Prototype 2 review
In the intro, your wife and child are killed when you unaccountably tell them to stay in New York City after a virus outbreak starts killing everyone. If you set out to hunt down the monster responsible for this tragedy – yourself – it would be a short game. So you hunt down the protagonist from Prototype 1 instead, who has just given you superpowers and awesome claw arms.
Even if Prototype 2 didn’t start out by establishing you as a tremendous asshole, it would be difficult not to become one immediately. It’s an open-world game full of innocent bystanders, and foot-long steel claws are the safety scissors of your toolset. The next thing you get is the ability to turn your arms into elastic tendrils that violate human bodies, erupt through their skin, latch onto heavy objects, then contract to yank these objects into the victim with lethal force. Sometimes, the tendrils attach to buildings and just pull until your victim is quartered, his head and limbs suspended in a spider’s web of stringy red meat. You’re not man of the year.
It’s a power-drunk perversion of a superhero game, and its attempts to cast you as sympathetic are just funny. Once your character has told people “I’m gonna eat your fucking brains”, “wear your face”, or “skullfuck you and suck your memories out through the hole,” that ship has pretty much sailed.
It’s a supervillain game. And it would have been an amazing one, if they’d managed to get it working properly on PC.
I’ve tried it on three PCs. On one, the game did not start. The Steam forums reveal this happens if you have certain USB devices plugged in, so I unplugged everything. It then started, but crashed whenever it loaded a new mission.
On PC number two, it ran, but got slower and slower as I played, until it was entirely unresponsive and crashed, losing all progress in the current mission. Some missions last longer than the time it took this PC to slow to a crawl, and you can’t save mid-mission.
Other players found one early mission was uncompletable unless they told Windows to use only one CPU core. Mouse acceleration varies with your framerate. Windowed mode is more stable, but hidden, and stuck at 1280x720. Some button presses didn’t register.
On PC number three, it’s fine. No major issues, runs beautifully, and it’s surprisingly pretty. So if you own three very different gaming PCs, you’ll be fine. If you don’t, the sheer shoddiness of this port condemns you to a technical lottery.
I don’t know who, but someone in management seems to be stuck in the self-justifying cycle of PC port failure. “No one buys stuff on PC, no sense spending money or time doing that well. Hey look! Our shitty PC port sold badly! I was right!”
I’ll come back to this at the end to remind you how stupid and frustrating this situation is, as if you don’t already know. For now, I’ll get back to the game.
It’s realistic looking, but somehow the horrific things that happen in it aren’t as disturbing as they probably should be. It’s so gross, so absurd and so openly silly that it’s tonally more like a slapstick cartoon.
Even the tendrils become weirdly satisfying – and technically fascinating – in worryingly short order. They feel like sticky rubber bands, or the gelatinous handpads on those toys that climb down windows. I walked through the aftermath of one fight captivated by the surreal scene I’d created: the whole street a lattice of flesh strands, two buckled tank husks hanging in the web.
Your other powers feel good too: tactile, crunchy, heavy, sharp. The eruptive feedback from every impact is a constant catharsis. In lots of ways, it’s a sleeker version of the overloaded original: your arms can turn into more different horrible things, but fewer awkward key combinations are needed to pull off specific moves. Instead, you can combine modes of attack, stringing up an enemy with tendrils and then cutting their arms off with the claws.
Again, not man of the year.