New York City. A hooded figure stands motionless in the center of Times Square. It's morning and there are people everywhere. And we're not talking about the usual video game approximation of a crowd. It's a kinetic cluster of bodies merging and stirring through sun-bleached streets. The camera swings upwards revealing vast, intricately-rendered skyscrapers reaching towards a cloudless blue sky, turning white as the harsh sunlight hits their sides. This is not the compromised parody of NYC we've seen a hundred times before in games like Spider-Man or True Crime - this is New York, as realistically, cinematically and lovingly rendered as it's ever likely to be. Car horns blare, sirens howl, people shout to one another and you genuinely feel like you’re standing in a real city. You can almost smell the asphalt and the hot dog vendors.
And then fantasy takes over. The hooded figure springs to life, pushing violently through pedestrians, sliding across the tops of cars and sprinting up the sides of buildings. And then we see it - a gargantuan insect-like egg jutting out of the center of the road, pulsating and oozing. People begin to panic and the crowds scatter like buckshot. And then the attack choppers come buzzing in, followed by trundling squads of squeaking tanks and platoons of soldiers. Something’s about to go down in Times Square.
But before we tell you what happens next, let's explain the premise of Prototype. You are Alex Mercer, a mysterious science experiment gone wrong. Thanks to the genetic meddling of a shady organization, you are, to all intents and purposes, a shape-shifter. You look like a hoodie-clad twenty-something human but that's a clever disguise to help you blend into your environment. See, you don’t really have a shape because you can be anyone you want by absorbing their DNA. Which, unfortunately, involves killing them.