Thursday, May 3

Prototype 2 is best experienced with witnesses

You need to do me a favour. Bro me a solid, if you will (I understand if you won't):

Play Prototype 2, and make sure people are watching.

Keep in mind this game is in no way suitable for children: its beyond hyper-violent action and abundance of coarse language is unsuitable for young eyes and ears. I'm sure that this will be a conversation starter though. While playing the game with my wife bearing witness, we delved into a great many topics that betrayed the depravity playing out on screen.

The blunders of bureaucracy
Every time I play a violent game, my mind is cast to those that the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) deemed to be too dangerous for the impressionable adults of Australia. Given that Mortal Kombat was once again refused classification -- the PlayStation Vita version this time -- it's prudent to examine the contents of my new plaything and compare. You'll have to forgive me for using old evidence, but please observe the following justification for the banning of NetherRealm Studios' universally-acclaimed fighter:
At the conclusion of a bout, a character is invited to perform a ‘finishing move’ or ‘fatality’. To perform a fatality, a player has to push a series of button combinations within a short period of time. If this is successfully accomplished, a non-interactive cut scene is triggered which depicts a character explicitly slaughtering their opponent. (via Kotaku AU)
Once you acquire the Black Hole ability in Prototype 2, be prepared to defile the bodies of your opponents in ways that would make Noob Saibot cringe. You can tie Blackwatch operatives up in your suspiciously phallic extensions and tear them in half, with a wealth of blood and viscera spraying on-screen. You don't even have to memorise complex button combinations, just press the circle button (B for 360 players) and then triangle (Y) to "consume"  and otherwise violate your pursuers. This slaughter is just as -- or in my opinion, more so -- explicit as that seen in Mortal Kombat. It's far more commonplace in Prototype 2 as well. Think about it: to see Noob Saibot's fatality, you would normally win a fight of two rounds and enter the appropriate combination of buttons at the correct distance from the opponent. In Prototype 2, you can rip apart anyone using your gooey extensions as soon as you obtain the Black Hole ability; there's very little to stop you from dispatching your enemies in less stomach-turning ways. The decision to green-light Prototype 2 for sale makes no sense at all.

Keep in mind, I haven't even examined the use of claws, the unbelievably-brutal unarmed consumption animations and a bevvy of other instances of violence that would prove the OFLC's decision making process to be nonsensical at best, and negligent at its worst.

Is that a tendril in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
I commented on Twitter that Prototype 2 -- to me, at least -- is a wee bit phallocentric. I went as far to say that it felt "like a homage to the wang." Charging your Black Hole ability shoots tendrils into your enemies that throb from your shoulders and then draw in bystanders and inanimate objects in a videogame form of "phallocentric materialism" (Curtin, 2003); your ability to consume is unmatched and unable to be curbed.

Then there's the Hydras, massive phallic creatures that have appeared in a few of the missions I've played so far. The first of which was perhaps the most startling: the hydra is restrained and sedated, but the appearance of our hero (or anti-hero), Heller arouses it and compels it to rise from its slumber, breaking its restraints and creating a large white cloud. It was pretty obvious to me, but others may think I was looking a little too deeply into this explicitly violent text. What do you think? Am I seeing something that isn't really there?

Man Vs Wild

So you attack your enemies with penises, and your enemies are potentially penises themselves? Different!

Just Cause? 
Edge have declared Prototype 2 to be "the most cheerfully destructive sandbox since Just Cause 2." Truer words have never been written. In my experience (about five or six hours), Heller is the car and the jet, and he can hijack tanks and helicopters, and create tentacle hentai at the push of a few buttons. Troubling themes and terrible story aside, it's a joy to propel yourself across Prototype 2's version of New York City. The Radnet challenges also add a more frivolous and competitive element that's missing from the island paradise of Panau.

Best of all, players can unlock some impressive movement-based abilities after a fairly short time. Find some collectables and level-up four times and you can leap over tall buildings, fly for sustained periods and move at impressive speeds. Prototype 2's most obvious competitor, inFamous 2 saves the more enjoyable transportation powers until the end game. All things considered, I prefer the early empowerment strategy employed in Prototype 2.

Don't get me wrong: Panau's great expanse and wealth of colour is far from being bested by this apocalyptic iteration of the Big Apple, but it's a great sandbox all the same.

Frequent Coarse Language
Prototype 2 is not for everyone: my wife has often expressed her disgust at the explicit depictions of dismemberment and abundance of gore (and believe me when I say she isn't normally perturbed by high levels of violence, provided that it has a purpose), and I just can't stomach the cringe-worthy script; but it needs to be seen and played to be believed. Some of the abilities are an absolute blast to use, and I've never experienced such joyous movement in a videogame. It's just a shame that Radical Entertainment have chosen such a dark and humourless angle for this text. If only we had a superpowered Rico Rodriguez trashing New York City instead of James Heller's tired revenge play.

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