Our eight-page Prototype blowout in the latest issue (ON SALE NOW!) has a lot of things: eye-gouging exclusive shots, hands-on impressions of the new code, incredible art, and a must-read chat with executive producer Tim Bennison. Only, Tim can talk. Really talk. So much so that we couldn't fit it all into the issue. So now we present the complete (and completely brilliant) interview with Tim in two parts: one today, one next week...
After a busy late 2007/early 2008, things went a bit quiet on the Prototype front. Was the shift from being published by Sierra to being published by Activision the main reason?
It was definitely a contributing factor to us going 'dark' for a few months. We really wanted to ensure our original vision for this game could be realized 100%. We've been able to use the additional time to really nail down everything we set out to do originally.
Can you talk us through the last six months or so of development - what's been taking up your time? What's changed? Any areas you've been paying particularly close attention to?
The main thing we've used the additional time for is polishing our missions, identifying the fun stuff and really maximizing it to work great within our game world. We've also been able to throw some new moves and powers into the mix, such as Alex's ability to glide and his whipfist power upgrade that lets players grapple onto flying helicopters.
We've tweaked our disguise mechanic so now it's more effective at letting Alex evade pursuing military forces, infiltrate secure locations, and even join in on special operations in order to achieve his own goals . Right now we're in serious crunch mode as we head towards the gold master candidate - it's a very exciting time for the team but also really hectic.
For the uninitiated, can you give us an overview of Prototype?
Prototype is an open-world action game, offering players the chance to be a lethal shape-shifter called Alex Mercer. It's set in New York City in 2009 and lets players consume and become ANYONE, and unleash a hundred new ways to kick ass that you've never seen before... against some pretty relentless enemy forces.
Alex does not have a moral code, unlike other well-known anti-heroes such as Tony Montana, who would never hurt an innocent bystander. If bad things or good things happen as a result of Alex's actions in the world, you can bet it's generally because it was a happy [or unhappy] accident. Alex takes no pleasure in doing bad things; he is simply after the truth and is seeking to understand why he is being hunted. Revenge is the main thing on his mind. How did he get these monstrous abilities? Who is responsible? He's going to find them and make them pay.
So, why's he out for revenge?
His background is something we won't be divulging until the game's release since it plays a major part in the conspiracy-based storyline. Sorry.
Okay. So, what did you set out to achieve with Alex and the world he occupies?
Basically, we're trying to show gamers something new in the open-world game space. Some games use the word 'revolutionary game experience' to describe what amounts to better-looking shadows or improved surface mapping techniques. That's not what we define as a new experience. We're really pushing hard to redefine what you can do with a sandbox experience: create a character that is insanely powerful and tell a conspiracy story set in a real world.
What can you tell us about your version of New York?
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 recognize.