Prototype 2: The Saddest Game In The Whole World

By Alec Meer on April 16th, 2012 at 3:40 pm.

Did you know that his claws are made from crystallised tears?

Have you a heartstring? Then the sequel to open world anti-hero game Prototype would like a chance to pull at it. It has a sad Johnny Cash song, it has a dead wife and it’s not afraid to use them.

This trailer

and this trailer

Has so damned much to answer for. Now Prototype 2′s at the grimdark/pretty song juxtaposition marketing lark, and in this humble typist’s opinion getting it all kinds of wrong. You’ll see. Oh, you’ll see.

Crudity was always this thinly-veiled Incredible Hulk fantasy’s charm, but rather than embracing it wholly and making a virtue of it, it’s claiming profundity. Crudely. But not intentionally so. I’m sure there was all manner of thoughtful authorial intent behind it, but in practice the result comes across a bit FIRST GOOGLE HIT FOR ‘SAD SONG’ / POLAROID PHOTO OF VIRTUOUS, LOST FAMILY / FALLING AS METAPHOR FOR WHATEVER / AND NOW THE PEOPLE WILL CRY.

This is a game about smashing everything. This is a game about leaping over tall buildings with a single bound. Grow up! By which I mean ‘stop pretending to be grown-up and just enjoy being as puerile as all hell.’ And don’t make that splendid cover version of Hurt seem so trashy by association. So, whaddaya say we try this again, from the top?

That’s more like it, thanks. I’m quite looking forward to Prototype 2, in an ambient sort of way. The first game was a bit patchy to be sure, but disguising myself as an elderly lady then dropkicking helicopters was very much my idea of a good time. And. In. The. Game.

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79 Comments »

  1. Syra says:

    Sigh the song was so out of place even.

    • Premium User Badge

      lurkalisk says:

      The original would have worked, I think.

      I don’t understand people, why is the world such that Johnny Cash can cover NIN and everyone remembers the completely underwhelming Cash version? Hell, they’ll worship the damn thing and stick it everywhere, which only serves to make trailers unintentionally comical.

      • Premium User Badge

        PeopleLikeFrank says:

        Because the Johnny Cash version is really good. He’s also a wee bit more well-known than NIN. It does make the trailer silly though.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          It’s also basically the last song he sung before he died.

          • Havok9120 says:

            Not even close, actually.

          • Starky says:

            It was however the last single he released before he died.
            It was also the last song he released before his wife died, and he recorded it and filmed the video while she was dying (or at least very ill and with surgery looming, the surgery she died during), basically as a tribute to her.

      • Christian O. says:

        I think it’s a pretty good cover. Nice pathos, especially considering his life.

        I’m not using this as a end-all-be-all argument, but Reznor liked the Cash cover better than his own rendition as well. That should carry a little weight.

      • mouton says:

        Both versions are great, just different. Opposing them is harmful to either.

      • Premium User Badge

        lurkalisk says:

        Well like I… Vaguely implied, it’s just my opinion. I really don’t care what Reznor thought of this version, or how well known Cash is, frankly. I’m just saying that I can’t quite understand why people are generally of the aforementioned opinion regarding the song. The appeal people attribute to Cash is something I simply don’t seem to perceive.

        …Oh, and that the original would better suit the trailer.

      • PopeJamal says:

        Ya. iknorite! I think about that every time I watch the biographical movie they released about NIN…
        Oh wait..

        Johnny Cash was a rough ol’ boy, forced to detox at gunpoint and all kinds of crazy shit. By comparison, I think NIN was sad about something once…

        Like it or not, Johnny Cash was an American icon. NIN, not so much.

        • Premium User Badge

          lurkalisk says:

          If his music is good, it’s good. It doesn’t have much to do with whether he had a crazy life.

      • Havok9120 says:

        Because…..people disagree with you and like the Cash version better?

        *shrug*

        • Premium User Badge

          lurkalisk says:

          …Yeah. If you look closely, you can tell I might have understood that to begin with.

