When the first Prototype game arrived in 2009, it was pitched against the similar inFamous, both featuring misunderstood super-powered protagonists in a freely traversable environment. While both were great games, neither stood out against the other. With inFamous 2 long since launched, Prototype 2 has a chance to be judged on its own merits – and the court rules in favour of this gloriously gory action caper.
Set a year on from the first game, former hero Alex Mercer has been placed in cackling villain mode, while new protagonist James Heller steps up. He’s a gripping lead, driven by vengeance for his lost wife and daughter, even if the bio-horror story unfolding around him is largely unmemorable. It’s a serviceable plot at least and clips along at a fair pace, almost asking you not to think on the details too much.
Thankfully, the open city of New York – ravaged by the virus that gives Heller and Mercer their shapeshifting powers – is far more enticing, a joy to leap and fly around. Heller’s abilities feel powerful from the start, and upgrading them through completing story missions and side quests enhances them further, to the point where you’re vaulting buildings, gliding half the length of Manhattan and employing grisly yet gratifying attacks against dozens of enemies at once. Oddly, while Heller is a faster, tougher character than Mercer was, there’s a lack of finesse – no slow or precise climbing of buildings, for example.
Where Prototype 2 falters is its indoor sections. They’re blessedly intermittent but the confined environments play havoc with both Heller’s broad, sweeping attacks and the camera. Missions can also be somewhat repetitive, and vehicle sections feel slow and tacked on, at odds with the freedom of the rest of the game.
Just shy of greatness, Prototype 2 is still well worth a few hours of your time.