Prototype Biohazard Bundle Review

Down with the sickness.

Activision released the Biohazard Bundle for the Prototype games almost as if it was hoping no one would notice, like it was a digital baby left on everyone’s front stoop. After spending some time with the bundle, it’s easier to see why they aren’t the proudest of parents.

The remastering effort here is, without mincing words, an embarrassment. While we’re currently drowning in a glut of remasters, graphical spitshines, and definitive editions--a mild problem in and of itself--nobody can deny that the vast majority of them have been made current-gen worthy. At best, you get The Last of Us or Tomb Raider remasters. At worst, you get this bundle. Yes, both Prototype games run at 1080p. Yes, a few of the textures have been replaced. Yes, a few sounds come from the controller speaker now. But if Prototype didn’t start with a line of text telling you it was released in 2015, the difference between this re-release and its 360/PS3 brethren would be strangely indistinguishable. Draw distances, effects, character models, and most of the textures are are utterly primitive in Prototype. The second game fares much better--in that regard and in others to be addressed--but, bafflingly, runs often at a low frame rate with a constant stutter the busier the screen gets. These are the same games you could play a few years ago, and, really, can play now for the cost of lunch at Wendy’s, if you didn’t sell your previous gen consoles. If you do pick up the Biohazard Bundle, you'll pay full price for the privilege of playing one game graphically crumbling under the weight of time, and another that somehow runs more poorly on better technology.

Well, that’s just gross.
Well, that’s just gross.

Yet, there are those who may never have played either game, and this is the only way they will experience them. For them, the story is marginally brighter. The bad news is that the first Prototype has aged poorly, even as a game. It has a plum set up: A man named Alex Mercer wakes up in a New York City morgue with no memory, but finds out he has a virus that, instead of killing him, has made him into a terrifying bioweapon. He has the ability to manipulate his own flesh into varying shapes and configurations, even allowing him to completely assimilate other human beings and copy their forms. It’s the hellish amalgam of the alien life form from John Carpenter’s The Thing, and the terrifying evolution Tetsuo undergoes in Akira, bolstered further in fun factor by virtue of the game running off Radical Entertainment’s Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. The military seems to know more about things than he does, of course, and while they try to contain the walking biohazard, Alex seeks out any connection to his past to just find out what’s happened to him.

From these promising beginnings, however, comes a sinking feeling that despite an impressive, huge, open world, the game is unsure of how best to make use of its setup. And so, much of Alex Mercer’s time is spent being told to go to various places around the city, and kill various people and things until he’s told to run away and get in disguise to escape, thus unlocking another uninspired cutscene where his hacker sister tells him who to kill next, and Mercer growls about his lack of memory.

I belieeeve I can fly/I belieeeve I infect the sky….
I belieeeve I can fly/I belieeeve I infect the sky….

The powers themselves do give you a nice range of approaches to any problem, from straight-up brawling, to slicing enemies into mozzarella with hideous claws, to hijacking military vehicles and drowning the driver in a fountain of his own blood--but most end up being for show, once the ability to use the tentacle whip unlocks. It’s the game’s most fun weapon, allowing Alex to split enemies in half from across a city street, and it just so happens to be the most useful and versatile one. Despite this, there are still too many sections where the game’s overly twitchy camera and controls work against you, making the simple act of targeting and following a large opponent and attacking only that one enemy a chore. An early set piece, with virus infected animals being set loose in a chemical factory where Mercer is forced to run around the cluttered floor like a madman, stealing rocket launchers off the army to attack, brings back the PTSD of trying to get Sonic to cooperate in any of his 3D games. What’s more, the game's tension doesn't escalate in any meaningful way. You are never enticed to discover Mercer's past, since the game does very little to make you care about him in the first place. The result is a game that feels, ironically, like a prototype: a collection of mechanics that a better game might be able to utilize fully in some later incarnation.

That better game, as it turns out, is Prototype 2.

No Caption Provided
Alex Mercer’s Sense8 audition was, clearly, a miserable failure.
Alex Mercer’s Sense8 audition was, clearly, a miserable failure.

Prototype 2 follows James Heller, a soldier sent into a New York City still recovering from the events of the first game, who holds a major grudge against Alex Mercer for releasing the virus that killed his wife and child. After an ill-fated run-in with Mercer where Heller becomes infected with the same virus that gave Mercer his powers, he is taken in by the evil military scumbags who tried to bring Alex Mercer down the first time, and is exposed to another version of the truth. Hesitantly, he joins forces with Mercer to get to the bottom of why the government is still messing around with this particularly gruesome bioweapon.

