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Video Game: Prototype
That lady in the nail salon botched his manicure one time too many.

Alex Mercer

The Thing (1982) meets Kirby meets The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction meets Crackdown meets the T-1000. Put inside a blender and made sure it swirls.

Prototype is an open world sandbox game developed by Radical Entertainment (Not to be confused with Free Radical Design) and released by Activision in June 2009. The game stars Alex Mercer, a man with no memories and a large chip on his shoulder who wakes up at the morgue as a Voluntary Shapeshifter with the ability to absorb anyone he comes into contact with — assimilating their memories in the process. In his attempts to rediscover his past, he tangles with the shadowy military unit, Blackwatch, the United States Marine Corps, and the growing forces of the Infected, mutants with powers similar to his own, albeit much less human. The game is exceptionally bloody and places no moral restrictions on the player's actions.

But never confuse it with inFAMOUS — the fans sure don't.

As often seen those days, Prototype spans multiple media. Much like Gears of War and Halo, the backstory of some characters along with some events unseen in the game are explored in the six-parter Prototype comic book published by Wildstorm.

A sequel, Prototype 2, was released in April 2012. This page is for the original game Prototype. Please place tropes exhibited in the sequel on the appropriate page.

On June 28, 2012, Activision announced major layoffs at Radical Entertainment, citing that the Prototype IP "did not find a broad commercial audience"; casting doubt on the possibility of the franchise continuing.

This game provides examples of:

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  • 100% Completion: Even if you complete the main plot, it's possible to go back and complete all the challenges, Web of Intrigue sections, and find all the collectables — some don't even unlock until you've finished the plot.
  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: One of the earliest upgrades and very good for crowd control.
  • Action Commands: You need these to sabotage stationary virus detectors, hijack stuff, and counter Super Soldiers.
  • Alpha Strike: The player can do this by first dropping artillery from a high point, then dropping Alex as artillery(read: Bulletdive Drop) just before the actual one finishes, then unleashing a devastator immediately after recovering. If the main threat isn't obliterated by then, it means trouble.
  • Alternate History: Some theorize this, as there is a place that LOOKS like Ground Zero, but only one tower is missing. However, "Hope, Idaho" is a real, non-nuked town, so this does still fit here.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: One of the most depressing versions.
    Alex: "I am the virus."
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Turns out the real Alex Mercer is much more psychotic than the Blacklight construct, especially at the end of the eighteen days. To put it into perspective, the virus is fiercely protective of Mercer's sister, while Alex himself only saw her as an information source, and cared so little about her that he was quite willing to release the Blacklight virus for nothing other than flipping off the world when she was clearly in the immediate danger zone. Also, Alex created the most deadly virus in the history of mankind, possibly the world, and then released it on New York just to spite the people who denied him information. The virus itself is deeply disgusted by this.
  • Anti-Hero: Alex Mercer. More emphasis on "anti" than on "hero" (It's stated in one Web of Intrigue node that Mercer is a sociopath, although this might be referring to the original Alex Mercer). Might even drift into Villain Protagonist. He develops into something of a hero by the end. It depends on your playthrough and how much you enjoy tossing civilians around.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Two thirds of Manhattan is crawling with ravenous zombies, and all exits are cut off by the military. So what does the remaining population of Manhattan do? Walk around, cough sometimes. Traffic is still running smoothly. At least they have the decency to panic when you start picking up cars. While it's semi-justified by the city being under strict martial law, it doesn't really explain some of the less intelligent things they do, such as walking into zombie districts despite the constant screams of the innocent, the moans of zombies, the sound of gunfire and explosions, and the the blood red sky filled with crows.
  • Appendage Assimilation: Though technically you're not really taking the actual appendage, just the mass. Counts when you become those you assimilate, though.
  • Armies Are Evil: Blackwatch shoots first, keeps shooting, shoots some more, conducts autopsies if any corpses are left intact, and never asks questions. It's not surprising, seeing how on the Web of Intrigue, you find out that they were founded to make biological weapons capable of targeting specific minorities, but were switched to their present day containment role after the Hope disaster, which they started.
    • Subverted with the Marines. They're working with Blackwatch, but not because they want to. They have to. So while they end up committing much of the same atrocities, they're definitely not happy about it.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Although the individual AI of most NPCs is rather poor, the game is fully capable of rendering literally hundreds of them at a time, all performing their AI routines without screw-up and, if they're of the same faction, even cooperating with each other.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Even New Yorkers can't be this dumb.
  • Artistic License – Military: Several:
    • Though it is stated in game that the US Marines are occupying Manhattan (with the US Air Force supposedly providing air superiority for the quarantine, as F-22s can be seen in Web of Intrigue cutscenes), none of the equipment shown in game is used by the Marines in real life. AH-64D Apache Longbows, UH-60 Blackhawks and M3 Bradleys are used by the Army, not the Marines. Marine equivalents to these vehicles respectively are the AH-1Z Viper, UH-1Y Venom and LAV-25/AAV-7 Amtrac. The Marines do however use the M1 Abrams.
    • The final battle takes place on a US Navy Aircraft Carrier, operating about a mile off the coast of Manhattan and launching AH-64 Apaches(which are used by the US Army) and F-35 Lightnings (which are used by the Marines, Navy and Air Force). Aircraft Carriers don't operate that close to land, not only for safety reasons to but also so they have room to change speed and orientation for flight operations. AH-64s would not operate off a carrier.
  • Art Shift: The Web of Intrigue clips are primarily real-life photos with special effects and most faces obscured or blurred out. Sometimes with gameplay footage mixed in, which is rather odd seeing both together.
  • As Lethal as It Needs to Be: Why you cannot deal a fatal blow to Specialist Cross when you first encounter him, no matter what you do on his last sliver of health.
  • A Taste of Power: The beginning of the game is a tutorial level that starts you out near the end of the story, with Alex having maxed out powers and stats. After laying waste to Blackwatch, Infected, several Hunters, and the second-to-last Web of Intrigue target, the game then flashes back 3 weeks to the start of the story.
  • Attack Backfire: If Specialist Cross isn't trying to blow you up, it is a bad idea to use the Whipfist on him. That cattle prod of his will make you regret it.
  • Attack Reflector: Although almost randomly, the Shield power will nevertheless deflect small arms bullets from the front. If you're close enough, it'll take out the shooter.
  • Aura Vision: Two kinds — Thermal and Infected. Both are basically the same thing but with a different palette. Thermal highlights heat signatures (non-combatants aren't highlighted) while Infected marks enemies with a much clearer glow. Thermal has the added benefit of filtering smoke out, and Infected has the benefit of cutting out ambient sound and other distractions.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Several of Alex's higher-end moves.
    • The king is the Bullet Drop. It's the most expensive move in the game, and the most useless except when you're having fun. It consists of (preferably) going as high as possible, gliding over the target, then dropping like a bunker buster missile. It releases a giant shockwave and will kill damn near anything save bosses. Stack Musclemass on top of that and you get a truly devastating combo. It is easily Alex's single most powerful move. However, it has several drawbacks. First, it takes a lot of time to set up. Second, you have to eyeball your target to get a good hit, though the power of this move is such that even a minor miss will kill the target. Third, because of the setup time, the only things this move will ever reliably hit are tanks, buildings, and one boss. The cost is also so prohibitively large that you can't even manage to pay for it without grinding.
    • The Groundspike special attack of the Claw power. It's fairly powerful and has near-perfect accuracy. However, it has a very limited range (around the length of four cars) and a huge cool-down time. At maximum distance, it takes about a couple seconds for the attack to hit, and slightly shorter for Alex to retract the spikes, during which he is completely immobilized. Expect your enemies to capitalize on this. The net result is that using this attack will likely be more damaging to you than to your enemies — much more than if you'd just used conventional attacks. Also, by the time you've unlocked enough upgrades to give it a good area effect and power, you won't find yourself using Claws at all.
  • Awful Truth: Alex Mercer is dead, having died in Penn Station after he released the virus that killed a whole hell of a lot of people. The name of this virus is Blacklight. Guess who you are? Yeah, go figure. You're in Alex's body because you reanimated it, and have been running around believing yourself to be him. Life sucks, huh? On the bright side, though, at least you're not the monster that the real Alex Mercer was.
  • Back Stab: The Stealth Consume ability. One of the animations from a non-upgraded stealth consume literally shows Alex "stabbing" the victim's spine with a straightened hand. In any case, Stealth Consume is a silent insta-kill on all normal humans.
    • Or in the same mission, when you're chasing Taggart and they send three measly tanks to stop you: "LIKE IT'S GONNA MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"
  • Badass Bookworm: Alex Mercer. He's got a Ph.D, his work was ahead of everyone else's... and now he's turned into an unstoppable person of mass destruction.
    • There's also the fact that he's consumed literally dozens of scientists in multiple fields of study, along with multiple high-ranking military officers and pilots. That adds up to a man who has the collective brains of dozens of scientists and military experts, in the body of a nigh-unstoppable badass.
  • Badass Normal: Specialist Cross, who can kill Hunters in hand-to-hand and can even hold his own in a mano-a-mano fight against a moderately powered-up Alex (and even manages to render him unconscious in the after-fight cutscene by exploiting Alex's paralyzing flashbacks). All of Blackwatch gets an honorable mention. Even when in your grasp and helpless, they will often still show bravado.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Okay, Alex is the closest thing to a hero we have, but he's got a long way to go and his skillset still revolves around eating people.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: If the Super Soldiers aren't busy throwing stuff, this is how they would fight since they wield only hands and feet. Alex can also do the same with just the variety of moves purchased from the combat category menu.
  • Berserk Button: Several.
    • In General Randall's case, never, ever, call Alex Mercer 'he.' Also, don't question his orders. Blackwatch in general seems to hold everyone in contempt, and takes even minor infractions or vague evidence of infection as justification for brutal execution.
    • For Elizabeth Greene, please do not try to steal her baby.
    • As for Alex Mercer, it starts with people shooting at him after waking up in the morgue. And that button takes a looooooooong time to get unstuck. However, he does have two specific buttons. First, do not mess with his sister. Second, after he spends some quality time with his new conscience later in the game, he gets absolutely pissed at the people who senselessly waste life and condemn others to take the easy way out.
  • Big Applesauce: The game is set in Manhattan.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Elizabeth Greene on the Infected side, General Randall on the Blackwatch side (with both Cross and Taggart as his Co-Dragons), Alex all on his own for the Blacklight side (though this becomes less true as the game goes on), and "Cross"/The Supreme Hunter (the closest thing to The Dragon Elizabeth had), who gets in on the act with a rather impressive Batman Gambit
  • Bigger Bad: The real Alex Mercer was the one who unleashed the virus in the first place, though he's not directly confronted due to being dead.
  • Big "NO!": Super Soldiers are notoriously known for these; when there's a group of them being pushed around by Mercer or the Hunters, they will let out a really big "no" from time to time. They can go beyond by screaming in rapid-fire succession on Military vs. Infected events.
