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Prototype 2: Radical's Ken Rosman on murdering makers

Sergeant James Heller is p**sed off – and for good reason. His Iraq tour's over and his wife and children have been killed by Blacklight. He blames Alex Mercer. Welcome to Prototype 2.

Prototype is back, as you saw yesterday. We caught up with Radical and took a look at the sequel at GDC earlier this month, and found the open-worlder both altered and refined over the 2009 original.

The plot's simple, brutal. James Heller has returned to Manhattan after a rough tour of duty in Iraq, to find his family wiped out by the Blacklight virus. Crazed by grief, Heller heads out into the heart of the infection to commit suicide and take down as many mutants as possible.

Eventually wounded and dying in the Red Zone, Heller looks to be on the verge of achieving his aims, when Alex Mercer steps in and decides to “save” the ex-marine by infecting him with Blacklight. Instead of thanking the first game's protagonist for saving his life, Heller blames Alex for the death of his family as, in his eyes, the virus never would have spread if not for the release of Elizabeth Greene and the subsequent city-wide battle.

Replenished of life and given powers of biomass control, Heller is now hell-bent on seeking vengeance for the death of his loved ones, and fulfilling his new purpose in life – to murder his maker.

Dark night of the soul

As a theme, Murder Your Maker is considered the game's “A” story, and is "what keeps you going,” Radical Entertainment head Ken Rosman told us at GDC.

“There is still the 'B' story, which is the conspiracy people who played Prototype 1 are familiar with - so that's all still in there.”

This plot structure adds plenty of other stories and side-quests to keep the player going; however, Rosman said the team is not exactly sure how big the final game will be.

“At this point, we still trying to figure out how long things take,” he said. “One of the things we found with Prototype 1, was that we let some things go on too long. It led to a lot of repetition. We want to make sure we don't do that this time. At the same time though, we want to make sure there's enough gameplay there for people to enjoy it.”

This time around, the world will be parceled out instead of the entire map being available from the very start.

Prototype 2 GDC 2011 demo trailer.

According to Rosman: “There will be plenty [to do] between the open world, collectibles and the story. If a player is a completionist there's plenty for them there.”

While general structure may have been altered and the game has a new protagonist, this doesn't mean Alex's story is over. Proof he resonated well with players of the first game was never more obvious than when Radical seemed to change the man's alignment a bit. We all remember the outcry, and Rosman believes the uproar was due to fans being worried the developers were “getting rid” of Alex.

“People love Alex. I wouldn't say more than we thought, but they were more vocal than we thought,” he said. “Alex is a character that you spent 15-40 hours with, and he was a character that resonated with the audience - I mean, he was our fantasy, our character. I think people were initially afraid that we were getting rid of him.

“This guy though, James Heller; I think people are going to be surprised, because we were able to use some of the things left over on the table from Alex here.”

Strange, it seems like a character mutation

The game's demonstration at GDC last week showed that James Heller is super, super strong. If we were laying money on the table, we'd put it all on Heller and thumb our nose at Mercer any day of the week.

“He will have a lot of the same powers as Alex, but he'll have one or two things Alex can't do.”

We laid our bets after watching Heller grab a chaingun attached to the back of a military vehicle, rip it of its base bolts and start firing into a crowd of enemies, Predator style.

“I can say that he is more of a badass than Alex was,” offered Rosman. “I think when players understand what James Heller can do, I think they will be pleasantly surprised and and enjoy him.

“I think one of the things we struggled with in Alex, was that he was a gifted guy with these awesome powers and he struggled to appreciate them. James Heller, on the other-hand, is a man who can appreciate what he has been given.

“He will have a lot of the same powers as Alex, but he'll have one or two things Alex can't do.”

Rosman wouldn't say whether or not Alex and Heller meet up and battle it out at some point in the game, or if they would band together and take on the world as an unstoppable duo, but from the glint we saw in his eye when we asked, we're leaning towards the later. Don't quote us on that though.

Another demonstration of Heller's super-human strength was shown when a behemoth started rampaging through downtown Manhattan. Heller was just starting to battle her when the demo was cut off. This scene reminded us a bit of your standard RPG, where you have your lesser bosses throughout the game before ending a stage with a massive battle royale.

Rosman said players can expect a “few new entities to do battle with,” and the behemoth seen in the video was just one such example.

If you've heard the tales of transformation, then one, two, three

The addition of a new protagonist, new bosses to kill, and a different structure aren't the only changes in store for players - with Prototype 2, Radical has done away with not only the Move Store, but the multiplayer aspect as well.

“The Move Store is not in [the game] like in Prototype 1,” Rosman told us. “We removed the store - we likened it to dumping out a bucket full of LEGO and saying, 'There's fun in there somewhere.' This time we are reinforcing the cool LEGO and we are going to let you use it before you move on - the moves, and the robustness of the game, that's all in there.”

And as far as removing the multiplayer, it seemed like the best thing to do in order to for the development team to “focus” and make sure there weren't any unneeded “distractions.”

“Multiplayer in the first game ended up being a distraction and didn't end up on the level we wanted,” Rosman admitted. “This time we thought: 'The market's not clamoring for it and we want so much focus in making the single-player so good that you're not left wanting more'.”

How will it turn out?

“ When players understand what James Heller can do, they will be pleasantly surprised.”

As far as post-release plans are concerned, Rosman said that the team is currently in discussions with Activision regarding DLC.

“We are talking about what post-release things could be, but we don't have any plans yet,” he said.

“Obviously, DLC is a growing market and it is a way to extend the life of your game after its initial release. Consumers are interested in it, and it seems to be a successful business, and we'll certainly look to see what works for Prototype 2. We'll figure it out."

Prototype 2 is scheduled for release in 2012 on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

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