unknown reason, I recently decided to give Prototype 2 a look. What resulted is a classic example of a developer taking note of a variety of issues that caused a game to fail, reworking and refining them, and producing a sequel that exceeds the original in almost every way.

Prototype 2 begins shortly after the concluding events of Prototype. Alex Mercer is replaced with a new protagonist in the form of ex-military man, James Heller. Heller is fixated on tracking down and killing Alex Mercer for the cause of the original "Mercer" virus and consequent death of his wife and daughter. It's a classic - if overdone - tale of revenge. Thankfully, this weak and rather predictable story takes a backseat to the real highlight of the game, Heller's powers.

Extreme power is what Prototype 2 is all about and the sole reason why I enjoyed this game as much as I did. By the time the credits role and the majority (if not all) of Heller's powers have been unlocked and upgraded, you feel like the bad ass the developers at Radical Entertainment were intending you to be. Words simply don't do justice to the powers and abilities that make Prototype 2 so worthwhile.

Although the majority of Prototype 2 is focused on the action, there is a fair amount of stealth-like gameplay that is also involved. Sneaking past security posts or into highly guarded scientific research facilities is as simple as "consuming" specific military and scientific personnel. This is another useful ability that you'll find yourself using quite often. When your target is not under the watchful eye of his (or her) coworkers Heller can grab them and literally consume their body and, more importantly, their mind. By consuming various characters Heller catches a glimpse of their past (i.e. story plot points are revealed) as well as has the ability to transform his appearance to take the shape of his most recent victim. Although this is mandatory to complete many sections of the game, it's also a nice feature to have when attempting to evade the military. When fleeing from troops on the ground or helicopters in the air Heller can quickly transform his appearance, thus throwing his pursuers off his trail.

I enjoyed my time with Prototype 2 and was pleasantly surprised at the list of overall improvements from the first game in this series. It was a nice distraction while I await some of the bigger titles to launch in the early part of February (Dead Space 3, Aliens Colonial Marines, etc) and I'm glad I decided to give this game a second look. Considering that this game has dropped in price (as low as $20 used) I would recommend giving it the chance is so obviously deserves.