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Default Alpha Protocol - Impressions @ NowGamer

August 26th, 2009, 07:28
Some GC impressions of Alpha Protocol from NowGamer:
We saw a mission where Michael Thorton, the main character, had to infiltrate a yacht, find a key player from an enemy faction, and extract key information. The choice starts with how you approach each mission, and Obsidian decided on stealth. Apparently, Alpha Protocol can be played from beginning to end without ever firing a shot, and sure enough, we saw a procession of lethal and non-lethal takedown moves that never once gave away Thorton's position.
Your ability to stay hidden can be strengthened by developing your character's perks and abilities. In this case, the screen was marked by coloured arrows that indicated the positions of all the enemies in the vicinity and which way they were facing. Another skill allowed Thorton to become invisible for a short period of time, and suggested that Alpha Protocol will indulge in some flights of fancy to alleviate the gritty realism. Indeed, a brief skirmish with Sis the enemy faction's key female operative at the end of the mission seemed like it belonged in a run-n-gun shooter rather than a forward-thinking RPG. However, once Sis had been pacified Alpha Protocol retruned to its key strengths: character interactions and moment-to-moment decision making.
More information.

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August 26th, 2009, 07:28
This game sounds good, but two things have me worried.

One: That dialogue timer. I don't like timers at all and this just sounds like a very bad design choice. Sounds being the keyword in that sentence. Who knows it might be interesting.

Second: Sneakers. I hate sneakers. Too slow and the only tactical options available are hide and sneak past or sneak up and kill them. I hated Thief and all games like that. Please let there be different ways of playing the game. I don't mind sneaking sometimes, but all the time will drive me nuts.

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August 26th, 2009, 09:10
I don't mean to be trite but isn't the primary play method shooting? I don't think you have much to worry about in terms of being forced to sneak.

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August 26th, 2009, 09:30
I really don't know too much about AP. I just got interested in it after that article on how you can complete this game without kiling anyone. Still if the primary play method is shooting with maybe some dialogue chioces to take the nonviolent course of action then that sounds great.

I just hate sneakers. With it being an espionage RPG I really don't know what to expect. The only other spy RPG that comes to mind is The Omega Syndrome. That was a lot like Fallout, but made by an indy.

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August 26th, 2009, 10:02
I think somewhere between Mass Effect and Deus Ex, as far as I can figure. At a glance, it looks a lot like a modern-day Mass Effect but with the advantage of more modes of play (eg, stealth). Hopefully the depth of choices is genuine and then throw in some writing from Chris Avellone but, yeah, the basic presentation is very Mass Effect.

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August 26th, 2009, 10:02
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I think somewhere between Mass Effect and Deus Ex, as far as I can figure. At a glance, it looks a lot like a modern-day Mass Effect but with the advantage of more modes of play (eg, stealth). Hopefully the depth of choices is genuine and then throw in some writing from Chris Avellone but, yeah, the basic presentation is very Mass Effect.
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August 26th, 2009, 10:15
I don't think that sounds all that terrible.
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August 26th, 2009, 10:39
Mass Effect was a good interactive mainstream movie.

Obsidian tend to make games, and they tend to make games that I tend to like. Here's hoping they can still do that
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August 26th, 2009, 12:16
Well, I'm not sure how much it will impress a section of our readers but I quite like a good (assuming it is, of course) shooter-RPG and I'm really looking forward to it. I also don't think this one game informs on Obsidian's entire future, so if it isn't your thing, there's still Fallout: New Vegas.

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August 26th, 2009, 12:24
Uh… what's wrong with the basic presentation of Mass Effect? I thought that was it did best. I'd love to see more like it, only with more interesting, varied, and richer content, choices, and gameplay options. If that's what AP is shooting for, I'm so in.
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August 26th, 2009, 12:31
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Well, I'm not sure how much it will impress a section of our readers but I quite like a good (assuming it is, of course) shooter-RPG and I'm really looking forward to it. I also don't think this one game informs on Obsidian's entire future, so if it isn't your thing, there's still Fallout: New Vegas.
I remain hopeful - but once you go down the path of the dark side…
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August 26th, 2009, 12:33
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Uh… what's wrong with the basic presentation of Mass Effect? I thought that was it did best. I'd love to see more like it, only with more interesting, varied, and richer content, choices, and gameplay options. If that's what AP is shooting for, I'm so in.
There's nothing wrong with it if you like it

I'll wait until it gets released, but naturally if they have the good parts of ME and the good parts of Obsidian games combined - it's going to be great.

