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June 22nd, 2010, 02:01
A few more reviews for Obsidian's spy-rpg Alpha Protocl has popped up. There's one at GamesCenterOnline who gives it 7/10 - Here's part of the conclusion:
While any combination of these faults might ordinarily be regarded as a deal breaker, Alpha Protocol is far more than the sum of its parts. The gameplay and visuals would certainly have benefited from further fine-tuning, and yet the experience holds together with almost inexplicable cohesion. This is most likely due to the game’s exceedingly involved narrative, which exhibits far more polish; if only Obsidian had been as conscientious in all areas of its design, the game would have been truly engrossing
There's a review at Sidequesting who doesn't score it but has this to say:
Recommending Alpha Protocol is difficult because I definitely had some fun playing it as a stealth game, sneaking behind dudes and getting those one-hit kills. If I were to play as any other class, I probably would have hated it because of the probability-based shooting
Finally, we have Coventry Telegraph who gives it 2/4 and has this to say:
The plot is confusing and convoluted: something to do with Middle Eastern terrorists, Chinese Triads, the Russian mob, secret American agencies and the Italian mafia, and I’m not sure the role-playing aspect – which is mainly limited to conversation choices, not whether to take the left door or the right door, for example, would affect the outcome
Finally, both Amazon.com and Gamestop has the game listed for a new price 39.99 US dollars which is a somewhat large price drop.
More information.
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June 22nd, 2010, 02:01
Sweet, I was going to buy it in a couple of weeks anyway.
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June 22nd, 2010, 15:03
I think we're seeing the consequences of making a hybrid shooter/RPG. Most of the bad reviews I've read come from the fact that they don't understand the 'probability based' shooting as they call it. To me it's the perfect way to mix them, but those reviewers who're seeing the game as a shooter, just can't stomach the concept of pointing at something and not hitting. That it's the character's skills, and not their own as players, what ultimately determines if it's a hit or miss.
Since it seems most of today's reviewers come from the shooter side, I'm afraid all RPGs wanting to hybridize themselves will ultimately become just plain shooters and scrap the RPG part altogether.
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June 24th, 2010, 02:08
Which might be better… if they took out the rollplay element, and left the roleplay element.

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June 24th, 2010, 09:09
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Since it seems most of today's reviewers come from the shooter side, I'm afraid all RPGs wanting to hybridize themselves will ultimately become just plain shooters and scrap the RPG part altogether.
I think that is the lesson to come out of all of this, unfortunately. I quite like the idea of a shooter with solid RPG elements but future developers would do well to build a shooter and slap on a story, lite inventory and leave it at that - at least, if they want an initial reception that doesn't sink the ship. It's a pity.

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June 24th, 2010, 10:09
I think you're overstating the matter.

Look at Bioshock, for instance, which while I wouldn't call it an RPG - certainly has several elements of the genre.

Alpha Protocol was a mess, and that's why it's not a success. It's not that it's a hybrid - and I'm sure a more mainstream technically competent hybrid would win over the larger market.

You don't have to be a moron designer and let skill values determine whether a super-agent can hit anything. You can be a thinking designer, and let skill values constitute added powers, but with basic shooter gameplay intact.

Let's see what happens with Deus Ex 3 - and then we'll talk about whether hybrids can be succesful
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June 24th, 2010, 11:58
After having played the game only very briefly, I think these reviewers from the 'shooter side' actually have every right to criticize its not-so-good shooter gameplay (though ignoring its RPG gameplay is another issue).

The way I see it, you can't make an action-RPG hybrid and simply neglect to offer quality action gameplay with the excuse that "hey… it's an RPG". Otherwise the action crowd is perfectly justified to disregard our complains about shallow RPG mechanics by simply stating "hey… it's a shooter".

In essence, if good shooter gameplay involves hitting the target when the player's aims correctly then every action RPG should incorporate that. Otherwise remove the 'action' restrictions such as the requirement to aim fast and precisely - ie if I'm going to have to react fast to aim straight and shoot within a fraction of a second then make my effort matter or forget about it and give me a turn based or a RT with pause system instead.

You can't make a hybrid of two genres by combining the things that each genre lacks. For example, you can't make an action-RPG hybrid by combining the RPG's disregard of player skill with the shooter's disregard of deep character development. Well… you can but it won't make many people happy…

Naturally there's going to have to be some compromises for both sides - that's not just expected but necessary to avoid excessive complexity and creating confusion caused by clashing elements. But the compromises shouldn't be in the strong/key elements.

