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Prototype 2

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: PS3
Category: Action/Adventure
 
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Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Activision

PS3 Features:

Add-on Content
Trophies

Players: 1
500 MB Required Hard Drive Space
HD Video Output: 480p-720p
Dualshock 3

Take control of Sgt. James Keller during the 3rd outbreak of what is now known as the Mercer Virus as he fights to avenge the death of his wife and daughter. Prototype 2 is so far the most addictive game I’ve yet reviewed, though it could be that it’s the gratuitous, over the top violence that draws me in. I mean, in real life, that would be incredibly disturbing; but in the video game world? It’s a bloody (har, har) good time.

Graphics

The graphics, I feel, are mixed. Running on the new Titanium 2.0 Engine with a new designer, Prototype 2’s graphics excel in certain areas. The cutscenes, done in black and white with splashes of colour a la Sin City, are, apart from the occasional in-game glares, the most realistic I’ve seen in a video game. You know, except that reality isn’t in black and white with splashes of colour; but I’m quite okay with that, acceptable break from reality and all. The cityscape is detailed as are the building designs. Speaking of the building designs, I would like to point out that they are also pretty well varied. Especially on earlier systems, it is all too easy to simply have a bunch of building clones and hope it doesn’t put off the gamer.

Now, the biggest issue with the graphics is the animation during the gameplay. It still seems somewhat unnatural and it is reminiscent of the first Prototype game or even The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction for the PS2 which has a similar combat style. Game developers have yet to unlock the full graphical potential of the Playstation 3 and it is somewhat a shame when there’s an area where they’re not really moving forward.

Sound

The voice acting is pretty decent given the context. I mean, decent in the sense that when it's supposed to sound realistic, it does and when the villains go into over the top villain speech, it comes across as an acceptable break from reality instead of being disconcerting and out of place.

The music is downplayed in the sense that it doesn't distract. It underscores the gameplay just enough so that you’re not put off by out of place silence nor are you focusing on the soundtrack instead of what you’re supposed to be doing. I find though that the soundtrack is fairly easily forgettable until I make a point of tuning in to it.

Gameplay

As previously mentioned, in Prototype 2, you play new protagonist, Sgt. James Heller. This was partly done in an attempt to create a more sympathetic character than Alex Mercer from the first game. Admittedly, Radical wasn’t setting the bar particularly high here but I should point out that they succeeded. This was also done for the logistical reason of it being easier to having a new character start off without the powers and have them develop throughout the game instead of having to find an excuse in the story to have Alex Mercer start from the beginning.

For a sandbox game, it’s not exactly huge. I’ve had it for about a week and I’ve already managed to complete the main quest, all the side quests, and get most of the collectables while balancing a work schedule and a social life. That said, it does offer the player some choices as you go along to distract you from the main quest, though these are limited and sooner rather than later, at least compare to other similar games, you’re forced along the main story line. This isn’t too bad though. I mean, if you want to run around causing unprovoked acts of wanton destruction, the game is pretty good for that. I also found the combat system quite engaging. It’s a button masher, to be sure, but one that allows for some amount of strategy. Granted, on the easier difficulty levels, a huge amount of strategy is hardly required.

One that I noticed is that the AI in certain instances is mind staggeringly stupid. It becomes well known throughout the story to your military antagonists that people infected with the Mercer virus develop super human abilities; the ability to glide for long distances and the ability to survive jumps and falls from staggeringly high heights for example. Infected are also considered hot, as in orders are to shoot them on sight. So I can glide right into a base from miles above and their reaction is, basically, to eye me suspiciously for several seconds before going back to what they were doing. Another example would be in your ability to stealth kill any target that no one is directly looking at. The issue here is that I can go around an area with several people and stealth kill them one by one while ‘consuming’ them, which conveniently disposes of the bodies and there would be one guy left besides myself who does not find it suspicious in the least that he’s suddenly and without any rational reason alone with one other person in the room.

One thing about the levelling system that is interesting is that all of the powers you receive have unique uses and do not become obsolete as you play through the game. While some games have you develop powers to simply do what an earlier power does but better, in Prototype 2, you play through the game and every new power you develop has a unique function and your early skills remain useful throughout.

The story is fairly basic but well delivered. Be warned: this paragraph contains spoilers. Granted, some of them are pretty predictable but skip ahead to the next paragraph if you’re really worried. Sgt. Heller is on a revenge quest against the people he blames for the death of his wife and daughter, ultimately facing off against Alex Mercer, the protagonist from the first game. We find out a whole bunch of back story about the virus as well as the various unethical experiments being run by Blacknet, the military organization that created the virus intending it to be a bio weapon. Heller is fed information throughout the game that forms the basis for various missions either against Blacknet or Alex Mercer. There are a couple of sudden yet inevitable betrayals. See, the formula here is that anyone who is working for the bad guys but is secretly trying to help you from the inside turns out to be a bad guy all along. Anyways, James Heller, in the third act, finds out his daughter is alive and then it becomes about rescuing her.


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