All games introduce us to iterative changes between the original and the sequel — and often the next sequel after that. Be it the addition of an eccentric new character, a captivating plot twist, or a shiny new gameplay mechanic, developers, at the very least, strive for the image of a fresh experience with each new installment to a series. Few however, have the gall of Prototype 2 developer Radical Entertainment to literally flip the script and have the original game’s protagonist and antagonist trade places in the next one.
That’s exactly where we find ourselves in the upcoming open-world action title being published by Activision. Gamers will fill the shoes of former bad guy Sergeant James Heller in his undertaking to destroy the Blacklight Virus and kill Prototype 1’s hero Alex Mercer. In a two-part chat with Destructoid, Radical's lead design developer Matt Armstrong detailed how the team is making Heller into a more "engaging" protagonist and how they plan to address the first title's monotonous gameplay.
"One of the things that I’ve been most happy about in the game has been Heller’s dry sense of humor. Humor in games is a very difficult thing to pull off successfully, but our writers have done a really impressive job of simply allowing it to flow out of certain situations and interactions without forcing it. This has gone a long way to making Heller a really engaging and relatable character."
Of course, character exposition is only half the battle, and Armstrong also discussed how Radical is taking a strong look at Prototype's gameplay shortcomings to see what can be amended in Prototype 2. Gone are the detached, repetitive side missions, replaced by what Armstrong says is a "wider range of side content" that ties back into the main narrative. Furthermore, fans can expect a return of the predatory stealth system - enhanced with more environmentally aware sensory abilities - and improved boss battles that draw in on battlefield variables to give the player multiple paths to success.
The original Prototype was a game very emblematic of its own name. While it succeeded in much of its vision to craft an absorbing storyline with a fun combat style, the drawbacks such as side quests and character traits discussed here by Armstrong gave it somewhat of a rough-around-the-edges feel. Radical seems like it has all its ducks in a row for its second effort, and the prospect of James Heller becoming the Alex Mercer to Alex Mercer’s James Heller may prove too delectable to pass up.
Ranters, do you think Radical is taking the right direction with Prototype 2? Is the game on your list to pick up this spring?
Prototype 2 releases April 24, 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.