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Reviewed: Prototype 2
Author:Michael Ahlf
Quickie Reviews for September, Ho!

First up on my agenda: Prototype 2. Way back when, I reviewed the original - the big thing with this series (it's a series now, right?) being that it was Activision taking the engine they'd built for the Spider-Man games and making their own property with it. At the time, I considered it kind of a hedge, so they'd have something to keep making if Marvel went another direction.

All that still holds, but moreover, Prototype 2 both improves upon the original and leaves a lot to be desired. Though the story's essentially about a father doing everything he can to rescue his daughter, there are too many throwaway characters brought into the game; too many "well that would be interesting, oops he got eaten" moments. Betrayals aren't really all that shocking when they're expected; the loss of characters not much of a loss when characters aren't sympathetic. The biggest issue I had was that over and over again, the whole "who's the bad guy" question kept changing. Sure, James Heller was always out to kill someone - but sometimes it's a faceless corporation, sometimes it's a Blackwatch commander, sometimes it's a bunch of scientists, sometimes it's Alex Mercer, the first game's protagonist. And really, what they did with Mercer is itself kind of a letdown.

In terms of gameplay, I'll say they got it 90% right. Gone is the "web of intrigue" system, hunting down people for story points... which was fun enough, but got boring after a while, especially since it basically required a Game+ playthrough to finish. On the other hand, with it gone, a Game+ playthrough really doesn't have much to offer.

Combat and controls? Tightened, improved, and there's definitely a lot more player advancement and a lot less grinding. Tying skills and powers advancement to short sidequests was a brilliant move, because it means most players can enjoy the game with defined objectives throughout rather than having to rely on running around killing small enemies for tiny shreds of XP in order to be powerful enough to continue in the story. So good on Activision from that side.

Worth picking up? Well, if you're a completionist, or you can find it on something of a discount, sure. For many players, it's probably one to be rented.

Added:  Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf


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