(Don't take what I wrote as a direct criticism against AP specifically. As I said I only played briefly -and the RPG elements seemed fine so far- just some general thoughts inspired by the subject)

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June 24th, 2010, 13:14
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
The way I see it, you can't make an action-RPG hybrid and simply neglect to offer quality action gameplay with the excuse that "hey… it's an RPG". Otherwise the action crowd is perfectly justified to disregard our complains about shallow RPG mechanics by simply stating "hey… it's a shooter".
That's exactly what action reviewers and the action crowd in general says when we complain about games being too shallow ("hey… it's a shooter"). We should have every right to do the same.
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June 24th, 2010, 13:23
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
That's exactly what action reviewers and the action crowd in general says when we complain about games being too shallow ("hey… it's a shooter"). We should have every right to do the same.
Why in the world are you talking about rights?

This is about what it takes to be successful in the mainstream market.

Standing around as an enthusiast who can get past the RPG governing aspects, claiming "rights" - seems pretty juvenile to me.
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June 24th, 2010, 13:45
Huh? Did you even read what I quoted? Holecraw said:
"Otherwise the action crowd is perfectly justified to disregard our complains.."

He's referring to the RPG crowd justifying poor action elements in an action-RPG, claiming the action crowd would then be able to justify poor RPG mechanics by stating "hey… it's a shooter".

My point is that the action crowd is already doing just that. That's not news. Just look at comments on ME1 vs ME2 - the action crowd claims ME2 did it right, but ME1 did it wrong. They justify it by going "it's a shooter". I couldn't disagree more, to me ME1 had it right and ME2 did not.

If it's within their rights to consider ME2 the better game by stating "hey… it's a shooter", then it's within my rights to consider ME1 the better game by stating "hey… it's an RPG".

In case you didn't read holecraw's post - he was not referring to AP, he was referring to action-RPGs in general.
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June 24th, 2010, 14:34
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Huh? Did you even read what I quoted? Holecraw said:
"Otherwise the action crowd is perfectly justified to disregard our complains.."

He's referring to the RPG crowd justifying poor action elements in an action-RPG, claiming the action crowd would then be able to justify poor RPG mechanics by stating "hey… it's a shooter".

My point is that the action crowd is already doing just that. That's not news. Just look at comments on ME1 vs ME2 - the action crowd claims ME2 did it right, but ME1 did it wrong. They justify it by going "it's a shooter". I couldn't disagree more, to me ME1 had it right and ME2 did not.

If it's within their rights to consider ME2 the better game by stating "hey… it's a shooter", then it's within my rights to consider ME1 the better game by stating "hey… it's an RPG".

In case you didn't read holecraw's post - he was not referring to AP, he was referring to action-RPGs in general.
My point was that talking about rights is completely pointless in this regard, but whatever
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June 24th, 2010, 15:41
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
if I'm going to have to react fast to aim straight and shoot within a fraction of a second then make my effort matter or forget about it and give me a turn based or a RT with pause system instead.
I agree generally, but I don' think TB or RT with pause systems would work that well with Alpha Protocol's dialogue system. It's designed to feel like an interactive film and anything but real time combat would kinda ruin that feel.

By the way, I think you'll like the shooter aspect more when you develop your character's weapon skills.

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June 24th, 2010, 17:37
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Huh? Did you even read what I quoted? Holecraw said:
"Otherwise the action crowd is perfectly justified to disregard our complains.."

He's referring to the RPG crowd justifying poor action elements in an action-RPG, claiming the action crowd would then be able to justify poor RPG mechanics by stating "hey… it's a shooter".

My point is that the action crowd is already doing just that.
I completely agree. I know the action crowd does that and I did not mean to justify it as much as make a suggestion about why such a behavior (which I find unfortunate) occurs.

ie an action RPG should satisfy both those among the action fans who are looking for a game with deep mechanics but solid action gameplay as well as those among the RPG crowd who are looking for pretty much the same thing. Hell… hybrids are supposed to bring two genres together not turn their fans against each other…


Originally Posted by Malk View Post
I agree generally, but I don' think TB or RT with pause systems would work that well with Alpha Protocol's dialogue system. It's designed to feel like an interactive film and anything but real time combat would kinda ruin that feel.
I don't think that real time with pause would have hurt the game so much. So maybe it would feel less like an interactive film, that's no big tragedy in itself… maybe it would even have better reception in that case. (Also I really didn't like the dialog system so that doesn't help to convince me otherwise ) Anyway… I don't want to offer criticism for AP specifically (at least not yet) so I'll stop here.

