Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Other formats available: PS3, PC (July)
Developer: Radical Entertainment
Publisher: Activision
Price: £49.99
Rating: 18

In the original Prototype game you could be as bad as bad can be, this time around things have changed.

If you were to take only a quick look at the premise of Prototype 2 you could be forgiven for thinking that it is just another in a long line of sci-fi, dystopian games with an evil corporation manipulating an oppressed population. It is this, but also a lot, lot more.

In Prototype you took on the role of Alex Mercer, a man infected by a mystery virus that gave him special skills that developed as you progressed through the game. This is rather similar to the PS3 exclusives Infamous and Infamous 2 and so we expected to play the second Prototype as Alex Mercer again, that isn’t the case.

This time around you take on the role of James Heller, a soldier who has been infected with the Mercer virus who now has some of the same special skills. At the start these are limited. He can run up walls of buildings, survive falling off again and also glide between buildings. As you progress through the story Heller gains new moves and weapons. If you want to be boring you can also pick up guns, rocket launchers and so on.

Having said this sometimes you have to do this because there are times when you can’t just be yourself but have to pretend to be one of the baddies from Blackwatch. This is another of Heller’s top tricks; the ability to suck the essence out of someone and then pretend to be them.

This is a core mechanic of the game and on the whole it works well – although in some ways a little too well.

The idea is that you sneak up to an enemy and then consume them, then you press left on the d-pad and you transform into them. You don’t have to sneak up, you can be very obvious about it if you want to. This approach will trigger a lot of others though and therefore negate your disguise.

By changing your appearance you can do a lot of sneaking around and get into a lot of Blackwatch bases in order to wreak much havoc. It is also a good way to lose large amounts of baddies who are trying to use you as target practice. Simply get behind a wall, change your appearance and hey presto you’re no longer eating more lead than a Roman water tester.

This is the basis of a lot of the early missions as there are many scientists and such in Blackwatch who you want to get information out of. This is a side effect of consuming them as you get whatever’s in their heads, so you can begin to unravel more about the Mercer virus and the conspiracy behind it. In some ways the fact that you can consume just about anyone when you want, makes these stealth levels very easy.

There are times when you need to be careful how you consume your target as they may be in full view, but the guards are usually easily dispatched without anyone else raising so much as an eyebrow.

To counter the fact that you can pass as anyone you want, at some points in the game there are these special sensors that can analyse someone’s DNA and therefore spot that you are a fake. These seem a little strange and a little bolted on in order to try and make the game a little harder in some places.

Prototype 2 though is a stunning game to look at with lots of detail and great animation. As you can climb up high you get presented with some stunning vistas that stretch for quite some distance. When you walk through crowds as James Heller no one pays you much attention, however, if you are disguised as a Blackwatch soldier people stand up from benches and make way for you as they are clearly scared of you.

Having played Infamous and Infamous 2 and often wondered how similar Prototype was I was pleasantly surprised to see how different Prototype 2 is.

Everything with the game works well too, the fighting mechanics, the movement are slick and the storyline is actually worth paying attention to for once, which makes a nice change.

So if you like your action sandboxy with a choice of how you do it, some elements of RPGing all served up with a steaming side order of blood and gore then Prototype 2 is for you.

Review by Tuckski for BCS

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