    • Alex can be seen practically screaming this when the Hive bursts open just as McMullen arrives, causing him to leave.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The good news is Alex has saved New York City from a nuke, but the bad news is that he is not happy with the Awful Truth, Dana is comatose after rescuing her from Elizabeth Greene, Karen has betrayed him, and the virus has yet to be stopped.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Once you know a bit about Mercer, Blackwatch, and the Infected, you'll probably feel that none of the three is going to make all things fine and dandy again as it was before the disaster.
  • Black Helicopter: Very true of Blackwatch helicopters, as BW vehicles have a much darker tan than the USMC counterparts.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Three out of Alex's five offensive powers consist of him turning his arm(s) into some sort of bladed implement.
  • Blessed with Suck: PARIAH. Based on some of the imagery in the Web of Intrigue, every living thing he touches dies horribly. He's said to be responsible for five deaths (it's not clear if they're counting animals with this, as there was at least one bird). Also, if he's anything like his mother, he's going to be six years old forever. It puts his code-name in perspective.
  • Body Horror: The low and mid-level Infected.
  • Boring but Practical: Need to mow down a large group of Blackwatch soldiers as quickly as possible but don't have enough energy for a devastator? Just grab an assault rifle and go to town.
    • While certainly cool-looking, Armor doesn't really do anything as flashy as Alex's offensive powers, and limits his superhuman Le Parkour skills even more than the Shield does. But it severely reduces all incoming damage from any direction, and is practically a requirement for engaging late-game foes in close combat, especially in conjunction with the Blade.
  • Boss In Mooks Clothing: Leader Hunters, the first one you meet actually serving as a boss. Essentially bigger stronger version of normal hunters, to a huge degree where even if you steal a tank it takes repeated hits to kill them.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The weapons you need to use to complete certain side-events will have unlimited ammo. Averted in regular gameplay; while you never need to reload, you have limited ammo. Soldiers, however, need to reload but have unlimited ammo.
  • Brain Food: Alex's quest to piece together the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot is accomplished by extracting information directly from the conspirators' brains. He does this by "assimilating biomass". He can also become an Instant Expert in the same way.
  • Break Meter: "SUPREME HUNTER STUNNED. GRAB THE SUPREME HUNTER." Cue Action Commands for free hits if you comply.
  • Breath Weapon: One boss spits out chunks of concrete from its major orifice to attack you.
  • Brought Down to Badass / Brought Down To Slightly Less Abnormal: After going a few rounds with Cross, Alex is infected with a parasite that negates his attack and defense powers until he finds a cure. He is still as fast and as strong as before, though, and retains his disguises (and his ability to eat people.)
  • Button Mashing: The description for the Air Combo clearly states to press the primary attack thrice right after giving something or someone the Uppercut Launcher. Due to the animation and brief slow motion delay, it's just better to mash the attack key until the combo goes through. An additional unlock called the Spike Driver acts as an extra finisher move to knock the target back down to the ground.
    • Claws are fast enough to just keep tapping the attack button in the midst of elite zombies and below.
    • This is usually the reliable way to get Super Soldiers to block your attacks, leaving them vulnerable to a grappling slam. However, if you overdo it, they'll counter you for a decent amount of damage.
    • It is the most effective way to ensure that you successfully hijack a vehicle overtly, as you run the risk of being blown off very quickly once the hijack sequence starts in the middle of other hostile vehicles.
    • One of the available ways to handle a particular boss twice in the game whenever you damage him enough over a short period.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Evolution Points are experience points that work as currency to purchase any available upgrades.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Inverted; Captain Cross calls his inability to attack when he needs to reload, hinting that you should start counterattacking now.
    • You can hear radio-chatter of military vehicles as they engage their targets (or you) about using their selected weapon immediately.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: One of Alex's main powers.
  • Car Fu / Pedestrian Crushes Car: It's entirely possible as an offensive staple for the entire game to use cars & helicopters as Homing Boulders, if you are quick enough to grab and throw. The Musclemass Throw upgrade simply makes Car Fu a lot more effective with faster thrown stuff and more damage.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Devastators, but only from Critical Mass hitpoints.
  • Catch and Return: Skilled players can catch and hurl back the generic debris that the Lightning Bruiser type enemies throw at Alex.
    • You even get an achievement for it.
  • Character Development: The protagonist slowly becomes more heroic throughout the game. He starts out as a monster on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but by the end he's putting himself at great risk to save the city from a nuke.
  • Charge Meter & Charged Attack: Most moves can be charged for greater effect, even non-offensive ones. Charging certain attacks to the max is required to perform Limit Breaks.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Greene's enigmatic "I am your mother" before she took off is actually a tip to tell you that the Alex you're playing as isn't the real Alex Mercer.
    • Whenever Alex consumes a Web of Intrigue target, he'll suddenly fall to his knees and grasp his head in pain. Captain Cross will invoke this weakness in order to inject you with the parasite, and one of the Web of Intrigue videos you can unlock prior to the battle has McMullen note this weakness.
    • When you're defending the Bloodtox pumper later on in the game, you'll encounter a number of Leader Hunters, which will deal huge damage to your escorted target if left alone. But, if you look back at the first Leader Hunter mission, Alex makes a point that they're very easily distracted, so if you just punch one of them a couple of times, it will completely ignore its orders and chase you around, allowing you and the military to gun it down while the target remains unscathed.
  • Check Point: The missions can feature a few each, especially after each tense sequence.
  • Cherry Tapping: One of the safest means to kill virtually any enemy up to the second boss (and arguably the third, but it would take a whole lot longer) is to use the secondary fire of the Whipfist, which basically shoots your arm out like a bullet at a target. Doesn't do much damage, but you can do it mid-jump with a practical guarantee your opponent will never catch you.
    • Due to the huge ammo capacity for maxed out machine gun mastery, you'll have quite a bit to spam with the weakest projectiles in the game. Since those guns don't necessarily have immediate availability all the time, it's also a lot more impractical.
  • Closed Circle: Alex is incapable of leaving Manhattan for the duration of the game. The game employs several tricks to make this somewhat sensible.
    • For some reason, both Blacklight and Redlight are averse to water, so he can't swim out. Trying to jump/glide out is also impossible. Even if by some miracle you could get all the way to the Reagan, the game kills your controls if you get too far. One of the Landmark locations forces you to get around this mechanic, as it's far enough out to sea that the controls are disabled before you can actually reach it.
    • The bridges are blockaded, and though you can fight your way past, the military will call down an artillery strike. (In game, Alex is physically incapable of crossing the bridges due to an invisible wall; this is readily apparent when you try to leave just after getting the ability to free roam. Cars and traffic will be able to leave, but you'll just keep jogging into a barrier.)
    • Finally, Blackwatch has a very strict no-fly zone around the island, shooting down even passenger jets that get too close, and have extremely heavy boat patrols. In-game, this manifests as your helicopter getting scrapped if you fly too far over water.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The Marines tend to swear like, well, Marines.
  • Cognizant Limbs: Greene's One-Winged Angel form requires three of its appendages to be taken out before the main spine falls over and becomes susceptible to damage.
  • Collision Damage: An odd inversion when you start to accelerate on your sprint while shield/armor is equipped and any human class entities within a finger's reach of your starting point will get killed like you've been travelling at a hundred. Most likely justified by Newton's Third Law, considering he has the mass of about a hundred normal humans. Big time averted as Alex himself does not so much as lose a sliver of health even when a vehicle speeds into him.
    • Inversion also subverted in that you could be sprinting with max upgrades at top speed into crowds of people without shield/armor and they'll just get knocked down. Then they get up, curse you for it, and go about their business. All that when Alex weighs enough to make craters from high falls.
      • Of course, if you do this with Shield or Armor active, everyone dies.
  • Colorful Theme Naming: A man who's infected with Blacklight battles both Greene (who's infected with Redlight) and Blackwatch.
  • Color Wash: The sky becomes blood-red whenever you're in an Infected zone. For that matter, so does a lot of the ground, the terrain, the zombies and mutants and giant pulsing hives... in fact, it'd be safe to say this is one of the reddest games ever made besides those released on the Virtual Boy.
    • The zones are actually color-coded using very large tinted domes which you can see if you fly high enough. Everything in an Infected zone has a heavy red tint, everything in a Military-controlled zone has a noticeable blue tint, and in areas where they overlap everything is slightly purple.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Face it, when you can kill a human being with a single, glancing punch, there really isn't any such thing as a fair fight.
  • Combat Tentacles: One of Alex's combat powers, the Whipfist, invokes this. One of the Devastators, the Tendril Barrage, basically skewers anything within a thirty foot radius with these.
    • The Hydra enemy is just one giant Combat Tentacle that can split into two at its tip, which allows lesser internal tendrils to latch onto objects and reel them in so that its entire form can act as a throwing arm. Not to mention its basic close-quarter-combat ability in the form of a Tail Slap.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: The game files include textures of documents which refer to quite a few conspiracy theories; including the Knights Templar and the Freemasons as having some form of control over the US Government and/or Military and the idea that the September 11 terror attacks were a false flag operation, amongst others. Pre-release information also implicated the 1918 Flu Pandemic as being caused by something other than Influenza.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: The final fight.
  • Crapsack World: Oh boy.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Captain Cross. With only his Badass Normal abilities (and his Crazy Preparedness), he took on Alex Mercer and didn't die.
  • Creepy Child: PARIAH, again.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The entire US Military!
    Colonel Taggart: We've been preparing to fight the wrong war, We can't beat this! We need to pull out and deal with it at a distance!
  • Critical Annoyance: The sudden jet of air sound that plays once you get into Adrenaline Surge.
    • Just before hitting that point, the screen will start to lose its color. In Adrenaline Surge, the screen will be almost monochrome, which can be a bit jarring all of a sudden as you look for something to consume. Or, more likely, run like hell for the auto-heal to kick in.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Though it isn't really plot relevant, Alex cannot simply drop something he's grabbed. You have to do a damaging move, which will kill any poor civilians you might have grabbed by accident. The only way to drop someone or something unharmed is to be hit by something mild, like a zombie's paw.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In a very literal application of this trope, one of the consume animations features you curb-stomping your food into paste before eating it. In general, any time you raid a military base is almost a guaranteed success, unless you're horribly careless. New Game+ is essentially a license to curb stomp.
    • There's also a rather useless but amusing upgrade you can purchase that lets you stomp on fallen enemies.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Alex. The driving force for most of the game is his Roaring Rampage of Revenge to find out who gave him his powers.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Alex's acquisition of Armour in-cutscene comes with an effect that throws around the Infected dogpiling him. The in-game transformation doesn't let you do that. Similarly, the intro cutscene shows Alex, in no particular order, using weapon powers in tandem with a disguise (when they cancel your disguise in-game) and using the Blade to block a grenade without so much as flinching (this will knock you down guaranteed otherwise). Alex is also capable of becoming anyone he has absorbed if the plot requires it.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Step 1—Play a rousing run of Left 4 Dead. Step 2—Pop on Prototype and infiltrate a base. Step 3 — Almost blow your cover when you hear one damn trumpet note and punch the guy you're about to eat.
    • Just try going from Prototype to In FAMOUS (or vice versa) without screwing up the controls.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Captain Cross, who actually notices Alex's one moment of weakness (that being when Alex is hit by flashbacks). And not only does he notice Alex's weakness, he uses it against him to infect Alex with a parasite that strips him of his ability to shapeshift his body into a weapon or shield.
