Hello again and welcome back to my little feature. As promised, “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 28” will be a special edition as it will focus on two different series: Prototype and Darksiders. Both series are fun, and both series haven’t had a proper opportunity to really shine. The Prototype series is dead in the water thanks to developer Radical Entertainment going under, which is a shame since both the games in the series were fun alternatives to the Infamous series in terms of providing gamers with a fun romp in open world environments as a superpowered individual. These games controlled a lot like Radical’s earlier game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and the stories were sort of like Resident Evil on steroids. Darksiders is basically the lovechild of The Legend of Zelda and God of War, which makes for a fun gameplay experience. This series at least is not quite dead, but one could say it’s on life support, and the prognosis is touch and go. Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?
Much like The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction before it, this game is a chaotic smashfest that can be quite a fun ride, though it can be challenging as well, sometimes cheaply so. You play as the amnesiac Alex Mercer who wakes up in a morgue and in possession of absolutely freaky abilities like super strength, speed, and the ability shapeshift his anatomy into deadly weapons, as well as consume/absorb other living beings to regenerate damage and even take on their appearances. His abilities were brought on by exposure to the Blacklight Virus, which soon enough starts wreaking havoc on the city of New York, turning the civilians into zombie-like freaks and spawning a few other nasty creatures to boot, leading to the military putting a quarantine on the entire city. Mercer wants to find out how he got these abilities and who was responsible for releasing the virus, so he starts killing his way up the military food chain to find answers to these questions. The story was really nothing exceptional, it tended to focus a lot on the conspiracy behind the virus and a lot less on character development. It was interesting, but not terribly deep.
Fortunately, the gameplay was a lot more entertaining, thanks largely to Mercer’s totally awesome powers and abilities. The guy could disguise himself as any person he consumed and infiltrate military strongholds undetected, and using the memories of any Marines or Blackwatch soldiers he consumes, he can use their weaponry and vehicles like assault rifles, missile launchers, tanks, attack choppers, and even call in airstrikes. His main shapeshifting powers entail him changing his hands into deadly weapons. He can use Claws to quickly slice up weaker enemies and impale even stronger enemies with spikes that pop up from the ground, the Hammerfists result in his hands turning into small boulders capable of smashing even through tank armor, the Whipfist lets him strike and grab enemies from a great distance with a blade-tipped tendril, Musclemass lets him pump up his muscles to greatly increase the damage of his melee attacks and thrown objects that hit enemies, and he can form a Blade that can slice through the toughest of enemies and deal a lot of damage. He also has support abilities like a Shield that can deflect small-arms fire and provide limited protection from stronger attacks, Armor that doubles his defense at the cost of reduced agility, Thermal Vision to isolate enemies through smoke and wreckage, and Infected Vision to help pick out infected enemies. Finally, his Devastator moves allow him to destroy multiple enemies in one fell swoop with impressive explosions of spikes and tendrils.
All these abilities are a necessity in order for Mercer to have a fighting chance against the military and infected monsters he must deal with, especially the bosses. There’s very little incentive as far as the story goes to drive you forward through the many missions which tend to kind of blend together, but Mercer’s collection of awesome powers and the challenging enemies he fights were enough for me to get really hooked on this game. Besides, how many other games allow you to hijack a helicopter in mid-air, use its weapons to rain hell down upon other enemies, then jump out of the helicopter, glide in the air for a bit, and land with a crash after a two hundred foot drop to the ground? Well, perhaps more games nowadays allow for similar experiences, but back when this game first released it was even more unique. Nevertheless, it’s still fun now. Prototype gets a score of 85%.
Prototype 2 (PS3)
This sequel was generally better structured than its predecessor and had a stronger focus on character development in its story, while also still making you feel like a highly powerful killing-machine. Set about one year after the events of the first Prototype, you take control of James Heller, a Marine who returns home to New York to find the city suffering from another viral outbreak. Worst of all, Heller’s wife and daughter were among the many casualties of the monstrosities spawned from this new outbreak of the Blacklight Virus, now called the Mercer Virus since it was allegedly Alex Mercer himself who caused this second outbreak. Heller vows to have his revenge on Mercer and takes every opportunity to include himself in military excursions to kill the infected in the hopes that he will run into Mercer and be able to kill him. When Heller finally does run into his nemesis, Mercer wounds and infects him, turning him into a being very much like himself with great strength, speed, regeneration, and shapeshifting abilities. After being informed by Mercer that not all is at is seems and that the true masterminds behind the viral outbreak have to be dealt with, Heller goes out on his own to find out the truth for himself.
One thing that Prototype 2 does somewhat differently from the first game is make you feel like you’re really progressing as you accomplish missions. In the first game, Mercer received experience points from completing missions and killing enemies, and after acquiring enough points he could use them to purchase upgrades to his abilities, which were normally just newer attack combos tied into each of his main powers. In this game Heller starts out feeling rather weak, but soon becomes a real contender as you complete certain missions, some of which grant points that could be spent towards increasing speed, regeneration, health, etc. As for acquiring damage and range upgrades to his main powers and the ability to use military weapons and vehicles, Heller needs only to consume specific infected and military enemies in order to gain their powers/talents. This new approach to acquiring upgrades makes progression feel more natural than it did in the first game and also makes completing side-missions more relevant.
