Interview: It's all in the genes

Steve Hogarty talks Prototype with producer Max Belanger of Radical Entertainment...

So why are so many game characters wearing hoodies these days?

Max Belanger: Well, we wanted attire that suited the character's personality, and even though our goal is to create the darkest anti-hero in videogames, we want a character that will appeal to the people playing our games.

Prototype is set in Manhattan in 2008, and what does our audience wear in New York City? They wear hoodies, and trendy clothes. It also serves the story intentions too, as Alex (the main character) is concealing his identity. There's a mystery around him, and Alex has to unravel his own story to find out who he is.


Can you tell us about the story?

Belanger: It's Manhattan 2008, and you're in the middle of a huge conspiracy 40 years in the making. As you walk the streets of New York, you'll try to find out what happened to you, who you are and how you got these powers. It also turns into a revenge story, as you find out who your main opponents are.

The name Prototype is inspired by genetics, biology and medicine - those are some of the themes we played with in creating the story, and when you tie that into the mutant creatures we've shown, people can join the dots.

The game's animation is amazingly fluid. How did you make it work?

Belanger: First off, I have to give kudos to our tech department! Radical uses its own proprietary animation system, the Titanium Engine, which is at its fifth iteration now, and this had essentially been developed in past games. So in The Hulk: Ultimate Destruction we had something quite similar, and with Prototype we've built on top of that.

Now the system is incredibly fluid, making it really easy to navigate the world - just run forward and sprint and you can run up any vertical surface - you've got immense control over the character. I think it's one of the key strengths of our franchise, and our studio.

We've seen some amazing unscripted scenes, with the character sprinting down streets being chased by the military, while interacting with crowds and traffic. Do you know how brilliant that is?

Belanger: That was one of our goals. One of the reasons why we set the game in New York is because it's a famous city that people know, most of the time without ever having been there. People just have an idea of what it should look and feel like.

The reason New York works for us so well in terms of gameplay is because Prototype's not meant to be set in a desert because it needs a populated area for the consume and disguise mechanics to work. We want the player to be able to consume anybody he meets and disguise himself as them.


New York also lends itself to these high-octane, unscripted moments that I believe set us apart from our rivals. While it's been done before, we don't honestly believe it's been done the right way.

We have a fair amount of pedestrians too - we hope to have thousands of variations, and they'll react to Alex's presence when he does something spectacular, inhuman or extraordinary. The general public will also respond to the presence of the military and infected forces, and their actions.

We've seen Alex with a concrete exoskeleton. Does he get that from absorbing the road?

Belanger: Well, no, everything that the character can absorb must be organic, so only humans can be consumed. What I showed you there is one of his defensive powers.

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