Prototype 2’s Developers Figured Out That Alex Mercer Was A Jerk

Prototype 2’s Developers Figured Out That Alex Mercer Was A Jerk

I did not like the first Prototype. Radical’s open-world action title put you into the mutated skin of a super-cannibal that ate people in his quest for vengeance. Playing as aggrieved scientist Alex Mercer made me feel creepy, as I generally am not interested in eating people. The story and the reasons it gave for eating other humans didn’t make much sense.

Turns out that Radical glommed on to those facts. In an interview at Gamasutra, design director Matt Armstrong talks about the Activision dev team’s re-evaluation of the first Prototype:

“It was clear from the outset we needed to tell a story more people could understand, ideally with a protagonist that was more relatable as well, with a motivation clearly understandable to the player,” he added. From Prototype 1, the team learned it had to present mission challenges in better context. “There was a massive missed opportunity to take the world that we’ve built and start to give it a lot more in the way of personality.”

I was surprised when Prototype 2 was announced, given the stumbles of the first game. More than any pre-order ability or urban hunting mechanics, the statements above get me excited for Prototype 2. The idea that Radical will get a second chance to improve the Prototype universe is a rare chance and, from the interview with Armstrong, it seems like they’re trying to make the most of it.

Interview: What Prototype 2 taught its design director [Gamasutra]


  • I really enjoyed the actual gameplay of Prototype (Hulk smash, indeed), but the character and storyline was a lost-cause for me… I tend to pay close attention to characters and storylines in games I play. It’s where I get a lot of my enjoyment out of them. The first Prototype was really fun to play, but I could *not* get into the story or the character at all. Not even a little bit.

    I wasn’t going to give the sequel much thought until I read this… hopefully they can deliver something that measures up to how fun the game really is.

  • Prototype was kind of rubbish. I rarely start playing a game then stop before completing it; this game was an exception to that rule.

    Having said that, it has a lot of room for improvement. I look forward to what comes out in the future.

  • I actually like Alex Mercer and one of the reasons I probably wont be picking up Prototype 2, despite how much I loved the first game, is that you don’t play as Mercer but instead have to try and kill him. I don’t really want to play a game whose focus is killing a character I like.

    • I think that it’s one of the most interesting premises I have heard of in modern day games. There aren’t many games that turn the protagonist into the antagonist in the next game, and creating the monster you’re tasked to defeat is a very interesting concept. It reminds me of Arthas’ transformation in Warcraft III, one of my favourite character developments in videogames.

      We could certainly use more stories like this and less stories like GENERIC RUSSIAN BAD DUDE IS KILLING THE WORLD STOP HIM!

  • I don’t know what everyone is on about.
    Alex Mercer was great.

    He isn’t your everyday generic hero. He isn’t all about the “Black and white”, but rather all shades of fucked up grey.
    He had attitude.
    I mean, he was meant to be the way he was. How would anyone else act in his shoes? Pissed off. Confused. Looking for answers.

    Not everyone we play can be Nathan Drake, you know

    • It’s the only game I think of that I’ve played to completion yet hated the protagonist. I hated him from the outset and that only got worse as the plot unfolded.

      I’ll agree that it was an interesting change, but not really a welcome one for me.

    • Alex Mercer was a real anti-hero and a bit of a douche, both before and after the plague. I really quite enjoyed the story of Prototype. It wasn’t sophisticated or particularly surprising, but I think the character and story did the setting (the ‘main’ bit of the game, if you well) a decent service. And it kind of played with the good guy/bad guy dynamic, by making him a bad guy up against worse guys, which was a hair different from other games of the time.

      Unsure if I want to be hunting Alex in P2. The idea makes me a little sad, but I can’t really figure out why.

    • I did like playing an antihero for once but his personality was still a bit confused.
      He was all “I’m on a righteous quest for justice and truth!” while murdering hundreds of innocent bystanders. And the supporting characters did not seem to care he was a psycho.
      If he had been more “I’m angry and going to make them pay and I don’t care who gets in my way!” and the cast reacted to that believably it would have fit better.
      And I never did get why he did the thing in the first place.

