2013 Gaming Archive #8: Prototype 2

Prototype 2

Devolution 101

My initial review for Prototype 2, written during the days of the now-defunct BNBGAMING, still remains one of my favorite reviews, at least of the ones I’ve written. I feel it perfectly captured the sense of freedom and power that I felt while playing the game; freedom to go where I wanted and, more importantly, how I wanted, and the power to do whatever I had a mind to once I got there. It felt as if the metropolis I’d been let loose in was my playground to do whatever I wanted within.

It’s not that I hadn’t played an open-world game prior to Prototype 2, or that I was new to the action genre. In fact, I’ve played games superior to Prototype 2 that exemplified some or all of these characteristics. Prototype 2 wasn’t a unique title offering an experience unlike anything I’d seen before, but rather provided a smashing good time doing something similar to what I’d already experienced. It wasn’t going to win any medals for original design, but I couldn’t crucify it based on that alone.

In retrospect, having returned to the game a few years later, finishing off the remaining bits I’d never gotten around to, I think I ought to amend my previous verdict somewhat. Where I once felt Prototype 2 was a slightly worn-out yet well-executed concept, today it feels repetitive and dull to me. The mission variety was much too restrictive – it seems as if every mission had me either locate a random NPC somewhere in the city, enter a lair to destroy mutants, or steal someone’s identity to then infiltrate a military base or science lab and take out the base’s Big Cheese. In the early stages of the game, this gave me enough gameplay variety to make me happy. But since it continued literally until the closing credits, I was left unsatisfied. I wanted to put my badass abilities to more widespread use!

Prototype 2

At least I still had the freedom to roam around the city and tear it apart however I saw fit. And that was certainly a fun aspect of the game. The mutations themselves were wonderfully bizarre and seemed heavily influenced by Japanese gore films – which I won’t go into any further here, for fear of losing my lunch. Unfortunately, once the missions stopped being fun, using my mutant skills to run, jump, glide, and generally parkour around became a sort of hollow experience. So now even the fun bits were being undermined by this dominant flaw.

Also: Was it just me, or did the voice-over cutscenes that occurred every time I tracked down and absorbed a scientist or soldier not make a whole lot of sense? It’s hard telling how much was due to the story being incoherent, or just due to my having taken a break from the game for a couple of years. Or maybe it was just my flagging interest…?

In the end, I wish I could have went back to Prototype 2 and enjoyed it as much as I initially did. It should have been a rollicking good time. Instead, it ended up being an unsatisfying footnote in the evolution of gaming. Kind of ironic, really, that a game all about horrendously bizarre mutations should ultimately fail to impress me due to its flaccid samey-ness.

Prototype 2

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