Prototype 1 was a mess.
It had it moments, but generally speaking it was all over the place. The graphics were sub-par and coupled with a banal aesthetic, making it fairly routine. The gluttonous leveling system shoveled new skills and power-ups at you at an overwhelming pace, and after 4-5 hours I found it to be, frankly, a pretty stale experience. However it felt like that game had a ton of potential. All someone had to do is work out the pacing of it all.
I'm happy to report Prototype 2 has dial back where it needed to, and improved in many of it's systems.
Though it's not going to win any awards, the game is now much more appealing to see in action. Textures are now more defined, there appear to be many more things happening on screen, contemporary visual effects are now in place, and it all happens at a fairly sustainable framerate.
Despite all this, it's probably worth mentioning most characters in the game lack any real character to define them other than "I'M UPSET! BLARGH!". That is to say, there is very little depth to anyone in their design and thought. Is this a surprise? Not sure. Plus the cutscenes appear to be running is a much lower framerate than the actual gameplay segments.
Much like the first one, this game is extremely fast and vicious. However unlike the first one it's very rewarding. Moves are responsive, and gave me a sense of extreme power. Running, jumping, gliding and smashing through things amongst the people in this world made me feel unique. I suppose trashing 57 foes in a matter of seconds helps with that though.
Health is replenished by "absorbing" other people. That is to say, you snatch someone out of the crowd and slurp them up, with tentacles, into your skin. Its disgustingly thrilling every. single. time.
Once the game takes the training wheels off and opens up the city, you're allowed to go wherever--yup, time to party! Seriously, running down the street and up the side of a building to the top, leaping hundreds of feet into the air, snapping into a glide and then air-thrusting as you near the ground and then finally slamming into the ground like a goddamn boss is awesome!
Radical Entertainment has done a wonderful job of dialing back the skill system just enough to keep it rewarding and enticing, and not annoyingly overwhelming like the first.
Side-missions yield gameplay rewards and not just pointless achievements or trophies. For example finding all 5 radio drops (similar to the Satallite Uplinks in iNFAMOUS) will unlock a list of options where you can boost melee damage by 10%, or even jump 10% higher. They're fun to seek out, thanks to the furiously quick gameplay, and make sense to the narrative.
I don't mind cussing all the much, but when it's gratuitous it's annoying. The protagonist makes damn sure he drops the F-bomb in almost every scene, because you know, HE'S REALLY PISSED OFF GUYS!! In fact in one instance where he got frustrated with using a computer he was like "WHAT THE **** MAN, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE THIS ****ING THING. THIS ****ING THING SUCKS. ****ING COMPUTERS!!!!!!111ONE".
Ok. ok. We get it. He's upset. I suppose my annoyance with it all is because it just comes across as lazy. There are many other ways to express frustration. How about trying to do it through gameplay? Blah. Tangent.
Anyway, I really do like Prototype 2. The sense of speed and power the game gives you in second to none. inf act I don't think I've ever played a video game that knows how to make you feel like you're completely able to traversing a city within a few moments, and without flying. It's a very good video game.
However this one more thing I'd like to share--food for thought really.
At one point in the game I went to slurp up one of the Blackwatch soldiers and he exclaimed "Killing me won't bring back your family Heller!". It was a reminder that my mission was a pointless one--he was right. Though it was a very small morsel of the overall Prototype 2 experience, it was enough to completely take me out of the game. What the hell was I doing? Yes the protagonist was angry, seeking vengeance, but I couldn't help but wonder what the point was. Perhaps all this is a missed opportunity for Activision? What about choice? What about cause and effect? What's happening to all these people I've been slurping up for health? What if this game offered different paths with varying conclusions? Something other than a path filled with the lust for vengeance, blood and power.
It's true, Radical Entertainment and Activision intended to make the video game they made, but like Clint Hocking with Far Cry 2, why not take the opportunity to push farther a flawed game (Prototype 1) into new territory?