The tables are turned in Prototype 2 with Alex Mercer now becoming the villian, passing the torch (per se) to Sgt. James Heller, a former military man avenging the death of his wife. Plot wasn’t exactly a strong point for the original Prototype and it’s really no different for the sequel. Rather than Mercer having amnesia, Heller is hellbent on revenge against Mercer who he blames for the death of his wife and daughter. Pieces of the plot are put together as you consume certain targets but it never really became interesting or unique. Thankfully, the game plays amazingly and hunting targets, leveling abilities and destroying city blocks like a gigantic octopus on bath salts was good fun.
I played a bit of the original Prototype but felt it had many flaws and a story boring enough to prevent me from finishing it. Unlike the sequel, demolishing things in bulk didn’t really do anything for me and the controls were a bit too clunky for my liking. Alex Mercer was also a bit of an anti-hero, so changing his role from protagonist to antagonist was a smart choice by the developer, keeping a familiar face for any fans of the original while introducing a brand new hero in Heller. Granted, James Heller looks like the stereotypical angry black guy that cusses a lot, and he definitely starts off as just that, but as the game goes on he becomes a believable hero with a real human heart under all of those sharp tentacles.
While Prototype 2 has a cut and dry plot, it’s an open world game that allows you to follow your quest marker and get right down to business or explore New York Zero for tons of collectables, mutant lairs, DNA targets to reveal more of the plot, marked targets to consume for ability upgrades and, of course, causing as much chaos as possible. Doing so gives Heller XP to level up everything from basic health and speed increases to additional functions for existing abilities like adding damage to blocking or granting the ability to destroy hijacked vehicles instantly. There is definitely a lot to keep you busy outside of the campaign quests, especially when you consider the hours of enjoyment you can have being destructive, a-la Grand Theft Auto.
I completed Prototype 2 in about 15 hours and I went out of the way to collect everything. There is a New Game + if you’d like to go through again on a higher difficulty or level up everything to its max levels, but I got everything I needed to get out of the game in one playthrough. Trophies are a nice blend of story based, collectables and “destroy X amount of Y with Z ability”. Now I know most of you just went “ugh, collectable trophies” but thankfully you can see all of their locations on the minimap so it requires very minimal exploration on your part. All of the trophies are pretty straight forward and with New Game + you don’t really need to worry about missing anything.
One of my main complaints with Prototype 2, outside of the obvious gripe about the generic storyline, is the overall lack of variety in the story missions themselves. It basically boils down to clicking L3 to “hunt” a target somewhere on the map, tracking them down, consuming them and either repeating that flow or sneaking in to a base to consume another target. Boss fights are few and far between and present the only challenges in the game at all. If you go out of your way to hunt collectables and level your abilities, you become a wrecking machine very early on which, while enjoyable, eventually gave Prototype 2 that kind of reverse difficulty that Last Rebellion had (if anyone else actually played that). As the game went on you became so powerful that there was no reason to consume other people to sneak around or try to evade strike teams called in to take you down. Why run when I can jump 200 stories in the air and explode a chopper with the push a button?
The Verdict – C+
What Prototype 2 lacked in story it made up for with its stellar gameplay mechanics. Destroying everything in my path never became stale and its user friendly collectable system didn’t force me to divert my attention away from moving things along at a good pace. James Heller was a nice step in the right direction as a protagonist and had a lot of human qualities toward the end of the game that really surprised me. My main problem was the overall lack of variety in the game’s story missions and just how easy the difficulty became as the game continued on. If you’re okay playing mindless games like Dynasty Warriors or you’re just looking for some easy trophies then give Prototype 2 a shot. But if you require any form of storyline to keep you going, consider this a rental at best. Prototype 2 also uses some of the exact same character animations as not only the original game, but the Hulk game that was released about 5 years ago by the same company. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected, especially after being disappointed by the original, but after beating it I didn’t feel the need to go through it any further.