Prototype 2 takes place once again in New York Zero, where the outbreak of the conveniently named “Mercer Virus” has become even more rampant. Our anti-hero James Heller is a family man who has lost everything to the virus and is hell bent on getting revenge on Alex Mercer, the protagonist from the original Prototype. Within the first five minutes of the game Heller is infected by Mercer who is trying to ‘show him the truth’ which in turn grants Heller the same powers as Mercer. Oddly enough this also gives Heller the exact same hoodie and leather jacket outfit which seems to be a staple of those infected with the virus. The evil corporation of Gentek is back causing trouble and it is up to you to uncover the secrets of this open world that is under siege from freaks, mutants, and abominations that the outbreak has created.
The city is larger this time around, but the traversal in Prototype 2 makes quick work of moving from one side to the other. Running up buildings, leaping over skyscrapers, and flying across skylines has never been done this well in an open world game. I found myself running from mission to objective and actually enjoying getting there, which is a rarity when it comes to superhero games. The beauty of this movement is that nothing stands in your way, as Heller will automatically leap over any obstacle and you begin the game with all the tools required to move like a superhero. For having a large number of powers at your disposal your character controls well, but only one problem has carried over from Prototype...awnings. Apparently those infected with the Mercer have god like powers but are unable to hop over an awning on a building, making you constantly avoid them like the plague. Not game breaking, but a black mark on an almost flawless movement system. Infamous originally held this title but Prototype 2 has the best locomotion in a sandbox game of this nature.
Mobility is by far Prototype 2's biggest asset
I have struggled with how Prototype 2 uses stealth for most of the missions since it does not seem to fit what the game is going for. You consume enemies to take their form and are constantly shapeshifting to try and blend in with Gentek forces. You can gain access to high security facilities by consuming higher ranking guards and are required to change shape to evade alerts. The story missions follow the same formula of consume, infiltrate, kill things, evade enemies, shapeshift to incognito. I didn’t mind the stealth missions as they added some flavor to the mass murdering but the AI is lacking and this is where it falls short. I can fly into a heavily guarded area, disguised as an enemy soldier, jump around and act like a superhuman, but no one will notice Heller, since he is obviously wearing the right uniform. Maybe Gentek is too focussed on finding someone in a leather jacket with claws that they don’t seem to notice one of their own leaping 50 feet in the air to escape the catastrophe I just left behind.
Let’s get to the powers, since that is what makes Prototype 2 what it is. The upgrade system has changed slightly with powers being granted to you in a number of ways. If you play only the story missions you will simply gain evolution points by completing objectives which will allow you to level up your basic abilities. The more amazing upgrades, called Mutations, come from completing various side missions and allow you to unleash the full potential of your power. Mutations are categorized into things like offensive, defensive, mobility, predator, and power so there are a ton to earn. As you start to unlock these more interesting powers the game becomes increasingly addictive, since you have more tools at your disposal to get creative with the killing. One very interesting power of note is Hunting. This new mechanic is used by Heller to locate certain people via sonar pulse. The pulse goes across the city and comes back to show you the general area where your target is. By activating Hunting mode you can quickly track down someone that you need to consume and tap into their mind to fill out the old Web of Deceit that reappears from the first Prototype.
Spaghetti fingers is one of the more notable powers
The Web of Deceit is what ties all the side missions together where by consuming key targets you will be privy to stealing their thoughts. It fills in some of the backstory, gives you useful enemy information, and access to other side missions. Most of the side missions have you travel to a certain location and kill everybody there, the reward being a new awesome power. Some powers can be unlocked by finding the collectibles scattered across the city, which are easy enough to track down with the in-game proximity location system. A third set of missions are called “Radnet” events. These are unlocked with a code that comes with a new copy of the game and give you access to another fifty challenges that seem like minigames with no meaning. The rewards for completion are unlocks within the game, such as new skins for your character, but they feel more like distractions to the game proper than anything else.
While I like Prototype 2, it feels like there is a total lack of meaning to almost everything you do. It is gooey, vulgar, and incredibly violent during the best parts, but the long laundry list of missions totally slow down the pace of what could be an amazing open world game. I want to go on a rampage of destruction, but I feel like I need to do my homework first in order to unlock the powers that I want. The game is competent but left me with an empty feeling that I couldn’t shake no matter how many enemies I slaughtered.