Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Prototype 2 is Awful and Amazing. It's Amazawful

Well folks. It finally happened. At 5 O'Clock on Friday I finished my last exam in college. Now, assuming I didn’t fail horribly, this means that I’m no longer a student and so if there are any glaring errors in this piece it’s because I’ve drank so much in the last couple of days that I may have killed that part of my brain responsible for understanding how words work.
The most important part of finishing college though isn’t the celebrating, or the terrifying fact that now I have to get a real grown-up job and figure out what to do with the rest of my life. It’s the fact that I can finally start playing my Xbox again.
I stopped playing games at the start of my final year when it became obvious that if I was to have any chance of graduating I was going to have to stop spending 8 hours a night getting mercilessly butchered by Korean 14-year-olds in Call of Duty and start spending it pretending to study in the library instead. Unusually for me, I actually managed to exhibit some small degree of willpower on this issue and so I haven’t played Skyrim, Arkham City, Mass Effect or any of the other half-dozen awesome games released this year.
But on Saturday I kissed my burgeoning social life goodbye and settled in to catch up on what I missed.
Now, I haven’t gotten Skyrim yet (you’ll know when I do because I will fall off the face of the planet for two months) and so the first game I played was Prototype 2. A sandbox game where you play a psychopath with super-powers.
"What?This? This is just my unnecessarily spiky giant arm-sword. Nothin' special"

I loved the first game because the main character’s’s super strength, ability to glide, shapeshift and contort his limbs into deadly weapons allowed players to answer the age-old question:

What if Superman had absolutely no moral compass?’.

The sequel has a few strange issues that I'd like to address though. Namely:

  1. The main character is a fucking moron.
The protagonist of Prototype 2 is Sergeant James Heller and he makes very, very bad life decisions.
In the opening scene his squad is wiped out when the ‘hero’ of the first game, Alex Mercer, fucks a car at their troop carrier. Heller is thrown clear and manages to sneak up on Mercer while he’s, I don’t know, rifling through the dead people’s pockets or something. Catching Mercer, the murderous demi-god, unawares Heller attacks him...with a fucking knife! 
Now for those of you who haven’t played the first game you should know that Mercer is a super-being capable of shrugging off multiple missiles to the face. The only reason he even notices the stab wound that Heller gives him is because it gets blood on one of his popped collars. 
He looks like when he's not tearing though armoured vehicles he works in Urban Outfitters.

Seeing that Mercer survived a slit throat without even flinching makes Heller reassess the situation and…try to stab him again?
 Heller’s supposed to be an Army Sergeant. It’s established at the start that he knows exactly who and what Mercer is. But fucking hell! Even if he didn't, he just seen the guy tear through a fucking tank about 20 seconds before!
The knife isn’t even his only option. His squadmates are lying all around him with guns that they certainly aren’t using any more. But no, Heller decides to keep attacking the dude that can survive airstrikes with a sharp piece of metal.
Mercer, unsurprisingly, sees this as more of an annoyance than a threat and eventually just bitchslaps Heller and then infects him with a virus that gives Heller all of his powers because if someone’s trying to kill you then the smartest thing to do is make him 10,000 times more powerful (maybe I should change the title of this entry to ‘Every character in the game is a fucking moron’?).
Heller’s stupidity isn’t an isolated incident either. Later in the game he meets a scientist who was actively trying to kill him about 40 minutes earlier. Heller refrains from tearing his anus out through his mouth because the scientist says that he's actually been on his side the whole time… a fact that Heller pretty much just accepts it straight away. 

Scientist: Me? I’m not evil I swear! I’m on your side. Please ignore the fact that I was infecting civilians with a lethal virus literally about 60 seconds ago.
Heller: Well. Sounds like you’re on the level. Sorry for intruding.

Sure enough, the scientist turns out to be lying and later tries to kill Heller with a helicopter. Something that could have been avoided if he had, I don't know, maybe asked even one follow up question.
Although I suppose I can't really blame Heller for having trouble telling who the bad guys are because...

 2. It's kind of hard to tell who the bad guys are.

Heller is portrayed in the story as a hero who is struggling to save the innocent New Yorkers from the evil Gentek and Blackwatch corporations. Now, I'm not saying that Gentek and Blackwatch aren't bad guys. They’re cartoonishly evil in fact and not a scene goes by where one of them doesn’t expound on his love of dissecting schoolchildren or shooting kittens. It’s just, as bad as they are, Heller’s not much better.  You see, he actually recovers health by, no shit, eating people. I'm sorry game developers but it’s really hard for your character to have the moral high ground when he's still got some poor bastard’s eyeball in his teeth.
There’s also the fact that Heller is controlled by me and, well, I’m usually less concerned with the plight of my fellow man than I am with seeing how far I can shot-putt a car off the top of a skyscraper.
 But even if I did give a shit about innocent civilians, it’s pretty much impossible not to kill them by accident anyway. Heller becomes so absurdly powerful that towards the end of the game even waving in someone’s general direction is enough to mutilate everyone within a three block radius.
There was a time in the game when I wanted to shove a truck out of my way so I could get passed. I tapped a button once to knock it aside and suddenly I had caused spikes to shoot out of the ground instead, impaling everyone standing within 20 feet of me.
"Shit! I did not mean to do that! My bad..... You OK buddy?"

Of course, I didn’t exactly mourn these deaths, instead I went ‘Holy fuck! I can do that?’ and proceeded to try again in a more populated area because, well…

  1. It’s a really good thing that I don’t have superpowers.
The most important thing I learned from playing Prototype 2 is that I'm pretty much a sociopath. Turns out that given the chance to liberate New York from oppressive military fascism and genetic monsters I instead choose to use my powers to fuck shit up!
My revolutionary 'giant arm spike' approach to cleaning up the streets

In fact ‘fucking shit up’ became my first and only real priority in the game. The only reason I even did any of the story missions is because it unlocked new and increasingly spectacular ways to fuck shit up and also more areas for me to fuck shit up in.
This made the game unintentionally funny on more than one occasion. There was one bit where I was on the phone to a support character, a priest called Father Guerra, talking about the state of the city. At the end of the call Guerra dramatically said ‘The city is even worse than we thought. These people need our help!
Which I found hilarious because I was currently plowing a hijacked tank through a crowd of pedestrians at the time.

Father Guerra: I’ve located Blackwatch’s command centre. Finally we can liberate New York from their tyrannical rule.
Me: …Yeah
Father Guerra: With their leaders out of the picture the rest of the organisation will crumble and this city can finally begin to heal itself.
Me: Cool…sounds good
Father Guerra: Are you even listening to me? What’s that noise?
Me: Nothing! I’m just out….liberating the city. You know?
Father Guerra: Really? Because it sounded a tank being dropped off a building onto a school bus.
Me: ...I don't know what you're talking about.
Father Guerra: Oh for fuck's sake man! We've talked about this!

  1. It’s fucking awesome.      
 Did those last 3 points sound like criticism? Sorry. Allow me to clarify my position with one picture.

Fuck! Yes!

I love this game with every fibre of my being….which is good because, after watching me gleefully murdering civilians with aerial tanks for 20 minutes, my family has forbidden me from ever having outside human contact ever again.
Now if you’ll excuse me. I have to shapeshift into an old woman and then slaughter a whole scout troop. 

For more evidence that I'm not ready to become a functioning member of society why not check out A Deleted Scene From 'The Avengers' or A Message to The Author of the 'Game of Thrones Series'.

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