Prototype 2 User Review
Almost 3 years later, Radical Entertainment has released the 2nd "Prototype", and after a ravenous week's worth of play time, and nailing the platinum, I can confidently say Radical Entertainment outdid themselves in many ways.
The visual quality in P2 is closer to inFamous than it is to the first Prototype, which had PS2'ish texture quality and detail. P2's character models are far improved, building windows and puddles show dynamic reflections (something not even done in inFamous nor even Crysis 2), dynamic shadows, physics and weather effects are convincingly rendered, and the city is looking far less generic than it did in the first time around, all the while retaining the blistering speed, over-the-top action free of screen-tear of slow-down, and maintaining the swarms and droves of on screen characters and objects found in the prequel. The canned animations and qte's are brutally visceral, cinematically framed, and diverse having different permutations depending on your equipped powers and the enemy type or vehicle of your target. While Prototype 2 visually is not on par with the open world games like Just Cause 2, Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, or the Assassin's Creed titles, the level of action, speed, and sheer number of on screen assets puts it in a class of it's own. A very arcady, and menacing class of it's own.
The story, however, once again, seemed like a missed opportunity. Like the first, it contains 9/11 anachronisms/parallels, and references to military/industrial complex, private military corporations like Black Water (known in the game as "Black Watch") and pharmaceutical ones, government cover ups, secret organizations running the world, shape-shifters, the occult, and generally to all things having to do with conspiracies (warning:if you're allergic to that kind of stuff, you might not like this game just for that). Yet, the character interactions and events are mostly disjointed, and hurried, feeling mostly just like side-missions. And while the phenomenon of shape-shifting pose genuinely deep questions about sentience, identity and morality, it doesn't really go anywhere with it, which is unfortunate. The ending was entirely predictable and a bit of cop-out.
And, while the voice acting is clearly as professional as inFamous's, the script lines, especially that of the main character's, were, more often than not, hastily written, filled with heavy handed, unconvincing, awkward cursing, which was a real waste of the voice-acting talent. Still, the story was interesting enough to punctuate the action and gameplay...and still was head and shoulders above that which is found in something like Just Cause 2. The CGI was expertly produced showing particularly realist facial expressions, with subtle use of color, powerful imagery, and the music really was quite stirring, mimicking the tracks of Matrix and Christopher's Nolans works complete with the death horns.
I was particularly impressed by the sound-effects. One time, I slammed a body to the ground, which made a clanging thawwng noise when the head happened to hit some debris of a pipe. And the chatter, conversations, spontaneous behavior and reactions of the bystanders and passerby-ers were impressive. One time I happened to land on a rooftop where a bystander was attempting suicide by slowly tipping over backwards off a ledge. I ran in and grabbed him, just before he fell off. He began to plead to me to let him go and that we should work together to fight the bad guys. Lol! I'm glad he had a change of heart. I wanted to let him go w/o chucking him to his death, which would've defeated the purpose of saving him. Thankfully, I figured out by hitting down on the direction button, I let him go. I felt I should've got a trophy for my virtual act of simulated, compassionate good samaritanism, but whatever, it's little, surprising details like that which makes an open-world game feel that much more convincingly immersive and engrossing, which is the reward in it's own.
And alas, the gameplay. Here is where Prototype improved most crucially. While I said before that Prototype 1 wasn't much like inFamous, it seems Radical Entertainment took obvious cues from the reception that inFamous got. For example, the side missions are now structured more like inFamous's, where you pick up dead-drops, take out armed gangs, and underground lairs...but instead of just leaving you to comb the areas as you did with blast shards in inFamous, or just following your nose to some icon on the map, you have an alternate view of the map, under the menu option called "collectibles", which indicates the general location of such side missions or locales by using neary-by radio blips on the map, after you select the type of "collectible you wish to search for. This saves one a great deal of tedium from the search, while retaining some of the spontaneity and surprise. Collecting all the particular type of collectibles, such as dead drops, in a particular region will reward you with an upgrade such as to a power (like claws, blade, whipfist, tentacles, hammer fists) or an ability (like locomotion, health, regen, stealth, or to summon a beast pack to fight along your side etc) or weapon and vehicle use (such as rifle, rocket launcher, tank, helicopter, etc). Sometimes, there are side-missions that don't show up on a map, but show up on the on screen gps with a head, dna-helix or flexed muscle icon, which also shows up on top of the character when they come into your view. These will give you similar upgrades, or bonus ability upgrades, or exp bonuses, or sometimes they reveal the location of a terminal where you get to trigger side missions. Exp points attained add to your level, which also rewards you with an upgrade each time you level up. It caps off at level 23 (the total number of pairs of human chromosomes). This took me an initial playthrough on hard setting, and half a playthrough on easy to attain, and hence trigger the "all growed up" trophy.
The racing, obstacle courses, and challenges have now been moved to something else called RADNET, selectable from the in-game menu. Completing a set of events, grants you mutation rewards, unlocks videos, and completing all of the sets unlocks the Alex Mercer skin. These sets are unlocked on fix dates, obviously to keep you from trading your copy in, and each event has it's own online leadership board, where you can compare your performance and results with you friends. Though, the controls and camera are loose, and hit detection not pixel accurate, which sometimes is problematic when you want to grab a can instead of an enemy, or when you want to stealth grab an enemy instead of a table, they are reliable enough most of the time. I particularly enjoyed setting the best times in the obstacle courses, because running, jumping, dashing, and gliding makes traversing the world in Prototype 2 such a rush, which frankly is almost half the joy in these types of games.
The core gameplay of the main missions vary between escort missions, defending positions from enemy onslaughts, infiltrating bases with stealth, enemy search & chases, and boss fights. The powers at your disposal, as previously mentioned, are diverse and imaginative, yielding many creative and brutally visceral ways to take out your enemies, and figuring out the optimal combination of powers and abilities can make short work out of them. The stealth mechanics and rules have been streamlined from the first game making them quicker and less meandering affairs. Boss fights can vary between fighting one-on-one or many shapeshifters like yourself, and fighting gargantuam building-size colossi as you did in inFamous 2. They do not have scale or the visuals as they did in inFamous 2, but they have there own uniquely creative touches about their design and how to overcome them which actually make them more interesting.
After all is said and done, I must say, while Prototype 2 does not have the polish, scale, and presentation of the inFamous franchise, it still is an addictive game where Radical Entertainment exhibited a surprising level of attention to detail in just so many ways. Marred by forgivable blemishes, it still is a fun and addictive romp in action, highly recommended to both fans of the original Prototype as well as those waiting on inFamous 3 (which I hear is in the works).
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.