Prototype 2 dev reveals how James Heller came to be

"Look at the guy's eyes."

Prototype 2 developer Radical Entertainment has revealed how the game's protagonist James Heller came to be.

Heller is a US soldier who blames Prototype 1 star Alex Mercer for the death of his wife and daughter. He gains superpowers after a revenge-fuelled pursuit of Mercer in a crumbling New York city goes wrong.

"We didn't seek out to start with an African American protagonist," studio VP of technology Dave Fracchia told Eurogamer.

"Maybe it's because we're Canadian. Where we live, it's a melting pot of different races. I'd like to think we're very colour-blind. I wish the entire world was colour-blind. I like to think our studio is, because we have male, female, every race, religion - everything together. We're just a family.

"We wrote a description of the character. We knew we wanted to set him apart from Mercer. So it went: scientist, military. Thinker, man of action.

"We went from someone with a sleeker build to someone with a more military, strong build. We knew we wanted it to be a father or mother with a child, so loving husband or wife, loving father or mother, and a certain age, because we wanted the child to be a little bit older so they could have interesting conversations on the phone."

Radical's art director, alongside the studios concept artists, explored male and female versions of this template, and various races.

"We would just put them up on the screen and go, does this fit?" Fracchia explained. "We would shortlist them."

The Heller Radical eventually settled upon, though, the one we have already seen in the openworld game's promotional trailers and artwork, immediately struck a chord.

"I remember the first time we actually saw - and Heller wasn't even the name we had - the concept art of what is now Heller," Fracchia recalled.

"Right away it was like, oh man, look at the guy's eyes. Look at the strength in his form. He's clearly military, strong. But his face and his eyes had such expression. You could see that directness, that fierceness, but you could see the loss.

"So we shortlisted characters and did more concept art around them, and finally made our decision. Our decision for Heller was that he fit our verbal description to a tee.

"After, of course, people around us would say, oh, you chose an African American. No, we chose Heller.

"It's a personal story, but when we had our children we picked on several names, and when they were born we knew exactly the name our child should be. It just stuck. Here, we had a vision of what this character was and that concept art fit.

"Heller? Man, he stood out. He was awesome."

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

Editor  |  wyp100

Wesley is Eurogamer's editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.


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