      • Bonedwarf says:

        Soon as I read the bit saying it was a Cash song I thought “That’s going to be “Hurt” isn’t it.”

        Fucking ridiculous. I like Cash’s version, but as an epic level NIN fan I get pissed off with this, or worse still when folk criticize Reznor for covering Cash.

        Plus Cash changed the lyrics, which IMO is a HUGE NO-NO akin to painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.

        • Premium User Badge

          Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

          Actually, I seem to remember Mr. Reznor changing those exact same lyrics in certain live renditions himself earlier, so it’s really not so bad.

          • zerosociety says:

            Trent has been known to refer to Hurt as a “cover of a Johnny Cash song” himself.

      • Xocrates says:

        As neither a fan of Cash or NIN I will say this:

        I’m not surprised that people prefer the version of an old man talking about a life of regret versus a middle aged men acting emo.

        • mouton says:

          How are they different, except being of different age? Is being unhappy only appropriate when you are dying?

          • Xocrates says:

            The difference is that someone young(er) still has the chance to turn his life around. An old man is unlikely.

          • mouton says:

            How so? They are both going to die anyway.

          • Xocrates says:

            If life is pointless, why bother to live. amirite?

            If you honestly can’t see the difference between an old man finding it’s too late to turn his life around and a middle aged one saying his life sucks while doing nothing about it, then I don’t think I can help you,

          • mouton says:

            Oh, I see a difference. I just don’t see why we have to go darwin on those who break down while still having some options. I guess it is a defense mechanism – after all, we are all prone to failure and such people are a painful reminder of where we can end. Thus, chastising and mocking the depressed, might be actually an attempt to motivate ourselves.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          Johnny Cash and his life of awesome, would be nearer the mark. Particularly liked the time he got in an ass-kicking contest with an Emu, lost, and almost ODed on the barbituates he was hiding from his nurses by tucking them under his bandages…

          I like both versions, but I always think of the NIN version as part of The Downward Spiral… is that so wrong?!

        • Premium User Badge

          lurkalisk says:

          But why would that matter? I don’t listen to music as a gesture of approval for the person/s that made it. It’s largely the same content being conveyed, but I simply prefer the sound of the original.

          • Xocrates says:

            I didn’t say it mattered, I said it’s not surprising why so many people prefer the Cash version, since you said you didn’t understand why.

          • Premium User Badge

            lurkalisk says:

            I know, but… Hmm. Yes.

            I suppose then, that would be the thing I truly don’t understand. Granted, I’m sure plenty just prefer it on the song’s own merit, but that’s something I can at least come close to understanding.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        You’re supposed to learn this in primary school, but here goes:

        Different people like different things, and that is okay. It’s actually kind of a good thing.

        • Premium User Badge

          lurkalisk says:

          Uh, yes. You’ve clearly hit the mark. I’m just as stupid as they come.
          -OR-
          In saying I can’t understand why an opinion is so popular, I’m merely implying I disagree, not saying that I don’t understand why the world isn’t made to my mind’s specifications. But surely you knew that.

      • Arca says:

        I think we can all agree the Leona Lewis version sucks.

  2. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Stop falling so slowly! All your game content is evaporating while you do that!

  3. Just Endless says:

    *Nine Inch Nails song covered by Johnny Cash*

    Please excuse the Trent Reznor fanboy in me.

    On the topic of Prototype, I have nothing more to pronounce than a ‘meh.’

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      I believe Trent himself declared the song to now belong to Johnny Cash. I must admit that at first I disliked the cover… but it grew on me. Like a benign growth. Or Kuato.

      Anyway, I honestly believe that Sad Kermit brought us the saddest version of Hurt.

  4. ukpanik says:

    Cheesy

  5. Belsameth says:

    The original is better :(

  6. Runs With Foxes says:

    But a revenge story “gives me a reason to be invested in the gameplay” etc.

    That’s the excuse people usually give for this kind of hamfisted emotionarrative anyway.

    • KDR_11k says:

      They said they want to make the player character more “likeable”. I’d rather have him be a total monster.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        Yeah, it all does sound a little bit “stuffed in the freezer”.

