Prototype is the fan-term used to describe individuals who have been infected by the DX-1118 C strain of the Blacklight virus. The viral strand genetically rewrites the host's cells, re-purposing it to suit its needs.
Due to the rapid changes caused by the virus, the infected individual usually does not survive the transformations. Since its creation by the scientists of Gentek, only two individuals have survived its effects: Alex Mercer a Gentek employee and the creator of the DX-1118 C viral strand and James Heller, a former US military Sergeant. Mercer himself was revived by the virus, although without much of his memories since his mind suffered damage from being clinically dead. Although Heller himself was infected while still alive
During the second outbreak, Alex Mercer was able to infect individuals with a slightly different strain of the virus. These individuals were called Evolved, each with their own unique abilities. Only Heller was infected with Mercer's strain of the virus, suggesting that only individuals with extremely resilient (or just unique) DNA can become Prototypes. Heller was apparently meant to be an Evolved, given Koenig's description of himself: "I am everything you could have been; what you were supposed to be."
Alexander J. Mercer was a researcher and head of the Blacklight project at Gentek. He discovered the true nature of his work and how it was being used by his employers. Mercer then tried to escape with a stolen vial of the virus, but was cornered by Blackwatch personnel at Penn Station. In a fit of rage and vengeance, Mercer broke the vial and was shot down, becoming infected as he died. The virus from the broken vial killed the civilians inside the station.
While his corpse was being transported to Gentek, the virus entered his body through his bullet wounds and rebuilt Mercer cell by cell. He later woke up in a morgue with little to no memory of his past. Mercer made it his mission to find out what happened to him, in the process discovering more about Blackwatch and its operations than he did as an employee of Gentek.
Sgt. James Heller was a US Marine, stationed outside the US. During his time away from home, a deadly viral outbreak resulted with thousands of casualties. Heller returned home to find that his family was killed during the outbreak. Torn by grief and rage at his loss, Heller signs up for multiple suicide missions into the Red Zone.
On one such mission, Heller and his squad were ambushed by Mercer. Heller pursued Mercer through the streets, stabbing him repeatedly, until Alex grabbed him, transforming him into one of the "Evolved" by infecting him with Blacklight.
The genetic rewrite caused by the Blacklight virus evolves its host's body, giving them superhuman abilities and transforming them into deadly shapeshifting beings of nearly limitless potential, power and destruction. They can fashion portions of their bodies into weapons and cause mass devastation to the environment with their incredible superhuman physical strength and durability (to the extent of being bulletproof and unharmed from extreme impacts such as falls from any height, explosions, etc.). Newly enhanced musculature and strengthened epidermis and bodily tissue increases their strength, speed, reflexes, and agility by shifting their biomass to their limbs, allowing them to break the boundaries of human sprinting and jumping/climbing ability to perform amazing parkour feats with limitless stamina.
They are also capable of self-regeneration, usually by consuming living biomass to regenerate and heal themselves, though evolution eventually allows them to heal completely without consuming. When they consume an individual, they retain and assimilate the memories and the DNA of that individual. This, paired with a Prototype's ability to mimic voice and appearance (including that of their clothing and equipment), turns a host into a potent infiltrator of almost any security.
Prototypes possess a sharpened sense of sight which allows them to see into the thermal spectrum. James Heller is shown to have a predatory sonar sense to hone in on prey from a distance. Their hearing is also heightened.
A Prototype can be identified by viral detectors, machines built to identify the level of viral contamination within an installed radius. Being a viral organism, Alex Mercer was also at one point infected with a parasite designed by Karen Parker's research team to combat the virus. The parasite was meant to create an anti-virus for Blacklight, killing Mercer in the process. This parasite spread through his body, disabling any form of offensive and defensive transformation. With the help of pathologist Bradley Ragland, Mercer was able to cure himself of this inconvenience and increase his abilities further.
Eventually Blackwatch and Gentek came up with Bloodtox, an anti-Blacklight chemical mixture which was deployed throughout the city in stages. Bloodtox is poisonous to Mercer and the infected, inducing necrosis in any tissue containing the virus. Eventually, Mercer developed an immunity towards the chemical, eliminating this weakness.
While a Prototype can withstand and regenerate many injuries, they will be weakened by serious injuries such as losing limbs and will need to consume something in order to fully heal; if they take too many serious injuries, they can become too weak to regenerate.
- What is very interesting about the Prototypes is their affiliation with colors. In the cutscenes of Prototype, James Heller is usually shown with highlighted red on his figure. Red of that shade can represent rage, willpower, courage, wrath and revenge. This is a very fitting color for Heller seeing as to why he is doing what he is doing. Alex Mercer is shifted to an orange over the course of the two games. Orange represents determination, enthusiasm and success. This fits Alex due to how active he is in achieving his goal, using his own enemies to his advantage.
- Alex Mercer and James Heller are called "It" because they have no specific sex, for they have the ability to shapeshift into male and female.
- The term "prototype" is also defined as "the first of a model or species", fitting for Alex Mercer's status as the first Blacklight creature.
- The term Prototype is not actually used in the games or any other media to describe Alex Mercer or James Heller, but it has been used by the fan base for lack of an official moniker to describe beings with their unique abilities as an effect of the DX-1118 C viral strain.
- Interesting to note is the bio sent to Dread Central identifying James Heller as Alex Mercer's Prototype.