  • Deadly Gas: Bloodtox, a reddish gas that is harmless (although noticeably bad-smelling, as stated by a Marine in Web of Intrigue) to humans, but really screws up the Infected. However, in-game, all it does is cause Elizabeth Greene to go One-Winged Angel and slowly drain Alex's health bar.
  • Deadly Lunge: Captain Cross breaks this out if you try to use a dropped gun to shoot him.
  • Death from Above: Alex has several drop moves, but as mentioned in Awesome but Impractical, the ultimate example of this trope is the insanely powerful and hard to pull off Bullet Dive. The immediate area around the point of impact tends to be... clean. You can also invoke this using helicopters, artillery, and other various combat drop moves specific to certain powers. Or just plain chucking stuff from high above.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Players experienced in the use of Whipfist's Streetsweeper move will realize that exceptionally tough organic enemies placed right next to Alex's left side will succumb to a cascade of hits once the whip swings past to the left. Generally, all directions work as long as the target is within a finger's reach, but those on Alex's left when the whip completes the swing will incur the most damage. Charging up Streetsweeper will significantly heighten the pain that's dealt. Using this tactic on armor, however, will take a while.
  • Desperation Attack: Adrenaline Surge. It's a Last Chance Hit Point feature that allows you one shot at a Limit Break of your choosing in the face of near death. Of course, this is somewhat suicidal on Hard mode, so it's better to use that brief moment to run for cover.
  • Determinator: If Alex decides he wants you dead, nothing can protect you from him. Not men. Not weapons. Not armor.
  • Diagonal Cut: Humans and basic infected can suffer such dismemberment. Easiest way for the player to accomplish this is with the Claw power's first strike.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Tables, sofas, and refrigerators, too. Practically anything that can't be destroyed can still be pretty well trashed. There are fair few objects that can't be interacted with at all.
  • Difficulty Spike: Let's be honest, there are points that will make you pull your hair out. Greene and the Supreme Hunter are the two big choke points, because they shrug off damn near everything that worked up until this point. It's downright vicious if you're going for the "No Deaths" Achievement. The final boss fight is easily the worst part of the game, because it's a timed mission that doesn't let you see the timer until it's half-gone and requires you to keep up a steady stream of damage to have any hope of winning, on top of the fact that the boss has an attack that will outright kill you if it connects.
    • Much worse in Hard Mode, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Everything hits harder and can take more damage, to the point where bullets can actually do some real damage to Alex. You're going to have to earn that Achievement for beating it.
      • Hard Mode's first fight with Cross. No amount of practice in normal difficulty and prior play in hard can prepare you for the beatdown lying in wait. You'll find yourself forced to use tactics you don't normally use in Cross fights of lower difficulties.
    • Certain Platinum Medals are very hard to win, some more than others.
    • The first Hunter fight.
  • Disconnected Side Area: The USS Reagan appears fairly early in the game. Attempts to reach it are met with very lethal force until you reach the last mission.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Oh, so very, very much when the real Alex Mercer released the Blacklight virus into Penn Station, which was full of innocent people, and quite possibly doomed all of Manhattan or worse — and did so with full knowledge of the ramifications of those actions. The reason? Pure spite; first because GENTEK didn't keep him in the loop about what was being done with his research, and then because he knew that he was going to be killed anyway.
    • Blackwatch's general response to anything. In fact, sometimes they will kill you just for shits and giggles existing.
    • What Alex does to most of his victims. Except for maybe Randall and Taggart. Some people would argue that what happened there was more along the lines of Karmic Death in action.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The art director said he designed Greene's outfit to resemble fetish clothing.
  • The Dragon: The Supreme Hunter to Elizabeth Greene. Cross to General Randall.
  • Dragon Ascendant: The Supreme Hunter after Elizabeth Greene is killed.
  • Dragon Their Feet: After you kill Patient Zero Elizabeth Greene, her "offspring", the Supreme Hunter, engages in a Batman Gambit to manipulate Alex into destroying Blackwatch and letting the city be nuked, so the Supreme Hunter can escape undetected and restart the infection elsewhere.
  • Dull Surprise: Though it's more the fault of the game engine than the acting (since it's not done using a cutscene), when the Leader Hunter escapes with Dana, Alex's voice fits the situation, but his character model keeps the typically blank expression. Not really an appropriate reaction for watching a freakish Infected beast run off with the only person you care about.
  • Dynamic Entry: You get several moves that allow you to go zoom into an area and demolish it without missing a beat or being noticed before the dismembered corpses start (literally) raining from the sky.
    • Though you really aren't the only thing in the game that can do this. Stand around in an infected zone long enough and watch yourself be randomly tackled by a hunter.
  • Easter Egg: Hidden near an air conditioner on a rooftop north-east of Central Park is a severed leg that could not have come from any of the pedestrians, military, or infected that only appear on the streets below. It spawns unfailingly in the exact same position and condition every time you load up a game.
  • Easy Amnesia: Both Justified and Subverted: You're not actually Alex Mercer, you're just a viral mutant who thinks he is.
  • Easy Exp: Right before attempting Behind The Glass, the collectible orbs spawn in free-roam. Occasionally, even the loading screen tips you off that there are 92 collectibles in Central Park and Times Square altogether. If you collect all of them, this adds up to a good 1-2 million EXP for your powers, plus whatever else you collect along the way. Depending on how you go about it, this will cover your upgrades to at or near the Brought Down to Normal segment of the game.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Semi-applies in so far as you sort of are this. OK, there have been multiple FAR more impressive examples, but not exactly in a game with the protagonist. You are not quite human anymore ( "not quite" meaning "not at all") by virtue of superhuman resistance, strength and speed, you have the ability to transform parts of your body into blades and Combat Tentacles, you can absorb biomass and impersonate the people you assimilated... Again, there have been many bosses or even some especially powerful normal enemies like this in FPS, but hardly ever protagonists.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: This is what is hinted to happen should Alex ever meet PARIAH.
  • Enemy Detecting Radar: Only enemies appear on the minimap, while neutral characters like civilians are radar-invisible.
  • Enemy Mine: The War scenarios.
    • Alex and Blackwatch on the missions where you escort the Bloodtox pumper, protect it, and then where you kill Greene, they'll prioritize the Infected over Alex; during the protection part, they actively tell their men stand down and stop attacking you to focus on the infected attacking the injector.
    • Alex and the real Cross, after Cross defects due to finding out Blackwatch's true intentions. The Supreme Hunter may or may not count, because although Alex thought he and "Cross" were on the same side, Alex was working toward Manhattan not being blown up, and The Supreme Hunter was working toward Alex being lunch.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: Alex rises up behind a Blackwatch trooper who thought one bullet to the head was enough to kill him.
    • Also invoked in the final encounter between Mercer, Randall, and Cross. To be fair, Mercer was disguised as Taggart at the time, who certainly would not have survived being shot in the face by Randall.
  • Escort Mission: Prototype makes some valiant efforts to make this trope bearable, and generally succeeds.
    • One mission has you luring a leader hunter to a particular location. You have to keep its attention (by attacking it), keep it from being killed by the military (and don't hit it too hard or too much yourself), and fight off the lesser hunters it calls. This thing is tough as nails and even faster than you are on level ground (building-hopping is another story), so it's pretty easy to get him to where he needs to go without too much trouble.
    • Later, you have to defend the thermobaric tank on its approach to the super-hive. It's closer to a normal escort mission, but the tank is well-guarded and suitably strong against most attacks, so your role in protecting it is fairly easy. As bonus, at the end of the level you get to use the thing yourself.
    • However, one mission does play it straight. The Bloodtox pump truck, especially on Hard, has armor like paper mache and is unarmed. There are four regular tanks guarding it, and they do a fairly good job, but the problem is that they are guarding it against Hydras. The Hydras will prioritize the pump over all else, easily beating it to death in a very short time. The only way to keep them back is with a stolen tank, but even that comes dangerously close to the wire if you don't make every shot count.
    • Following right after this, you have to protect the (now parked) truck from waves of Hunters as it unloads its cargo. Again, they prioritize it, which really doesn't help because you're just as likely to hit the tank trying to dislodge them from it. Not to mention the two Leader Hunters that show up with the Hydras as the final wave. Best strategy? Attempt to consume hapless military quickly enough to Critical Pain all enemies. Not enough EP to unlock this Devastator? Sucks to be you. Good luck my friend.
  • Essence Drop: Of red and yellow varieties.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Part of how you can tell Alex becomes more heroic as the game progresses is how he shows disgust towards the villains' actions, most notably the real Alex Mercer.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: Every fired munition is made to look visible. Bullets, grenades from grenade launchers, tank shells even...
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: After a few hits, any vehicle will first burst into flames, and if hit again, explode spectacularly, even if all you were doing was smashing the roof. However, a realistic reaction wouldn't be as fun, especially when using cars as projectile weapons.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Supreme Hunter. It shares some of Alex's attacks, such as the groundspikes and tendril barrage. And it can shapeshift. For that matter, the Super Soldiers and Hunters do rather parallel Alex.
  • Evil Is Easy: The game actively encourages you to eat people, since your health won't regenerate fully on its own. Couple that with the rather abundant supply of civilians in the early game, and it is very tempting to chow down on them rather than grabbing acceptable targets. Granted, eating a civilian costs you your military disguise, which any casual player will probably keep on hand, but that is trivially easy to get back. By the mid- to late-game, though, there are enough Infected/Military zones that eating civilians isn't worth the time, since they provide the least health of any consumable target.
  • Evil Matriarch: Elizabeth Greene. Granted, she does have a tragic backstory. But considering how she vents after being freed... damn...
  • Evil Versus Evil: On one front, you have the protagonist: a shapeshifting, man-eating, sociopathic (at first anyway), Nigh Invulnerable viral monster on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. On a second front, you have Blackwatch, the black ops organization responsible for creating the viral menace in the first place and which cares more about covering things up than about actually saving anybody, to the point where they're willing to nuke the city to erase the evidence. On a third front, you have Elizabeth Greene, an utterly batshit insane mutant that turns herself into a Kaiju-scale monster. And on a fourth front, you have the Supreme Hunter, who uses a plan so it can try to eat the protagonist to increase its own powers so that it can survive the nuclear destruction of the city and fake its own death to avoid pursuit.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The names for Alex's powers.
    • As well as a few of Alex's combat moves, i.e. "Curb Stomp".
  • Expy: Blackwatch are almost dead ringers for the Blue Unit from Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. Both are shadowy military organizations that are above the law and have a mandate to quarantine an infected population zone to deal with nonhuman threats (Blackwatch dealing with viral threats and creatures created by those threats, while Blue Unit deals with alien viruses and the aliens themselves). Both organizations use highly questionable and ruthless methods to deal with the threats in their mandate. Both organizations have a mentally-unstable commanding officer and his direct subordinate who quietly doubts his leader and eventually betrays him. The only thing Blue Unit needs are gas masks and they would be Blackwatch.
    • They're also somewhat similar to the MAJESTIC-12 military subgroups Blue Fly and NRO DELTA from the Delta Green Setting. Dennis Detwiller wrote for both Delta Green and Prototype.
  • Extended Gameplay / Playable Epilogue: Once a fresh save file reaches "Story Mode Completed".