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June 24th, 2010, 20:12
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
So maybe it would feel less like an interactive film, that's no big tragedy in itself…
To me it is. It is like a interactive film, but at times it also feels like you're actually there, like you can actually take the matter in your hands. This is the only game which made me feel that way so I would hate to see that gone… and that would happen if there was pausing, isometric camera and similar.

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June 24th, 2010, 23:31
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Look at Bioshock, for instance […]
One example doesn't prove anything either way but, if anything, Bioshock just supports the point I'm making. Not a bad game but nowhere near the depth of Alpha Protocol.

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June 25th, 2010, 09:38
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
One example doesn't prove anything either way but, if anything, Bioshock just supports the point I'm making. Not a bad game but nowhere near the depth of Alpha Protocol.
I wasn't trying to prove anything.

As for supporting your point, you were saying shooters with RPG elements can't really work as mainstream titles - and I'm saying the market is changing, and you need to implement those elements with a brain for them to work with that audience.

Now, Bioshock is certainly not a deep game - but it's definitely a cut above the standard shooter with an inventory "slapped on". That's just my opinion though, and if you really think that because AP isn't a big hit (if it's not) it means the market can't handle deep shooters with RPG elements - then I leave that to you

Arguably, Mass Effect was such a game - and it didn't seem to have problems finding an audience.
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June 26th, 2010, 02:45
You've missed my point, which is not that shooters-with-RPG-elements can't do well. What they do need to do is heavily favour the shooter elements and keep the RPG elements very simple. I'm saying it's a shame the RPG elements can't take a stronger focus.

Again, Mass Effect makes my point. They decided ME was still balanced too far to the RPG side and ME2 stripped the inventory entirely, simplified the skills and shifted the focus further towards a shooter. Did they choose to address the inventory criticism by improving it or removing it entirely? The result? Countless editorials saying ME2 is the future of RPGs, the ultimate evolution. Why? It's a shooter first and foremost.

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June 26th, 2010, 09:45
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
You've missed my point, which is not that shooters-with-RPG-elements can't do well. What they do need to do is heavily favour the shooter elements and keep the RPG elements very simple. I'm saying it's a shame the RPG elements can't take a stronger focus.

Again, Mass Effect makes my point. They decided ME was still balanced too far to the RPG side and ME2 stripped the inventory entirely, simplified the skills and shifted the focus further towards a shooter. Did they choose to address the inventory criticism by improving it or removing it entirely? The result? Countless editorials saying ME2 is the future of RPGs, the ultimate evolution. Why? It's a shooter first and foremost.
Because Bioware chose to over-simplify Mass Effect 2, does not mean that was the only way to make a success in the mainstream market. We can agree that certain "editorials" have been favorable towards the changes - though you're exaggerating, but you're making it out to be some kind of truth. You seem to be under the impression that gaming journalists know what they're talking about, and I have to disagree

Mass Effect does NOT make your point, because it was a hit. We're talking about hits here, so it makes MY point. Maybe ME2 would have been less of a hit as a more cerebral experience, and maybe not - we can't know.

I'm not claiming that a deep shooter will be a BIGGER hit, I'm simply saying it can work with the mainstream and Mass Effect proves that to anyone willing to see.

Again, I don't agree that the market can't handle a relatively deep shooter, with strong RPG elements. But it takes a smart designer to pull it off, and you can't do it like they did in Alpha Protocol. Because they completely ignored the shooter crowd, which in my opinion was moronic - at least if they were expecting a bit hit.

As I said a few times already, I simply don't agree that Alpha Protocol can be used as an example of what you're claiming - not at all.

But we're talking about unknowns, and I think it's largely a waste of time.

I'll let the future speak for me, and I have absolutely NO doubt that a reasonably deep shooter will come out within a few years that WILL be a hit. But it won't be anything like Alpha Protocol - and I for one, don't mind that.

