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Review RPG Codex Review: Alpha Protocol

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Crooked Bee, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. Crooked Bee (no longer) a wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Tags: Alpha Protocol; Obsidian Entertainment

    Much to our own surprise, it turns out we never got around to reviewing Obsidian's espionage RPG Alpha Protocol. Good thing esteemed community member TNO has finally got us covered. In this review, he looks back at Alpha Protocol to see where it succeeds -- and why it fails.

    Have a snippet:

    So, Alpha Protocol has a good plot, lots of clever characterization, and unsurpassed C&C. That means it should be great, right?

    Well, too bad the gameplay sucks.

    [...] Games can be crippled by a single bad gameplay element. Every element of Alpha Protocol's gameplay - from stealth, to shooting, to bosses, to minigames - ranges from bad to awful. Incredibly rarely does it all come together to something interesting: the game forcing my stealthy character to crack out the big guns to clear the bad guys from the ticking bomb in Italy is the only thing that springs to mind. The rest of the time it varies from easy tedium to dashes of irritation.

    I wanted to love Alpha Protocol - it does a lot of things right, and there is much in it that other games should strive to imitate. These elements would be more than good enough to carry a merely mediocre gameplay experience: such was the case of Planescape and Arcanum or, for example, Deus Ex, which had below average stealth and shooting but gained a lot in the way it mixed these elements. Sadly, Alpha Protocol's gameplay isn't just mediocre - it is plain monstrous. It's one of the few games I found both boring (the 'stealth bits') and painful (the bosses, minigames and shooting) to play.

    In the end, Alpha Protocol is an interesting experiment, but ultimately a failure. For gamers so addicted to climbing the heights of the (let's face it, pretty low lying) field of computer game storytelling that they're willing to go through the purgatory of playing this game, it's worth a go. Otherwise, steer clear.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Alpha Protocol
     
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  2. BlitzKitchen Self-Ejected Patron

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    How does this game compare to the new Deus Ex? (Haven't played either)
     
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  3. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    It's a lot worse. Although they do share one unfortunate "feature".
     
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  4. Mrowak Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I could sign under this review with both feet.
     
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  5. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

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    It's obvious that TNO is a pussified faggot who isn't MANLY enough to play the role of Bondbauerbourne, and thus he didn't, or should I say couldn't, "like" it.
     
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  6. Black_Willow Arcane

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    Good ideas and shit execution? Oh look, yet another Obsidian game!
     
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  7. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

    Volourn
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    Shit review for shit game!
     
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  8. Cassidy Arcane

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    Agree with the analysis of gameplay, but about the story and C&C, I consider them shallow, mediocre at best instead of good with a few decent moments, and because of the way the C&C is pretty much fully divorced from the already shitty gameplay, it is as genuine is the typical Biowarian C&C. Does it matter a minor change of the cutscene you get to watch, or whether the popamole happens against guys with red or green uniforms in such a lazy way that literally, in that level, the only consequence of the choice of ally is the skin of the enemies who spawn all over the same scripted places, while in another the only consequence is a more EXTREME rather than stealthy starting cutscene to the infiltration of the Russian mob boss mansion? Or a handful of arab moles you won't have to pop in Rome because you spared Shaheed? For such details and more, it is definitively the worst turd Obsidian delivered so far. And never forget the retarded QTE dialog, one of the stupidest ideas ever since Gears of War turned popamole into a standard for shit mass-marketed games.

    That is, until South Park: The Stick of Truth gets released.
     
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  9. Alex betthurt

    Alex
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    Eh, I know a lot of people like the kind of over the top fiction AP aimed at after the beginning of the game. Still, to me, the characters introduced after the initial 4 missions were annoying as hell.

    I think all that "C&C" makes no sense without more player agency. I've read about the many ways you can change how the game respond to you, and they are, indeed, pretty crafty! But it seems to me the way the game reacts is much more focused in creating drama than creating sensible reactions to your actions. Not only that, but the ways you interact with the world are very limited.The timed, archetype based dialog, the missions which are completely closed off one from another, and the very limited amount of exploration all contribute to make you feel like you are in a theme park ride, rather than playing in a gameworld.

    Now, I guess it might make sense to talk about choices and consequences without player agency. I mean, some people here even like visual novels, which are even more hardcore than AP in taking away your agency. But if someone tells me an RPG is going to have lots of choices and consequences, I am going to assume he mean the game will give you lots of choices like Fallout, or Arcanum did. I am going to assume that because I see C&C only as atool to make the game seem more reactive as to how you play your character. Not as some kind of goal by itself.
     
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  10. Mangoose Arcane Patron

    Mangoose
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    I liked DXHR more. Though I did have a fun time with AP.
     
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  11. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

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    So do you. If you can have special powers, they should too.

    That's just his version of fury/iron will. Also he's definitely not immune to shock traps; I set those up on speakers and made him run through them and they do stop him.

    The shotgun knockdown thing is hilarious to use on bosses because the ones that do get knocked down always instantly spring up. Absurdian.

    Um bypassing is one of the easiest things to do. First order of business: Make the ini tweaks that remove mouse smoothing which you should have done anyway because otherwise it moves like fucking molasses. Second: Just start at the number with your cursor and just follow the maze. So easy.

    Also the only remotely difficult minigames are completely optional (unless you're playing on hard where minigame difficulty gets ramped up; never play on hard). Anything that's crit-path will always be easy. Spend EMPs on optional minigames, duh.

    sup skyway

    A former Obsidian employee has the best answer:
     
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  12. villain of the story Arcane

    villain of the story
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    What in my opinion are some of the biggest problems of the game needs to be addressed: there is practically no espionage in this game.