    Mercer: One virus. Three weeks. Millions dead. And I was there. My name was Alex Mercer. And my work is almost done.
  • The Extremist Was Right: What is left of Manhattan and by extension the world as a whole is saved primarily because of the downright horrific things done by the military and Alex. This trope is zig-zagged by the fact that Manhattan was both saved by Blackwatch's psychotic and extremely unhinged attitude towards dealing with outbreaks and in spite of it due to their attempt to nuke Manhattan.
  • Faceless Goons: Blackwatch were deliberately designed to look like terrifying, inhuman soldiers with gas masks and night-vision/thermal goggles. Normal marines (excluding officers) wear balaclavas to hide their faces.
    • Inverted with Specialist Cross; rather than simply giving the 'terrifying, inhuman soldier' idea a different design to separate him from the Blackwatch troopers but still identify him as a Blackwatch soldier, Cross's design came about specifically because he's the only member of Blackwatch to be shown as sympathetic.
      Kevin Chu: The Specialist is the only enemy character that Alex eventually wins over to his side — and as such he needs to have his eyes shown to give him that bit of humanity that the other Blackwatch soldiers lack.
  • Face Palm of Doom: Combined with Neck Lift, this is how one of the consume animations go with the Claw power.
  • Fake Difficulty: Because Alex is so overwhelmingly powerful, the game invokes this by making you fight large groups of enemies at every turn. See Zerg Rush.
    • The final mission involving Taggart also invokes this by removing one of the safest and most useful methods of destroying a military base in the game: helicopters. Though there are numerous other methods, they carry a larger risk.
    • Mouse acceleration. All this does is make the mouse+keyboard combo clumsier than a console controller in games it's generally superior for.
    • Artillery strikes are disabled against the final boss in the game, and the only weapons available are ordinary assault rifles and missile launchers. Helicopters are of dubious use at best, as well, while tanks are completely unavailable.
    • Direction of movement is based on camera orientation, except when it's not. Camera orientation shifts in the direction of movement, except when it doesn't.
  • Five-Bad Band: Blackwatch
  • Flunky Boss: Every boss fight. Captain Cross calls in Blackwatch troopers to help, and before that mid-level Infected spring from the walls to harass you. In the first battle with the Supreme Hunter, it summons multiple regular Hunters and a couple Hydras to mess with you. Then the military shows up again. The battle with Elizabeth Greene is the same, only bigger. The final boss fight somewhat averts this, as only the military is on the scene and they are attacking the boss (or, more likely, you). Several of the missions, especially when introducing new foes, also tend to pull this.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Your Defensive Powers allow you to do this, preventing you from parkouring but allowing you to toss aside anything up to (and including) a car. This achieves a whole new meaning when you figure out that you can grab a car like a plow, start running, and make the civilian and infected population fly in the air like so many ragdolls.
  • Foreshadowing: In the autopsy at the beginning of the game, a doctor comments that "He was Blacklight."
  • Friendly Fire Proof: Usually averted, but played straight on rare occasions, such as with the Bloodtox pump after it's been deployed.
  • From a Single Cell: How Alex survives getting nuked.
  • From Bad to Worse: The quarantine was bad enough, but then comes the Meat Moss, and monsters.

  • Gallows Humor: Humorously, one of the response soldiers have to being grabbed by Mercer is, "Good thing I didn't save for my retirement".
  • Gambit Pileup: Of a sort. Cross decides to anonymously help Alex decimate the Blackwatch high command and board the USS Reagan in order to stop Randall from enacting a secret plan to nuke Manhattan. After the Supreme Hunter consumes Cross, it hijacks Cross' already-intricate Batman Gambit for its own purposes, namely; to consume Alex and escape in the ensuing nuclear explosion, all the while convincing Alex that nothing is amiss.
  • Gang Up on the Human: Both the Infected and the military like to shoot Alex first. Or that Infected/trooper conveniently next to him.
    • Averted late in the game, when you have to defend the Bloodtox pump from waves of Hunters as it flushes Elizabeth Greene out from underneath Times Square; revealing your true nature in the midst of the Marines will cause them to fire some shots at you, and then a radio message will come through stating that Greene and the pump are priority one, and everything else is priority two. Whereupon you lose aggro with all the soldiers and can cut loose against the Infected without regaining it.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: Blackwatch uses these in contrast with the balaclavas of the Marines.
  • General Ripper: General Randall. His only job is to fight the infection, something that he has been doing for 40 years, and he is fully prepared to turn Manhattan Island into a smoldering crater in order to do so. He also insists that Mercer is referred to as "it".
    • The Wildstorm comic shows a General Stilwell who "poached" him during his 'Nam time and was nutty enough to kill two of Randall's squad.
  • Genius Bruiser: Alex Mercer.
  • Genre Savvy, Better to Die Than Be Killed: McMullen knows that Alex can consume him for information only if his brain is intact, so he shoots himself in the head.
  • Glass Cannon: Military forces can't take much punishment from Alex (even tanks and helicopters are destroyed pretty quickly if you use the right powers), but they can deal a lot of hurt before going down, especially on Hard mode. They don't do jack against the Supreme Hunter, though.
  • Godzilla Threshold: By the time you kill Elizabeth Greene, 80% of the city is infected. As such, the state of the city is SO far around the apocalyptic bend that the ostensible cherry on Blackwatch's villainy sundae — nuking Manhattan — can seem more like a reasonable, if grim, last-ditch effort to fix their mistake.
    • Possibly subverted, as the first statistic shown after that event is that the percentage has lowered to 60%, and Alex expresses disgust that Blackwatch feels the overkill is necessary.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Apparently, in addition to trying to find cures for the various strains of Redlight, certain members of Gentek (including Alex Mercer) were, for some odd reason, tasked with making the virus even more dangerous than it already was. Three weeks and millions of corpses later, they succeeded in that venture.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The original Redlight virus was supposed to affect and kill people with certain ethnic backgrounds. During its trial run, however, it simply laid low for a while and then turned everyone into ravening monstrosities. Including, apparently, local wildlife.
  • Gorn: Anything that can be dismembered or turned into salsa will contribute to this.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: The upgraded Whipfist can latch onto and pull it to Alex or pull Alex to it.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: You have the ability to whack people with other people, throw people into other people, body surf people into other people, kick people into other people, piledrive people into other people... the list goes on.
  • Ground Pound / Shockwave Stomp: Alex can slam his fists into the ground to create a potent shockwave. More true to the trope, he can do the same thing in the middle of a jump. He also has a leg smash move which does something similar, as well as the Hammerfist Elbow Drop, the Bullet Dive Drop, and his Air Graveyard Spike Devastator.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing: From harmless cracks in the ground that merely attract attention, to a crater that sends even cars within radius up in the air.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Leap from ground level to the top of the building? This will barely rattle the troops. Jump from said building? They might be a little suspicious. Run up the building? Look at him go. Waltz into a base disguised as the commander you just kidnapped and ate from that base ten seconds ago? Not even a glance. Consume a Web of Intrigue target with Stealth Consume then grip your head in pain? Probably just a migraine.
    • That said, the guards are very picky about proper procedure. Civilian or Alex has a gun? Red alert! Tiny black mass (inactive Shield) on back? Red alert! Civilian accidentally enters base? Red alert! They're stupid enough that they won't punish obvious signs of your true nature, but perceptive enough to punish stupid mistakes from fifty feet away.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • The Web of Intrigue. Only about half the targets you need to consume will be easy to find, and you'll likely find them by accident or by consuming military targets. The rest only spawn in certain areas (even if the Infected have taken said areas over), and only if you've consumed the previous ones in the chain. As you fill out the Web, tracking them down becomes even harder. Worse still, they can be killed, and won't respawn for several minutes. You also have to be pretty close to ground level to get them to spawn in the first place, so a flyover with a helicopter will only work if you practically skim the pavement.
    • Kill events tell you to target the marked enemies because they're worth more points. What it doesn't tell you is that any faction enemies count toward your score, which is indispensable for infected kill events that require far more kills than military kill events.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Averted. Guns are actually pretty good, as long as you have the common sense to shoot the things that they would actually hurt. A rifle won't bring down a tank, for example, but entire crowds of people can be washed away fairly quick. Guns are worthless against you, except on Hard, but you're a human-shaped lump of biomass and that's to be expected.
  • Guttural Growler: Alex's voice can sometimes start sounding like Christian Bale's portrayal of Batman.
  • Healing Factor: Present and accounted for, but it barely gets you fighting fit. It's much faster to just eat somebody.
  • Hellish Copter: Doesn't matter how you go about it, but a helicopter crashes in a decent fireball when you do enough damage.
  • (Anti)-Heroic Host: Alex to the virus.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Used straight and inverted, as Alex becomes more heroic over the course of the story, while the reason Blackwatch is so merciless is because the enemy they fight doesn't care about the laws of war or human rights, and so to contain it they must do the same.
  • Hide Your Children: Children are notably absent during the gameplay to avoid players impaling entire playgrounds with his Spikes Of Doom and eating the kiddies. Averted in the Web of Intrigue flashbacks, where some very nasty things are done to children and babies in the name of science.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Being a stealth game of sorts with a penalty to prolonged exposure (read: strike teams), the game can encourage such behavior by mechanics of finite health, especially on higher difficulties.
  • Hive Mind: How Elizabeth Greene controls the Infected. Explained in detail in the Prototype comic.
    (NYPD officers; McKlusky is dying after being infected)
    McKlusky: What's worse is that I can hear this woman's voice in my head...
    Garcia: (crying) That's me, you asshole.
    McKlusky: No, someone else, Elizabeth Greene. She's broadcasting like a radio station and the news ain't good. There's a Hive Mind... all those things connected to this woman. I'm pretty sure that the only person that can stop her is Alex Mercer... She's afraid of him. I can sense that.
    Prototype #6
  • Hive Queen: Similar to Hive Mind above. The game, at various junctures throughout, make it a point that eliminating Greene would at least mitigate the virus's spread, if not bring it down to manageable levels.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Can happen to you in-game. You like powerbombing helpless soldiers and civilians? It's not quite so fun when one of the Supersoldiers catches you in mid-air and does it right back, and it is one of the single most powerful attacks in the entire game. Of course, you can do the same to the military by hijacking their vehicles or prying their guns out of what's left of their cold, dead fingers (assuming there are any body parts remaining).
  • Hollywood Darkness: Night time is seemingly almost as bright as the daytime. Especially notable in under-building passageways, where it is of the same level of darkness regardless of night or day. The shadows at night tend to give away the "broad daynight" effect.
  • Homing Boulders: Thrown objects track to an extent, but can still be dodged at greater distances, especially if thrown against fast-moving targets.
  • Homing Projectile: The homing rockets and missiles. Observe carefully the AI helicopters firing a Hellfire missile at you as you leap wildly everywhere. Their missiles both lead and home in on you.
  • Hopeless War: Blackwatch and the Marines really don't have much hope against Alex. Or Greene. Or most of the larger Infected.
  • How We Got Here: The majority of the game is told via flashbacks to three weeks ago with Alex narrating to Cross/the Supreme Hunter.