Right off the bat, the game fixes Prototype’s biggest problem: Heller is a great protagonist. His motivations aren’t particularly original, but there’s a forcefulness to his characterization makes you feel that need for retribution in spite of the relatively weak script. Even better, Heller’s baleful aggression never comes at the expense of his humor. Probably one of the best moments in either game is that Heller screws up a hot pursuit about halfway through Prototype 2 because he’s watching one of the other infected humans make a grisly, viral biological bomb out of some hapless military chump and had himself a chuckle. That’s the kind of guy Heller is, and he’s a far more affable character than Mercer, certainly worth spending 20 hours with.

You'll pay full price for the privilege of playing one game graphically crumbling under the weight of time, and another that somehow runs more poorly on better technology.

No Caption Provided

And thank goodness, because otherwise, the game’s wanton disregard for physics, the human body, or human life in general might strike a wrong chord, like it does in Prototype. Instead, every action Heller takes has a clear motive and logic. Many of Heller’s quests involve violence and destruction, but the monotony is broken by a set of new, macabre powers. The once all-powerful tentacle from the first game now has wilder mechanics at play, where grabbing someone with the diseased tendril might cause the infected victim to explode in new tentacles that grab nearby objects in five directions, and crush the victim inside. The new mechanics for Heller’s claw attacks steal liberally from Activision’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the game is better for it. Countering attacks is easier, and makes the cheap hits of the previous game far less likely, and far more avoidable. Running across rooftops, gliding through the air, and landing feels something close to fluid, which makes escaping when Heller’s been found by the military much more frantic and pulse-raising, albeit still a bit on the loose side. All this takes place in a much more vivid and living New York City, where the NPCs feel less like blank marionettes, and buildings feel hundreds of years old, which makes the sight of them being covered in corrupted viscera and viral runoff even more horrifying.

Prototype 2 certainly offers a stronger experience than Prototype, but it’s still thoroughly outclassed on current gen consoles by Saints Row IV and Infamous: Second Son. At its best, a remaster can be a great reminder of why we loved a game to begin with. Had the Prototype Biohazard Bundle actually been a full upgrade, it would at least show us how far we’ve come. But given even Prototype 2’s mind-boggling technical limitations, this troubled bundle is more of a reminder that mediocrity is still not obsolete.

The Good
Genuinely cool, creepy superpowers
Second game’s advancements are commendable
Impressive, massive open worlds in both games
James Heller is a great, underrated protagonist
The Bad
Virtually no improvements over previous gen versions
Prototype 2 runs at a stutter in active moments
Controls are frustratingly loose
Alex Mercer is a terrible, terrible protagonist
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Justin Clark sank 20 hours apiece into the two Prototype games for this go-around. He has sincere regrets about not gluing a couple of boxes of spaghetti to his arms and going as James Heller for Halloween when Prototype 2 came out.
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Avatar image for EmptySki

I had no idea this was released...

Avatar image for Ronny411

I refused to play or buy Prototype 2 since they switched out Alex Mercer. Thought he was the best part of the game, not so one dimensonal which lol, After reading this review it sounds like heller is extremely cliche, plain and boring. Dont really get why so many seem to hate Alex or why he is a bad lead. Although sounded like Mercer was in the second one. Wonder what opinion people have who liked Mercer and played p2.

Avatar image for BuyaPC

Imagine if you're the sucker that bought this package thinking you were getting remastered games and all you got were shitty ports and then on top of that you paid 50 bucks for this crap. Now that is a publisher being greedy, most of these other remasters at least have better visuals and run a lot smoother, this thing has no benefit over the last gen version at all plus it costs probably 3-4 times as much as buying them for last gen. **** you activision, im someone that likes real remastered games and you are giving them a worse name than they already have.

Avatar image for vigariox

Giving a minus for personal preferences is shameful when you are supposed to be an unbiased reviewing site. "Terrible protagonist"? Seriously? That's your opinion, don't make people think it's how it is. Seriously tired of these unprofessional reviewers who actually get paid to review.

Avatar image for BovineDivine

@vigariox: opinion... Weird. It's almost as if every review is the reviewer's opinion.

Avatar image for vigariox

@BovineDivine: It shouldn't be. That's what unbiased means.

Avatar image for handsomepeasant

@vigariox: You might want to look up the actual definition of "unbiased"; it sounds like you're confusing it with "objective". A review is naturally subjective.

Avatar image for vigariox

@handsomepeasant: Holy mackerel man, you are still stuck here!? :)

Ok let me give you an example of how I see an unbiased review. I play a game, hate it like hell and then give it a score of 9/10 because it's actually gorgeous regardless of my personal feelings about it. Now how many reviewers do that?

