What prison would be complete without it's very own warring gangs? Answer: A really soft one. This fictional prison setting would come packing numerous gangs trying to gain control of the entire facility, like so...
Above: You'd be able to track your gang's influence throughout the action
Playing off different factions in order to survive or simply boost your ranks would create an ever-increasing hostile environment where one false move could land you with a shiv up your arse. Negotiations with gang leaders, using a Mass Effect-style conversation wheel, could mean the difference between a successful peace pact or an all-out stab-a-thon. Maybe even trades using food, cigarettes or drugs could be used to placate a rival set of hoodlums.
You could even order your gang to perform hits or even control them in a squad during riots, like you can in Freedom Fighters. "Lifers, flank the sex offenders on the right. ATTACK!" Magic.
Be the hitman
You can't just go around whacking people in prison, or so I'm led to believe, so you're going to have to get creative. Agent 47 levels of creativity...
Above: Not 47's most genius idea, but it's fairly effective
These hits could be contracted by shady folk outside of the jail for various reasons including doing away with a snitch to protect the prison governor's reputation or simply silencing a rival gang leader. Slip some glass into some gruel. Slide a razor blade into a cell-mate's soap. Or simply oil up some stairs and wait for your target to smash their head on every step from top to bottom.
Obviously, if you got caught you'd be in for some punishment. Maybe a spell in solitary confinement would mean all your accrued possessions and perks being removed and leaving you to start all over again. Or maybe even a serious prison beat-down - an impossible you versus 20 inmates where you're definitely going to the medical wing. It could even mean you can't fight for a while in-game while your wounds heal.
Above: "Just give him his porn mags back. It's all he wants"
Ahh, a prisoner's desperate attempt to make the authorities listen to him. Terrifying in real life, but perfect for adding tension to this prison game. Take a hostage to either a) prove you're mad as a box of frogs or b) gain leverage in a negotiation scenario. It'd be a huge gamble to initiate one but it could gain you more reputation and perks as a result. Y'know, after the prison guards have roughed you up and sent you down to solitary? This is where your conversational skills would come to the fore.
And the rest...
- Weapons: The impact of finally getting your hands on a gun should be akin to when Cash gets hold of one in Manhunt - the anticipation is everything. Makeshift blades, bats and other gritty damage do-ers would be your main source of maiming.
- Minigames: Taking a leaf from the Rockstar book of 'stuff to do', I'm thinking arm-wrestling, cards and betting on fist-fights. In a dream world there would be a Red Card Soccer style game where it's inmates versus prison guards - special points awarded for breaking an officer's shin.
- Bribes and snitches: Turn stool-pigeon yourself or find them and beat them for information about rival gangs or just for fun if that's your idea of excitement. You psycho. Also, bribing guards or accepting them would result in their own specific gains or losses.
- High security inmates: Think Hannibal Lecter, Charles Bronson or any other super-dangerous prisoner that has to be kept in a tightly secured cell. Now imagine them breaking out and coming looking for you in the darkness of the prison basement. Scared yet? You should be.
So what do you think? Does a prison environment sound like a game you'd be into as much as us? Is there another criminally overlooked setting that you think would be equally as good, if not better? Then let us know in the comments field and hopefully some developer will stumble across this article, make it and give you millions for your idea. It could happen.