A One-Man Army
What do you get when you mix the open world superhero action of Infamous with the shapeshifting and absorbing powers of The Thing? You get Prototype, a game that puts you in the always-shifting shoes of a man infected with the Blacklight virus, which gives him powerful abilities. But as much mindless fun as 2009’s Prototype was, it had its fair share of flaws. Graphically, it wasn’t a very impressive game, and more often than not the missions ranged from tedious to frustrating. The most memorable parts of the game came from running up buildings, taking down helicopters with Mercer’s tentacles, and causing all sorts of chaos. With Prototype 2, you’ll have more abilities, and many more ways to decimate everything that’s unfortunate enough to get in your way.
In the original game you played as Alex Mercer, an extraordinarily unlikable antihero with a bad case of amnesia. In the upcoming sequel—which takes place fourteen months after the events in Prototype—the spotlight shifts to a more promising character: Sergeant James Heller. Heller is interesting for a few reasons, the most important of which is that he doesn’t rely on the overused amnesia plot device. Another reason is that Heller’s sole goal in Prototype 2 is get revenge on Mercer for killing his family during the initial outbreak of the Blacklight virus that quickly decimated Manhattan. The borough’s since been named New York Zero, or NYZ, and it’s been broken into three areas, separated by their level of infection.
The three zones are Green, Yellow, and Red, and their meaning is pretty obvious. The Green Zone is the uninfected part of New York City, but it’s being watched over very closely by the Blackwatch military group. The Yellow Zone consists of shantytowns, overcrowded with people looking to escape the virus. The final area is the Red Zone, and that’s where the virus has spread everywhere unchecked. It’s also the area Alex Mercer calls home.
With the goal of seeking revenge on Mercer in mind, Heller sets out to prepare for what’s almost definitely going to be a climactic showdown between two superpowered mutants. Heller will have to complete missions in each of NYZ’s three zones so he can grow stronger and learn more about what’s going on. Where the mission structure in the first game centered around a main story and some optional activities, this time around you can choose what missions you want to complete and when. You do this by hacking into the Blacknet System. Heller versus Mercer is the main story, but there will be an underlining plot beneath that to make things interesting.
Also keeping things interesting is Heller’s expanded arsenal of abilities, which, while similar to Mercer’s, have been tweaked and added upon to make playing as Heller feel different from his enemy. Like his rival, Heller can absorb people, stealing their identities and memories, as well as shapeshift into those he absorbs so he can make it past security checkpoints and into secure bases. A new dodging system has also been implemented to give the player more control over Heller during combat. To make him even more powerful, he can now use different weapons in the game, including tearing off a tank’s gun and using it as a weapon.
Other new abilities include the Bio-Bomb—Heller injects an unsuspecting enemy with the Blacklight virus, turning them into a living bomb—and tendrils. The tendril abilities are an exciting new feature in Prototype 2 because they can be used to tackle a variety of different situations. Is there a helicopter bothering you from above? All you need to do is snag it and bring it crashing down. The tendrils can also be used to take two objects and violently smash them into each other, and these objects can include anything from people to vehicles. They can also be used to slice and dice enemy soldiers or craft webs that can leave an enemy vulnerable to attacks.
Prototype 2 might not bring with it any sort of multiplayer mode, but that only means more time, talent, and resources are being invested into the single-player experience. Heller has the potential to be a far more interesting character than Alex, and the less linear style should complement the random, over-the-top Prototype action.
Revenge is a dish best served with a side of gore and explosions, and it’s in that department where Prototype 2 excels.