Avatar image for handsomepeasant

@vigariox: Hardly anyone, because giving a good score to a game you hate based solely on the fact that it's "gorgeous" is a terrible way to review games. If a professional reviewer hates a game, I want to know why, and I want the score to reflect that -- again, reviews are by nature subjective.

Avatar image for BovineDivine

@vigariox: I'm not sure unbiased means what you think it means. Unbiased and opinion are not mutually exclusive

Avatar image for vigariox

@BovineDivine: If I play a game and I don't personally like something in it and give a negative point for that, than that's being biased in my book. My personal opinions should not influence my review of the game. But as I said, there is hardly any professional reviewer in this world.

Avatar image for hiba_mario

@vigariox: But the game review will always be based on whatever like or dislike the reviewer experienced for different aspects of the game.

I guess you will call a review biased if say the reviewer has a certain liking or disliking for a game publisher or like or dislike for a particular genre which in the end influenced the review

Avatar image for Hardcoreehb

@vigariox: I actually liked Mercer

Avatar image for bioswat

So gamespot, I see your reviews are very "good", eh? On 1st Prototype review you wrote, quote- "Intriguing storyline and protagonist". Now in this review you say that Alex Mercer is a "terrible, terrible protagonist". Okay, just wow
Anyway this port sucks

Avatar image for TheEroica

@bioswat: it's possible two different reviewers feel differently about the same game. No? Assuming this bundle was reviewed by a different person than the first release.

Avatar image for pure_evil_80

Tbh even in the day I thought these 2 games were mediocre.

Fun for 20 minutes but ultimately forgettable

Avatar image for santinegrete

This saga was a pleasant surprise to me in last gen. Too bad it was delivered to this new gen in such dishonest and incompetent way. Most people think this is better than infamous, but I beg to differ: I have more hours in Prototype than both Infamous games combined. I only found the overall story in Infamous to be better than in Prototype, by a big margin I admit.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

Prototype itself wasn't a great game... It was fun for awhile, but ultimately not worth finishing. There's nothing to care about, and the combat system ultimately becomes too cumbersome to enjoy (similar to Darksiders, but more button-mashy). Last thing I remember doing was some big building-sized boss, but then back to repetition.

Never bothered with the 2nd, since it's easy to guess that it's more of the same.

Avatar image for deactivated-5ca532262d747

@Pyrosa : amazing you feel that way i was hooked on the first game thinking it was awesome from beginning to end. the second one i haven't gotten around to finishing tho.

Avatar image for aquoon_0nly

I still remember the comments from the last gen console war,

they(xbox) used to compare this game with infamous,

now everyone is like "this is a crap".

Avatar image for Pyrosa

@aquoon_0nly: Umm, Infamous wasn't very good either. VERY similar games, both ultimately drag on too long w/o anything to drive you forward.

Avatar image for koospetoors

@aquoon_0nly: Also reminds me of that hilarious challenge Sucker Punch and Radical had where they drew each others protagonists in women's lingerie to win Yahtzee (Zero Punctuation) over. Mercer riding a unicorn in women's clothing was fabulously majestic.

Avatar image for no_one

@aquoon_0nly: This game is bad but infamous is pretty overrated too. Above average at best, that's being lenient. And I am a bias comic geek.

Avatar image for joel_c17

@aquoon_0nly: That was just xbots clutching at straws - This series has always been bad. Really, really bad.

Avatar image for neowarrior793

tbh i feel like defending this game for those new people who haven't played the game. if you like batman games, just cause or gta level of open world, play this game! it is good, it is fun and even if you are not into the whole game its a fun game to piss around with after its complete. dont bother getting the new version buy a second hand 360/ps3 game cheap but i really do implore you to play it.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

@neowarrior793: I can't argue with that logic.. fair point. Even though it wasn't great, I'd definitely say I got $10-$15 of enjoyment out of the first one.

Avatar image for Yams1980

since no effort at all was put into improving this game. they should have released it for a cheap price at least.

I never played the second prototype. I didn't like the first one enough to bother with it.

Avatar image for brian_ghattas

With so many remasters out there, I question this generation of gaming. Sure there's lots of great original games on PS4 and Xbox One but the amount of remasters being made is getting out of hand. I'd like to think 2015 will be the last year of a high amount of them but I'm certain it will be heavy in 2016 as well. I am guilty of buying them as I have God Of War 3 and Final Fantasy X/X-2 on PS4. I might even buy DMC but I never played that one.

Avatar image for Toysoldier34

Strange that it doesn't look tons better since they already have high quality assets from the PC version.

