The shape shifting abilities of Sergent James Heller made their way to Doltone House in Sydney as Activision presented an extensive look at Prototype 2. During two hours of the lives of fellow editor Matt Vella and me, we experienced the gameplay that made Prototype a great game. We hunted down Blackwatch troops, destroyed helicopter with flying kicks and dived into the chaos that is known as the red zone to experience the open world, shape shifting world that is known as Prototype 2.
Before we could get our hands on the action, we were treated to a short trailer entitled ‘Red Zone,’ introduced by producer Jonathan Lim. It showed James Heller in various CG action sequences against the infected. With that out of the way, the small group of journalists were sent to try out the game. We were greeted with the main menu, so we would be focusing on the first few missions of the game. As soon as we started the game, we were greeted with the intro. It sets up Sgt James Heller as a character and the second outbreak of the virus, which is being named the Mercer Virus after the protagonist of the first game, Alex Mercer. Various news reports and cuts to Heller’s family set up the dire atmosphere. Before Heller’s return to the United States, he discovers that his wife and daughter are dead. He joins in the fight against the virus and this is where the tutorial starts.
The tutorial is integrated with the story. Heller and his patrol are taken out. However, Heller survives. He spots Alex Mercer, who has been making rare appearances as of late, and decides to chase him through the streets of New York. The tutorial acts as the chase, with prompts at the top of the screen to guide the player through the controls. At one point of the chase, you have to dodge. The game stops so that you can execute a dodge. This is what to expect in the tutorial. After it is completed, you discover that Mercer infects Heller with the virus, granting him the same shape shifting powers Mercer was given in the first game.
After we were done with the tutorial, the game really begins. Just like Prototype, the world of Prototype 2 is open for exploration. You can run up buildings, dash and glide in the air and consume any human being to assume their appearance, which, like Prototype, will be an important ability for the upcoming missions. There will be side missions but, as it is starting the game out, our focus was on the main missions. During these main missions, you will meet various characters who will help out Heller on his mission of liberation and revenge. One such mission involved one of Heller’s closest allies, Father Guerra. He has holed himself in a local church after the outbreak. However, Heller asks for information on the virus. Guerra reveals it is Gentek and Heller decides to run off, trying to find someone of importance.
The Father Guerra mission introduces a new ability not seen in the first game. With Mercer, you were given thermal vision, which had to be activated via the power wheel (or by one of the directional buttons). Heller, on the other hand, has a new power similar to Cole’s power in InFamous. By clicking the left analogue stick, Heller can pinpoint human targets in order to track them down. It will even work if the target is off screen. All the player needs to do is to follow where the second wave is coming from. So, for example, the wave recedes to the right of the screen. The player must go in that direction to find Heller’s target. I would consider this an excellent addition to Heller’s arsenal.
Matt and I tried out the first few missions of the game, taking turns (as we shared one Xbox 360) before Jonathan Lim interrupted the session. He revealed that there was a section of the game set in the red zone residing in the disk, waiting for our exploration. All of the Xbox 360’s were loaded with the section, which saw Heller reach level 21. Character levels have been introduced in Prototype 2, replacing the upgrades feature of Prototype. Evolution Points (or EP) is still the experience points of the game. Once we were giver free reigns on the red zone, with all of the powers, we’d make sure that all hell was broken loose.
What you witnessed in Prototype return in Prototype 2. Flying kicks to helicopters, slashing helicopters and general madness return in the red zone. A few new features, however, caught our eyes. One of them is the fact that Heller can quick switch two powers, allowing combos with the blade and the hammer or the whip and the claws. Another feature occurs when Heller lands on the helicopter. Heller can swing onto the wing and steal the missile system right off it and use it for his own good. The red zone is pure carnage and one which will satisfy even the most blood hungry players.
Sadly, that is where our time with the game ends as we conducted an interview with Jonathan Lim. However, the game has promise. Fast action, an interesting storyline and a grand open world may make this game a must own. Of course, if you are a fan of the first game, then the second game will not disappoint. I had fun playing Prototype 2 and Matt said the same. However, he worries that the action may become a button masher and there are some signs that it may go down that path. With that being said, Prototype 2 has the making of surpassing its older predecessor.
I got the chance to talk to producer Jonathan Lim. We discussed various topics pertaining to Prototype 2, from story and gameplay to the design process. You can check it out here. Prototype 2 will see a release on April 24, 2012.