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Prototype 2 review: A superbly polished world of destruction

Activision's great open world paints over its cracks with gore

When playing open world games, you spend most of your time in transit, moving from place to place. That's why the way your character moves is crucial - something Radical have absolutely nailed in Prototype 2. The new hero, at odds with his bulky frame, is incredibly athletic, traversing the virus-infected streets and rooftops of New York like a superhuman free runner.

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It doesn't feel as physical or as nuanced as Arkham City's cape-and-grapnel combo, but in terms of the sheer joy of traversing the environment it's one of the most entertaining open world games ever. You can run up the side of skyscrapers, leap for miles into the air and glide for short periods of time - and, the whole time, the controls feel responsive and kinetic, and the novelty of leaping across the city never wears off.

OLD FRIENDS

Alex Mercer, the first game's anti-hero, is up to no good. He's trying to spread his deadly Blacklight virus beyond New York City, granting talented types - scientists, politicians and soldiers - the same powers as him to form an army of high-jumpin', knives-for-arms, tentacle-toting nutters.

But one of these guinea pigs is soldier James Heller, whose family was killed during the first outbreak, and who blames Mercer for their deaths. So, unsurprisingly, once infected, he decides to use his newfound powers to face off against Mercer, and stop the virus spreading. This is who you play as in Prototype 2 - a man guilty of some of gaming's worst one-liners, but who is, at least, infinitely more likeable than Mercer ever was.

The story, sadly, isn't very good. Its mythology is a confusing jumble of ideas, and a few hours in you'll stop caring altogether. But you'll keep playing. As well as being able to leap around the city with ease, Heller is also capable of some brilliantly gruesome combat moves, courtesy of the virus. Asyou play through, you're constantly drip-fed new powers, which keeps things feeling fresh and surprising.

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At a basic level he can use claws, or a mutated knife-arm, to punch and slice through human enemies with simple combos. It's almost comical how easily you can carve people in half, and there's a silly amount of blood. Things get more complicated when you're fighting other mutants, which involves blocking, rolling away from attacks, and slamming them to the ground with wrestling moves. Really.

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