  • HP to One: MOTHER's shockwave attack does this, reducing Alex to Adrenaline Surge on contact. If, somehow, the player manages to reach MOTHER without that safety net, it's instantly fatal.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: It's rather telling that a blob of biomass that's shaped like Alex Mercer actually cares more about human lives than Blackwatch and the human Alex Mercer.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Even discounting the aforementioned Bottomless Magazines, normal guns and vehicles have a rather high ammo count.
  • Idle Animation: When standing still with no power equipped, Alex will get out of his Primal Stance and stand up straight, occasionally coughing. While using Hammerfist, he pounds his fists together every few seconds.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: Hilariously, Randall says this to a scientist.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Assimilating biomass" may sugarcoat it, but fundamentally you're eating people alive, all to fuel your Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Wanna piece of the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot? Eat a conspirator. Wanna be an Instant Expert? Eat a soldier. Wanna ramp up your Healing Factor? Eat anyone. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will have eaten hundreds of soldiers (at least) just to stay alive, many more to disguise yourself, and, depending on your playstyle, possibly just as many civilians for the quick health fix.
  • Improbable Age: McMullen had his doctorate in genetics at age 20, and founded Gentek a year later. Wait, what?
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: With an assault rifle and liberal use of the targeting button, Alex can kill a couple dozen soldiers or low-level infected (or civilians) with one bullet each in a matter of seconds.
  • Improbable Power Discrepancy: Captain Cross, who appears to be a mere human (though there are minor hints otherwise), can take blows that should by all rights bisect him and dodge even the fastest attacks flawlessly unless you catch him while he's aiming.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Mostly averted, until you realize that charged throws of ANYTHING will damage tank armor regardless of actual damage dealt. Chipping off that last sliver of "health" from what seems to be a perfectly functioning (if dirty-looking) tank with a Musclemass-thrown shopping cart becomes a classic.
  • In a Single Bound: Upgrading your Jump to maximum lets Alex easily clear five-story buildings. Utilizing Air-dash just boost the ability even further; a max charge of fully upgraded jump and a properly timed fully upgraded double air-dash will take Alex to great heights in a fraction of the time needed to run all the way up a tall structure of similar height.
  • In the Hood: Alex's default getup is a hooded sweatshirt underneath a leather jacket. Somewhat justified, as Mercer was attempting to hide himself away from Blackwatch at Penn Station, and The Virus just based its appearance around what Mercer was wearing at the time.
  • Instant Armor: In the snap of a finger, you can go from being a creepy-looking guy in a hoodie, to being completely covered by insect-like armor, created from available biomass.
  • Instant Death Radius: Captain Cross and the Supreme Hunter have ridiculous melee skills, and it's generally a bad idea to try and go toe to toe with them. With Cross, he'll start swinging around a cattle prod like crazy trying to hit you, and he will succeed. The Supreme Hunter will knock off half your health if it can hit you, but it pauses between attacks. Inverted with tanks, where you want to get real close. With a few exceptions, most things that get within melee range of Alex tend to die fast.
  • Instant Expert: As a neat side effect of Mercer's memory absorption ability, if you want to pilot or operate advanced military technology, all you need to do is find someone who does, and consume them.
  • Interface Screw: The game says that the auto-targeting system will automatically choose the most relevant or dangerous threat, and won't target non-combatants when enemies are in the area. The game is lying on both counts. If Alex is faced with a tank, a building the mission wants you to destroy, a giant blob of Infected flesh throwing rocks at you, or a basic common infected, the auto-target will sometimes randomly choose the basic infected — or even a car — over the larger and more serious threats. It may even target hives several blocks away. Part of this seems to be due to how targeting is implemented. Since auto and manual targeting both use the same button (press or depress, respectively), and the sensitivity therein is way higher than it should be, it's very difficult to get the system to properly acknowledge one or the other.
  • Interface Spoiler: The powers menu spoils the number (and distribution) of powers.
  • Jerk Ass: Alex Mercer himself. The human Mercer tops it.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Oddly enough, despite the fact that the ground pounders are, frankly, psychotic, the higher ups seem to genuinely have valid reasons for doing what they do. If the virus gets out, the human race will die. Hope Idaho was a deliberate test bed, sure, but they did have a good point; they needed to know what it did. Even the final nuking of Manhattan was only done because one of the officers disobeyed orders and gave the evac order, which led directly to the collapse of military operations.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Almost literally. To actually understand the plot, you have to piece together bits of it on the "Web of Intrigue." Unsurprisingly, you gain these pieces by consuming people.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Alex can do an imitation of this, wherein he thrusts his arms forward and releases a blast of pressurized air straight forward that will kill any human-sized thing nearby. One of his Limit Breaks does the trope right when he fires a giant beam of biomass to crush his hapless target.
  • Keystone Army: To a limited extent. There is certainly no way to stop the entire population of infected, but if you take out a Hive, all the infected in that zone die on the spot.
  • Kill and Replace: Alex does this all the time and technically, that the Blacklight virus is Alex at all could be an example. Stealth Consume takes it to the extreme, as it is an instant kill and disguise switch. Also, the Supreme Hunter to Cross.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Alex to Dana. Subverted in that the real Alex Mercer apparently didn't give much of a damn about her.
  • Large Ham: Alex really takes the long pork during his chase of Taggart.
  • Laser Sight: Captain Cross's fancy gun has a yellowish-green one.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Adrenaline Surge upgrade. The invincibility period is slightly shorter than the time needed to start regenerating health (as once you start regenerating health to receive a red life bar, you can take another otherwise killing blow and go into adrenaline surge again) to avoid complete invincibility.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: A fellow who looks suspiciously like Chinese superstar Andy Lau is one of the random civilians. Another one looks like Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Lead The Target: This is done automatically for non-homing weapon projectiles on a targeted entity. The AI does the same as well.
  • Left Stuck After Attack: There's an attack called Groundspike that enables this. PC slams his hand in the ground, his biomass travels some distance underground and erupts from beneath the surface as sharp, menacing spikes before retracting. The drawback is that it takes a while to perform, and most of the time you are literally rooted up to a place and vulnerable.
  • Le Parkour: Alex Mercer is basically what every traceur dreams of being. He can run at speeds in excess of 40 mph, vaults over every obstacle in his path without skipping a beat, can jump 10 vertical stories, and is even capable of running straight up sheer walls.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Alex is insanely fast, durable, and powerful. Even with the armor power, which slows him down (but also increases durability), he's fast enough to run up walls. Hunters and Super Soldiers are also both fast and strong too.
  • Limit Break: They're called Devastators.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: THE GAME. Alex's various abilities have a concerning level of tentacles, spikes, and blood involved. And eating people alive.
  • Love Redeems: Possible non-romantic example with Dana. Naturally Alex would care about his sister, right? Yeah, not so much. Blacklight, on the other hand, immediately goes after her the very second he "remembers" her in order to save her from Blackwatch. For players who already know the Awful Truth, it's the first sign that Blacklight-Alex is already a better person than the original Alex, although it takes time for his conscience to develop much further than that.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: Of a very specific sort. No matter what difficulty level the game is played on, activating an Event will set the entire game to Easy mode for the duration. This is because half the events would literally be impossible to get Gold on, let alone Platinum, if you fought them at full strength.
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Alex's first defensive power; a shield of biomass over one arm.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Especially with the Blade and Muscle Mass powers. One of the later-game attacks is a charged snapkick that will send people flying about a block. With the Musclemass power equipped, it just gibs them outright. In fact, everything you hit with Musclemass ends up becoming ludicrous gibs, sooner or later.

  • Made of Iron: When you fight Specialist Cross, he's able to survive multiple hits from attacks that do decent damage to tanks.
  • Made of Plasticine: Muscle Mass turns all normal humans into this, as the most basic jab from Alex is enough to tear them in half.
  • Magic Genetics: Prototype's various viruses, and the plot to some extent, runs on this.
  • Magic Pants: Alex's clothes stay pristine no matter what goes down. Justified, as his clothes are biomass, just like the rest of him, and thus heal and/or grow back depending on what you're doing. Particularly noticeable at the start of the game, where Alex's shirt is covered in blood and bullet holes until you consume someone to repair them.
  • Marathon Boss: Most of the bosses in this game do take some time to beat, but Greene takes the cake.
  • Medium Blending: The Web of Intrigue videos mainly use live action with filters for stylisation.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Alex vs. Blackwatch vs. the Infected. And, at the end of the game, Alex vs. Supreme Hunter vs. the US military.
  • The Men in Black: Some Blackwatch members evoke this, such as the agent you consume early on as he's trying to escape to an APC right after he bombed your apartment. The Blackwatch agents sent after Alex right before he releases The Virus in Penn Station certainly fit this trope as well.
    "Send in the squad. Plainclothes."
  • Mercy Invincibility: You enter a state called "Adrenaline Rush" which is very similar to "Critical Mass" once your health gets dangerously low. This grants you (very brief) invincibility and an emergency use of a Devastator. Unfortunately, it really doesn't help if you're pinned by various means. The Supreme Hunter's Tendril Barrage, for example, will kill you outright if it hits, because it holds you in place while draining your health, and will outlast the invincibility.
  • Mind Screw: Blazing through the main story is very possible. It's also the best way to not understand the story at all. A perfectly deliberate choice from the devs. Fully unlocking the Web of Intrigue is necessary to understand all that happened, because the main storyline's cutscenes barely scratch the surface.
  • Mobstacle Course: You can just shove them out of your way. Or activate a defensive power and plow through them at superspeed. Or use a devastator. Really, it's up to you.
  • Mook Debut Cutscene: The major Infected enemies. Super Soldiers also get this.
  • Mook Horror Show: The intro cutscene where Alex in disguise suddenly skewers a mook who tried to put a rocket in his face moments ago. Also particularly what happens to a few of the game's major characters.
  • Morality Pet: Dana Mercer is pretty much the only thing that Alex cares about. As it turns out, ZEUS cares about her more than the actual Mercer ever did.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Pretty much every doctor in Manhattan is a Mad Scientist. Hell, even Alex is one. Blackwatch and Gentek apparently hire complete psychos. However, there are some scientists you get in the Web of Intrigue who clearly have reservations about what they're doing.
    • It is implied in one of the Web of Intrigue entries that those doctors and civilians that Alex consumes to get their Web of Intrigue entries throughout the game are actually Blackwatch sleeper personnel. See? Alex did have a good reason to eat those people. Sleeper agents are bad. Go them all, Alex!
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: Greene is more or less this.
    Mercer: There were Hunters now, thanks to Greene.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Several. Subverted in the first encounter with hunters. They spawn indefinitely but don't become harder to kill than before.
    • An interesting mash up occurs in the building where Dana Mercer was kidnapped and held in. Military forces keep pouring in to battle the infected and whatever in between, including your own melee with the game's dragon.
    • The mission where you have to use a Blackwatch Blackhawk transport to rescue Blackwatch soldiers can be played as such at one point.
  • Multi-Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
  • Natural Weapon: Many of the infected, like the Hydra, is capable of using its entire self to Tail Slap anything nearby instead of always picking up debris to throw. Alex is also less dependent on stolen military hardware once more powers are available in the Swiss Army Appendage sense.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Blackwatch personnel show absolutely no hesitation to firebomb city blocks just to suppress the infection, regardless of other military and civilian presence. Some members have even been noted as possessing a cruel and sadistic glee while doing so. This approach earns them the ire of any jointly deployed military forces, who show complete and total disgust.
