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Default Alpha Protocol - Hands-on @ VideoGamer

May 7th, 2010, 23:43
VideoGamer dishes out a hands-on preview of Alpha Protocol and you can get a quick lesson in tasteful British slang in the process. On the gameplay dichotomy:
Let’s be clear right now: this isn’t as pretty as Mass Effect. Lead spy Michael Thorton and his chums would never be described as “da hotness” by hormone-fuelled street yutes, but nor would they be described as “well butters”. Fine, so those particular slang terms both went of out of use years ago – but hopefully you get my point: it’s solid-looking, rather than spectacular. On a similar note, the action doesn’t feel quite as pant-dampeningly pleasurable as BioWare’s sci-fi romp. The controls just aren’t as immediately responsive, so pleasingly contoured to your destructive whims, and the battles lack the same “instant blockbuster” feel that you get while battling with Shepard and company. If Alpha Protocol had made its original release window, it wouldn’t have had to suffer these comparisons – but it didn’t, and so it must.
This all sounds very negative, but what I’m trying to say is that Alpha Protocol’s strengths lie elsewhere. There’s the aforementioned flexibility, for one thing: if you want to play the game as a run-and-gun cover shooter, it’ll handle that. If you want to play it like a Splinter Cell game, it’ll cater to that desire too. There’s a big menu in Alpha Protocol’s restaurant of death, and the chef can do every dish on the list: close-combat nastiness, silenced pistols, assault rifles, face-pulping shotguns. In between missions you’ll get to hang out at private safehouses dotted around the globe, and each of these has a computer which allows you to buy weapons direct from the local black market. There are other cool tricks you can do here too, like arranging for a sniper rifle to be conveniently left in a nice spot at the location you’re about to visit.
If you don't mind the spoilers, this article has a nice (and new) example of the choices and how the consequences flow on Page 2.
More information.
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May 7th, 2010, 23:43
This is a good level-headed preview, though I *really* wouldn't say that the action in ME2 is "pant-dampeningly pleasureable" or that that they have an "instant blockbuster" feel. The core system is very good and easily controllable but I find the battles to be horrendously repetitive (a problem with most Bioware games).

That said, I have a feeling going the run-and-gun route in AP will be similar to that. What I like is that it does offer differing approaches and all the choices. I hope that will alleviate some of the repetition so often found in action-RPGs.

That bit about arranging for a sniper rifle to be present in a location you're heading to is a great little touch. Hope there's many more choices like that in the game.
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May 9th, 2010, 08:47
The controls just aren’t as immediately responsive, so pleasingly contoured to your destructive whims, and the battles lack the same “instant blockbuster” feel that you get while battling with Shepard and company.

This all sounds very negative, but what I’m trying to say is that Alpha Protocol’s strengths lie elsewhere. There’s the aforementioned flexibility, for one thing: if you want to play the game as a run-and-gun cover shooter, it’ll handle that. If you want to play it like a Splinter Cell game, it’ll cater to that desire too.

Did this reviewer seriously just say that the action-y bits aren't as well done as in Mass Effect, and then go on to claim that the game's saving graces are the action-y bits?

Well, damn… after the game was delayed to make it play more like an RPG as per that infamous leaked internal critique, that's pretty discouraging.
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May 9th, 2010, 10:07
That's not how I read it at all. I thought it pretty clearly said the choices and ability to play in different ways is the strength.

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May 9th, 2010, 11:04
That is how I read it as well: In Mass Effect, you are stuck with the "brute force" approach no matter what. AP is more of a "jack of all trades, master of none" where you can pick the combat style you prefer.
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May 9th, 2010, 21:53
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
That's not how I read it at all. I thought it pretty clearly said the choices and ability to play in different ways is the strength.
The "choices" relate to how you handle the action-y bits, though. It's a choice of how you want to handle the combat, which is FPS.

