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Default Alpha Protocol - The Sins @ Gameroni

January 13th, 2011, 01:17
Tom Chick dons his fanboy hat and looks at why Alpha Protocol failed at the market, despite being an excellent game in his estimation:
Why didn't Alpha Protocol, last year's best RPG/shooter hybrid, find its place on more "best of the year" lists? The easy answer is that a) people liked other games better, and b) who cares? But as a bona fide, card-carrying, state-certified, legally designated Alpha Protocol apologist, I'd like to consider a few reasons it didn't find a wider audience among the dudes who adored Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and other highly glossy, middling fare that earned big bucks and stratospheric Metacritic scores.

Alpha Protocol is not immersive. In this post-Matrix World of Warcraft era, that's a big no-no. A lot of gamers expect they will sink into almost fully realized worlds instead of mere games. But Alpha Protocol can't be bothered. It has no day/night cycle. Pedestrians or bystanders or shop vendor NPCs do not mill about. There are no side quests or minigames or man dates or radio stations. You are never just out and about in the city.

Mafia II made you drive everywhere so you'd feel like a real gangster and the horse in Red Dead Redemption ensured your share of sunsets. But Alpha Protocol cuts to the chase and leaves it to your imagination to fill in the blanks. You don't get to walk up to people to talk to them. Conversations just happen. And when they happen, the scripts are rigid and easy to parse. You always know the exact flavor of any response, which is always neatly divided into one of three categories. There is no fuzziness or ambiguity. The conversations are so clear cut they're literally color-coded.
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January 13th, 2011, 01:17
Excellent read and he really nailed down several problems (I mostly blame sega's, lack of funding for polish and broader development) and the strengths of Alpha Protocol. Especially as he mentions it's an evolution in many ways of and the closest thing we've had to a real Deus Ex style game. :cheers:

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January 13th, 2011, 01:40
I certainly enjoyed Alpha Protocol a lot and I think it deserves far more credit than it typically received, but comparing it to Deus Ex might be taking things a bit too far in defending it. Alpha Protocol offered different skills to solve missions in a similar way to Deus Ex, but the level design was substantially far more linear, offering very little in the way of alternate routes or secret entrances when compared to Deus Ex.
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January 13th, 2011, 02:34
I think people are interpreting way too much into such occurrences. To me, the ultimate explanation for all of this is, that there are now countless awesome games available. And especially role-playing games are usually very long and deep games, people completely invest themselves in. It's not like anyone could play 5 games like "The Witcher" over one weekend, especially when all the quests are done. So, out of sheer necessity, players pick few titles and play those properly. Other good games like Alpha Protocol, in this instance, are ignored. It has nothing to do with the game itself. It's simply the fact, that the industry can produce more games, but the time players have, always stays the same.
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January 13th, 2011, 03:49
Originally Posted by Malkavian View Post
To me, the ultimate explanation for all of this is, that there are now countless awesome games available.
If you mean as a complete back catalogue, sure. However, indies aside, less and less games are released each year, and as far as innovation goes, they collectively bring less and less to the table. Seeing the small number of RPG-s released last year and their overall quality level, i still can't understand how a game like Alpha Protocol could go completely under the radar as far as coverage in mainstream gaming media goes.
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January 13th, 2011, 06:05
Originally Posted by tolknaz View Post
Seeing the small number of RPG-s released last year and their overall quality level, i still can't understand how a game like Alpha Protocol could go completely under the radar as far as coverage in mainstream gaming media goes.
Well, the "mainstream media" seems to have an obsession with "polish." To some people, polish usually means the quality of the graphics and animations, and these are two departments that Alpha Protocol lacks quality in. I certainly don't understand these criticisms, as many of my favorite RPGs lack "polish" by this definition. Out of curiousity, I read several Alpha Protocol reviews by mainstream press outlets (such as IGN, Gamespot, etc.) that absolutely ripped this game apart for having "sub-par" animations and graphics. These particular reviews spent more time lambasting the poor sneak animations of AP, for example, than they did on the actual story or gameplay mechanics.

Also, many people seem to have misunderstood what type of game AP is - an RPG. Most reviewers seem to have been under the impression that AP was supposed to be another Mass Effect 2 - as in a story-driven shooter with light RPG elements tacked on. If someone was to play AP thinking that they could run and gun their way through every level giving no thought to their character build, I imagine they wouldn't have a very good time. As a result, some reviewers label AP as being "broken" or "buggy" because they don't understand that there is a chance to hit mechanic based on the player's skill level with every weapon type (along with weapon stats and upgrades) and that stealth relies on certain abilities and equipment instead of pure stealth mechanics.
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January 13th, 2011, 08:42
Alpha Protocol is a really good game and was one of my favourites last year. But it really wasn't all that polished/perfect. Now I don't really care about that unless the game is unplayable but a lot of people (especially in the media) do.
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January 13th, 2011, 10:50
I've stated this all along: Alpha Protocol will become a cult classic.

Like Arcanum, PS:T and so on it is rough in most ways, but exceptional in a few ways. Thus, people who put a lot of weight on the latter will feel the game is fantastic, while people who require a more general gaming experience will feel it was mediocre or simply daft.

Personally, I am among among those who feel it's fantastic.
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January 13th, 2011, 13:15
I agree with the article's analysis. Personally I'm a bit on the fence regaring AP. I certainly do think it is an enjoyable game, even though (for me) it didn't live up to it's potential. I liked the novelty of an RPG set in a contemporary setting and the way you could switch between the three 'B'-personalities (Bond, Bourne and Bauer). Also, I found nothing wrong with it's presentation (flow of story, graphics, animations and audio).

That said, I *did* feel sort of 'non-connected' to the world. It just didn't feel like an RPG to me, even though your character's stats, perks and weapon-mods definately do have an impact on how succesful you are performing actions. Ah well. Perhaps someone will mod it someday
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January 13th, 2011, 18:41
I tried play a bit Alpha Protocol and get hurt by many details in its beginning, not sure when I'll try it again:
  • The controls seems weird, one key for close fighting and a different key for shooting.
  • Just one key for close fighting, that seems extremely basic, is DKS require own a master in action game? And I won't even quote a game like Torchlight.
  • There's something very wrong with the camera, not sure why but it's clear many players can be hurt by that point.
  • The mood is just cold, and that includes the hero himself.
  • The strange action dialog system requiring instant reflex decision is weird. I'll never enjoy such system and will just feel it frustrating to see decisions points disappear because I didn't react fast enough, or will be frustrate by decisions I'll not like just because it's done in hurry. This action pressure on dialogs is I bet something that won't like many players.
  • The too clear non adaptation to PC of a console game is something always unpleasant even if not a major point.
That is a lot of immediate unpleasant points that jump on face of the player a long time before the story has any chance to grab him, nor the action to grab his interest.

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