  • Necessary Drawback: Almost all of Alex's powers have good and bad points. The Claws are fast but don't do much damage (except for the groundspike attack, which inverts that), the Hammerfist power does massive damage but is incredibly slow, etc.
    • Cross's multi-shot grenade launcher is effective enough against you that you'll have to start zipping about in air dashes to avoid significant punishment. Realistically, he has to therefore spend quite a bit of time (for an elite agent) reloading his weapon which he frequently empties out in a second or two, leaving him vulnerable.
  • Neck Lift: Alex's grab involves this. From there, you have a variety of options to brutally maim what you're grabbing. But, oddly, no way to put them down.
    • You can, however, keep them alive by catching them again midair if you're quick enough. Even if, which is an easy way to do this, you bounce them against the ground hard enough to leave blood splatter.
    • Near the end of the game, "Cross" aka The Supreme Hunter does this to Alex while revealing its Evil Plan.
  • Neck Snap: The upgraded Stealth Consume uses this.
  • New Game+: Go ahead. Eat New York.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Alex's new powers can appear regardless of the RPG Elements of the game. Some that aren't forced on him during the mission have remarkably accessible costs — stealth consume for less than a tenth of the EP of all other powers? Can't pass that up, and behold; the next few missions call for it.
    • The game won't let you start some of the earlier missions if you don't have certain abilities bought yet. Which doesn't mean you will have to use them, like the fist shockwave thing.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Near the beginning of the game, Alex frees Sealed Evil in a Can Elizabeth Greene, turning what had previously been a minor, controlled outbreak into the Zombie Apocalypse. To be fair to Alex, though, it's made perfectly clear that they had already lost containment (all the guards are dead, the room is filled with infected biomass, and Greene's cell is open), and moreover it's suggested in the strategy guide that Greene could have escaped whenever she wanted. They couldn't contain Alex, they can't contain her.
    • The sequel has Alex infecting James Heller, and it's not a good thing, because he wants revenge on him for the death of his family and ruining his suicide.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Alex starts the game waking up on a slab at the Gentek Morgue. Then he escapes, despite a Blackwatch team shooting him multiple times. He can take rockets to the face without too much damage, and by the end of the game, he survives a nuke. From a Single Cell.
  • Nights And Days Of The Living Mooks: 18 days of horror for the humans. 18 days of bringing the smackdown to everything in the containment zone for Alex.
  • No Conservation of Energy: Because having to consume stuff constantly just to fuel the mass and energy requirements for some moves would induce a truckload of tedium in gameplay. However, effort is made to play it straight with the Devastators.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: One of the unarmed Consume animations involves this, as well as the default Consume animation for Web targets. Alex throws them to the ground, gets on top of them, and just beats them to death so brutally that their blood splashes onto the camera.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Subverted. The only person capable of making the DX-1118C variant of the virus ten times as dangerous as DX-1118A was killed, clinically speaking. But...: His corpse was repossessed by that very enhanced viral variant that only needs a slight interaction with the dead person's objects of a familiar past that results in specific memorial restoration of the related. In his case, proficiency at engineering the virus.
  • Not What I Signed On For: The reason that Specialist Cross calls up Alex is because he finds out what Blackwatch/Randall is planning to do to Manhattan.
    Cross's Character Bio: "[Cross]'s knowledge of Blackwatch has been highly edited by his superior, the General, to fit his world-view. Confronted with proof that his cause is deceptive, [Cross] reorients his mindset instantly to keep in line with his beliefs. Shown absolute proof that that his employers are on the wrong side of the moral divide, he will go after them with the same verve he showed as their lapdog — but even worse, he'll do so as a zealot of the highest order."
  • Off with His Head!: Alex only eats the head of Hunters and Leader Hunters. He also finishes off the Supreme Hunter by decapitating it with the Blade.
  • Offing the Offspring: One of the more f'ed up examples. Mercer ends up killing the Supreme Hunter, which he created when he injected Elizabeth Greene with the same sentient cancer parasite that had infected him. Said Hunter also tried to kill and eat him, partly so it could survive and escape elsewhere, and partly because it resented its "daddy" for removing it.
  • Oh, Crap: Let's just say that when Alex finally gets around to meeting McMullen, Randall, Taggart, and Parker face-to-face, they are not in any way, shape, or form happy to see him.
  • Older Than They Look: You wouldn't guess by looking at her, but Elizabeth Greene is in her early fifties.
    • Alex will eventually fit this, too, seeing as how, like Elizabeth, he's essentially ageless. He won't die unless he's outright killed. Good luck with that. (Although it's looking like the protagonist for Prototype 2 will be given this exact task.)
  • One Bad Mother: Greene being the Mother of a Thousand Young with a meaningful (code)name.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The special attack for Whipfist can pierce anything non-environment up to its intended target and damage anything along the way. Since the appendage retracts, the bladed end will also continue to damage anything on its way back to Mercer. Most human-class enemies succumb quickly to this, resulting in a gibtacular display.
  • One-Man Army: Mercer.
  • One-Winged Angel: Elizabeth Greene has one. In a partial subversion, it isn't her true form — it's more akin to Lovecraftian Power Armor (she falls out in human form after you defeat it). If you closely look at the thing's "mouth" during the battle, you can see Greene inside (covered with a skin flap to obscure her features, but still visible). Once you get the Armor ability, you can pull this off too; you become Made of Iron and can turn your hands into a BFS, clubs, a whip, and once your health gets maxed out, you get a couple Limit Breaks.
  • Only Six Faces: There is a limited amount of NPC models, with Palette Swaps used to vary them up some more.
  • Out of the Inferno: The first run-in with Hunters concludes with a base burning down... and Alex standing unscathed in the ruins.
  • Outrun the Fireball: At the end of the story, Mercer fails to outrun a nuclear blast, but this allows him to demonstrate his Nigh Invulnerability by rebuilding himself From a Single Cell. In-game, you'll probably find yourself going "ohshitohshitohshitohshit..." as you attempt to outrun the fireballs Elizabeth Greene's One-Winged Angel form spits out whenever you get too close for too long.
  • Overheating: All vehicle weapons do this to varying degrees, which is used interchangeably with reload time. Tank cannons and missiles overheat on the spot, but cool down quickly. Machine guns overheat much more slowly, but consequently take a lot longer to cool down. The Gunship's 30mm cannon overheats the quickest for its cool down time.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: Bullets in the game are suspiciously slow. It's compensated for with Alex being able to lead moving targets. In the case of AI, they just get close enough so that they can usually hit what they shoot.
    • Averted mostly with the rockets, and maybe the grenade launcher (which also shoots with a ridiculously flat trajectory).
  • Partial Transformation: Any of Alex's shapeshifting implements, short of full-body armor or a disguise.
  • People Jars: Present in a lot of Web of Intrigue videos.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Alex Mercer and Elizabeth Greene.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Alex, of course.
  • Pinball Scoring: Inverted with killing minor enemies in relation to the amount of EP you need to purchase abilities.
    • Destroying infected water towers and collecting their genetic material yields an increasingly higher EP to effort ratio as the game's story progresses.
  • Plaguemaster: A match between dueling Plaguemasters. On the one hand is Elizabeth Greene, sole survivor of the last virus outbreak and the game's Big Bad, who in a partial subversion appears entirely human: even her One-Winged Angel form, once defeated, simply spits her out in her original human form. The other? Protagonist Alex Mercer, who unwittingly is The Virus itself. He also appears human, but unlike Greene, his powers manifest through monstrous — yet awesome-looking — transformations.
  • Playable Epilogue: Even after finishing the story, you get to continue beating challenges, finding collectables, and can even absorb more Web of Intrigue victims to further expand backstory. This even leads to resolving plot points like Karen's escape; players can track her down so Alex can kill her.
  • Plot Lock: Basically, by endgame, there should be a whole list of ways you can escape Manhattan.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: Justified, as Alex isn't human anymore in the game.
  • Police Are Useless: For the first few missions, the only authority figures are the NYPD. They carry a measly pistol which does so little damage it would take them forever to kill you, and are no better than an ordinary civilian in terms of what you get for eating them. The ones that come in cars will flee at the sight of you, just like any other car. They can call in a strike team, but it's only one helicopter... which you can shoot down with the police car. Then again, they are fairly competent when it comes to gunning down infected civilians, if they're in groups. A single officer can reliably kill at least two by himself, with enough distance. Just don't expect them to kill a mid-level infected or Hunter.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The original "Carnival" virus deployed in Hope in the 60's (and the predecessor to Blacklight) was designed to target specific races. Really makes Blackwatch's name all the more horrible, eh?
  • Power Fist: The Hammerfists, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Also the Musclemass power, though it enhances more than just basic fist power.
  • Power Floats: Alex floats in the air when using a Air Devastator. With the Tendril Barrage, he holds himself up with the tendrils, but with the Critical Pain Devastator, he bobs in the air without support. His glide may count, since he stays rather horizontal when he's flying liking a demonic squirrel until he runs out of gas and falls.
  • Pretty in Mink: Half the female NPC models wear fur-trimmed winter coats.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Oh so cruelly subverted with McMullen's suicide. Also subverted when Randall shoots "Taggart". Of course, since "Taggart" was really Mercer, it didn't stop him.
  • Previews Pulse: Used in this trailer.
  • Primal Stance
  • Product Placement: The ads for GameStop, GameCrazy, Panasonic, Hollywood Video, Golds Gym, and more, all in Times Square (elsewhere too, but it's concentrated here). Justified, of course. You fight Greene there, and are there every time you start the game after beating it. The real Times Square is almost exactly the same, of course.
    • In fact, the game actively updates its ads to keep up with the times. When Inception was in theaters, you couldn't run two blocks without seeing an ad for it.
  • Psycho Prototype: That would be you.
  • Psycho for Hire: A few military Web of Intrigue targets seem like this (most, however, seem to just be generally freaked the hell out). Consuming one pilot shows you a clip that suggests he had fun shooting down a civilian airliner.
  • Punch Catch: The method by which Super Soldiers counter your button-mashing attacks while they're in blocking stance.
  • Punch Clock Villains: The USMC is just trying to save the city and its people, even if they have to kill potentially uninfected civilians to do it.
  • Punched Across the Room: Certain normal melee attacks do this when charged up. The snapkick power can kick someone across a city block. Add base Musclemass, however, and charged attacks more or less dissolve what they hit. Upgrading it makes every Musclemass attack turn people into mush.
  • Quest for Identity: Alex's original goal. When he finds the truth, he doesn't like it.
  • Radial Ass Kicking: It's just too tempting not to unleash a Tendril or Groundspike Devastator once you discover every kind of hindrance to your survival is all around you when you have critical mass.
    • The whipfist is excellent for clearing intersections.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Reading Your Rights: "You have the right to be ventilated. I have the right to burn your home and shoot your dog. Do you understand your rights as I have read them to you?"
  • Real Is Brown: Largely played straight — the city is mostly grey brick, Central Park is an autumnal brown, and the world fades to monochrome when Mercer's health is low — until you enter the heart of an infected zone, which is tinged with color ranging from a sickly sea-foam green to a nightmarish orange-red.
