The Prototype Biohazard Bundle‘s release was a stealthy one, save for a few pieces of leaked information here and there, it just kind of appeared, and now it’s here for all to consume. Activision was careful with their wording not to say that this was a “Remaster”, because it isn’t. After playing it, I came to the realization that this is a weird form of paid backwards compatibility. It makes you wonder why you should bother, and in most cases you shouldn’t.
If for some reason you haven’t played the Prototype games, they are about fun, kinetic, pure action movie annihilation of property and people. In fact, Prototype is a descendant of the studio’s own Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, which was on PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox. In each of the Prototype games, you’re a one-man wrecking machine, and seemingly unstoppable. Should you take damage, you can always pick-up a character and consume them to replenish your health, a really neat mechanic that doesn’t rely on other systems we’ve seen before. During your path of destruction, you can throw just about anything, items, people, rooftop A/C units, anything that can be used as a throwable, can be targeted and aimed at objects like helicopters to take them out of the sky when pursued. Now, there are sections to the game that force you to play stealthy, while not great, they are break from the nearly non-stop action the rest of the game, which was nice.
Prototype was originally released in 2009, followed by Prototype 2 in 2012. Prototype 2 looks considerably better over its predecessor, but these are the same games. Included in the bundle, or eventually separately is all of the DLC that has come out. Notably, the DLC itself is not very exciting, and only actually exists for Prototype 2, but it’s there.
When you’re given the chance to explore freely, getting around New York City hasn’t been so satisfying since Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation 2. The gliding in either Prototype is still pretty much unmatched. Of course, the use of New York City as a backdrop for things happening is an all too-familiar place. One of the best things about the Prototype games is the “Web of Intrigue”, where people in the world an exciting collectible, and reveal elements of the story in more interesting cutscenes than you see in the main game.
Of the two characters you play as, Alex Mercer (Prototype), and James Heller (Prototype 2), Alex Mercer is the clear winner, even though that’s not much. He’s just a dark, brooding, character with minimal things to say. James Heller on the other hand, is whiny, and his motivations are unnecessary and ultimately go out the window as the game goes on.
The systems for character progression between Prototype and Prototype 2 are very different. In both, you earn EP for upgrades. And in Prototype, you spend your earned EP in an upgrade shop to unlock new abilities. In Prototype 2, you do so through a traditional leveling system with attribute points. Both games ask you to make tough choices in how to spend your upgrades, but allows you to mold the type of character you want to play as.
There’s a lot to see and do in Prototype and its sequel, but it comes down to how much time you have available and whether you’re willing to invest in a game that doesn’t hold up visually, but does in gameplay with some awful story lines. There’s roughly 20-25 hours of content across both games, depending on how much you want to do in order to be a completionist.
Now let’s the address the elephant in the room: This is not a remaster. They are the same games, now working on new consoles at a higher resolution. This is done seemingly with minimal effort and care for this series, despite claims that has improved framerates and higher-resolution textures, it just isn’t up to par for this generation. I’ve started seeing framerate issues as the action gets heavy, but it’s not too overbearing or problematic – but this should not even be a concern with this consoles and these age-old games.
What makes matters worse is that Xbox One is capable of doing Xbox 360 compatibility now. So if you have Prototype and Prototype 2 in your Xbox 360 library digitally, or physically, in time you’ll likely be able to bring these games in and get the exact same results. Alternatively, and less impressively, PlayStation 4 has PlayStation Now, the streaming service where this could be played. But it seems these games may not be available through either service due to this release, forcing a purchase where it shouldn’t be needed.
It’s hard to say if this Prototype Biohazard Bundle is some strange business way to test the waters as to whether there should be a Prototype 3 or not, but this is just not the way to go. Both Prototype games are fun on their own, but when packaged together they show each other’s flaws to great detail. Neither game really stands out as feeling like it belongs here. It’s lazy, unnecessary, and there’s little reason to purchase these games for current-gen due to the lack of substantial visual updates to bring them to 2015 properly.
A PlayStation 4 code was provided by the publisher for review purposes