Monday 23 April 2012

Today's Review: Prototype 2

Prototype was a fun game. While many have compared it negatively to Infamous (perhaps for good reason), there's no denying that the ability to leap across New York buildings in a single bound and slice and pulverise hundreds of enemies was just plain gory fun.

Well, now Prototype has returned, with players taking the role of James Heller, a soldier whose wife and child have been murdered now that the mysterious infection has returned to New York. With the blame placed on Alex Mercer, Heller hunts him down, but after a particularly one sided fight finds himself infected in the best way possible, that being the way that lets you grow massive blades out of your hands and jump tens of feet into the sky.

The first thing you'll notice about Prototype 2 is that it's a lot more simplistic than the first. Mechanics are introduced slowly, and there are a lot less upgrades to be gained. I was ready to call it an inferior sequel, but as I worked my way through the game and more mechanics were slowly unlocked, I began to see it more as a streamlining process. Instead of the hundreds of thousands of points needed to unlock a certain upgrade, you only need one point, which can be earned through doing side missions or finding collectibles, much like the first. The only difference is that you don't pick up experience from just plain killing enemies, so I guess it's gone the way of Mass Effect in that sense. Still, despite making the process a lot more manageable, the lack of upgrades is pretty noticeable, and there don't seem to be anywhere near the number of special moves that were in the first game, although I only got about halfway through, so there could be more to come.

Another noticeable aspect is that the movement is a lot more refined. Often when playing the side missions in Prototype I'd find myself jerking all over the place at the slightest touch of a button while trying to reach markers, but Prototype 2 allows for much more precise movements while airborne, which you'll need to be quite a lot to escape soldiers or pick up collectibles. Speaking of which, the collectibles are also few and far between compared to the first game, but I see that as a good thing seeing as Prototype had 250 orbs lying around with no hint at where to find them. I don't normally like many collectibles in games, but Prototype 2 turns them into nice little side missions, expanding the story and giving specific upgrade points for finding everything. It also helps out by giving you a general area to search on the map.

The graphics are pretty good. Blood, guts and limbs fly off all over the place, bodies fly apart at the slightest provocation from your blade, and there's no slowdown at all when the screen is full of infected citizens, soldiers, tanks and monsters. The character models nicely detailed, although it can be hard to tell when they're being dismembered in a mist of blood.

Prototype 2 is a fun game. While it's not as in depth in its collectible or upgrade system as its predecessor, in most ways this can be seen as a good thing. It's a more streamlined experience that doesn't require you to fill your head with combo buttons in order to progress. But that also hurts it a little in my opinion. For those gamers more serious about pulling off some awesome acrobatic combat movies, there are just less options available. Still, it's a fun game.

My rating: 4/5

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