  • Recovery Attack: Hunters and Super Soldiers have a small knockback radius around them when they get up from being knocked down. Does little damage but it does knock Alex back quite a bit.
  • Red Right Hand: Depending on the powers you have active, your arms can range from giant freaking claws, to cudgels, to a tentacle. This is kinda noticeable — enemies will pretty much go from "Hey, what's that?" to "OH GOD ZEUS KILL IT KILL IT" instantly if you have an offensive or defensive power active.
  • Red Shirt Army: Every army that isn't you... But special mention goes to the Marines, since they were set up by Blackwatch to take the blame for the damage the virus has done (and what Blackwatch plans to do to cover it up).
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: The area around infected Hive buildings. Fly high enough and it's more like Red Sphere Take Warning.
  • Regenerating Health: Though it only regenerates up to half a non-upgraded health bar.
  • Research, Inc.: Gentek, where do they find all those mad scientists?
  • Respawning Enemies: So you can eat and eat non-stop.
  • Ring Menu: Played straight for your basic powers. The Disguise menu is a semi-circle instead.
  • Road Runner PC: Justified.
    • With upgrades that prove necessary to take on faster and more relentless opponents.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Bride would be proud.
    • Finishing a specific few of the ingame Consume Events unlocks the location of betrayer ex-girlfriend Karen Parker, who realizes Alex is going to kill her and follows a trooper out. Unfortunately for her, the trooper slams on the emergency brake in the elevator. Karen's response? "Oh god he's here in the building, he's going to kill me." The trooper, revealing himself to be Alex, leans in behind her and whispers "I know." before the scene fades to black...
    • Heller in the sequel, against Mercer himself.
  • Rolling Attack: The Cannonball move comes complete with homing capability and Splash Damage. More like a Curve Ball Attack if anything.
  • Roof Hopping: The natural extension of Alex's Le Parkour and In a Single Bound abilities.
  • Roundhouse Kick: The Snap Kick Launcher, of the more realistic version rather than the more theatrical 360 spin type.
  • Rule of Cool: The whole game runs on this. Penny Arcade's Gabriel summarized the game perfectly, according to developer Radical Entertainment.
    Gabriel: In Prototype, you can do a karate kick on a helicopter. WHAT THE FUCK ELSE DO YOU WANT?!
  • Run Don't Walk: Default movement is a jog/run. Walking and sprinting moves require an additional key/button.

  • Score Screen: After each mission and event completion, no doubt. A top-right fade-in variant while the game is ongoing also appears after you have racked enough kills within a minute or after escaping an alert with some casualties inflicted.
  • Scratch Damage: Put on your Armor power in Easy mode Plus. Even the police officers can chip off bits of your health bar by themselves.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Specialist Cross, when he realizes that Blackwatch doesn't exactly have the city's best interests at heart. Unfortunately, he ends up being consumed by the Supreme Hunter.
  • Second Hour Superpower: Rather odd and likely unintentional example in New Game Plus. Alex has only basic jump strength and no wall running ability before he crosses out of the Gentek compound perimeter. Once he does and triggers the helicopter pursuit, the jump upgrades and wall run abilities are restored.
    • Avoiding death in combat depends a lot on evading attacks. The airdash upgrades, glide, diveroll, and initial sprint and jump upgrades become available quite early on. Considering that all the rewarding collectibles become available for grabs just before your first manually started mission, you can greatly enhance your ability to survive combat by purchasing whatever upgrades are available with the abundance of EP that can be collected before zombies even start to appear in the streets.
  • Sequel Hook: PARIAH.
    • The comics actually end with one as well: Garcia, after having killed McKlusky, escapes the island via an insufficiently guarded subway tunnel, and kills several Blackwatch guards with her bare hands before they can radio in that she's there. It's pretty obvious that she's become a "Runner", a female Infected that is highly intelligent and independent of Elizabeth Greene's Hive Mind. So it's likely that the infection will be spreading out from the city now.
  • Sequence Breaking: In order to avert this in New Game+, Alex doesn't get to bring along his vehicle skills. This prevents you from taking helicopters or tanks before you're supposed to.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: The Patsy ability.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: The 'Alex Mercer' we know is actually the Blacklight Virus; the virus merely copied the original Alex Mercer's body cell-by-cell. Since Blacklight originally believed himself to be the real Alex Mercer, it makes sense that he would instinctively use Mercer's body as though it were his original shape. However, even after the Awful Truth is revealed, Blacklight still uses Mercer's likeness as his default appearance, likely because he considers Mercer's body to be the closest thing he has to a real face and form (and possibly because he considers 'Alex Mercer' to be his name; or, at least, moreso than 'Blacklight' or 'Zeus').
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Alex can consume several orders of magnitude more than really should fit, and shapeshift armor from nowhere. In-game, the amount of excess 'consumed' is theoretically the blue part of the player's health bar, which is called "Critical Mass", for good reasons. It is implied that Alex's density is much higher than normal, hence why he leaves craters in the ground after jumping a few feet in the air. For all we know, he may weigh more than 500 pounds in his default form, although he definitely doesn't look like it. That leaves a lot of biomass to extract from.
    • Considering that Alex can pick up and throw cars without being pushed back even in the slightest, he must weigh at least ten to twelve tons. The upper limit would probably be whatever the weakest Manhattan rooftop can bear without collapsing in on itself (so less than an airplane, probably). Then again, it's entirely possible that the lack of discernible "recoil" might be from him rooting himself to the ground the same way he can to walls.
    • In both the game and comic, consuming is shown to spill a ton of blood. Dump all the water from a body and you can fit what's left into a smaller space.
  • Shape Shifter Mashup: Allows for mixing your one preferred defensive and offensive power each.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: Claws, clubs, a whiplike tentacle, added muscle mass, or what amounts to a BFS (not counting the devastators, which ratchet things up a bit). Alex Mercer is basically a shapeshifting swiss army knife. Of doom.
  • Shield Bash: When the Shield power is active, Alex will do this to anything he runs into.
  • Shockwave Clap: Called Knuckle Shockwave, instead of a clap it's two clenched fists coming to getting for a massive boom.
  • Shoryuken: Oh yeah. Oh, oh yeah. Bet you've never Shoryuken'd a person in half before.
  • Shout-Out: Dead Rising had the Zombie Genocider achievement, for killing 53,594 infected. Left 4 Dead upped the ante with the Zombie Genocidest achievement, for killing 53,595 infected. Prototype has a Trail of Corpses achievement, for killing 53,596 infected.
  • Shows Damage: Includes type 2 and both type 3A and 3B. Civilians and organic enemies usually are devoid of this trope, however.
  • Skunk Stripe: Captain Cross.
  • Smashing Survival: Inverted when trying to counter Super Soldier grapples. You must press the correct key quickly just once when prompted. Pressing any other key (read:wrong) will allow them to serve your ass back to you, and chances are that wild button mashing will result in that.
  • Smoke Shield: One part of the intro cutscene. See The Worf Effect entry below.
  • Sociopathic Hero: In other games, killing dozens of people to empower yourself would be a defining moment for a character, a choice that the entire game leads to. For Alex Mercer, it's just another Tuesday.
    • If you manage to consume ten or less innocents civilians during one playthrough, you're awarded with an achievement. Consume, not kill, because it's utterly impossible to finish the game without killing at least a few thousand civilians, if only by accident.
    • If you take the cutscenes on their own, and the gameplay elements as the player chowing down on innocent civilians, Mercer comes off as a lot less sociopathic and gets even less so as the game progresses. He cares about his sister, he's disgusted by what happened in Hope, extremely disgusted at the actions of the real Alex Mercer, and he gets pissed off at Taggart for making him kill so many undeserving civilians and Marines to drive Taggart out of hiding.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Blackwatch seems extraordinarily eager to shoot anything that moves, including civilians; they will threaten to kill a disguised Alex simply for bumping into them. Several Web of Intrigue memories show or reference them gunning down innocents, occasionally laughing all the while. Yes, they're fighting a deadly biological war against an enemy that has the capacity to destroy humanity, and desperate times employ desperate measures... but that doesn't mean they have to enjoy it.
  • Soft Water: Variant of this trope since Alex does not suffer falling damage. Doesn't matter how high Alex is when he plunges into a water body. Even a Bulletdive drop from the highest in-game building into the water will just create a human-sized splash instead of erasing every destructible object as per solid surface.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Subverted; some powers are indeed inferior to later ones... but not all of them.
  • Space Compression: Manhattan is NOT that small.
  • Spanner in the Works: Alex.
  • Spikes Of Doom: Alex's Groundspike move and its variants. Giant freakin spikes burst out of the ground and skewer whatever was standing where they erupt. In the Groundspike Devastor move, that pretty much means everywhere.
  • Spin Attack: The finishing sequence for Claw and Blade Power behave like this.
  • Spiritual Successor: to Radical's The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. One who has played both will easily notice that the gameplay remains the same for the two games (moreso than your typical spiritual successor), and a good deal of mechanics and moves have been retained... in fact, let's just call Prototype a sequel in gameplay only.
    • Word of God supporting this: The guys at Radical got the inspiration for Alex Mercer's shape-shifting abilities while playing Ultimate Destruction and using the Hulk's "weaponize" skills. They asked themselves, "What if [the character] could weaponize himself?" and an idea was born...
    • Also a successor to the Ultimate Spider-Man game, in a way. The two were developed by the same people, and it's impossible to not notice the similarities if you've played the other one. Alex's running animation is identical to Spider-Man's. His charged jump is identical to Venom's superjump. His throw is identical to Venom's throw. Finally, his tentacle attacks are identical to Venom's tentacle attacks... except for some of the Devastator moves, which are identical to Carnage's attacks.
    • In large part also to Spider-Man 2: The Movie, the game. The setting in Manhattan, the Landmark objectives (although the Spider-Man ones only gave a Bragging Rights Reward), the various optional events to collect points, the Le Parkour Up to Eleven gameplay, the Wide Open Sandbox world, these can all be traced back at least this far.
  • Standard Powerup Pose: The usual pose done whenever a Ground based Devastator is performed.
  • Start Screen: Being a console game and port to PC, no surprise. Comes with Attract Mode as standard package.
  • State Sec: Blackwatch.
  • Stationary Boss: Happens to be the largest one also.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Some of the Events require you to disguise as a soldier and use a specific weapon. Dropping the weapon, changing disguise, or using a Devastator fails the mission. Predictably, these are the hardest events to do well in, since it takes away almost every advantage you have.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Alex does this occasionally in cutscenes, and a skilled stealth-oriented player will be doing it on a regular basis. Rather impressive for a guy who's got to weigh at least half a ton at full health.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Being a high octane action game, no surprise here. Although the explosions really do resemble the Hollywood-style combustion-type explosions rather than the detonation-type whenever appropriate.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Most egregious are the police officers in New Game Plus.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Alex cannot swim, but rather than drown, any attempt to jump into water results in Alex sinking like a stone then jumping back to shore a few seconds later. Probably justified since he likely weighs somewhere around a tonne.