Deus Ex 3 seems to be the most likely candidate for the first sign of it. I'm sure you'd argue it's not deep or that it doesn't have "strong enough" RPG elements, but you should remember it's just the beginning. The market is changing, and the "casual peak" was reached a while ago. Gamers today are not becoming LESS enthusiastic, they're becoming MORE enthusiastic - but they're starting from a "lower" point, naturally. This is in an overall sense. You could say that it's a very slow process of the mainstream audience "growing up" - and what we'll likely end up with, is some kind of strange mixture of old-school hardcore principles (as in RPG mechanics representing the carrot), mixed with modern fancy innovations.

Just watch, and you'll se
Last edited by DArtagnan; June 26th, 2010 at 10:19.
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June 26th, 2010, 11:30
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Because Bioware chose to over-simplify Mass Effect 2, does not mean that was the only way to make a success in the mainstream market. We can agree that certain "editorials" have been favorable towards the changes - though you're exaggerating, but you're making it out to be some kind of truth. You seem to be under the impression that gaming journalists know what they're talking about, and I have to disagree
I'll respond to this little bit and leave the rest, so we don't both have to go in widening circles. Regarding BioWare - yes, of course it was a choice and a different path might still achieve mainstream success. Actions speak louder than words - I see their choice as more important than empty theory.

Do you honestly think I see those editorials as "truth"? I'm amazed that's your view on my perspective. The gaming press often don't know what they're talking about and that's part of the problem.

Oh, about DX3. I know this comment will look like a copout but I think it might be the exception, rather than the rule. If Ubisoft uses the sort of resources they gave to Assassin's Creed 2 (up to 400 devs), the level of polish will win over mainstream gamers. Unfortunately, I think that's simply too expensive for many to follow and it will be an outlier in a field of dull shooters-with-lite-inventories.

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June 26th, 2010, 12:00
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I'll respond to this little bit and leave the rest, so we don't both have to go in widening circles. Regarding BioWare - yes, of course it was a choice and a different path might still achieve mainstream success. Actions speak louder than words - I see their choice as more important than empty theory.
You're still ignoring the fact that ME1 was a smash. You can call my point a theory - because that's what we're dealing with, but what's with the "empty" stuff?

YOUR theory is that because ME2 was a big hit, it's the way to go for all AAA shooters in the future. If you call that an "action", fine, but I'm not arguing against the fact that dumbing down can be a path to success.

Personally, I don't think the streamlining of features made a big difference. I think Bioware knows how to make a quality game - and they have fantastic financial support with which to market their blueprint games. I think it would have been a hit of similar proportions if they'd refined and expanded the RPG elements, but we'll never know. But it's for sure that you can't tailor a mainstream game to the enthusiast crowd and expect to be a smash. AP is an example of why not, but it shouldn't take a genius to figure that one out.

Do you honestly think I see those editorials as "truth"? I'm amazed that's your view on my perspective. The gaming press often don't know what they're talking about and that's part of the problem.
I don't know what to think. You're using it as support for your theory that severely dumbing down RPG elements is the way to go. If you don't agree, then why mention those editorials?

Gaming journalists of today are full of hollow bullshit - because they don't have a clue about the history of gameplay evolution, and their "influence" is overrated. People will play what's fun and what's shoved down their throats via marketing, and they can make up their own minds within that confined space. Look to Hollywood to see what power "critics" have in terms of box office success. If anything, the review SITES carry power rather than journalists, but only because they facilitate the marketing campaigns.

Oh, about DX3. I know this comment will look like a copout but I think it might be the exception, rather than the rule. If Ubisoft uses the sort of resources they gave to Assassin's Creed 2 (up to 400 devs), the level of polish will win over mainstream gamers. Unfortunately, I think that's simply too expensive for many to follow and it will be an outlier in a field of dull shooters-with-lite-inventories.
I wouldn't call it a copout, because I assume you really believe in your theory, and why in the world would you be arguing your case otherwise.

I agree partially, actually, because I think it's a very recent development. It only just dawned on me a few months ago, that the market IS really changing. I've been predicting this for years, but I thought we were still a LONG way from the "turn-about".

But when games like Mass Effect, Deus Ex 3 (possibly), and Bioshock can be such big hits with the mainstream - it means the market is definitely starting to evolve. I realise all those games are simplistic compared to the hardcore CRPG - but if you look at what came before, you're not going to find many AAA shooter smash hits with that kind of depth in the "casual era".

I'm more optimistic now, and I honestly believe we'll start seeing GENUINE gameplay evolution within the next 5 years - and it'll be a partial throwback to the old-school foundation mixed with the mainstream innovations of the last decade.

Good times are coming….
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