Prototype 2 is Spectacularly Violent (PREVIEW)

Sgt. James Heller wants to kill Alex Mercer.

And not just kill him, it seems, but, like, really just murder the guy. Tear him up into little pieces. In fact, Heller wants to tear up everybody into little pieces, if that’s what it takes to get to Mercer. He’s driven by rage and he’s privy to an incredible shapeshifting power — he’s a virulent monster and he doesn’t care at all.

You might remember Alex Mercer from the first Prototype title. The main character had a monstrous power that let him shapeshift, take over other people’s bodies, and basically kill a lot of things in a satisfying, ultrapowerful way. Mercer begat Heller, sharing with him the virus that makes Mercer an Ubermensch, and also was responsible for the deaths of Heller’s wife and daughter. Prototype 2, taking place in the aftermath of Prototype, finds Heller stalking the streets and rooftops of a war-torn and infected New York City like a mixture between Batman and Carnage, alternating between avoiding military enemies and ripping apart anything that gets in his way. And we do mean ripping, and we do mean anything.

A couple weeks ago at Activision’s pre-E3 preview event, we got a chance to watch some of Prototype 2 in action with some never-before-seen game footage that gives more of an idea of just how vicious and merciless Heller can be. Since the first Prototype, New York has been ravaged and is divided into sections. There’s the Red Zone, where those infected by the virus Alex Mercer tried to stop still roam the streets unchecked, becoming huger and scarier than ever; the Yellow Zone, where things are quite so dire; and the Green Zone, where the private military group Blackwatch, in charge of holding back the infection, rules under martial law.

The demo we saw took place in the Green Zone, an area of the city that’s in relatively good shape, where civilians still live and (apparently) work on a day to day basis. In the demo we saw, which was light on story elements but heavy on action, Heller is stalking around the Green Zone, using his super-abilities to scale buildings and observe tactical situations from a distance.

In the first video demo, Heller is attempting to get close to a Blackwatch investigation of an infected mutant that was brought down by soldiers in the Green Zone. How the mutant made its way into the cordoned-off area is a matter of concern, drawing a military blockade and scientists in Hazmat suits. Civilians gather nearby, growing agitated by the threat to their safety posed by the mutants and the possibility of more infiltrating the Green Zone; and after a half-hearted attempt to disperse the crowd as it got more angry and unruly, the Blackwatch troops just mowed the civilians down in a shower of blood and hail of bullets.

Heller’s goal is to get close to the body the Blackwatch guys are investigating. There’s DNA in that thing — DNA he can incorporate into himself to gain new abilities. As we watch, Heller climbs down from the rooftop from which he has watched the Blackwatch troops, and at the bottom, he shape-shifts to look like one of them. Then he approaches the others, infiltrating the area, until he can get close to one of the soldiers.

As Heller approaches, he’s able to use an ability called the “Bio Bomb” on the soldier. Heller grabs the man from behind and jams a mutated barb into his neck, then steps back. Convulsing on his feet, the soldier suddenly explodes with disgusting tendrils that arc out, snapping up debris and soldiers and suddenly drawing them back to the soldier to create a massive, explosion. In one shot, the bio bomb annihilates everyone in the area except for Heller, leaving him free to investigate the area. That’s when Heller goes to the mutated body and “consumes” it, gathering its strength and abilities.

A hidden cave of monsters

That concluded one portion of the demo; next we saw Heller running through the Green Zone, checking things out at his own pace by making use of the game’s open world setup. First, Heller finds a Blackwatch military truck, where he can tap into the Blacknet — an information network used by the military that can be used to track down sidequests or targets to be tracked down and consumed to improve his abilities. Blacknet missions can be used to net new mutation upgrades for Heller and make him even stronger.

Using the Blacknet info, Heller is able to locate a “Lair,” an underground mutant hotspot filled with things to kill that basically acts as a treasure trove for Heller to gain upgrades and kill some bad guys. As we watch, he leaps off in the direction of the lair, running, gliding and climbing while avoiding the gunfire of random Blackwatch soldiers on the ground. Eventually, he finds the location of the Lair and crashes through the street to open a huge underground room. It’s literally crawling with mutated humans, as well as a few bigger things.

The pre-alpha build we saw seemed to have Heller at an extreme advantage over his enemies. He also had a lot of moves available to him: more than just the blade melee attacks in which he creates swords out of his arms, which he used to sweep away dozens of small enemies; we watched him use the bio bomb on a larger, faster monster, and add acrobatic jumps and upgrades to his blade to take on additional large bad guys.

Heller’s romp through the lair is an incredibly violent one, underscoring the intensity that Prototype 2 carries. Enemies get eviscerated and blown up, showering blood all over everything. Pieces go everywhere, and Heller routinely tears things and people apart like he’s digging a hole in the ground. As he clears through the lair, we get a taste of the awesome power players will have at their disposal as time goes on in Prototype 2.

The Behemoth
A huge creature raging down the streets of NYZ brought the demo to its finale. Soldiers tried to fight off the monster and basically got steamrolled by the huge mutated beast — known colloquially as the Behemoth. Of course, Heller decided to go up against the thing himself.

We didn’t see much of the fight with the Behemoth, but Heller did try to take the thing on after it squashed quite a few soldiers along the way. We watched Heller make use of another new ability called “weaponization.” Leaping through the air, Heller actually tore the cannon off a tank, running his mutant tendrils through it and activating it. Heller is actually able to use the tank as he would any other gun, and the same can be said of other vehicle weapons.

The Behemoth sequence was pretty intense, and kept the theme of the rest of he demo going: it was violent, and it showed off Heller’s insane abilities. Protoype 2 is going to be filled with plenty of opportunities to massacre enemies by the hundreds with a monumental amount of power and gore. There’s a lot of intensity in what we’ve seen so far — it’ll be exciting to see what a full-blown Prototype 2 brings in 2012.

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