|System: PC, PS3*, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Radical Entertainment|
|Release: April 24, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
by Adam Dodd
The last three years haven't been terribly kind to NYZ, as the city's been slowly consumed by the Blacklight virus that was unknowingly unleashed by Alex Mercer when he escaped from a Gentek facility. While the two games in the Prototype series are separated by three years, story-wise they're set only fourteen months apart. Since the outbreak, Alex has gone into hiding in the red zone, the most dangerous of NYZ's three zones. You play as Sgt. James Heller, a man who lost his family to the Blacklight virus, and, after blaming Mercer for their deaths, he too gets infected. Fortunately for him, getting infected by Mercer grants him similar shape-shifting abilities.
Honestly, I was never a big fan of Alex Mercer as a character. While the things that were done to him were indeed monstrous, once he became a monster himself—this happened about five minutes into the game—it was difficult to empathize with his situation. This only became more difficult as I found myself slicing and dicing my way through NYZ's citizens.
From the beginning of the sequel, Heller is a far more interesting character. It's impossible not to share his lust for justice after his family is brutally murdered, but unfortunately, as the game progresses he too embraces his inner psycho. Look, I get it, you want revenge, but how many of us would turn to the murdering of thousands of people to attain so-called justice?
At least Heller's new abilities give him some incredibly brutal ways to maim his foes. Some familiar powers return, like the claws and blade, and there are several new additions as well. The tendrils are my favorite, because they're perfect for eviscerating the hordes of helicopters that get tossed your way. (Seriously, the number of helicopters you have to destroy is a little ridiculous.) There's nothing quite as cool as running up the side of a skyscraper with a few attack choppers hot on your tail.
The tendrils have the nifty ability to trap vehicles and people, or parts of people, in gross organic webs that tend to turn the battlefield into a stomach-churning scene worthy of a Clive Barker film. If the first game proved anything, it's that this series isn't for the weak of heart, and I really wouldn't have it any other way. There's another ability that's as humorous as it is twisted: the bio-bomb. This fantastic power lets you infect an unsuspecting soldier so you can walk away and let the carnage unfold on its own. Think of it as Prototype 2's answer to the poison in Assassin's Creed, only with a far more destructive function.
The bio-shield is incredibly handy, and not just because it can protect you from damage. It can also deflect incoming missiles back at their source. This, and the new quick evade ability, makes the combat a lot less frustrating, and they certainly come in handy when you find yourself surrounded by dozens of enemies at once. Another of the major additions to Heller's arsenal of powers is the Hunt vision, which acts like a very long-range sonar to help you find the location of a valuable target. Once you find your target you can use the Consume power that should be all too familiar to fans of the series, to see the target's memories, improve your abilities, or regain health/mass.
The mass meter is a life-saving feature, because when it's filled you can unleash an incredibly powerful finishing move called the Devastator that maims everything nearby. Like the other abilities in the game, the Devastator can be improved to affect more targets and deal more damage. Trust me, you'll want to get real familiar with this power; it saved my life on more than one occasion. If you'd rather have someone, or in this case something, do the work for you, there's always the Pack Leader power that summons Brawlers—powerful four-legged mutant beasts that are usually your enemies—to fight by your side. You're going to need all these abilities to defeat the numerous enemies that are thrown your way.
Where in the original game you were given a linear line of quests to complete, now you can choose your missions and do them in whatever order tickles your fancy. The main story has several missions that branch out, and on top of that are the side quests and various collectibles (like the Blackboxes), that when collected grant you powerful upgrades. The Blacknet missions can be divided into several types that bring with them unique challenges. The Strongholds have you infiltrating and destroying a Blackwatch compound from within, Cargo missions have you racing across rooftops collecting samples before the military finds them, and the Salvage missions are all about destroying infected samples.