Avatar image for ceaseless

"Prototype 2 certainly offers a stronger experience than Prototype, but it’s still thoroughly outclassed on current gen consoles by Saints Row IV"

That's sad when you think about what Saints Row IV is lol

Avatar image for TTDog

@ceaseless: If you haven't played previous SR games then 4 is okay... but if you played SR3 then it looks like an over blown expansion... which it is.

Avatar image for ceaseless

@TTDog: I only have love for Saints Row 2. It's the only game I know as Saints Row (and obviously SR1 which I didn't play being on PC, but friends have and I watched video). My point was the irony of the original series (Prototype) being outclassed by something generic that clearly copied from it (Saints Row 4) which itself doesn't even have an identity anymore. Yeah, SR3 is a pretty empty world with a flat repetitive map and is lifeless compared to SR2

Avatar image for no_one

@TTDog: This is true, it was still fun, but also quite poor for a "remaster". And nothing to do once it's over, especially after flying in Gat outta Hell. Just made gliding annoying.

Avatar image for itchyflop

@TTDog: it is only £20 though like some dlc

Avatar image for OHGFawx

The first Prototype was one of the most annoying games I ever played on 360. So much so, that it made me never touch the 2nd. My local Target and Best Buy still to this day have copies of PT2 they are trying to unload to no avail. What got me about the first one was the near constant and unavoidable airstrikes being called in by the military. I got so frustrated that I just plowed through the story to hurry up and be done with it. Funny thing, there is one ability that can make the final boss fight un-winnable if you don't unlock it. Couple that with an auto-save feature that doesn't let you go back to a point before the final boss fight once you start it, and you have the most perfect cocktail of frustrating and terrible game design that I ever saw in the last console gen.

Avatar image for Megamandrew

I was really underwhelmed by the first Prototype, so I didn't bother with the second one because it looked like more of the same. I decided to give it a try due to Justin's insistence that it was a much better experience and I have to concur. Not only is it much more fun than its predecessor, I think it's a really fun game, period. Thanks, Justin.

Avatar image for grin89

can get the same games for less then half the price on steam and run the game at max settings at 120fps. poor business practices seem to be in abundance lately with gaming companies to supply their console customers with such a poor product at full price.

Avatar image for chuckles471

Prototype the poor man's Infamous/Crackdown.

Avatar image for joel_c17

@chuckles471: Crackdown is a poor mans infamous. So i guess its infamous >>>>crackdown>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> prototype

Avatar image for itchyflop

@chuckles471: ugh what a game crackdown was, one of the best ever

Avatar image for harlemstruggle

@chuckles471: truth

Avatar image for Sepewrath

We're going to unfortunately get a lot more of this as people continue to praise these re-release of last gen games. I mean a game should be at least two gens old before its worthy of a "remaster". And in the case of many of these games, I use the term rather loosely.

Avatar image for turtlethetaffer

@Sepewrath: I completely agree. As soon as the PS4 came out, they remastered Last of Us and people were getting nostalgic for a game that was about a year old at the time and it baffles me to this day. And they just keep rereleasing games from last generation. It's frustrating me a lot.

Avatar image for itchyflop

@turtlethetaffer: is it me or is it just this gen of hardware that is getting remasters? no other console did?

Avatar image for turtlethetaffer

@itchyflop: There have pretty much always been remakes and ports, but they often added or changed things around. Not only that, but a lot of the time they were very relevant. IE, Final Fantasy VI being released on GBA. The original version was tough to come by, it became portable and there was new content. Plus, time had passed between the original and the new release. Last of Us Definitive whatever came out about a year after the original release. And chuckleheads at places like IGN got nostalgic about it! It frustrates me that developers can get away with that now. Take GTAV. They added a bunch of stuff that wasn't in the original release. It's like the company said, "The first time you purchased this game it didn't count even though you paid us for it. This time it's for real, we promise, guys."

Avatar image for seven7swords

Man, finally someone says it! Jame is a better character then Alex! Fans online are always saying Alex is better than James, and when their reasoning is questioned, it's nothing more than "Alex was the first so he's better."

I get it. You play the first game and you get attached to that character and you don't want the replaced, but that doesn't mean the replacement is bad. Their just different.

James > Alex Prototype

Death > War Darksiders

Lucas > Ness Earthbound

Zero > Megaman

Dante > Donte LoL I really do think Dante is better but Donte isn't bad.

But whatever... Matters of opinion.

Avatar image for franzito

Resident Evil Botched 1.5!

Avatar image for sakaixx

Wow that is one lazy remaster.

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Prototype Biohazard Bundle More Info

  • First Released Jul 14, 2015
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    The Prototype Biohazard Bundle includes Prototype and Prototype 2 with DLC.
    Average Rating2 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Radical Entertainment
    Published by:
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language