Fourteen months after the events of the first Prototype, New York is once again haunted by the lethal virus. A lot has changed in those fourteen months but for James Heller, it's just the beginning.
The story of Prototype 2 plunges you into the role of James Heller, an army officer, husband and father. New York city (now named New York Zero) is being struck with a virus that is causing chaos on the streets and to the people living on them. When James returns home and finds his wife and child murdered by the beasts that the virus has created, he swears revenge on the man that apparently caused it all - Alex Mercer.
At the very beginning of Prototype 2 you can sympathize with the grief James is going through. The first half an hour or so of the game is quite story-driven and gives you all the information you need to begin your hunt for Alex Mercer. I was very interested in how the story would play out and so far, it's been great. However, as you go through the game collecting powers, upgrades and causing destruction on a mass scale, I soon found myself forgetting that James Heller is not a bad guy. Yet, it's hard to see this when you're chopping up marines and causing chaos on a massive scale.
Whereas Alex Mercer's past actions were unknown, you already know straight from the beginning that James is not a bad guy and, at first, the game reminds you of this but as you steadily progress, the story is swallowed up in the carnage that you can cause. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I don't think, but just don't expect the story to stay with you the entire game. It's easy to forget when you have so much power at your fingertips!
The developers have definitely increased the visuals for this second outing. The first game didn't have amazing graphics but it didn't have to as you'd often be chopping up enemies and sprinting across buildings to really notice the flaws with the visuals. That said, Prototype 2 is much nicer on the eyes. The environments are much more detailed and colourful and character animations such as walking, jumping and attacking no longer look like they were pulled from a PS2 game. If you look deep enough, you're sure to find some visuals glitches and errors (especially when you're destroying tanks/helicopters and the like) but as far as initial impressions go, this game looks much, much better.
Most of the core elements of the original game are present in this one. You begin the game with only a few powers to assist you (such as gliding and ariel dashes) and these are fun but being a Prototype game, you're soon going to be wanting more. The first few missions of the game introduces the powers and unlocks some more for you but you'll have to wait for the more powerful, battle-changing upgrades. Just enjoy what you've got at the time.
The unlocks system has been tweaked, giving players a more polished interface and a better power system altogether. If you played the original game, you'll know that when you completed a mission the game would tell you how many new upgrades you've unlocked. It was great to see loads of new stuff just waiting for you to buy but don't expect as much as that in Prototype 2.
Now, you can earn upgrades by completing missions which, in my opinion, have more depth to them than the first game, and optional objectives. There's a TON of stuff to collect and do in this game and it feels far more organized and integrated into the story than the first game. For example, one such collectible is a Blackbox that you'll find on dead Blackwatch soldiers in various locations. Each section of the city you're in is split into sections and each section might contain, say, four Blackboxes. If you collect all four in one set you'll unlock a mutation to equip.
Mutations are specialized abilities that Heller can equip to improve his performances. Mutations are split into categories like Offensive, Defensive, Locomotion and Special. Each category has plenty of stuff for you to unlock and once you unlock one, you can equip it to give Heller bonuses such as increased speed, jump height, damage and many, many more. This is a far better way to introduce upgrades as it makes you feel as if you're earning them and as if you're actually tweaking how Heller performs. Great fun.
The combat of Prototype 2 is as gory and awesome as it was in the original game. Now, it not only looks better but feels better too. Thanks to a wider camera angle, combat is much more accessible as you can see more of your environment as you run around killing things. If you're being hounded by a tank or chased by a helicopter, it's much easier to see them and much easier to react than ever. At first, this change in camera angle put me off a little as I like to be zoomed in on the character I'm playing as in games, but I began to see the advantages to how the developers have tweaked it. Takes a little getting used to, but just persevere.
As I said earlier, a lot of the core elements of the original game are present in this one. You never feel as if you're being told how to approach a fight. It's up to you to decide if you steathily eliminate the higher-ranking enemies and then open fire on the grunts with your god-like abilities, or if you choose to get in a tank and just blow everything up. If you enjoyed the first game for its gory, bloody combat then you'll feel right at home in Prototype 2.
There are a couple of new powers in this game but as the unlocking in Prototype 2 is much more paced and organized than the first, you'll have to hold off on getting the best powers quickly. I prefer this slower unlocking system as it gives you time to get used to the abilities that you've currently got but I can see how some players might want to get the best, most appealing abilities as soon as possible. All I can say is just get used to the abilities that you've got and then when you eventually get that new power you wanted, it'll be much more enjoyable.
Prototype 2 is a much more organized, thought-out and satisfying game than the original. Featuring over-the-top combat abilities and freedom, this game is a must-buy for gamers who like collecting things, blowing stuff up and being able to do things that make you feel truly powerful. Regardless of whether the developers tried to improve the story, it eventually gets lost in the combat and freedom of the game but it doesn't matter - you'll be having too much fun to even notice. Buy it now!