I did eventually read the whole preview and the other thing that was being gushed over was how meaningful your dialogue choices are. Which is the "interactive narrative" bit. Which also needs to be compared and contrasted to Mass Effect 2.
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May 9th, 2010, 21:55
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
That is how I read it as well: In Mass Effect, you are stuck with the "brute force" approach no matter what. AP is more of a "jack of all trades, master of none" where you can pick the combat style you prefer.
Combat is "brute force", no matter what tactics you use.
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May 9th, 2010, 23:39
Not if you avoid it, which is supposed to be an option in AP. At least to some degree.
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May 10th, 2010, 01:19
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Not if you avoid it, which is supposed to be an option in AP. At least to some degree.
Well, maybe that's why I didn't consider Deus Ex to be a roleplaying game. Tactical decisions such as whether to kill a guard or sneak past him, engage a patrol or avoid it, don't qualify as roleplaying "choices" to me. The desired end result is the same, either way. The only difference is what specific method you choose to get to that particular goal.

But we all have our own definitions for such things, right? The fact that some people consider a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. to be an RPG at all is proof of that. In a kind of morbid way I'm a bit fascinated to see just how low the lowest common denominator can get. I thought Diablo 2 was pushing the limits of what could be considered an RPG way back in the day, but I was obviously very wrong.
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May 10th, 2010, 02:00
"The only difference is what specific method you choose to get to that particular goal."

Yeah! We don't like that in our RPG's, do we!

Seriously.
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May 10th, 2010, 03:33
Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
"The only difference is what specific method you choose to get to that particular goal."

Yeah! We don't like that in our RPG's, do we!
My complaint is with turning things that used to be considered extras into the entire core game. Kick ass combat used to be an extra. Detailed and complex NPC interactions used to be an extra.

If you took those two things out of Mass Effect 2, what would be left?

Sorry if I sound bitter, but the RPG genre has been dying since about 2000 and I hate to see people who claim to be RPG fans helping it into the grave.
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May 10th, 2010, 04:41
Originally Posted by CraigCWB View Post
Sorry if I sound bitter, but the RPG genre has been dying since about …
I've been hearing this for like 20 years now. Maybe longer.
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May 10th, 2010, 05:42
I've been hearing this for like 20 years now. Maybe longer.

Since 1990? Unlikely. So, anyway… how long have you been denying it?

Interesting attitude from somebody who has a game that came out before the turn of the century in his sig. How's the tactical squad combat genre doing these days?
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May 10th, 2010, 07:23
roqua 5.0?
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May 10th, 2010, 08:43
Originally Posted by CraigCWB View Post
My complaint is with turning things that used to be considered extras into the entire core game. Kick ass combat used to be an extra. Detailed and complex NPC interactions used to be an extra.

If you took those two things out of Mass Effect 2, what would be left?

Sorry if I sound bitter, but the RPG genre has been dying since about 2000 and I hate to see people who claim to be RPG fans helping it into the grave.
Personally i was a big fan of the Ultima 7 games (i loved UUW1-2 too) and loved the openness and the incredible atmosphere that was created with the NPC schedules, day/night/weather cycles + being able to use/pick up almost any object (yes, the story helped too).

It really took games to a new level for me. It's been great to finally see something similar in games such as The Gothic series, Risen, Bethesda's RPG's, Two Worlds 1(/2), and that it has even spread to FPS/RPG hybrids (STALKER series, which is incredible atmospheric in the same way as above RPG's).

i dont think the genre is dying, it's just adapting to what people prefer and turning that into the core game. I admit it would be great to see RPG's with Bethesda's openness and Bioware's characters, though i bet it's so much work that RPG devs has to make a choice between the two if its ever going to come out.. We'll see what happens with FO New Vegas..
Last edited by bemushroomed; May 10th, 2010 at 08:56.
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May 10th, 2010, 12:13
Originally Posted by Starwars View Post
This is a good level-headed preview, though I *really* wouldn't say that the action in ME2 is "pant-dampeningly pleasureable"
Dunno, if he means "so mind-numbingly predictable that my body has lost all control of it's automatic functions and I'm now lying semi-comatose in a tedium-induced pool of my own urine and drool" then yes, yes indeed, ME 2 is "pant-dampeningly pleasureable".
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May 10th, 2010, 15:34
Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
Personally i was a big fan of the Ultima 7 games (i loved UUW1-2 too) and loved the openness and the incredible atmosphere that was created with the NPC schedules, day/night/weather cycles + being able to use/pick up almost any object (yes, the story helped too).

