Xbox 360 Review (also available on PS3 & coming to PC in June 2012)
Prototype 2, as the story goes, sees you in the in the role of Sgt James Heller, a soldier and grieving husband obsessed with taking down the killer of his family – Alex Mercer. Infected by a new strain of the original’s Blacklight virus, you develop incredible new powers as you battle mutants, soldiers and more through the remains of New York Zero. The Green Zone is under the rule of the military Black Watch. The Yellow Zone is a quarantined. The Red Zone used to be Manhattan but is now overrun by virus-infused monsters like the Juggernaut and the Spike Brawler.
The first thing to mention is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played the first Prototype game. You play from a third-person perspective in an open sandbox-type environment. As the mutated James Heller, you are super-human, able to withstand falls from huge heights without injury. However, being attacked by mutated beings and / or soldiers does deplete your health. This is where Heller consumes organic life forms to replenish his health. He can also shape shift and assume other people’s identities and memories by consuming them.
As mentioned above, New York Zero (NYZ) is broken into 3 areas, or zones (Green, Yellow & Red) separated by sea. Initially you are restricted to one zone, but the other areas become unlocked as you progress through the story mode. The other zones are accessed by way of an ‘air bridge’ – the developer’s fancy term for a helicopter ride.
It’s the now familiar formula whereby you have to progress through a main storyline, with the option to complete a number side missions. It’s the same formula that we as see in nearly all open-world sandbox games now, like Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham City, GTA, etc. Completing side missions rewards you with power-ups in the guise of mutations.
You level-up throughout the game by completing the various missions. These missions usually involve hunting for a target (using the new sonar pulse ability), consuming that target, and then using that target’s identity to gain entry into a fortified building or facility. Taking people’s identities and shape shifting into them has become more tactical as opposed to the first instalment.
Other side-missions involve clearing mutant hives, assassinating Black Watch teams, or collecting items within a set time limit. By completing these, you receive credits to spend on a choice of ‘mutation’ upgrades – from faster sprinting speed & longer jumps, to more powerful finishing moves and faster healing, etc. It provides some freedom with regard to choosing your own upgrade path. There are also black boxes hidden around the map to find using a sort of in-built proximity meter.
Over the course of the game, you’ll be asked to defeat the numerous bosses you encounter. Defeating each one will eventually entail consuming them, which will add their individual mutant abilities to your repertoire – from hammer-fists to tendrils and from long chain-thingies to blades for arms – they’re all in there. Combat involves quick button taps for melee attacks, with longer button presses resulting in more powerful assaults. Later in the game you get to unlock so-called ‘devastator’ attacks, which can knock down / destroy enemies within a wider radius. Later still, comes the ability to control your own mutant pack. When you have consumed enough bosses and harnessed their signature attacks, you then have the ability to assign any 2 types to your attack buttons. It means you can change your attacking style mid-game in the same way you might change weapons in a shooter. Heller is able to use standard weapons in the game (guns, rocket launchers, etc.) that may have been dropped by soldiers or Black Watch guards. He also develops other skills, such as ripping the cannons off tanks and using them against enemies. Heller can also sneak up on unsuspecting human enemies, inject the Blacklight virus in them and create a “BioBomb” out of them to blow up objects, enemies and such.
The online aspect of Prototype 2 comes in the form of RADNET. There are two key elements to RADNET gameplay – Challenges and Events. Challenges are online-enabled stat-based competitions that pit you against your Xbox Live or PSN friends. Examples of Challenges are “Gravity Defier” which pushes the player to spend the longest time possible in the air, or “Pedestrian Shotputter” which monitors how far the player can throw an enemy. Events are standalone action games that have Heller doing things such as racing military helicopters along weaving paths through the virus-infested city or using Hammer Fist dives to take out successively more difficult formations of Black Watch troops in least number of attempts. The RADNET Edition basically refers to the seven weeks of free DLC that follows the initial launch of PROTOTYPE 2.
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