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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Alpha Protocol - Retrospective @ Rebel Gaming

Default Alpha Protocol - Retrospective @ Rebel Gaming

September 24th, 2013, 03:05
Rebel Gaming has a new article that takes a look at Alpha Protocol as part of it's I actually played that coulmn.

Obsidian made a mistake, they got something wrong in their hugely ambitious game, (THE espionage RPG!) and they decided not to correct it and damn the consequences. It's an attitude emblematic of all of Alpha Protocol's squandered potential, which is undermined by a pestilential swarm of tiny, vexing flaws. Is it a bad game? Sometimes it is absolutely a bad game, other times it's a pretty good game, what's certain is it is a flawed game: a misshapen, genre-hopping, minigame hoarding red-headed stepchild for a game, and as such I can't help but see a bit of myself in it, even have a grudging affection for it.
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Last edited by Couchpotato; September 24th, 2013 at 04:12.
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September 24th, 2013, 03:05
I know there are some AP apologusts here, and I'm one of them. In fact, I don't think there's much to apologize for. AP got an unfair rap. I remember the criticism, which was largely from console gamers expecting Call of Duty, and it was loud, immediate and out of proportion. These people were expecting a CoD shooter, and instead tyey got an action RPG in which stats played a more-important role than most. This is one of the aspects I apprecuated most about the game. If you wanted to be good at shooting, your charafter had to be good at it, not the pale twitchy kid behind the mouse.

The criticisms of the author of this article are pretty accurate, and he stays away from the one I mentiined above, which was most prevalent upon release. I agree about the mnigames. I did what he did: buy your way out of them with siill points or gear or whatever, don't worry about alarms so much and enjoy what is actually a good game.
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September 24th, 2013, 05:16
I've been playing stealth games since Thief series, but I found the gameplay of Alpha Protocol plain bad. Stealth games are not about just twitches. The players need to learn how to assign risks for each map through trial and error, which is more like plan-and-go style. Alpha Protocol didn't allow me to play like that. Maps are not optimized for such gameplay and AI was kind of terrible.

It's quite obvious to me that, even with Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, the failing pattern of combining action game and RPG-ish character advancement system. Even in Oblivion, for example, I think they did much better job in mixing the gameplay for both action game fans and RPG fans although Bethesda's content is not my cup of tea at all. Of course, the level-scaling was not popular among RPG fans but that part was, clearly, not designed for them. I think Beth took the risk although I'm not sure if they even expected the mods to eventually tweak the game in their own liking to satisfy various needs. After playing FONV and some mods for Beth games, I have to admit that having huge denominator is quite a plus for mod diversity.

In any case, the fatal problem I found in AP is that, most of us know Obsidian are good at building content slowly but, of course, the majority don't know it. So, Obsidian needed to make the gameplay more similar to existing successful formula, copying Splinter Cell, Hitman and Metal Gear series. This is probably why some people claims that they want better parts of AP and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The gameplay of AP was obviously built by some people who have no idea about the stealth genre.

That said, the commercial failure by sticking to the orthodox character advancement system doesn't seem to be originated solely from Obsidian but also Sega's decision or indecisiveness, though. The Stick of Truth seems to be a Paper Mario-ish RPG, which, at least, appears to be a better plan for more mass-marketed products with the resources of Obsidian.
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September 24th, 2013, 15:44
I thought this one was underrated. It wasn't great, but I had fun with it. It's worth a look if you are into story based shooters with some light RPG elements (like Mass Effect on a budget is how I would describe it). Like others have said it's not much of a stealth game.
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September 24th, 2013, 16:22
I avoided it like the plague for ages because I heard such bad things about it. I finally caved when it went under $5 and I enjoyed it (minus the minigames that were clearly designed for a controller). It reminded me of Goldeneye 007 with a much, much better story.

Had it played like Splinter Cell, Hitman, MGS, or even Thief, I wouldn't have ever touched it, at any price.
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September 24th, 2013, 16:41
One of my favorite games ever.
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September 24th, 2013, 18:26
It's a bit unfair that the "mistake" in your pull quote actually refers to a joke about the article writer's name.

I haven't actually played this, but overall the article made me more curious.
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September 24th, 2013, 18:36
Well, the author is (IMO) right about most things (ESPECIALLY minigames). I just found AP slightly less annoying (EXCEPT minigames) than he did.
However, those you want to try it have to be aware that as a stealth game it is a failure.
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September 24th, 2013, 20:32
Hmm… I enjoyed AP and was able to finish it but honestly I can't remember any of the minigames. They probably didn't annoy/impress me that much then.
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September 24th, 2013, 20:41
That's because our brain erases unpleasant experiences
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September 24th, 2013, 20:53
Well regardless of what he said I hope people who still haven't played it will try it at least. You can find the game for $5 or less on sales every month.

Just remember the game is a flawed gem. I wont be an apologist.

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Last edited by Couchpotato; September 24th, 2013 at 23:20.
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September 25th, 2013, 02:25
Fun game. Not as good as the great game Deus Ex Human Revolution which was released at a later date, but AP was still fun.
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September 25th, 2013, 02:36
Never bought AP. Why? IIRC someone said it's a console port so you can't save just anywhere.
Dunno if it's true, but it can be the greatest game of them all, I'm not buying that.

NFLed mentioned a game that allows saving anywhere. I'd buy that game any day. And recommend it to everyone.

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September 25th, 2013, 03:12
My first steps with the game was very unpleasant because I hated totally the action dialogs, what an awful idea as if RPG hadn't pushed into action enough that dialogs had to become actions. I do know some people defend this system and had argument but the game hasn't vocals in my native language and that's a huge burden for such weird design choice.

But I succeed overcome and mostly ignore or go over the problem and there's many elements I enjoyed quite much:
- Good story telling with good merge with the fights.
- Very good fights by using mix of shooting and stealth.
- Good design of places to infuse tactical possibilities and various approaches involving different problems.
- Some more.

I do know why the game triggered negativity because on many elements the game didn't targeted the standard amplitude, inventory, equipment, shops, places, exploration. Also the movements in the maps was using a bit too many non logical movement restriction, it's always a bad choice. And many players react badly when those classic elements aren't done with a standard approach. For sure the game used more restricted design, but for me it worked well anyway, at least stuff limits like with equipment, inventory, shops, was really not that important. Restriction in exploration was more a negative point but it was fairly compensated with a good density and the tactical elements involved.

But I didn't played it as a stealth game but as a shooter where stealth was a frequent tactical tool. And for that point it was for me it is more fun than DXHR which is a bad shooter and stealth become tedious when overused. But overall it isn't as good than DXHR and the general stealth gameplay of DXHR is at another level even if I'm less enthusiast about the fights.

The exploration is certainly the weak point with the action dialogs, but for me it worked overall, but also I didn't finished it, but I don't remember why as I have a very good remembering of this game.

EDIT: Flawed gem? Yeah possibly. But I'd say that considering Shadowrun Return had a quite lower budget, for me SRR is a better flawed gem, and I finished it and replayed it and replayed it in parts multiple time. :-)

I'd say both apply non classical designs and in a rather similar way, both use very different design approaches than the standards of the main classic CRPG.

EDIT2: In fact I felt the reactions at the two games are a bit like if there's a pattern for RPG, and a RPG must respect strict measurement, and at each variation there's a point penalty… This without looking what is the gameplay really, like for example if it's just a game not a "RPG" and is it fun or not and how much.
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