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Alpha Protocol gets a preview

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Alpha Protocol gets a preview

Interview - posted by JarlFrank on Wed 23 April 2008, 17:23:55

Tags: Alpha Protocol; Obsidian Entertainment

Gamesradar has previewed Obsidian's new RPG Alpha Protocol with a James Bond like spy thriller setting.

Yet what Obsidian want to stress more than anything is that Alpha Protocol is a role-playing game. You’ll have multiple missions open in different hubs around the world (locations currently being bandied about include Taipei, Rome, Moscow and Saudi Arabia) and you’ll be able to flit between them at will - each one containing one overarching operation and a cavalcade of minor missions leading up to it - be they stealing sensitive data on a hard drive, tailing suspects or extracting information from grumpy NPCs through bribery, diplomacy or murder most foul.​

So, basically this sounds very similar to KotoR's travelling system: There's multiple cities [in KotoR it was planets] and you can go to any of them at any time by travel, while in each of those cities there will most probably be a part of the mainquest storyline to uncover. And most probably you'll also be able to solve those mainquest parts in any order you want. Sounds good enough.

A higher rank opens up different options and perceptions, while almost superhuman secret-agent abilities are on the menu too - working on a ‘use and cool-down’ basis during the action. The example that Obsidian conjure up when prompted is, amazingly enough, heightened reaction times that let you assess situations in slo-mo before letting rip with a six-hit chainshot to decimate a room full of gun-toting terrorists. It’s a mundane example, true, but Alpha Protocol’s over-the-shoulder chase-cam action does seem to be a step up from your average RPG. Combat will have you running and gunning, taking cover or sneaking about the place - but that’s not to say you won’t be able to build your character towards the hand-to-hand fisticuffs recently in vogue.​

The combat sounds very FPS-ish, but that's no problem for me, really. I like well done FPS combat in my RPG, if it fits to the game and the setting. But... superhuman spy powers? Why can't there be at least one RPG out there where you will *not* achieve some superhuman level of absolute power in the end, but where your abilities rather stay within the usual limits of the human body?

In a lot of role-playing games, the people you meet retread the same conversations again and again - mostly accompanied by a frown or a smile depending on what armour you chose to put on that day. Not so with AP - where first impressions count. Meet someone and act all gruff with them and they won’t be all that impressed for a fair while - unless they’re a sexy woman who’s been designed to want to play rough and might like that sort of thing.

“Essentially, the player chooses a ‘stance’ for Thorton (suave, professional,
or aggressive - although the actual breakdowns branch a great deal from this) and then Thorton responds appropriately - and amusingly,” explains Rucinski, having selected his own internal suave stance. “The dialogue system is also set up so that you can’t repeatedly have the same conversation with an NPC to try to find the ‘best’ answer or all the information available. This means that if you are a jerk to a person you will get a reaction the next time you talk to them. It reinforces how important that first impression is.”​

Now, this sounds like some good news. Dialogue where the first impression actually counts, unlike most other RPGs where you can just quit the convo and talk to the NPC again, this time trying out different choices. This was especially annoying in The Witcher, where an NPC refused to talk to you for a few in-game hours when you acted too rude, but was all friendly again when you talked to him on the next day and gave you the opportunity to use other dialog choices. And considering that Avellonne is working on the game, I have rather high expectations for the dialogues.

There are also some screenshots on that site together with the article, but most of them just show... well, combat and environment. No dialogue screens revealed yet.

Spotted at: Gamesradar

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