Prototype 2 preview

Before today I have never been able to imagine what it would be like for a man to uppercut a helicopter. Prototype 2 has shown me the light. The correct technique, according to new protagonist James Heller, is to jump onto the copter's face, pull the nose down until the rotor blades are inches from the floor, wind up, and sock it on the chin. That will cause it to backflip twice and then explode in mid-air. Prototype 2 is going to be even more crazy and violent than the original.

Like Prototype, the sequel will let you climb, dash and glide around New York city. You'll consume operatives of the evil Blackwatch corporation to steal their memories and identities. Your mission is to track down Alex Mercer, the shapeshifting anithero of the first game using the powers that turned him into a mutant killing machine.

Heller can shapeshift, too, but he's a lot more flexible than his mortal enemy. Instead of being confined to a single mutation at a time, he can equip two and chain their effects into devastating combos. He can use enormous claws to mince through a squadron of Blackwatch soldiers, and then turn his arms into enormous hammers to finish with a horrible, crushing ground smash. Prototype 2 will be even bloodier than the original as well. Heller glides through his enemies. Limbs fly, bodies are cleaved in two and clouds of blood coat everything in the surrounding area. When he's done, those left barely alive will try to crawl away from the scene on their stomachs, leaving trails of gore behind them.

Heller is familiar with concepts that were entirely alien to Mercer, like mercy. In the first game, once you'd picked up a victim you had two choices, eviscerate him and consume his remains or throw him into the horizon. In Prototype 2 you can put people down without harming them. Whether he's manhandling men or war machines, Heller has more options.

He actually understands stealth, for a start. Playing Alex Mercer in Prototype, infiltrating an enemy base would let you start a big fight from a better position. Heller will be able to do more with his disguises. His 'awareness pulse' vision mode will highlight in white enemies that can be killed without raising an alarm. This lets him stalk a target through a compound. When the time is right, he can quickly absorb his victim and calmly leave without upper-cutting anything.

If the quiet approach goes wrong, Prototype 2's new hero has even more creative ways to break things. He can kick a helicopter in half. He can beat a tank to death with its own turret. He can tear the rocket launcher off the wing of a chopper and then use it to obliterate everything.

He also has more ways to counter his enemies. The infuriating rockets that would interrupt your flight in the first game can be returned to their owners using Heller's new shield mutation. By pressing the counter button at just the right moment, he can super punch rockets and reverse their flight path.

"Is there any way that this man can be killed?" I thought as I watched him throw a soldier into a chopper's blades. In the portion I saw, Heller was nigh on invincible, but there will be much more menacing foes to fight in New York's nastier zones. Radical say that there will be huge bosses, and the new infected creatures will be much tougher to kill than weak, squishy humans. It wouldn't surprise me if Blackwatch had some much bigger weaponry hidden in the green zone, but Radical are keeping that under wraps for now.

Seeing Heller lay waste to several blocks was reassuring. Prototype was a great power trip. The feeling of being able to cruise anywhere and crush anything was addictive, even though it meant playing an inhuman monster. Prototype 2 looks like it will give us more blood, more explosions, more power. If it can give us something to fight for, and let us play as a character that isn't an amoral monster, then it could easily surpass the original.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.