It really took games to a new level for me. It's been great to finally see something similar in games such as…
Yes, Ultima 7 was the peak of the Ultima series. However, Origin followed it up with Ultima 8 which was an action-y attempt to dumb it down again, rather than expanding on what was already a good recipe. It's interesting to me that rather than holding Origin responsible for a brainfart they had in 1993, you praise other games for emulating the spirit of Ultima (which was by then a dead franchise) a decade later. What about the Wizardry series? Wizardry 7 also came out in 1992 along with Ultima 7, and Sir Tech didn't follow that game's success up with ANYTHING. They instead concentrated on making dumbed down games for the masses and tried their hand at publishing other people's games. And, eventually went out of business.

Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
The Gothic series, Risen, Bethesda's RPG's, Two Worlds 1(/2), and that it has even spread to FPS/RPG hybrids
What in the hell does Ultima 7 have to do with FPS/RPG hybrids? Ultima 7 was 100% RPG, 0% shooter.

Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
(STALKER series, which is incredible atmospheric in the same way as above RPG's).
Stalker isn't an RPG at all. And using words like "atmospheric" to try to define a genre is silly in my opinion.

Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
i dont think the genre is dying, it's just adapting to what people prefer and turning that into the core game.
Right

Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
I admit it would be great to see RPG's with Bethesda's openness and Bioware's characters, though i bet it's so much work that RPG devs has to make a choice between the two if its ever going to come out..
The "too much work" thing is a bunch of nonsense. RPGs have hit two peaks in the past. 1992 and 1999. After 1992 the justification for abandoning real RPGs was that it was "too much work" and "not profitable enough". And low and behold, the same language was heard after 1999. A lot of people like to compare the computer game industry to the movie industry. I think that's incorrect. The PC game industry is much more like the music industry, with it's constant pressure on artists to go "mainstream" and its preference for generic pop over real creative artwork.

Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
We'll see what happens with FO New Vegas..
I hope it does well. A success there may not have any impact on the industry since it's a third-party sequel, but at least it would be evidence that games don't have to fit into one of the current pre-defined patterns to be successful.
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May 10th, 2010, 16:07
"What in the hell does Ultima 7 have to do with FPS/RPG hybrids? Ultima 7 was 100% RPG, 0% shooter."

Not sure what you're talking about. I'm very sure U7 helped to inspire Gothic series and maybe even games like STALKER, it was the game that i believe started the
"virtual life" atmosphere that we have in those games.

And i don't think the too much work is just bullshit. Ofcourse it will have a big impact on how long it will take to develop the game. I'm sure it would be possible though.

About STALKER, it's not an RPG maybe, but i'm happy it borrows from the genre and that the atmophere is up there with the best RPG's out there, reason enough to play it.
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May 10th, 2010, 16:14
Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
"What in the hell does Ultima 7 have to do with FPS/RPG hybrids? Ultima 7 was 100% RPG, 0% shooter."

Not sure what you're talking about. I'm very sure U7 helped to inspire Gothic series and maybe even games like STALKER, it was the game that i believe started the
"virtual life" atmosphere that we have in those games.
Seems a bizarre claim to make, since Bethesda's first Elder Scrolls game (Arena) was already in development when Ultima 7 came out and was released ~1 year later. And Bethesda's games are far more "Sand Box" than the Gothic series ever was. As for STALKER, I'll say this one more time: STALKER is NOT an RPG.

Originally Posted by bemushroomed View Post
About STALKER, it's not an RPG, but i'm happy it borrows from the genre and that the atsmophere is up there with the best RPG games out there, reason enough to play it. I'm not that anal if it's a true RPG or not, i just enjoy it for what it is.
I suppose if I was an FPS fan I would appreciate an FPS+ too. I'm not an FPS, fan, though
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May 10th, 2010, 16:45
I'm talking about the NPC schedules and day/night/weather cycles etc in U7, the feeling of a virtual living world, Gothic 1 borrowed that from U7 i believe, at least it was the, to my knowledge, the second RPG that used this (NPC's living their own lives), it might have inspired other games as well..

I've never claimed STALKER is a RPG so i dont know what you're going on about there, i said it borrows from the genre, the only thing it lacks is leveling up, it has a few skills but those are baked into the equipment/artifacts, so its not a true RPG maybe. I prefer it more than any Bioware RPG tbh.. This totally depends on what kind of RPG'er you are, i think exploring is a very important element of any RPG. I'm generally not a big fan of FPS games at all, but i do enjoy System Shock, Stalker and Deus Ex, because they borrow from this genre, it makes them far more interesting than the average FPS.
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