In 2009, two very similar games were released within weeks of each other to positive reception from critics and gamers alike.
PS3-exclusive inFamous had a hero named Cole MacGrath in a fictionalized version of New York City get imbued with electricity-based powers after an “event” wreaked destruction and havoc in the city, and it provided the choice to be good or evil. The multiplatform Prototype had test subject Alex Mercer possess extraordinary powers after being subjected to a virus, and he then set out across Manhattan to learn the whole truth about what happened to him.
While Prototype clearly had the superior story, inFamous’ tighter controls made it the better overall game. And while inFamous 2 came out last year, Protoype 2 is just getting ready to hit store shelves this month.
In a major departure from how sequels typically progress, Prototype 2 actually has its predecessor’s protagonist now be the main antagonist. Set just over a year after the events of the first game, this time around a soldier named James Heller is on the hunt for Alex Mercer in a New York City that’s suffered a second, more devastating outbreak of the Blacklight virus. Blaming Alex for the death of his family, the primary motive of this game is one of revenge.
Of course, getting to exact that revenge won’t be a simple task. Besides Alex himself, you’ll have to fend off the same sorts of elite Blackwatch soldiers and infected mutants that the first game featured…and a few new creatures are added to boot. The game’s designers have promised you’ll be beset by “building-sized Infected behemoths bullrushing entire city streets.” Sounds pretty frightening to me.
But don’t despair, as James Heller isn’t some weakling; he’s got a pretty good arsenal up his sleeve, both in terms of movement and raw attack power.
A major new power is the ability to shoot out tendrils from your arms. They’ll give you the chance to attack foot soldiers or vehicles from a bit further away than Alex could in the original game.
Other great new powers included the ability to turn people into “bio bombs” with the virus, create webs to suspend enemies, and the chance to grab people without automatically killing them for times when a little intimidation is needed.
You’ll also still have a lot of customization at your fingertips as you acquire new skills through experience and absorbing targets with your virus powers. And these powers will be enhanced from the first game, so like Steve Austin, you’ll be “better, stronger, faster.” Another of the designers’ goals is to promote the use of more powers, and to that end certain powers will be more effective against different enemies. And the ability to toggle quickly between two powers will make using those different powers a simpler task.
You’ll also be able to use weapons, and it won’t just be little rifles. James Heller will even be able to rip the turret off of a tank and fire it at his enemies.
Finding those targets that have information or a skill to absorb will be a simpler task than before with a new sonar-based hunting ability. Instead of roaming or gliding around, looking for that one person with a beacon over their head, you’ll now eject a pulse from yourself. Using an effect that then colors the screen—save for your target—it’ll make distinguishing them in a crowd a bit easier.
Of course, any game of this sort has missions that need to be undertaken, and you’ll have a bit more control this time. By accessing the Blacknet computer network, you’ll be able to pick and choose among options of missions instead of simply going from person to person and having them give you whatever the game script calls for. It’ll make the choice to simply go the main story path or tons of sidequests pretty simple.
The game is also going the route that MW3 forged, with a subscription service called RadNet. It’ll provide access to 55 planned content drops, including new missions, challenges, avatar items, and more. There’s also an $80 special edition that features an art book, soundtrack CD, and voucher for 20% off from the game apparel store.
So will the game really live up to the promises the developers are giving us? You’ve got just a little over a week to find out.
Jeff is currently playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; follow him on Twitter at JKLugar.