But I still haven't forgotten the character UI screenshots
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August 26th, 2009, 12:36
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
One: That dialogue timer. I don't like timers at all and this just sounds like a very bad design choice. Sounds being the keyword in that sentence. Who knows it might be interesting.
Sounds like Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy in that regard. If you don't know that game, you should give it a whirl for a totally unusual (for PC gamers anyway) but fun control scheme. I'm not too worried about this feature, even though normally I don't like timers of any form.

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August 26th, 2009, 13:30
The only timer I don't like is an overall timer — like the water chip one in Fallout, or the timer in Pathways into Darkness. It's a cheap way to create a sense of urgency. "Sorry, the timer ran out and you're dead, although you got 95% through and would've won if you had just been five minutes faster. Better luck next time, champ." Blech.

I'm totally cool with timed actions as components of gameplay. Naturally they can be done well, acceptably, or really badly, but there's nothing badly wrong with them as such. A dialog timer doesn't sound bad at all; if well done, it'll make you think on your feet as well as make for more natural conversations rather than the usual, rather contrived "explore the dialog tree until all options are exhausted" thing in cRPG's.
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August 26th, 2009, 13:36
Isn't it going to emulate the ME dialogue system?

As in one-word choices?

Why would you need a timer for that - it boggles the mind…
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August 26th, 2009, 14:11
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Isn't it going to emulate the ME dialogue system?

As in one-word choices?

Why would you need a timer for that - it boggles the mind…
I like the idea, since, as I said, it forces you to think on your feet. At least I always get tempted to try to reverse-engineer cRPG conversations — figure out what whoever I'm talking to wants to hear, and then pick those lines. If I had to do this fast, I would find it easier to stay in character — to play a role rather than a game. The *length* of the responses I have to choose from is immaterial, and in fact short ones would probably work better since they're easier to process at a glance.

I'm sure this is contingent on preference — somebody who has a strong liking for deliberative gameplay (e.g. strongly prefers TB over RT) would probably hate it.
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August 26th, 2009, 14:48
It would seem a very simple thing to turn that timer off in the settings. Hopefully Obsidian doesn't disappoint and includes that option.
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August 26th, 2009, 15:23
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I like the idea, since, as I said, it forces you to think on your feet. At least I always get tempted to try to reverse-engineer cRPG conversations — figure out what whoever I'm talking to wants to hear, and then pick those lines. If I had to do this fast, I would find it easier to stay in character — to play a role rather than a game. The *length* of the responses I have to choose from is immaterial, and in fact short ones would probably work better since they're easier to process at a glance.

I'm sure this is contingent on preference — somebody who has a strong liking for deliberative gameplay (e.g. strongly prefers TB over RT) would probably hate it.
Well, the timer strikes me as a relatively redundant or superfluous feature.

Based on what Bioware devs originally said in reference to the way they handle dialogue in Mass Effect, they said they wanted to make it flow better - and avoid the situation of people having to read 3-4 long sentences before deciding how to respond.

To add a timer on top of that strikes me as overdoing it - but then again, the game isn't out and I haven't seen how it's used.

It's just my first thought when I heard about it.

Personally, I think the cinematic aspect of ME (including the dialogue system) was one of the best aspects of the game - so I don't mind AP using it. I'm just not sure having a timer added is a good idea. Especially for those who enjoy responding in the most "gamey" fashion. Why shouldn't they be able to do that, if that's what they enjoy.
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August 26th, 2009, 15:53
The best dialog system has been around for a long time which is based on the standard dialog tree. Instead of exploring a dialog tree you have several descriptive options to start the conversation off and/or respond to the speaker and have a back and forth conversation while carfully choosing your response. It is much better then a timed system with one word choices that don't tell you exactly what you are going to say. I would also add the option to be able to speak to the npc afterwords and have a dialog tree to gather more background information and/or clues about the person or situation.

This way you can have exact knowledge on what you want to say, create the dialog flow for yourself, and be able to contemplate your choice. It also gives something for people (like me) who like to learn more about the background.

PS. I hope they did a better job at letting you know what you are going to say then Bioware did with Mass Effect since it is totally unrealistic to not know what you are going to say and is very immersion and roleplay breaking when you say something you didn't want to say because of lack of knowledge on what you are going to say.
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August 26th, 2009, 16:55
I believe there's some tactics involved in the dialogue. You can do research on the main npcs and find out what stance works best with them and what doesn't. If you do not choose in time, the game makes the decision for you and the result might not be optimal.
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