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge

        • Premium User Badge

          LTK says:

          Doesn’t fit the trope. Alex Mercer didn’t kill Heller’s wife and kid specifically and delibirately. It was a result of the virus outbreak that Heller believes Mercer is the cause of. Heller seeks contact with him first; initially, Mercer has no idea that Heller’s wife and kid are dead.

          At least, that’s what I’m getting from the information we’ve received so far.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        I concur. I don’t want to be a sympathetic monster. I want to be an amoral psychopath roaming the streets glorying in my own destructive might as I shred puny soldiers and devour civilians.

        And in the game.

      • Premium User Badge

        LTK says:

        Alex Mercer was a total monster (the virus too in many ways) and he made for a rather interesting character. Though admittedly I didn’t know that before I actually played Prototype, and I think the promotional material told us the same thing about Alex – that he’s also out for revenge. It could still become interesting.

  7. Inverselaw says:

    wait didnt this game come out a few months ago?

    Oh no wait that was infamous 2

    cant imagine why i would confuse the two :p

  8. Rubyace says:

    I can’t say that I was as impressed by prototype 2 promo video as I were from Gears of War and to some extent Dead Island. It kind of felt like a forced attempt to make it touching.

  9. mondomau says:

    That was fucking terrible. The song didn’t fit at all and has just been used because it’s popular, which is another reason the lazy fuck of an ad exec should be fired – JC’s version of Hurt has been used in several TV shows and that running shoes ad in exactly the same way.

  10. Zoomalude says:

    PBBBT, it even has the Howie scream! Ahahahaha. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf6_hok4-lo

    • methodology says:

      yeah as soon as i heard that i wanted to scream too. Are there only like 3 screams available from sound effects licensing libraries or what?

  11. Innovacious says:

    I cant remember what the story even was in the first prototype. A virus? Thats about as much as i know and steam says i played it for 16 hours.

  12. Maldomel says:

    I really disliked the first one. Buggy, bad story, nice gameplay but not that good either…
    But yes, that cover of “hurt” is a masterpiece of sadness.

  13. Premium User Badge

    blind_boy_grunt says:

    ok, the only way they could have saved this is if in the end it would have turned into a happy blood bath. I was almost convinced the trailer is a reversal of the trope when he landed, but alas. And clearly the only reason they used this song is so they could end the trailer on “… i will make you hurt”.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Fatbubba says:

    Alec, didn’t you mean this trailer for Gears of War 3?

  15. TsunamiWombat says:

    I actually like the idea of making the main character sympathetic rather than a power fantasy charicture who does laughably evil things as it was in the first game. I also love Johnny Cash’s songs (Whatever NIN fans, Johnny Cash is more the legend) and believe they would make excellent videogamey actiony trailer fodder.

    I will however agree that this trailer, while having all the elements, was -laughably- done.

    • puppybeard says:

      Pfff, I didn’t see Johnny Cash doing the music for Quake :P

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Well, I can practically subitize all the games where the player character is depicted as evil.

      Agreed on the trailer though.

  16. Koshiir Ra says:

    I had to laugh so hard at the end when they pulled the “Out of the Inferno” trope at the end.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OutOfTheInferno

  17. RakeShark says:

    At least it didn’t disrespect the music by attempting to talk over it, stop it for some heartbeats, or in general drown it out with explosions like the Black Ops trailer did with “Gimmie Shelter”.

  18. MadTinkerer says:

    Don’t forget to preorder at Gamestop for the EXCLUSIVE…

    *shudder*

    “Bio-bomb Butt Kicker” move. Wherin you turn a guy into a “bio-bomb”, spin him around and then kick him a dozen or so meters away so he explodes into tentacly things which grab other things and smooshes them all in a big explosion.

    It’s advertised over all the video review sites I watch regularly and is all I could think about during that trailer.

    “MY WIFE, you bastards killed MY WIFE! I’ll BIO BOMB BUTTKICK ALL OF YOU!!!!!!”

