Prototype 2 REVIEW

Prototype 2 blade hand

Heller's weird hand made it a nightmare to eat a stir-fry

Release Date: 24 April
RRP: £39.99 * Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Also available on: PS3 and PC (27 July)
Publisher: Activision

Rather than take its inspiration from comic books, open world superhero series Prototype decided to do things the other way round, fleshing out its character roster and world in the first game before branching out into print. Thankfully Prototype 2 retains the balls-to-the-wall irresponsibility of the first game, giving you an enormous sense of power – though this time with a significantly more compelling central character.

Sergeant James Heller’s wife and daughter have been infected and killed by a mysterious virus released by the previous game’s protagonist Alex Mercer. The virus has gone on to cause havoc in Manhattan, with infected citizens roaming the streets and government organisation Blackwatch attempting to rein in the chaos through military force. In the course of chasing down his family’s killer Heller ends up becoming infected himself – though not with the zombifying strain that’s caused this apocalyptic destruction. Instead, he’s gifted with super-human strength, Spider-Man-like parkour abilities and gory melee weapon augmentations. Don’t expect a Marvel hero though, as Heller’s a morally dubious individual to say the least, frequently peppering the game’s quieter moments with naughty words and blunt asides as he attempts to avenge his family.

There isn’t much downtime in Manhattan compared with other open world games, as you free-run from mission to mission at a breakneck pace. Missions unfold in various ways, though it’s really up to you how you accomplish your goals. You can rush into an area, tendrils and blade arms flailing in a frantic orgy of haemoglobin, dismembered limbs and grin-inducing combo-based melee combat. Or, thanks to a sharp stealth system, you can assume the form of an important individual through Heller’s “consume” ability and sneak your way in, using their body to pass through checkpoints and security.

Prototype 2 doesn’t look fantastic. Its vision of Manhattan, while suitably atmospheric, doesn’t boast the same sharpness as Assassin’s Creed II’s Renaissance Italy or GTA‘s caricatured real world mock-ups, and while the cutscenes look pleasingly stylised, with crimson vividly juxtaposed against monochrome, they feel disconnected from the rest of the game. But none of this prevents Prototype 2 from providing a lesson to more established superhero game franchises, and a deeply satisfying experience in its own right.

Matthew Sakuraoka-Gilman

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