E3 2011 - Prototype 2 preview

If it ain't broke, why fix it?

The first Prototype was billed as an action game, but it was really more accuretly described as the Ultimate Catharsis Simulator.Rough day at work? Significant other got you down? No problem - just pop in prototype and after an hour spent running up buildings or tearing buildings into pieces with your meaty-sharp hell tentacles, and it's not all that bad.And witha handful of new mechanics, new enemies,new powers and a wickedly eager new main character for the player to control, Prototype 2 seems poisedto match its predecessor verbatim in both graphics and gameplay, then increase the bloodshed.

Things haven’t gone so well for the Big Apple since the initial viral outbreak of the last game. This time around, players are thrown into the shoes of one Sergeant James Heller. Just like in the previous game, our protagonist has been infected by the Blacklight Virus, which turns him into a massive badass as opposed to a blubbering zombie like everybody else. The twist is that Heller has a bone to pick with Alex Mercer - the previous game’s protagonist - on account that he believes Mercer killed his family.

This proves to be a very big deal. Alex was a reluctant killer. Heller is more of a murderous, remorseless man on a mission. Unlike Mercer, Heller will immediately embrace his newfound gifts. One of the greatest weaknesses of the first Prototype was that Mercer came across as some sort of mentally unstable psycho; wherein, one moment he would be swearing to dispense justice upon Black Watch for all of those infected by their bioweapon, and the next, ruthlessly murder every civilian stupid enough to be located within a five-mile radius of him. The developer is hoping to create a much more consistent anti-hero in Heller.

Aside from getting his hands on Mercer, Heller intends to stop the spread of the Blacklight Virus and save New York (now dubbed New York Zero). The entire city is on quarantine, andhas been divided into different color-coded sections based upon the level of infection (Green Zone = Blackwatch turf, Yellow Zone = infected civilians wandering the streets praying for the sweet release of death, Red Zone = not as nice as the Yellow Zone).

The demo began with the gentlemen fromdeveloperRadical Entertainment showing off one of Heller’s new tricks in a stealth based mission - the Bio Bomb. Sneaking up on a soldier guarding a Blackwatch (read: evil military) outpost in the Green Zone, Heller morphed his fist into a sort of meat stiletto, then nonchalantly shoved it right into the guy’s neck, thenquickly pulled his arm back and walked away. His prey began to convulse and scream. Soldiers surrounded the doomed man and then it happened: the poor bastard exploded into a cloud of razor sharp tendrils that impaled all nearby Blackwatch, pausedand then contracted, pulling the speared victims in beforedetonating them in a shower of blood.

With a power like this, Heller infiltrated theoutpostwith ease. Moving about the camp, Heller used a new passive ability called Sonar Hunting tolocatehis prey -a nearbyofficer. Once he was subdued and his memories consumed, we were introduced to blacknet, which is basically the private internet used by Blackwatch. By scanning enemy memories and hacking into blacknet via satellite trucks, Heller can gain new missions, side goals, and extra information.

The rest of the demonstrationshowed off new combat abilities, which were being used to tear intoa few new enemies.Heller seems to have at leastseveral of Alex'sfamiliar mutations (e.g. creepy Edward Scissorhands, an even longer giant arm-scythe, etc.) along with a brand new one - Tendrils. Try to imagine Spider-Man shooting out his webbing, only the webbing looks like hamburger and it can tear apart tanks andeviscerate people. Heller was also able torip the missile launchers off nearby armored vehicle, which he then used against the Blackwatch itself.This hearkened back to developer Radical's Incredible Hulk games and it's awesome. We don't know how many new abilities there are altogether, but we're hoping for a high number.

We also got a look at Prototype 2's answer to treasure chests - lairs. These are basically arenas populated by an extremely unhealthy number of mutated enemies. In addition to the garden variety beasts, we saw hunters, which look somewhat like lava gorillas with spines on their backs, as well as juggernauts - bulky, gray-skinned bashers with giant, popeye-like arms. Then there was the behemoth, a three-story tyrant with one massively bloated arm and shoulder and a distended kind of jaw. It threw a flaming car at us, but considering the power our own character wields, it only served to fire up our blood thirst. This thing is going to be FUN to kill.

It looks like Radical Entertainment has much more up its sleeve with this coming sequel. The original concept was definitely fun,and thefundamental tenets ofgore, more gore, and over the top super powers look to be in full effect,and with at least a few refinements and improvements.We’ll have more to add once we get some hands-on time with this one.

Jun 7, 2011

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