Prototype 2 was a game I was incredibly excited about when it was announced, mainly because I felt the first one was extremely underrated.
The original Prototype was released in 2009 and followed the exploits and subsequent carnage of Alex Mercer, infected by the Blacklight virus which in short, turned him into a supermutant with amazing shapeshifting powers, but which turned pretty much everyone else into zombies.
Prototype was released around the same time as the PS3 exclusive game Infamous, and in many respects was overshadowed by this game which featured a similar superpowered protagonist named Cole. Additionally, Infamous's narrative was vastly superior to that of Prototype's but what many failed to acknowledge was the fact that Prototype was, quite simply - fun.
Yes, I won't deny it - there's nothing quite like plummeting from a forty story building into a crowd of zombies, turning your hands into gigantic blades and then going ballistic slicing them all up in an explosion of gore and body parts.
Somewhat violent? Well, ok yes. But a insanely fun stress reliever of note.
Why am I recapping all this? Well, when Prototype 2 was announced, I salivated in anticipation of what would hopefully be another underrated sleeper hit.
Sadly, I was wrong.
The plot in Prototype 2 centres around James Heller. He is hellbent on avenging his family who were killed during the initial outbreak of the Blacklight virus, and he blames Alex Mercer. Mercer infects Heller with the virus, and of course Heller begins to transform into the same kind of "subject" as Mercer himself.
What is this you ask, ye who hath never played the first game? Well, basically you can (and must to complete certain missions) consume NPC's that contain information you need. Not only do you then have access to their memories, but you can also shapeshift into their form if you need access to restricted areas without raising suspicion.
An added bonus to this whole shapeshifting thing is that you can unlock and gain powers such as claws, tentacles, blades and so forth which contribute to you becoming a kickass killing machine!
Now that I've made this sound awesome, lets get down to the horrible truth.
Yes, Prototype 2 is, on many levels filled with awesomeness. But on others it just falls horribly short.
Whilst Radical Entertainment has definitely kept the same style as the first game, there is a sense that everything is visually and narratively all rather flat and one dimensional.
Blood spatter looks like bad particle effects, textures at times look low-res, and whilst the animation, particularly the combat animation is very well executed, there is really a sense that Radical were just going through the motions.
The characters were overly stylised, particularly in contrast to the flashback and memory cutscenes which are superbly produced, often featuring real footage.
Additionally the story is largely irrelevant. To be fair, this was much the same in the first game, which is perhaps why Infamous crept out ahead upon their release. This time around however I had somehow hoped that the writers might take up the challenge and produce a game that not only entertained us with it's somewhat mindless combat, but which also stimulated out love of storytelling and provided us with a reason to engage further in the Prototype universe.
Ok, so the story isn't so great, but the combat must be awesome right? Wrong again.
Gameplay wise it thankfully doesn't let you button bash, but the controls are also not as nuanced as many other games of this genre. To harp on the same point when it comes to Infamous's sequel, Infamous 2, the combat isn't as quick and exhilarating but it makes for a more precise and satisfying experience.
Prototype's controls feel a little more rough around the edges, and the movement, whilst animated smoothly, is somewhat imperfect and lacking in control.
Prototype 2 is enjoyable but sadly infinitely forgettable. If you need to zone out a little and have some fun, well look no further, but once something better comes along (and with May being such a big release month that situation is fast approaching!) don't expect to return to this one any time soon.
And on that note, sit back and enjoy this rather fantastic Prototype 2 film, that a little birdie told me was filmed in Joburg...