Prototype 2 - Preview

Prototype 2 on PS3 and Xbox 360 at GAME


Set 14 months after the events of 2009's original, Prototype 2 is Activision's latest attempt at delivering the ultimate power fantasy. The open world action game again grants players access to a range of devastating abilities as they bid to destroy a plague known as the Blacklight virus, which mutates infected citizens into hideous monsters with an uncontrollable urge to kill the uninfected.

In an interesting twist, you assume the role of Sergeant James Heller, a soldier and grieving husband who's a victim of the player's actions in the first game, when the then-protagonist Alex Mercer left plenty of collateral damage in his wake - including Heller's family - as he tore apart New York on a quest to hunt down those responsible for turning him into a super-powered freak.

Heller begins the game desperate to avenge his family's murder by taking out Mercer, who's now a criminal kingpin leading a band of mutated monsters. A failed attempt to do so in the game's first act ends with an ironic twist of fate as Heller contracts a new strain of the Blacklight virus similar in nature to Mercer's - it doesn't kill him or turn him into a mutant, but instead leads to him developing an incredible range of abilities.

James Heller weilds the Blacklight virus in Prototype 2 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360

New York Zero

Prototype 2 takes place in New York Zero, the Big Apple having been rechristened after the destructive events of the first game, which have seen the city divided into three zones based on how widespread the virus is. The affluent Green Zone plays home to the rich and famous and at a glance you'd be hard-pressed to tell there was a humanitarian crisis in the city, the Yellow Zone is an overcrowded, poverty-stricken quarantined area, and the Red Zone is overrun by virus-infused monsters, with those unfortunate enough to be trapped there left to fend for themselves.

Each area has its own unique look and feel, and serves up different challenges and experiences, so your traversal opportunities and combat strategies will vary based on whether you find yourself in enclosed, densely populated ground spaces surrounded by enemies or sparsely populated, liberating rooftop ones where your privacy might be invaded by a hostile military chopper. Each zone is unlocked in a linear sequence as the story progresses, although once players have opened them all they can travel between them at will to complete side missions or just go on random rampages. On a basic level, the game revolves around meeting up with characters who give Heller missions, which generally set him on a collision course with the army or a group of monsters.

Mutated abilities and explosive action in Prototype 2 at GAME

Power trip

Being able to roam the city freely and wield a range of abilities can be an incredibly empowering experience and the infected Heller certainly has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He can run up and along walls, glide for short periods and even absorb other characters to take their form, disguising himself to cool unwanted military attention or infiltrate a restricted area. He also has an in-built sonar system for tracking targets, a new tendril attack which hits multiple foes at once, and the ability to rip weapons from enemies, be it a bazooka from a soldier or a giant turret from a tank.

Heller can punch rockets back in the direction of the enemy who fired them and plant timed grenades that explode in a web of tendrils, yanking everything in reach into the original target. Experience points earned throughout the game can be spent on upgrades to your many abilities, and given the fact that there are so many ways to achieve your deadly goals, it's nice to see the introduction of an improved power-selection wheel that allows you to quickly switch tactics in the heat of combat.

The original Prototype had plenty of cool features but its depiction of New York was somewhat lacking in character and at times the control scheme felt frustratingly restrictive given the powers at your disposal. The sequel appears to address those criticisms while also delivering even more ways to create explosive carnage and eyeball-popping, comic book levels of gross-out action in a highly impressive open world environment. If these impressions carry over to the finished game, then we'll be delighted to become a 'victim' of the Blacklight virus once more.

SKU: Previews-168774
Release Date: 21/03/2012