    • For me it wasn’t that I disliked his style of character, or even disliked the character… it was that it felt like there was nothing to him.
      He was angry and had questions, sure. But I didn’t really know what the questions were or really anything about him aside from the angry/confused angle.
      I recall that leading up to the release of Prototype and Infamous I was really psyched for Prototype because of the setting and developer and the set-up for the story. I even remember thinking that the Alex Mercer protagonist seemed a lot more interesting to me. I think I was just let down because the gameplay was pretty kickass, but it felt like the story and character didn’t get nearly as much attention and that left me pretty disappointed.
      I ended up enjoying Infamous more simply because there was more focus on the world/city/situation and how that effected the population and how the main character fit into that, even though I would have rather they not went with the ‘Good or Evil, no other choice’ style of progression.
      In Prototype there wasn’t that same level of exposure to the characters and storyline. It was fun as hell, but I couldn’t name you one other character in Prototype that wasn’t Alex Mercer. 😛
      Obviously it’s all opinion, but I thought Infamous did better in the overall story and presentation departments, whereas I much preferred the Prototype style of gameplay and progression. For me, Prototype just didn’t do as much with its story and the whole “Guy gets super-powers and has to deal with it, however that may be” theme as I had expected.

      • I guess I should be more clear… his questions were fairly obvious (“What happened?” “Who should I kill for this outrage?” etc)… I just wasn’t clear as to what his end-goal really was…
        It seemed like he mostly was asking questions as a hobby while he toured the city blowing it all to hell and killing/absorbing everything that moved with no real distinction between what those moving things *were* :-P…

    • While i have to admit he was a complete jackass, that is what made me like him. That made him unique in this stereotypical gamer world of boring good protagonists. It really livened up that year in gaming.

      Combat could be improved through.

    • After they were both out a lot of people probably agreed with that viewpoint. But they were both developed and released at the same time… I think it was within a week of each other.
      Until they were both out and we could get our hands on them it was hard to tell which would be better, if I recall correctly.

  • Who gives a damn about relatability, fiction is full of characters like that. Alex Mercer allowed us to be ass and I think that’s why a lot of us liked it, it gave us the freedom of conscience to rampage across the city.

    The only real bonus of having Mercer as an NPC is that many more people and even the player will ask ‘the’ question, where is Alex Mercer?

  • Finally got around to trying this game over Christmas thanks to steam sales. Yeah had no idea what all the fuss was about. Uninstalled it within an hour. Story was rubbish, characters were bland and controls just felt off.

  • The gameplay in the first two hours is pretty much the same thing repeated over and over again for the rest of the game; go in, hit everything, snag a human and eat him/her, jump onto a building and fly away, eat human and come back.
    Alex Mercer is an idiot; he causes his own problems and then repeatedly asserts that he’ll find the one responsible for them (he started the entire infection, perhaps he should tear off his own head right there). You simply can’t do without a decent story when the entire game is killing people en mass in a city of blue/red/brown, and I’d happily play a game hunting the stupid protagonist down.

  • I have no idea who it was, someone on Kotaku, pointed out that Alex Mercer was just Venom fro Spider-Man, after that the game became so much more fun, so as much as I’m not interested in eating people, I love Venom so the game becomes awesome

  • I loved eating people!

    And, uh, doesn’t the new character have all the same powers plus some. In other words you’re still eating people?

  • Eating people is a heinous crime. Really. For real. So what the hell is it doing front and centre as some kind of Good Thing in a game? Fucking REALLY? Eating people?? You can’t get more souless or horrible. I liked InFamous, but couldn’t watch what the character does after a few minutes in Prototype. Fuck em. I want to have FUN in my spare time, not perpetrate heinous crimes against my fellow people. This is Roman Empire Fall level stuff, people.

  • P.S. Kotaku: Cannibalising your murder victims is not Being A Jerk, it’s being a Hardcore Heinous Psychopath. Alright? Tell it like it is. If someone fucking KILLS AND EATS YOUR LOVED ONES, do you think; “oh man what a douche”, or “OHGODSHITFUCKWHY”?

  • I think some people may have appreciated that little anti-hero gig. I personally didn’t cuz I have a virtual conscience so I avoided munching on civilians. Welcome change for some, might be a disappointment to others. Regardless, looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

  • I really enjoyed the first game. The story wasn’t the best but the gameplay was fun. LOTS of fun. I’m just not sure about the sequel though. I sense a ret-con coming on to make this new character possible.

  • I played through the entire game without eating civillians, in fact I only killed a few because they ran into the tank when I hijacked it.

    Anyone on the list, was another matter but.

    I completed and enjoyed the game while I admit it was not without it’s flaws. We all make choices in games, and in all seriousness your never forced to eat the civillians it’s just easy to do.

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