E3 2011 – Prototype 2 Preview

The original Prototype was a flawed, but all the same underappreciated, game that was the ultimate power trip. I mean come on, what other game allows you to run up a 20 story building, leap off the top and obliterate a tank with an elbow drop? Or using a flying kick from 200 yards away to destroy an attack helicopter?

All of this craziness returns in Prototype 2, which looks to not only provide even more awesome ways to cause absolute destruction, but also polish up many of the issues critics and consumers had with the first title.

In Prototype 2, players take control of Sgt. James Heller. A former soldier whose family was taken from him due to the infection caused by the first game’s protagonist, Alex Mercer. Fueled by his thirst for revenge, a newly infected and super powered Heller vows to kill Mercer no matter what the cost.

The developers at Radical Entertainment were quick to point out some of the differences between Mercer and Heller. While Mercer had always been kind of at odds with his powers, Heller embraces them. He feels that his powers are just what he needs to take Mercer down and he welcomes the strength that they give him.

Throughout the course of the 20 minute demo several of Heller’s powers were demonstrated, including the bio-bomb, tendrils, and the returning transformable arm blade.

The Bio-Bomb is an especially cool stealth technique that Heller can use to either create a distraction or eliminate a large group of enemies all at once. After approaching an enemy, Heller stabs him with his hand, thereby infecting him. The enemy will then convulse for a bit until spikes eventually erupt from the host’s chest, piercing nearby enemies and pulling them close as the host explodes.

The tendrils power is similar to Prototype 1’s whipfist in that it causes Heller’s arm to change into a stretching whip that is able to hit far away enemies. However, unlike the whipfist, the tendrils actually expand upon hitting an enemy and are able to pierce another nearby enemy. Eventually, after enough hits, the place starts to look like the lair of a giant monster spider with enemies hanging from wires that are connected to the various buildings and structures in the area.
Another interesting new aspect to Prototype 2 is the way that the web of intrigue and upgrades to your powers are handled.

Just like in the first Prototype, players can consume enemies of interest and absorb their memories. In the first game, the memories were then added to the web of intrigue, which really was little more than a way to piece together the untold story of Prototype for those who opted to hunt down every memory.

However, in Prototype 2, those memories actually have a place in the gameplay. In order to demonstrate this, we were shown Heller’s “Hunter Vision,” which allows him to emit a sonar like signal that will eventually bounce back once it finds the target. The closer you get to the target, the faster you’ll see that signal bounce back.

After consuming the target and viewing his memory, a new mission related to that memory became available. From there the demonstration fast forwarded to Heller taking out two enemy APCS. By jumping on to an APC and pressing selecting “weaponization” from a series of options, Heller could rip out the tanks missile system and start using it to take down everything else in the area.
After completing the mission, Heller was granted a new mutation. Mutations are like perks in Prototype 2 that will enhance some aspect of Heller’s super powers.

The great thing about this is that it encourages players to develop their own playstyle for Prototype 2 and then enhance it by using the appropriate mutations. Think you could get around easier if you had more control over your flight? Slot your movement mutation with one that gives you an extra air dash. Frustrated by not being able to reach that high ledge? Slot your leg mutation with one that lets you jump higher.

The final aspect of Prototype 2’s gameplay that was shown off in the demo were the infected lairs. These are tough battle arena type areas that reward the player with some kind of reward for completion. In the lair that was demonstrated, Heller had to face off against an army of regular infected zombies all while being attacked by a new type of hunter that looked like it was made of lava and had spikes all over. This was a new type of extra durable hunter that actually provided Heller with an upgrade to his blade arm after being defeated.

More hunters went on the attack, but with Heller’s upgraded blade arm, they were no match. Next up came two juggernauts, which were huge lumbering enemies that hit like a truck. Fortunately, Heller could trap them in his tendrils and then rip an arm off, heavily decreasing the juggernaut’s effectiveness.

There’s still quite a long way off before Prototype 2 begins its infection when it hits the PS3 and Xbox 360 next year, but from what I’ve seen, it seems to be on the right track. I was a huge fan of the first game, so perhaps I’m not one to judge the things that others feel needed to be fixed, but all of the additions made seem like intelligent ones that will only serve to make the core gameplay of Prototype better.

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