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Prototype 2 review

Tom Morgan
10 Sep 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
28
inc VAT

Monstrous fun, if a little hollow for veterans of the original

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When government organisations are best described as “Shadowy” it’s a safe bet that the experiments they are working on aren’t going to be very good for your health. Alex Mercer, protagonist of the original Prototype, learnt this to his cost, after being infected with a mutating virus that imbued him with near god-like powers and drew the wrath of the military.

Fast forward two years to the start of Prototype 2, where a second outbreak of the Mercer virus is threatening to consume Manhattan. Military captain James Heller is tasked with taking down Mercer, but a brief encounter with the man himself sees Heller infected with the same powers. What follows is an explosive open-world adventure where you get to put these newly-gained abilities to good use, overthrowing the tyrannical Black Watch and exposing the government’s involvement in the outbreak.

Prototype 2

Console gamers have been able to play Prototype 2 since April, but the game has only just made its way to the PC. The extra development time doesn’t seem to have been used to optimise the game at all, as aside from the obligatory keyboard and mouse support there’s very little here to take advantage of a modern PC. Manhattan Island is reasonably well rendered, with plenty of computer-controlled characters filling its streets, but everything looks decidedly low resolution on a 1080p display. Draw distance, a crucial element of an open-world game, is pitifully low in places, destroying the illusion of being a small part in a bigger machine,

Look beyond the graphics though, and gameplay can be quite fun. Missions are reasonably varied, often sending you across the city to reach your goal, and your method of travel is a definite highlight. As a being of supreme power, you can run up walls, jump to incredible heights, outrun moving vehicles and glide through the air like a flying squirrel. There’s a huge sense of freedom, even if you’ll need to follow a fairly linear path over rooftops to reach your goal.

Prototype 2

For the most part, once you arrive there will be a fight waiting, either in the form of hopelessly outmatched Blackwatch soldiers or the mutant creations that are threatening the city. At the start of the game these fights are little more than click-fests requiring the occasional dodge out of danger, but as the enemies get bigger and the military response grows in strength, you absorb new abilities that add a greater depth to each fight. There are vehicles available for you to steal, but when you can grow tentacles from your arms and create miniature shockwaves when you jump, getting behind the controls of a tank feels a little limiting.

Consuming enemies devours their knowledge and memories, as well as their abilities, revealing plot twists and future locations that further the story. There are plenty of side quests and bonus missions to complete, but you can complete the game in less than ten hours if you just focus on the story missions. This is fairly short for an open-world game, and with no competitive or co-operative multiplayer modes, there’s only so much replay value in finishing up all the little extras.

The first Prototype was genuinely refreshing, putting you in charge of an incredibly powerful character and letting you loose on an open world city. Prototype 2 adds more abilities, ratchets up the explosion count and is on an even bigger scale, but we can’t help shake the feeling that we’ve seen much of what it has to offer before. Whereas Grand Theft Auto introduced different time zones and an updated graphics engine with its sequels, Manhattan feels a little too familiar. It’s by no means a bad game, but it’s not quite as fresh for anyone that tried the original.

Details

Price£28
Detailswww.activision.com
Rating***