    • MattM says:

      That ad is just so awful. It makes me less interested in the game.

  19. Premium User Badge

    PeopleLikeFrank says:

    Well, I made it 38 seconds in.

  20. Vinraith says:

    Whoever the rights holders are to Cash’s version of “Hurt” really need a good flogging. Taking such a rich, personal, affecting performance and spamming it across every type of advertising imaginable does a criminal disservice to both the song and the man.

    • RakeShark says:

      In contrast, Prey 2′s use of “Rusty Cage” was pretty f-ing sweet.

  21. puppybeard says:

    This pathos was brought to you by Crayolaâ„¢

  22. mouton says:

    Oh my God, this is so deep. Gotta tell everyone in my high school.

  23. killingbutterflies says:

    Is that Gears of War trailer supposed to be a good example. That’s probably even worse than the Prototype one – doesn’t fit at all. Gears of War 3 on the other hand was a pretty decent lots-of-violence-with-sad-music. I remember the original Assassin’s Creed using Massive Attack’s Teardrop to be pretty good as well.

  24. codename_bloodfist says:

    Thank God they’ve kept the Inception horn. I was almost afraid I’d see a trailer without one.

  25. Baresark says:

    I don’t care for the story direction of this particular game. I felt the first as a revenge story was a lot better. We all know, having played it, that Alex Mercer isn’t the big villain that the in game media made him out to be. The game will still play about the same though, so at least it will still be fun to play.

    • Iskariot says:

      Alex Mercer was my hero. I don’t understand why everybody thinks he is a villain.
      Yes, he killed innocents, but that is just collateral damage. That is the way respectable countries, with respectable armies do it too. The powerless innocents die for the greater good of filling the power hungry politician’s pockets. So Alex Mercer was a saint as far as I am concerned.

  26. Calabi says:

    Great looks like another interesting game ruined by a trashy contrived story. Oh well!

  27. Premium User Badge

    Shockeh says:

    I loved the Dead Island one, I remember saying how great it was at the time, but wow; that Prototype 2 one looks *awful*. I mean, truly like bad fanservice stuff.

    Please tell me it’s fanservice, I’d hate to think someone paid for that.

    E: The big shame being, Dead Island the game wasn’t half as great, and lacked the emotional tie-in I was hoping I’d get from the trailer!

  28. InternetBatman says:

    I really, really liked the Gears trailer.

    I thought the Dead Island one was just clumsy. Of course you can create an emotional attachment with a dead child. Hemingway did it in seven words. That doesn’t mean its good or your game will be good.

    This was just sad and funny though. Sad because that song could have been used in a much better video. Funny because they clearly wanted to make a dramatic scene but had no idea how to do it. It’s like the director of the ad gave his instructions through the game of telephone.

    • mouton says:

      “Hemingway did it in seven words.”

      Hmm? In which book? Not Farewell to Arms, the child didn’t survive, I think. Or is that it?

      • ShrikeMalakim says:

        It’s six, actually.

        “Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”"

  29. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Still gutted that at the end of Gears 3 (SPOILERZ) Marcus didn’t whip off his do-rag and unleash his mighty comb-over.

    Bleh.

  30. The First Door says:

    Prototype 2 is one of the few games I’ve watched the trailer for and just felt ‘Well that’s a bit much isn’t it?’ I get the whole relaxing after a hard day thing… but this just seems icky.

  31. Was Neurotic says:

    I thought the ‘hero’ in Prototype was some hideous alien murder-beast with tentacle arms that ripped people apart? I remember something like this in the first PCG preview years ago.

  32. Erithtotl says:

    Wow so many butthurt NiN fans.

    I’m sure Reznor loves this cover.

    I like em both.

    I think the goofy trailer for this game doesn’t do the song justice though.

  33. Phandaal says:

    The funny thing about these 3 trailers is, that the acting in the 2 animated ones is better than in the live action one.

    Very clumsy and failed attempt at cashing in (see what I did there!) on the “sad” trailer bandwagon.

  34. sbs says:

    Youtube links make german users sad :(