- "Become anything... Change everything!"
Prototype (typeset as [PROTOTYPE]) is an action-adventure game published by Activision and developed by Radical Entertainment. The game was released in North America on June 9, 2009, and in southwestern parts of North America as well as Oceania on June 10, and was released in Europe on June 12.
The game is set in New York City as a virus infects people and the military attempts to put an end to it. The protagonist of the story is named Alex Mercer, who has enemy-absorbing and shapeshifting abilities.
Mercer can retain memories, experiences, biomass and physical forms of enemies consumed. Alex can also shapeshift portions of his body into more specialized forms of weapons for attack or defense. All of these together are intended to give players multiple ways to complete their objectives.
The game follows the story of Alexander J. Mercer (voiced by Barry Pepper) who wakes up on a morgue slab in the basement of Gentek, a large and influential genetic engineering company. Alex escapes and sets out to recover his memory and find out exactly what occurred. He soon discovers that he now possesses powerful shapeshifting abilities that grant him superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, weaponry and the ability to "consume" people to gain their memories, skills and appearance. With no memory of his previous life, Alex is forced to track down and consume those related to the conspiracy in order to uncover the truth. During his quest, Alex faces two factions. Blackwatch, a Fort Detrick special forces unit dedicated to combating biological warfare, and the Infected, consisting of civilians who have contracted a strange virus and powerful monsters known as Hunters. Captain Cross, a Blackwatch officer, is specifically given orders to find and contain Alex.
Alex makes contact with his sister, Dana Mercer, who assists him in tracking down targets who can shed light on his past, leading to the eventual infiltration of Gentek headquarters. Alex finds a woman called Elizabeth Greene contained on level 51 of the building, who escapes and takes control of the Infected. Alex soon meets Dr. Ragland - a pathologist linked to the whole matter - who also helps him. As the conspiracy unfolds, and with the assistance of an unidentified contact, the origins of the virus and Elizabeth Greene are uncovered: in 1969, the government had tested the virus' predecessor in Hope, Idaho, designed to target predetermined races.
The virus then mutated into something far more deadly, and the whole Hope population was infected. Elizabeth Greene was the only survivor; an anomaly whose body accepted the virus, rewriting her genetic code along with that of her son, Pariah. The remaining population of Hope, Idaho was then liquidated by Blackwatch. Greene and Pariah were kept in captivity for further research, later in conjunction with Gentek.
Soon after, Alex discovers his own past. Blackwatch shut down the Gentek project due to news leaks and ordered all project personnel eliminated. Gentek employee Dr. Alex Mercer took a sample of the virus (DX-1118 variant A) as "insurance". Eventually pinned down by Blackwatch in Penn Station, he decides to take down as many as he can with him, shattering the tube and releasing the virus ("Blacklight") onto the unsuspecting city. After he falls from being shot, the virus enters his corpse, consuming and copying Alex's entire body. Upon waking in the morgue at the start, the virus clone, Zeus, believed itself to be Mercer.
With the help of an unknown contact, Alex pumps the new "Bloodtox" biological agent underground, in order to drive the hiding virus above ground where it can be fought directly, causing Elizabeth Greene to emerge as a towering monstrosity, whom Alex defeats and consumes. It becomes apparent that General Randall, head of Blackwatch, is prepared to destroy Manhattan with a nuclear device. The contact, revealed to be Captain Robert Cross, and Alex infiltrate the USS Ronald Reagan, where it is held.
Once Alex consumes Randall, Cross reveals himself to be the Supreme Hunter - having survived their last fight and consumed the real Cross to assume his form. Mercer defeats it and moves the weapon out into the Atlantic Ocean, where it detonates safely but catches him in the blast. His remains float back to the city, regenerating after consuming a crow and thereafter musing on what he has become: "I am something less than human, but also something more."
Among the enhanced parkour feats Alex can perform are running up the sides of skyscrapers, jumping hundreds of meters, gliding through the air and sprinting at extreme speed indefinitely. Falls do not damage the player no matter the height, but greater ones will visibly deform the ground. Alex may use various weapons, seize and control military vehicles including helicopters, perform various melee attacks without shapeshifting, as well as more gymnastic moves such as air combos, sliding along the ground using any human enemy's body and a high-speed rolling cannonball attack. Alex can regain health by consuming biomass, though over time he can regenerate to a limited degree out of combat.
Alex's primary superpower is his ability to shapeshift, transforming parts of his body into a selection of martial implements acquired over the course of the game, either as purchased upgrades or being given them. Offensive powers include the large and powerful Blade, fast razor-sharp Claws (which can also erupt large spikes from the ground), the telescoping Whipfist, Musclemass that augments his strength, and large club-like Hammerfists.
Defensive options consist of a large Shield that needs to regenerate after excessive damage, and a full-body Armor that exchanges agility and speed for sheer toughness; both will allow Alex to plow through most obstacles when active. Vision modes include Thermal, which allows Alex to see enemies through smoke and other obstacles, and Infected. Any combination of one defensive and offensive power each may be active, but will give away Alex's presence and drop a disguise if any is in use.
The most powerful attacks are the Devastators, which require Alex to be in Critical Mass - either a state of near-death or having excess stored biomass. These include the Tendril Barrage, which fires impaling tendrils from his body in all directions, the Groundspike Graveyard, which erupts massive spikes from the ground all around Alex and the Critical Pain, which fires a single beam of hardened biomass from his hands to cause damage on a single target.
Prototype was announced in August 2007 and was set to release under Sierra's banner until a merge with Activision. The initial design of Mercer was changed along with the combat style and powers. A series of comics were released to detail the story along with the game. These comics were released by DC WildStorm. It is written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, and with art by Darick Robertson and Matt Jacobs.
Prototype was released on Steam as well as in retail stores on June 9, 2009 (NA) and June 12, 2009 (EU). It topped the Steam sales on the week of its release and the Xbox version was one of the top selling games of 2009. Prototype was praised for its "intriguing storyline and protagonist" and "massive arsenal of moves and abilities", but criticized the game for its "occasionally fiddly controls" and "dull scenery". The Xbox 360 version of Prototype was the top selling game of June 2009 in North America, with over 419,900 units sold. This made the game a Platinum Hit.As of March 2012, the game had sold 2.1 Million copies worldwide.
Prototype was released two weeks after Sucker Punch Productions' Infamous, a game with many similar concepts. This led many game critics to compare and contrast the games.
- Main article: Prototype 2
On December 2010, Radical Entertainment released a teaser trailer called "Murder Your Maker" sometime around December. The game now follows the story of Sgt. James Heller, a war veteran who returns to the war-torn city.
Prototype Wiki has a collection of images related to Prototype on its Gallery page.