Mindless fun, but with a lackluster center.
While it's commonly thought that things don't require fixing if they aren't broken, it seems that Activision has taken the phrase to heart with the very same-y Prototype 2. Set not too long after the original, Prototype 2 places the player in the shoes of the rather unlikable James Heller, a soldier who returns from Iraq to find his wife and child dead. Set primarily just outside the (somewhat overused) location of Manhattan Island, the game begins with Heller being imbibed with powers not unlike Mercer, and a poorly justified excuse for revenge.
Though a generally disappointing game, Prototype 2 is admittedly flat out fun to begin with; starting with barely any superpowers and rather vulnerable, the game begins with a rather open ended and interesting feel, providing a new leveling system that grants players the power to selectively pick upgrades to suit their own preferences (including categories for certain areas such as locomotive, strength, etc.). Combined with a few new, awesome powers (such as a bio-bomb that lets you turn a soldier into a black-hole of sorts) and a range of side-missions, the game seems like a fantastic deal for the first few hours.
One of the first areas that the game falls short, however, is repetition for returners, as, in the same vein as Left 4 Dead 2, the minimal additional content and similar gameplay in this sequel doesn't feel like enough, making it feel more like playing a minor upgrade rather than a direct sequel. Even Heller himself also adds to the negatives as, since Mercer is dressed up as an almost-God following the first game, a new character is an absolute necessity; Heller quickly becomes a disappointment, however, when one of his few redeeming, sympathetic qualities is completely destroyed when the game itself points out that you're a massive hypocrite for replicating what Mercer did to you. When then stacked up with Heller spouting "motherfucker" as every other noun (including a delightful use of the term "skull fuck"), it soon became apparent that I found myself rooting for the game's still likable villain over its bland, asshole hero, despite the game's inherent demands that I prefer Heller because he's still technically a victim.
In terms of powers, the game feels somewhat restricted compared to it's predecessor; while, admittedly, the merging of several powers into five collective ones (and a defensive shield bash) allows for a more streamlined assault, when combined with huge leveling gaps later on, it meant a personal letdown as big unlocks were few and far between, leading to refuge in the many, many repetitive side-missions on offer for upgrades.
While the above is passable at a push when playing up to the impending conclusion, the biggest letdown I found with Prototype 2 was after the ending, where the game came to a complete dead stop. Disappointed with the mediocre ending (especially compared to the mind-blowing one found in Protoype), I set out to find more to do, only to find there was nothing. Since the game is divided into zones (and even red-zone New York City is halved), the still enjoyable free-running in post-plot Prototype was now well removed due to area limitations boxing me in; combined with all side missions completed pre-conclusion (as I figured upgrades from collectibles would be at better use when they were still necessary), I was now left with nothing due to not pre-ordering the game (which comes with a Radnet DLC code). Still willing to cough up more cash, I headed online to discover that Radnet is only given to those who have the limited edition, effectively screwing people who coughed up a similar amount of cash for the normal version regardless of whether they're willing to pay extra for the bonus content.
To summarize, you're better off picking up a copy from a bargain bin or renting it for a couple of days of delight, as regardless of your opinion of Prototype 2, I can guarantee you won't be returning to a purchased copy once it's finished, with or without the super-exclusive limited DLC challenges.