Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Prototype's Story Holes

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 15 May 2012 12:00
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But maybe he's not even doing that. You see, the Mercer-entity shouldn't need other people's help. It can take on any identity and has virtually unlimited mass as long as it keeps consuming people. So my thinking was that Mercer isn't actually recruiting an army, he's figured out how to divide his mass to imitate more than one human at a time. The other rival virus-things we encounter in the game are actually all part of the same life-form.

So where does Heller come into this? If the thing that calls itself James Heller is actually just another part of Mercer's increasingly massive consciousness that thinks it's James Heller, why is it attempting to stop Mercer's plans? Well, it's quite straightforward, listener. Mercer at first takes on a sort of mentor role to Heller, and it's occasionally mentioned that Heller is Mercer's "favorite", meaning that Mercer has a special role in mind for him. The actual game plot doesn't really pay this off at all, but we can speculate on what the nature of that role might be.

When the virus absorbs a human, I theorized, as well as all the useful stuff like memories and knowledge it also absorbs a lot of inconvenient guilt, self-doubt and empathy for human beings. With big plans for shaking up the world in less than ethical ways, Mercer had to do something to rid himself and his army of all that garbage, so he came up with the idea to section it off. He created a whole separate aspect of his consciousness that would act as the repository for all those inconvenient human feelings. And that was Heller. This also explains why Heller had to have an independent mind. He's Mercer's own self-doubt and guilty conscience being allowed to stew all by itself, based upon the template of a convenient hate-ridden widower.

But what Alex Mercer failed to consider is that self-doubt becomes self-loathing, and that's why Heller starts becoming a genuine threat. Mercer has spread his consciousness too wide, and his mind has fractured. In personifying his own desire for self-destruction he has empowered it and ensured his downfall. Had this been the case, the plot would have had to be completely reassessed. If Heller discovered the nature of his being, he'd have a difficult choice to make. If he continued fighting against Mercer, and destroyed him, then he'd also destroy himself. But on the other hand, if he stopped fighting him, then he'd no longer have a reason to exist and might as well allow himself to be absorbed back into the larger Mercer-consciousness.

But as we know, I was giving Prototype 2 too much credit. Mercer was some Saturday morning cartoon villain all of a sudden and we were just supposed to forget about game one. At the end of the game there's a climactic battle between Mercer and Heller, which is incidentally bullshit, because when you're fighting an unlimited shapeshifter that can regenerate itself from a smear then I don't think it matters how hard you punch it, it'd be like trying to kill water or pizza dough by punching it. But anyway, this would have been a much more interesting scene if they'd factored in my hypothesis. It'd be less boring old good vs. evil and more an existential nightmare in which a schizophrenic disease literally wrestles with its conscience. See, writing triple-A video games isn't so hard. Put me on the team, coach, I'm ready.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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