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Alpha Protocol - All News

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Saturday - September 06, 2014
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Box Art

Saturday - September 06, 2014

Alpha Protocol - Retrospective @ Kill Screen

by Couchpotato, 05:41

Well here is another retrospective article for Alpha Protocol from a small site called Kill Screen. As for me I sill enjoy playing the game despite all the flaws.

Described on release in 2010 as “the espionage RPG,” Alpha Protocol didn’t make the best first impression. For what was ostensibly a stealth game, it tripped up with one vital detail: its sneaking animation. Ass-up, head down: Alpha Protocol’s lead super-spy Mike Thorton shuffles his way through the world of international espionage like no other.

It’s a small thing, but Obsidian’s game was arguably undone by the small things. An uneasy mixture of third person stealth and hidden dice-rolls saw it situated awkwardly within the RPG genre-at-large, and pushed into a market in which it had little place. Inconsistent enemy AI, claustrophobic level design, and a single misjudged animation ensured that it shot just wide of mainstream acceptance, and has gone unnoticed ever since.'

It's a shame no one will make another game like it. Cry

Monday - June 09, 2014

Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Duckfeed

by Couchpotato, 05:55

Chris Avellone did another audio interview this week with a site called DuckFeed, and talked a little bit the failed gem Alpha Protocol.

Gary Butterfield, Kole Ross, and Ben Merkel interview Chris Avellone about Alpha Protocol, then read your thoughts on the same game.

Wednesday - January 08, 2014

Alpha Protocol - Retrospective @ Eurogamer

by Couchpotato, 00:22

Eurogamer has a retrospective for Obsidian's Spy RPG Alpha Protocol.

It's understandable that nobody's picked up the baton here, unfortunately Alpha Protocol failed as a game, and people don't generally draw inspiration from failures. More over, even if the ideas are taken up, they're a ton of work for an experience that people aren't currently crying out for - if only because we're all used to game responses being limited to binary morality checks, and optional love interests.

But screw that. That way lies stagnation, boredom, and madness. Any RPG or adventure designer without a copy of Alpha Protocol and a notepad with its name surrounded by little hearts is an RPG or adventure designer not doing their homework properly. Like Vampire: The Masquerade: Colon: Bloodlines, Alpha Protocol is nothing short of a treasure trove of ideas and unspoiled systems just waiting to be cracked open and presented as new innovation.

Whatever game finally picks up the baton won't, and shouldn't just copy Alpha Protocol. It makes far too many mistakes, many of them obvious, and anyone repeating them would deserve all the face-slaps in the world. Luckily, the good bits and the bad aren't intertwined, and the fact that Alpha Protocol didn't live up to its potential doesn't mean other games couldn't on their own terms. Even if one only pulled off its tricks half as well as it did, though, it'd still have twice the reactivity that any other RPG is likely to offer in the next couple of years. I'd like to think that counts for something.

Thank you Thrasher for the link.Wink

Tuesday - September 24, 2013

Alpha Protocol - Retrospective @ Rebel Gaming

by Couchpotato, 00:20

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.

Sunday - February 10, 2013

Alpha Protocol - The new Deus Ex @ Joystiq

by Dhruin, 21:31

The latest RPG column from Joystiq's Rowan Kaiser looks back at Alpha Protocol

The innovative narrative structure and focus of both Deus Ex and Alpha Protocol are the most memorable parts of both games, which makes their flaws easier to forgive. Deus Ex used the Fallout model of branching peaceful or violent paths through most of its quests, which wasn't new on its own, but it was largely new in the world of shooters. More importantly, Deus Ex's story focused on entirely different subjects from most games. Its head-first dive into conspiracy mythology provided an entertaining over-the-top storyline, while also giving enough room for longer philosophical discussions and even ahead-of-its-time satire. I remember one long conversation with a Chinese bartender in particular, where your player character argues that separation of power is necessary to prevent the worst from a country's leaders with the bartender countering with it also prevents the best from happening. This was rare in any game not named Planescape: Torment, and totally unique in being directly connected to the real world.

Alpha Protocol's narrative is built around a similarly forward-looking conversation system. As you talk to someone, you're presented with two to four options of what emotion you want to guide you in the conversation. Critically, this happens as a timer goes down, meaning that you have to choose and choose quickly, with a minimum of information. While the concept of not showing exactly what your character will say had previously existed with Mass Effect, the addition of the timer and notable vagueness of the response options make Alpha Protocol's tense affairs. It's easy to see Alpha Protocol as a precursor to The Walking Dead thanks to the timer, which adds immediate intensity to the former simple conversation model.

