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Alex Mercer - gaming's 'darkest' anti-hero?

Oct 10, 2007

Alex Mercer. An innocuous name if ever there was one. But, according to developer Radical Entertainment, when he makes his debut in Prototype next summer he's going to emerge from the shadows of obscurity as one of gaming's "darkest anti-heroes" and the "ultimate ass-kicking machine." We like him already.

Whenever we've seen Prototype in action we've been massively impressed by the free-roaming inferno of carnage that Mercer seems to be able to spark without even scuffing his sneakers. The hooded urbanite displays amazing strength and agility, while his unchained aggression can, quite literally, leave foes in pieces on the floor. He can shape-shift by slurping up DNA. He can turn himself hard as granite. He can morph his hands into deadly claws. And much more besides. In short, no bully boy is going to trample over Mercer's sand castle.

But what other secrets lie hidden beneath the hoody? To learn more about Prototype's shady protagonist we caught up with the game's producer, Max Belanger.

GR: You say that you're looking to create gaming's darkest anti-hero in Alex Mercer. What kind of credentials does he need to fulfil that role?

Max: I guess it comes down to a few things. First is attitude. Second is the horrible things he will be doing. We've made superhero characters in the past and they always follow the moral line, so they always do things that are good. An anti-hero is quite the opposite. What we're looking to achieve with Alex is to create a guy that feels like a badass, feels extremely powerful - just like a superhero, maybe. But, then again, someone that is tortured internally. In the case of Alex, a character that searches for answers. Answers about himself, answers about his powers, his abilities. As the story evolves we will learn some of the things that were done to him and some of the things he's done. I think it's self-explanatory when you play through the game - he's going to really feel like an anti-hero.

GR: So he's an immoral character?

Max: He's no longer human like you and I. He's not made of flesh and bone. He's made of... something and this thing is no longer flesh. I would love to answer the question, but it would mean revealing a little too much about the story. I don't want to spill all the beans.

GR: There's not going to be any good/bad moral gameplay choices, though?

Max: There's not going to be the choice of 'Do I want to become a nice person or continue down the dark path?' No, it's not like that. It's not like Fable where your decisions shape the way your character is and becomes. You are that player and through your quest you will be facing tough opponents and tough situations. Where you get the non-linear gameplay is through the objectives. We structure the story and the objectives in a fashion where things have to be accomplished, but the order in which they have to be accomplished is really going to be up to the player. It's not going to be a full free-for-all, but there are going to be some options that will lead to multiple targets and therefore create opportunities for a play experience that will be different from that of your friends.