Prototype 2 preview
By developer Radical Entertainment’s admission, the first Prototype game wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Lessons have been learnt and Prototype 2 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC is shaping up to be the badass blood and guts free-for-all the original should have been. The sequel puts a new protagonist at the heart of a crimson-stained, virus-stricken city, armed with mutant appendages and a hot temper. Ahead of release Stephen Ebert had a first play.
Canadian developer Radical Entertainment begins by introducing Prototype 2 in an almost apologetic fashion, eager to put the past behind them, learn from mistakes, and deliver a sock-rocking sequel to shock and awe. Drastic steps have been taken to achieve this. There’s a new protagonist for a start.
Alex Mercer? He’s still kicking about, but this time you’re in control of Sergeant James Heller – an angry man with a thirst for revenge, placing the blame for the death of his family firmly at the feet of Mercer.
A chance meeting and a failed revenge attempt later ends up with them both being allies (sort of) and Mercer transformed into a mutant imbued with superhuman strength and the capacity to cause carnage. It’s not long before Heller the man mutant becomes public enemy number one, and an “all against me” mentality develops. Now Heller’s the bad guy on-the-run from the might of the police and military, on foot in a heavily patrolled New York overrun with nasties.
We played a few missions that mainly had us to-ing and fro-ing from location to location, with controls tailored to give you the freedom of the city. The ability to walk up walls, glide from rooftop-to-rooftop and parkour your way through the Big Apple, evading capture from a ‘Blackwatch’ enemy organisation out to hunt you down delivers the kind of superhero feeling that Radical Entertainment clearly believes has been lacking.
Beginning the game, it’s up to Heller to acquire some of his more lethal powers. Weapons included a pair of Freddie Krueger claws, a blade, a thorny whip that extends from Heller’s arms and tendrils that can be used to string up multiple enemies like puppets.
The in-game physics guarantees a different-looking outcome each time these are used, as enemies, objects and vehicles are sent flying and dangling from the sticky tentacled appendages unleashed by Heller. The ability to level up each of these lets players customise their style of play to their strengths and preferences.
Free reign to cause anarchy lets players rip off tank turrets to use as handheld firearms, pluck helicopters from the sky, and hijack vehicles to toss into the air, before striking a pose as you send them hurtling back down to Earth in a Kodak moment.
Radical Entertainment is keeping the rest a secret, leaving us with plenty to look forward to. What of the unlikely Mercer/Heller friendship? Where next will the story go? And what else is different are all questions to which this developer is not quite ready to answer just yet. Instead we’re left with a lasting, positive impression of a potentially very enjoyable sandbox game full of all the toys that Prototype fans had hoped for.
Prototype 2 hits the shops on 24 April 2012