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Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Jo Garcia: 'Prototype 2' is a blast

By Jo Garcia

 Jo Garcia
Jo Garcia
Radical Entertainment last week released "Prototype 2," its second installment to the “Prototype” franchise. “Prototype 2” follows its protagonist, Sgt. James Heller, on his quest to end an outbreak and take down Alex Mercer, who’s said to be the person responsible for it.

If you didn't play the first one, here’s a little back story. A company named Gentek created a virus called Blacklight, and this virus wiped out all of Hope, Idaho. One survivor was found and detained: Elizabeth Green, or her code name, Mother. She was the incubator of the virus. Several years later, a Gentek scientist named Alex Mercer, while in a delusional state, took a vial of the virus and released it into the New York City. Blackwatch and Gentek were sure the virus had killed Mercer -- but they were wrong. Instead, it transformed him into a sort of super-being, like a monster that once was human. He fought his way to the Gentek headquarters and released Green. From that point on, the virus spread and consumed all of Manhattan. Nothing could be done to stop the spread of the virus. Blackwatch, a special forces unit that combats biological warfare, and Gentek felt nuking Manhattan was the only way to cleanse it, but their attempt failed when Mercer hijacked the nuclear weapon in the ocean.

There starts “Prototype.” Gentek once again thought Mercer was dead; they were wrong. Heller has a bone to pick with Mercer because the outbreak caused the death of his wife and daughter. He’s mad, and with nothing to lose he’ll stop at nothing. He’s willing to do anything, and I mean anything, to take Mercer down. Spoiler alert: At the start of the game Mercer and Heller meet. Mercer infects Heller, and the truth is presented to Heller. From this point it’s all about what Heller decides to do with this newly obtained information.

We all love a good story, but the game mechanics have to hold up. The game starts off with a light tutorial, which was nicely incorporated into the game’s storyline, so there’s no side learning. It pauses for a second, shows you the mechanic then, once you press the required button, you’re back at it again. This transition from mechanic to mechanic is seamless and very easy to adopt. Even a new gamer can become a pro at this game with the way it teaches.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a character has poor movement in the game environment. Poor movement makes for too many missed steps, like falling to your death on a high-speed chase or simply killing the near completion of a long, drawn-out jumping sequence that has to be "dead on" or you don't get the achievement. There are so many instances like that in" God of War," in which the camera angle choices make for limited movement to the point that it can be annoying.

But this open-world feel to the movement of Heller is amazing. The transition from a walk to a full sprint to a building climb to end it in an off-the-roof glide onto an enemy is impossible with no fail, right? Wrong! This character’s movement within the game space is precise. And the best part is it doesn't require a million button-push sequences to get the result. Sorry, "Mortal Kombat," I am still waiting on my one-button fatality. I could have made that movement sequence longer if I wanted but I think you get the point.

So with the movement out of the way, let's get into the weapon wheel. I love weapon wheels. All the great games have them. Titles such as "Resistance 3," the "Mass Effect" series, "Deus Ex," "Assassin’s Creed" and "Fallout" have made really good use of weapon wheels. And so has “Prototype 2.” An easy-access weapon wheel pauses the action of the game so you can change your current weapon. The second you release the weapon wheel button, you’re back into action without a beat and you never lose sight of where you are, so there are no surprises. These offensive powers include a blade (the name tells you what that is); claws (which transform Heller’s hands into claws that even wolverine would be jealous of); the hammerfist (great for destroying vehicles; they deal a massive amount of damage when you can manage to hit your target, though accuracy isn’t great); the whipfist (a great long-range weapon that hits things from a safe distance); and my favorite, the tendrils (allow him to grapple enemies, vehicles, helicopters or whatever is in sight and cause complete chaos). You take that ability and mix it with a human bio bomb and you have mass destruction. Heller acquires offensive powers as he goes, which will appear on his weapon wheel. You can choose to equip whichever power will suit your slaughtering needs.

The in-games objectives in “Prototype 2” are clear and appear on the on-screen mini map. There are no load screens and there are a lot of cut scenes. I thought for sure those cut scenes were how they were hiding the load times, but you can skip them by pressing the start button then the select button. No load times -- that is an amazing break.

There’s so much more to the game that would take forever to detail out. The game has mutations that change the powers on your weapon wheel. These secondary abilities will become available later in the game. The secondary abilities enhance your weapon wheel's primary powers. You will fill a gauge by consuming people. The severity of these abilities has different levels based on the amount of people consumed, and each power has different secondary abilities. Let's just say there are going to be a lot of options on how you destroy things.

This title is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. There’s a limited-run version out there that’s regularly priced and comes with the Radnet content code. This code comes on specially marked copies (usually first-run copies) and will be available while supplies last. The Radnet content packs 55 extra pieces of digital content over seven weeks. That's a lot of free stuff. The collector’s edition also comes with the Radnet content code. Be sure to check out the game. You won't be disappointed.