A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Prototype Biohazard Bundle is a downloadable collection that gathers a pair of games released for older systems to make them available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Both games are exceptionally violent, putting players in the shoes of two characters -- one white, one black, both equally tough -- who use mutated appendages, claws, and their bare hands to messily carve their way through waves of human opponents, leaving a trail of blood, body parts, and ruptured corpses. Strong language is used throughout, including frequent use of "f--k." Minor characters occasionally reference drugs and sex, but neither is depicted on-screen. Despite its superhero themes and vibe, this game is unquestionably meant for older players.
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What's it about?
Activision's PROTOTYPE BIOHAZARD BUNDLE pairs the 2009 game Prototype and its 2012 sequel Prototype 2 -- along with all downloadable content released for the second game -- making both available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the first time. The first game introduces Alex Mercer, a man with no memory, who wakes up in a morgue in New York City after Manhattan has been overrun by a man-made virus that turns anyone it infects into a hideous, bloodthirsty monster -- except for Mercer. Instead, he gains super strength, almost limitless endurance, the power to shape-shift into different forms, and the ability to run straight up the sides of buildings and leap incredible distances. He uses these powers to investigate the plague, recover his memory by "consuming" enemies, and kill anyone who gets in his way. The second game picks up with a new hero, James Heller, an army man who blames Mercer for his family's death. Mercer infects Heller with the virus and he, too, quickly begins to develop superpowers, most the same as Mercer's. Narrative twists keep Mercer's motives for transforming Heller secret until well into the story. Both games are set in open worlds that allow players to freely explore the city, navigating to and completing primary missions and secondary objectives at their discretion.
Is it any good?
Some rereleased games from previous-generation hardware offer plenty of incentives for returning players to invest anew, including improved graphics, fresh content, augmented controls, and special features. Prototype Biohazard Bundle, unfortunately, has none of these. It simply delivers two old games plus all DLC at a reasonable (though not altogether cheap) price and bumps both up to 1080p, making them look a bit crisper on bigger TVs. Beyond that, both games are more or less identical to the versions that appeared on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If you've paid for and played them before, there's no reason to buy them again now.
That said, older players who've never played either game and enjoy dark, gritty superhero dramas might want to consider this bundle. Neither game adds much to the (now well-worn) open-world superhero formula, but one of Mercer and Heller's more interesting powers is the ability to "consume" enemies to gain their strength and memories. It's an original way to evolve narrative that adds suspense and can make for some pretty dramatic storytelling corkscrews. Lackluster rerelease details aside, both games remain playable and fun, if perhaps just a bit creaky.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Both of these games revel in depictions of bloody, gory combat, so what would have been lost had the developers toned down the aggression? What might have been gained?
Families also can discuss racial diversity in games. How many games have you played with non-customizable protagonists who aren't white? Why do you think primary characters with skin colors other than white aren't more common in games?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Activision
- Release date: July 14, 2015
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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