  • Super Soldier: The Blackwatch Super Powered Mooks are named as such. They are 7 feet tall genetically engineered bodybuilders with limited parkour abilities and a thing for CQC. They're also tough enough to punch out a Hunter in hand-to-hand.
  • Super Strength: Alex and the Super Soldiers. There's Musclemass for Alex if you aren't convinced.
    • Radical threw in Musclemass Throw and Boost if you're still not convinced.
  • Super Toughness: Alex, and most of the other bigger infected.
  • Swiss Army Hero: Or Swiss Army Anti-Hero.
  • Take a Third Option: The Kill Events pit you against a certain faction and tell you to aim for marked targets. What it doesn't tell you that any members of that faction, marked or not, count toward the score. In the case of the military, this includes empty vehicles. For some missions, it's almost a necessity if you want to get the platinum medal.
  • Take That: Early interviews had the development team deciding that, instead of a conventional morality system, they'd assume that the player would act like everyone acts in a Wide Open Sandbox; hence the ludicrous Video Game Cruelty Potential.
  • Take Your Time: The story only progresses once you start a mission. In the meantime, feel free to abuse Manhattan as the light in the sky changes between day and night several times.
    • Even when the countdown for operation Firebreak begins.
  • Taking You with Me: It cannot be said often enough: the real Alex Mercer was not a nice man. Cornered by Blackwatch? Release a deadly virus into a busy transit station! Arguably the best example of this trope, considering he was effectively trying to take the entire species with him.
  • Tank Goodness: While the standard M1 tank you can hijack is definitely awesome, the Thermobaric tank you get later is even better. Kill It with Fire!
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Between absorbing enemies alive, cleaving them into tiny pieces, or just smashing them into pulp, Alex doesn't pull any punches.
    • The Kill Event involving the use of a thermobaric tank against normal and elite zombies.
    • There's an event called Overkill.
  • Throw Away Guns: Alex tosses empty guns away. Justified because they are not his guns, he's not carrying extra ammo, and he's getting them by killing the people who were holding them.
  • Time-Limit Boss: The final boss, with the added bonus that you don't get to see the timer until it's down to two minutes.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Alex Mercer is actually The Virus. The Alex Mercer we know is just merely the Shapeshifter Default Form — the original Alex died in Penn Station.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mercer, during his Brought Down to Badass phase. Before being hit with the parasite, players will probably have been relying on their powers to get things done quick and dirty. Having those taken away but being left with the combat moves and the disguise and consumption abilities along with Mercer's enhanced speed and strength will make players fight smart, and by extension make Mercer even more dangerous.
  • Transformation Sequence: By holding down a quick-change arrow on the D-Pad, instead of the claws or whatever just appearing, you get a fairly cool sequence for them. Even for the Vision powers.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The final boss fight isn't kidding when it says the nuke only has six minutes on the timer. You can't see the timer, but it's there. So players who don't realize this might just try the same Cherry Tapping that worked for every other boss... then suddenly find that the boss still has half its health when the two-minute timer finally pops up. The boss can be literally unbeatable if you can't keep up a steady stream of damage before the timer kicks in.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: General Randall insisting on the deployment of Super Soldiers after merely hearing an initial summary on the test results.
    Peter Randall: "What's the word on the new round of test subjects?"
    William Demeza: "Sir, they're testing off the charts. No ill effects at present. No evidence of the unmodified virus!"
    Randall: "Prepped for field deployment - ASAP."
    Demeza: "Sir, I-I don't think we're ready."
    Randall: "You're not paid to think!"
  • Universal Driver's License: Averted. To drive any type of military vehicle (APCs, tanks, and helicopters), you have to consume someone who knows how.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nobody seems to think it's that suspicious to see a guy running at speeds of at least 60 miles per hour up the side of the Empire State Building.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Alex, the poor bastard. You want to ask if his day can get any worse, but you know damn well that you'd just be Tempting Fate. Of course, it's going to get worse anyway, so you might as well.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: In the series this trope turns up several times: Alex Mercer (upgrade) vs. Elizabeth Greene (prototype) and Alex Mercer (prototype) vs. Supreme Hunter (upgrade) in the original game, and Alex Mercer (prototype) vs. James Heller (upgrade) in Prototype 2.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The sheer number of ways you can take people down in this game is staggering, but the craziest has to be shifting into a soldier, accusing another soldier of being you, and watching him get shot to death. If you're bored, just get a tank and aim it at some civilians.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Very downplayed. It doesn't matter whether civilians are just collateral damage or you're going on a rampage and killing all of them that you can on purpose, all that will happen is the military will turn up... which you can swat aside like flies. Most of your "helpers" during the main quest don't seem to realize the carnage that Alex creates. Dana is genuinely shocked upon learning that Alex routinely consumes people.
  • Videogame Dashing: The Air Dash. It can be upgraded to make you dash further and dash a second time after the first. Charging up attacks also amplify the extent in which Alex will lunge towards his target.
  • Villain Protagonist: Alex himself. He gets better.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As the situation continues to escalate, Colonel Taggart starts to lose his cool. By the end of the game, he's abandoned Blackwatch and is trying to flee Manhattan in a terrified panic. Then again, he is kinda hunted by a completely insane Person of Mass Destruction, AKA Alex "cut a tank in two with one hit from a BFS that grew from his own fucking arm" Mercer.
    • Karen Parker to a lesser extent in the optional mission where you repay her for betraying you. She gets told Mercer knows where she is and is ordered into an elevator with a trooper when suddenly the elevator loses power. Cue her freaking out, knowing Mercer is coming. Quite justified as the trooper turns into Mercer and says, "I know" as the screen fades to black.
  • The Virus: The Blacklight virus, which frankly makes Umbrella's creations look like a mild case of the common cold. The game's protagonist is actually the Blacklight virus itself after it infected Alex Mercer's corpse and transformed it on the cellular level. That's right, in this game, you play as The Virus.
  • Virus Victim Symptoms: Once the level of infection reaches very noticeable levels, some of the civilians will exhibit zombie-like gaits.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Alex's main power; includes shifting his body into weapons or armor and becoming people he has absorbed, complete with their memories and skills.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The first encounter with the Hunters will teach you to fear them, at least at the beginning of the game. Later on, Specialist Cross teaches an overconfident player to not underestimate Blackwatch.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: A little further than that. Alex awakens moments before getting vivisected.
  • Walking Wasteland: Elizabeth Greene spreads her virus on everything she touches, alive or not.
    • In the Web of Intrigue videos, Elizabeth's child, PARIAH, is implied to be this as well.
  • Wall Crawl: Alex sure doesn't need ladders. But doing so makes him very conspicuous to military notice. More so than simply running up the wall.
  • Wanted Meter: The alert meter next to the minimap deals with enemy human awareness to your nature.
  • The War Sequence: The whole game! There is nothing stopping you from ignoring the plot missions entirely, and just diving into the fray, slaughtering marines, Blackwatch, civilians, and Infected left, right, and center.
  • We Have Reserves: The USMC are explicitly being used by Blackwatch as human shields to absorb the casualties of the occupation.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Dana and Ragland? What happened to Dana is a plot point in the sequel, where Alex is the viral overlord of Manhattan. Alternatively if you stop to think about it, what is it that makes "Alex Mercer" not only a better person, but well-nigh unkillable? He may have decided to share his invulnerability with Dana by giving her the virus that he has.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: By the end of the game, the Blacklight Virus is a better 'person' than the real Alex Mercer ever was. Ouch.
  • Whip It Good / Whip Sword: The Whipfist. Though not an actual sword, but slices up things as viciously as the Claw or Blade power would.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Inverted, but also played straight, possibly. Mercer tells Dana how the memories of everyone he eats are swirling inside his head, and by the end of the game, you will likely have consumed a third of your total kill count. That cannot be easy to deal with. However, rather than driving him crazy, which he already was to be eating people regularly, he actually gets more heroic as the plot moves forward.
    • However, at the part where you're eating people to hone your Infected Vision, when your progress gets to about 80%, Alex suddenly flips out and groans "So many minds at work... All talking, all dying..." — Whether this is him starting to lose it, freaking over his first true contact with the Hive, or just being affected by grief due to what he's having to do for the greater good is up to the reader's opinion.
  • Wolverine Claws: The Claw power.
  • The Worf Barrage: A double subversion in the intro cutscene where the grenade-shrugging Alex appears to have been finally defeated by a rocket. The trooper who took the shot proceeds to help a nearby surviving Blackwatch officer, who then reveals himself to be Alex to deadly effect on the trooper.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Alex can do chokeslams, powerbombs, and multistory elbow drops. And the Super-Soldier enemies use Alabama slams and backbreakers.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Many of the ages don't match up with the timelines.
  • X Meets Y: Nigh Invulnerable, inhuman monstrosity able to manifest Combat Tentacles, horrific claws and related Body Horror? Check. Subsisting on a steady diet of human biomass? Check. Able to assume the form of anything it devours? Check. Actually being a colony of a super-virus, i.e. an entity composed of countless separate -and possibly autonomous- organisms? Check. This is basically H.P. Lovecraft meets The Thing (1982): The Game. And you get to play as the abomination.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Partially due to Palette Swap, though the common attire being mostly semi-winter wear might also be contributing. In any case, there are two standard character heights throughout all NPCs: Male and the slightly shorter female.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Cross as he fights the player, depending on the performance.
    "You're slow. Painfully slow."
    "You're fast, but I'm faster."
    "You're fast, I'll give you that."
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Patsy. It seems a bit of a stretch that you can't do it right out of the gate, given that you learn stealth consumes rather early in the game. On the other hand, it could be that it wouldn't work until everyone's good and freaked out after a day or two of hunting viral mutants. Played straighter with some combat moves: it costs EP to learn how to step on a guy's face.
  • Younger Than They Look: Specialist Cross. He's thirty-eight. No, seriously.
    • Also, Alex/ZEUS/Blacklight is only a few days old.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: In the Omnomnomable sense. In the case of Hive Mind, Alex is his own. See the Cursed with Awesome entry.
  • Zerg Rush: Because the player is so ludicrously overpowered compared to the enemy roster, the game compensates by hurling droves of enemies at you whenever possible.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Any area controlled by an Infected Hive.
  • Zombie Infectee: While it is never a concern in actual gameplay, in the late stages of the game, you will often see civilian NPCs on the streets who are practically five steps away from dying of the infection. They lumber, they can barely stand, and they cough like crazy. Some can be witnessed puking up blood. Half of these symptoms should have made them at least consider going home, and yet they're still wandering the streets, ready to infect people when they inevitably turn. To be fair, though, this infection is a lot more contagious than your average zombie apocalypse is, and these people suffer from a serious lack of information about it.
    • In the comic, an infected character says that he can hear Greene's voice in his head. If that holds true for all of the infected victims, perhaps those severely ill people are under the sway of the Hive Mind already and haven't gone home because they are home, so to speak...
    • There are also normal people wandering around infected zones days after they've fallen, which seems to suggest that some people are just flat out immune.
    • One of the Web of Intrigue entries points out that the virus has a 99.999% fatality rate. That means that the zombie state is just like a starting state (similar to how people and animals go mad from rabies before dying) and that death is sure to follow (at least in the Redlight outbreak in Hope). This is Blacklight so it could be different.

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alternative title(s): Prototype
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