Sunday, July 29, 2012

I've jumped off this roof top before

I have a hard time remembering much about the first Prototype. It hit around the same time as InFamous, wasn't as good, and was one of the few games that I have ever had to drop the difficulty level down to 'Easy' on to enjoy and/or finish. It was mostly unremarkable free roaming game. Now I am playing Prototype 2, and guess what? All of the previous states, save the game being too difficult for its own good, are still true.

Sequels to big games are not easy to do. Things need to change: they need to be bigger, look nicer and be more varied. They also need to be the same: they need to share characters or settings or story to help convince people to buy the game again. It is most unfortunate that Prototype has so much in common with InFamous, because while InFamous 2 could write the text book on how a sequel should be down Prototype 2 gets quite a few things wrong right from the start.

It changes main characters. Even though Alex Mercer didn't exactly have a memorable personality keeping him would at least given the games continuity. Not giving the player control over him relieves the developer of trying to explain why all of his powers are gone, something that even bug name sequels like Metroid have never bothered to explain, but the new main character has no real reason to be there. Alex chooses him to be part of his army, but you don't know if Alex can be trusted, so the new guy go off to rampage through the city, consuming biomass and becoming more powerful. This is exactly what Alex did in the first game, in case anyone has forgotten.

There is also very little effort put into moving the story in a new direction. There was a plague in the first game, the bad guys tried to nuke New York and Alex stopped them. It has been X years and it is happening again. And Alex is trying to stop them, this time with your help. Action games are rarely gripping thematically, but come on guys, at least try. Move it to a new city, actually makes Alex a bad guy, make the new guy a bad guy, give me something to latch on to aside from the semi-reformed priest who is obviously patterned off of Cheech Marin from any number of movies.

The setting is also unchanged. I am sure that in the intervening years what has possible graphically has changed. Prototype 2 looks okay at best. In my hazy memory the first game looked okay as well, though I remember things on my old Atari 2600 looking okay. That's just how your memory works. The end result is a sequel that feels like a long delayed expansion. The game is still fun, but every time I toss a car at an attacking helicopter I am overwhelmed with a sense of deja vu. Throwing cars, eating people and jumping from room top to roof top should never feel familiar. Even though I barely remember the first game it feels like I have done all of this before.


1 comment:

  1. Narrative was never Prototype's strong suit, but I was at least very fond of the sci-fi arc of Alex's story in the first game. By the end of it, for me, he was one of the coolest sci-fi characters since Jude Law's love droid in AI.

    It was a good story - it was just told terribly.