    When you think of spies and espionage in popular culture, you think of a number of staples: gathering information, stalking people, impersonating people, running away from or after somebody or some people, a good deal of which happen in civilian contexts with a healthy dose of civilian interaction with a sense of social dynamism.

    In AP, all gameplay takes place in locations that are exclusively hostile from the outset and are the same old fucking boring shit. Warehouses. Tunnels. Enemy mansions and whatnot. Or interesting locations turned shit eg. museum overtaken by mercs. Not a single civilian context full of uncertainty. And not an ounce of espionage.

    Maybe they thought they were being clever, turning the espionage genre on its ear or maybe they just didn't have any understanding of the genre or they just didn't give a shit. Either way, the verdict is that AP is a pathetic joke as an "espionage" game. Imagine if the subtitle of Oblivion or Skyrim was "Cyberpunk RPG" .And then some more of a joke as a game as well.

    At any rate, Obsidian's design philosophy of stealth has always been utter shit. Anyone remember the details of the near Alien RPG disaster? "Alien RPG will be a game of stealth and survival where you set up bomb traps and kill aliens from a afar".

    The most ironic thing is that gameplay-wise the best RPG Obsidian have produced is FNV (in the sense that it allows far more diverse RP opportunities via gameplay without forcing combat on you for the 95% of the game which all of their other games do) and that came about only due to Bethesda's raping of Fallout.
     
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  13. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    Buying intel, hacking computers, the dialogue-only missions.

    Sniper mission in Rome.

    Gelato man mission, an option at the beginning of one Saudi Arabia and one Russian mission.

    Running after: Saudi Arabia mission, Taipei mission, Russian mission.
     
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  14. jagged-jimmy Prophet

    jagged-jimmy
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  15. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

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    Nice review TNO :bro:


    I'm currently playing it and I think I'm in about 3/4 of the game. I agree with everything TNO says, although I have to say that AP is one of the few games that eventually is more than the sum of its parts, at least for those that like the dialog C&C. But yeah, if you're looking for decent (I don't even dare say good) map design, shooter, or stealth mechanics, look elsewhere. AP can be found enjoyable only from story/C&C fags.


    BlitzKitchen I found DX:HR to be much better game in everything except dialog interactions and C&C, where AP shines. Story was better too. AP may have great dialog, but its actual story isn't anything special.
     
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  16. Humanity has risen! Arcane Patron Repressed Homosexual

    Humanity has risen!
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    Horribly painful, unfun game. Just buy the 24 DVD boxset if you crave for popcorn spy stuff.
     
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  17. Excidium P. banal

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    It's a p. fun game. Still less flawed than VTMB.
     
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  18. Alex betthurt

    Alex
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    Eh, how so? I mean, Bloodlines has crappy combat and all, but still isn't nearly as bad as AP's main gameplay. Also, Bloodlines has the benefit that it is actually fun to play...
     
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  19. Excidium P. banal

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    It fails really hard to live up to the souce material.
     
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  20. suejak Arbiter Patron Village Idiot

    suejak
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    A review by another Codexer who thinks "gamplay" means "combat"! Cool.

    Anyway, yeah, the shooter parts suck. Once I got used to them, they could be fun sometimes. I remember having a good time distracting the Chinese police somehow when I was trying to flee the hotel.

    Things like breaking into the CIA listening post or the weird robot group's headquarters in China remain some of the most memorable, fun moments I've ever played in a game. And of course, the dialogue-relationship stuff is tons of fun. I also love conspiracies and researching the various groups, but that's just my personality type.

    However, I got bored in the Italian mansion and stopped playing. I should go back and finish. Never tried Russia.

    Whatever, AP was great, for a shit game. Better than VTMB, which had a shitty world with bad combat, crap writing, and extremely clumsy, deliberate C&C. At least this one excited my imagination -- I still remember the characters and had a huge number of "wow" moments. Good shit.
     
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  21. Alex betthurt

    Alex
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    Eh, aside from the Tremere PC, I thought it did a pretty good job. I mean, if they had spent some more time polishing the game, it could have been really great. Or maybe if they focused on one thing rather than making such an expansive storyline. Still, I thought it was very close to the P&P ideas, if a bit shallow.

    You obviously disagree, though. So, if you feel like it, I would be pretty interested in hearing where you think are the worst problems of the game.
     
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  22. Excidium P. banal

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    I'll write you a list on irc one of these days...but you should know all the shit they did poorly, like humanity/the beast for instance.
     
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  23. EmoBunny Learned

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  24. suejak Arbiter Patron Village Idiot

    suejak
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    That game's cool, but it's a twitch strategy game with randomly generated prefab plot segments. Fun for a couple hours every now and then.

    Redownloading now... :bounce:
     
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  25. villain of the story Arcane

    villain of the story
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    Shitty cop out. Difficulty variable for existing shoot-em up segments. No exclusive gameplay.

    Shitty cope out. Arcade shoot-em up segment. No real gameplay. A real "espionage" game would have you become one of the guests, blend into the crowd in the chateau and give you multiple options. Hitman is a better espionage game. Alpha Protocol? Not an espionage game at all.

    Shitty cope out. Cinematic segment. No gameplay.

    Shitty cope out. No gameplay.

    Get back into the kitchen. You can't even defend the game for valid reasons.
     
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