“Prototype 2” review: great power comes at a cost

“Prototype 2” is to video games what a movie like “The Expendables” is to film. It doesn’t really have anything innovative or creative to offer, but people will pay for it because there are a lot of tough guys cussing at each other while innocent civilians get torn apart and cities get blown up in fiery explosions.
There’s a story of revenge laying on top of this pile of carnage and destruction, but every scene can be skipped with a press of the back button and there’s never really any reason to care anyway.

The gist of the plot, which is set in a quarantined New York City dubbed the “NYZ,” is that the main character, James Heller, wants to kill the main character from the previous “Prototype” game, Alex Mercer, because he appears to have killed Heller’s wife and daughter. Heller has been infected with the “Mercer Virus,” which grants him the ability to absorb organisms (humans) in order to develop offensive powers and gain the memories of those he absorbs. Along the way, Heller meets a lot of big, angry guys and slim, attractive girls who shout expletives at one another and fight with giant, mutated weapons that protrude from their appendages.
Black and white scenes punctuate each mission in the game.

All significant story elements are delivered through prerendered cutscenes that look very impressive in their moody black-and-white-with-hints-of-red style, but pop up before and after every single mission. Every. Single. Mission. And they are not smoothly integrated into gameplay, so the player is taken out of the experience every time a mission is activated. Not to mention the flashback/memory flashes that feature live-action scenes to tell back story that Heller sees when he absorbs characters that are important to the plot.

The controls are shoddy at best, and Heller rarely goes where you want him to. The game is designed specifically to make players feel ultimately powerful, which sees Heller leaping tall buildings in a single bound and tossing cars like they were stuffed animals, but all that power makes him feel downright clumsy in the latter portion of the game.
The upside to a game designed around ultimate power is that players can absolutely destroy pretty much any enemy (or helpless civilian) they run into with little more than a minute or two of furious button mashing.

Unfortunately, the upside to the game design has a downside, which is the button mashing. There are a few moments where good timing can result in the quick dispatch of a foe, but those moments are few and far between, and simply hammering away at the baddies works wonders nearly all the time.

Explosion and giant, mutated monsters are commonplace in the NYZ.

The in-game camera leaves a lot to be desired. Much of the more action-packed battles end up being views from the inside of a building or underneath a behemoth baddie, which actually makes the effectiveness of button mashing a helpful feature.

There are several side missions that players can complete outside of the main storyline scattered across the NYZ in order to upgrade movement, defensive, offensive and power-specific skills as well as collectibles in the form of black boxes found on several dead soldiers lying about the game world. Players also receive upgrades for leveling up after completing missions and beating bad guys.
While “Prototype 2” brings virtually nothing new to the table in terms of gameplay or story, and camera controls and movement are pretty frustrating throughout the game, it does feel good to go nuts and destroy every moving thing in your immediate area every so often. At least until the camera gets stuck in a wall and you can’t see what your doing. Then it becomes frustrating again.

If you have a spare $60 to spend and you can ignore a shallow story, janky controls and a finicky camera, then you should consider picking up this game simply for the satisfaction of being a super-powerful badass who can completely destroy everything in your path. Otherwise, maybe consider getting a copy of an older game like “Infamous” or “Crackdown” that has a similar style and might cost a little less money to satisfy your need for destruction.