While Heller ends up acquiring the same Claws, Hammerfists, Whipfist, and Blade powers that Mercer used in the first game, they function somewhat differently from before and have different strengths and weaknesses. Heller also gains a different power known as Tendrils where his hands turn into stubby appendages and release tendril-like extensions capable of strangling and crushing enemies from a distance. He even gains the ability to summon certain infected monsters to fight by his side. Combat generally feels more structured and focused as well, with Heller able to dodge enemy attacks more effectively, and he even gains an improved version of the Shield power that lets him block and even deflect all but the most powerful enemy attacks. These changes actually lead to this game feeling noticeably easier than the first game, but it’s still fairly challenging. The open world is also split into three different areas: The first two have a stronger military presence with infected creatures occasionally attacking every now and then, while the final area is the same portion of New York City that Mercer adventured through in the first game, which is now completely overrun with the infected. It’s a shame this game didn’t seem to receive quite the same amount of attention its predecessor did, since all the changes mentioned above combined with the more engaging narrative make this game more enjoyable for me overall. Prototype 2 gets a score of 90%.
Once upon a time, there were two games I was having some difficulty deciding between: Darksiders and Bayonetta. Though both games intrigued me, I had no desire to spend money on both of them. Given that Bayonetta was similar to the original Devil May Cry games, which I already owned, I decided to go for Darksiders for two reasons: its focus on fighting all manner of demons and monsters as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and for its gameplay elements that strongly resembled The Legend of Zelda, another series of games that always intrigued me but that I never got to play very much of since I simply stick with PlayStation. Choosing Darksiders was a decision I’m glad I made, it was a good old fashioned, fun game. You play as the Horseman known as War, who drops down to Earth in the middle of what was supposed to be the Apocalypse with angels and demons beating the holy hell out of each other and with humanity caught in the middle of the chaos. War is blamed by his supernatural superiors for starting the Apocalypse too early, so he convinces them to send him back to Earth to bring to justice (or preferably kill) the ones truly responsible.
When War is sent back to Earth (specifically what used to be New York City) he finds that a hundred years have passed since the “fake Apocalypse”, and the entire human race has been wiped out, leaving behind only a bunch of undead freaks. The demons were victorious in the war and have basically taken over the world, with only a few pockets of angelic resistance still remaining. The many different environments and dungeons War must explore are quite varied, ranging from ruined cities, a cathedral, a large desert, a demonic tower, and more. A multitude of demonic enemies reside in all these environments, and the dungeons all have large bosses at the end that normally can only be defeated through the use of specific weapons or items that War acquires as he explores these dungeons. Speaking of War’s collection of weapons and items, it’s quite respectable. His Chaoseater sword is his main weapon and it’s quite strong and versatile. He also acquires a Scythe that does less damage but can hit multiple enemies with its wide, sweeping attacks. His third main weapon is the Tremor Gauntlet which can be used to strike enemies with quick but strong punching attacks, and it’s the only weapon capable of destroying ice barriers scattered along different environments that normally hide items and other secrets.
Other item-like weapons that War acquires include a large shuriken called the Crossblade that can be thrown like a boomerang to strike multiple targets, a large handgun called Mercy, a grappling hook called the Abyssal Chain that lets War pull smaller enemies and items towards him or grapple himself towards larger enemies or grapple points, and the item known as the Voidwalker lets him create portals on specific surfaces so he can reach normally inaccessible areas. A lot of these items also come into play with the game’s many puzzles. War even gains special abilities as he progresses through the adventure like Shadowflight which lets him sprout a pair of shadow-like wings to glide short distances, and when he regains access to his horse, Ruin, he is able to traverse through certain environments more easily and even fight enemies while riding him. Probably the things I didn’t like too much about this game were its repetition and the fact that it’s not especially challenging, in fact the game seems to get easier as you progress, which is unusual. Still a fun game with an intriguing story full of biblical overtones and an interesting cast of unusual characters. Darksiders gets a score of 82%.
Darksiders II (PS3)
This will be a short one. The sequel to Darksiders puts you in the role of Death during an adventure that takes place concurrently with the first game, specifically during the one hundred year period where War was imprisoned by his superiors before being sent back to Earth. My short description of Darksiders II would be that its story doesn’t quite compare to its predecessor’s, but everything else from the combat, enemy variety, exploration, and puzzles are done better overall. There are even improved platforming elements added in. If you’re interested in a more detailed description of the game, then check out my review of the “Deathinitive Edition” of Darksiders II released for current gen systems, specifically the PS4 for me, right here.
This brings to an end my discussion of the Prototype and Darksiders series. As I’ve mentioned in the past, a number of video game series I’ve followed have been discontinued and left unfinished without proper endings: Tenchu, Jak and Daxter, Prince of Persia (2008), Vanquish (which I will discuss in a later article), and Devil May Cry (though there MIGHT still be hope for this series). You’d think that would be enough unfinished series for one gamer to endure, but the Prototype series is also dead as a doornail, naturally. Darksiders is kind of in limbo, but there’s still a slim hope that the series will continue, which it REALLY needs given the cliffhanger endings in the two games released so far. Join me next week for Part 29 of “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” where I will discuss the Ninja Gaiden series. While you wait, take a look at more reading material from our site below:
William Taylor, one of our newer guys, kicks things off with the first of hopefully many articles of his new feature, “RPG Roundup”, where he discusses his choice of RPG games. Take a look at his debut article discussing The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky right here.
Even newer guy Luke Skywal- I mean Finch- debuts his own feature called “The Theory Files” where he shares his opinion on the logic, or lack thereof, behind different video game related features. Check out his first article discussing a certain idiosyncrasy in the early Pokémon games over here.
Will Worrall plays peacemaker in his one off feature “Git Gud: How Toxic Communities Ruin Games” where he (likely futilely) implores the more ultra competitive and hostile portion of the online gaming community to add less salt when interacting with other less seasoned gamers. Support Will’s call for peace by checking out his feature here.
Steve Gill has prepared his review of the horror themed point-and-click game Dead Secret over here.
And Mr. Ian “I’m the king of reviewing” Cooper throws out his latest review on a little game called The Collider 2, which you can check out here.