PROTOTYPE; Q&A reveals side-missions, devastation
PROTOTYPE is a forthcoming title where you play as Alex Mercer - a genetically mutated shape-shifter with no memory of his past - who travels through New York trying to regain his memory and find out what has happened to him.
The citizens of NY have been mutated with a virus, and the military have been sent in to deal with the situation. A true 'sandbox' game, Alex must fight both of these opposing factions in his quest for the truth.
We managed to get some time to ask Tim Bennison, Executive Producer at Radical Entertainment, to fill us in on some of the unique game elements in PROTOTYPE.
[PS3A] With PROTOTYPE being a 'sandbox' game, will you have lots of extra little side-missions and tasks you can choose to complete, or ignore, such as have been seen in other games of this type?
[TB] PROTOTYPE will deliver a wide spectrum of gameplay experiences throughout the story/missions. Because Alex Mercer can use his shape-shifting powers at any moment, players will be able to choose how they wish to complete a mission. There are also side missions we call the Web of Intrigue that accompany the key storyline missions, though we’ll be releasing more info on these in the future.
[PS3A] We've heard a little bit about the 'disguise or destroy' concept in this game. What do you mean by that and how does it work?
[TB] Alex can use his shape-shifting powers at any moment throughout the game, so the concept of 'Deceive or Destroy' is absolutely essential to our design process for each mission. Essentially players get to mix-n-match how to play a mission by deciding whether to unleash hell via Alex’s ability to turn his body into deadly weapons, or try and use deception and shape-shift into a civilian or military form and sneak into a scenario.
[PS3A] Just how flexible are Alex's superhuman capabilities? What can gamers expect to see in terms of abilities?
[TB] At any point, in any mission in PROTOTYPE, we want players to feel completely free when engaging enemies and situations. Alex Mercer can shape-shift his body into many different deadly weapons. He has offensive abilities like the claws, blade arm and whipfist; defensive abilities like the shield and armored skin, and some sensory abilities that allow him to see things the normal human eye can’t. And then there’s the part where Alex can consume and become anyone in NY, where he gains their knowledge, appearance, memories and abilities instantly.
The attack and defensive shape-shifting abilities add layers of choice to players. And we’ve really beefed up the concept of traditional power progression. The goal is to make players feel extremely powerful from the start of the game, whilst correctly balancing the enemy threat so that you’re always on edge. The devastation that any one of these powers can cause is pretty spectacular, this is not a Tekken-like one-on-one fight, this is one man taking out 20 elite soldiers with a single killer move.
We have quite a few other powers up our sleeve that haven’t been mentioned yet. We have an array of sensory powers for example, that make the PROTOTYPE a hunter on the par of the Earth’s most dangerous predators.
[PS3A] As well as Alex's abilities, what weapons, vehicles and other items can we expect to see available for use in the game?
[TB] One of our favorite internal memes is that we want Alex to kick butt in a hundred different ways that no one has ever seen before. Alex has the ability to consume and become anyone in New York City, plus Alex can shape-shift his arms into lethal blades, whip fists, ground spikes and claws among others. Some of the defense powers will include forming large arm-shields and a powered, armored form that lets Alex literally smash through vans and large vehicles unhindered.
If that wasn’t enough, we know gamers want to be able to run-n-gun, so yes, I’m glad to say that we’re also offering the use of traditional weapons in PROTOTYPE. We’re really trying to show off what we feel is next-gen gameplay and next-gen ‘choice’ of gameplay. It's pretty fun just ripping a missile-launcher out of a Blackwatch soldier's arms and taking down their own Apache gunships with it.
[PS3A] Back in December you showed a build that was around 20% complete, according to some reports. How far down the line are you now, and when can we expect to see the game released?
[TB] PROTOTYPE is looking better by the day. Our goal is to create a different kind of open-world/action experience. We’re going to polish it and release it when it’s ready in 2009.
[PS3A] How long did it take to create New York City in PROTOTYPE, and to what lengths did you go to to make it accurate?
[TB] One of our guiding principles in making PROTOTYPE is that everything should revolve around the concept of ‘reality plus one fantastic element’.
Having a very topical, believable environment lets us make the fantastic action become so much more stunning because you can contrast it against something you understand and recognise. We took 22,000 photographs of New York City and many hours of 7.1 surround sound-compatible recordings, so the first point to make is we're really keen to do New York City 'right'. Previous games have shown New York City and when you enter their version of Time Square, it has no more than 20 people walking around. That’s definitely NOT New York and so we're really happy with the sheer density, intensity and bustling nature of our game world.
We're talking hundreds of cars, thousands of pedestrians – so when things start to explode you really get the impression the world is caving in around you. Importantly though, we're not trying to recreate a slavish replica of NYC like you might find on Google maps. If you're going to include say, an alleyway, then you'd better have something fun to do in that alleyway. Hence we're going for a slightly modified vision of the city that builds in more action-per-square-foot than all of our previous efforts.
[PS3A]What is the best thing about being a game developer in Vancouver?
[TB] There are dozens of game development companies here so the pool of talent is very deep. We live in a great city, and it’s easy to find a lot of great things to do. But we ignore all that stuff until after we ship our game, of course.
Our thanks to Tim and the team at Radical for sparing us the time. Keep checking back for more on PROTOTYPE as the year progresses.