Sunday - January 06, 2013

Alpha Protocol - Retrospective @ Eurogamer

by Aries100, 19:32

Eurogamer's Richard Cobbet has written a retrospective editorial about this game.
He thinks it has many faults, but acclaims the game for what it does:

Alpha Protocol was "The Espionage RPG", and for all its faults, it's easily the best spy game ever made. By that, I mean it's the only one that's set in the modern world, and that has a crack at the entire experience - the action, which, say, Spycraft lacked, the social side ignored by the likes of Goldeneye, and at least an attempt at a strategic element via a web of contacts, assets, betrayals and negotiations with friends and enemies that nobody ever really bothers with, but deserves to be important part of any fictional agent's life. Other games offered bits. Alpha Protocol did it all. The overall plot is fairly bland, though just to set the stage, it goes like this. Officially, the organisation known as Alpha Protocol doesn't exist. 

 

Source: GameBanshee

Thursday - September 22, 2011

Alpha Protocol - $2 on Steam

by Dhruin, 23:49

Captain Huggy Face writes that Steam has a Sega special that includes Alpha Protocol for USD$2 (it shows $3 for me, which is presumably my localised price). I'm an unabashed fan of AP but if you have any interest in shootery/stealth action/RPGs, it would be hard to wrong at this price. Valid to September 27th.

Saturday - July 30, 2011

Alpha Protocol - Sale @ Direct2Drive

by Dhruin, 01:11

If you don't already have Alpha Protocol, you can grab it at Direct2Drive for $4.95 on sale at the moment.

Wednesday - January 12, 2011

Alpha Protocol - The Sins @ Gameroni

by Dhruin, 22:42

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.

Wednesday - December 01, 2010

Alpha Protocol - v1.10 Patch

by Dhruin, 10:48

Looks like we might have missed a v1.10 patch for Alpha Protocol last week - although the fact that the .exe replacement from a few months back was also labelled v1.10 makes it confusing.  This one actually lists some fixes and removes the copy protection.  There are two versions - NA retail and "EU, Czech, Polish, Russian and Digital Download Versions", which seems an odd collection.  According to a poster at Qt3, it seemed to work with his Steam version but I'd suggest caution.

* To resolve activation issues, PC copy protection has been removed.
* In Moscow during the assault of Brayko's Mansion, the player could get into a situation where a door would not be openable preventing progression through the rest of the level. This has been fixed.
* In Taipei, during the Stop the Assassination mission, the user can fall out of the world if they reload the "Exit Gardens" checkpoint. There was also a problem where if the player backtracked, part of the level might not load in properly. This has also been fixed.
* In the same mission, a problem with subtitles was corrected.
* In the museum in Rome, the game could crash when using Focused Aim to kill the NPC holding Madison in the elevator.
* Bosses could get stuck in an accelerated mode when Fury wears off.
* Chainshot was exploitable to slow time and get critical headshots without consuming its cooldown.

Source: GameBanshee

Wednesday - November 24, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Sale @ GamersGate

Tuesday - October 26, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Review @ Gear Diary

by Dhruin, 23:09

This review of Alpha Protocol from txa1265 goes back a week or so but I only just spotted it in our forums.  Here's a short snip from the screen-heavy article:

In a game billed as a ‘Spy RPG’ I don’t know why I should have to make a point that you should focus on stealth skills … yet in reviews, forums, blogs and so on I have seen way too many gripes about things that ultimately come back to people trying to run’n'gun their way through this game or expecting it to behave like a standard cover-shooter. I also find it frustrating explaining the juxtaposition of shooter skills and RPG skills – especially when so many folks had similar issues with Fallout 3.

It should seem pretty clear by now that I really enjoyed Alpha Protocol – it is not the best game I’ve played this year but is a solid game that I know will stay installed on my system for some time to come. So how come I also say it is a failure? Not just because of lackluster sales and lack of a sequel, but because it failed to really grab played with the first impression. You feel limited, the story isn’t instantly compelling, and the early combat isn’t terribly satisfying. 

Tuesday - September 14, 2010

Alpha Protocol - v1.1 Patch Released

by Dhruin, 23:00

Posters on Obsidian's Alpha Protocol forums have spotted a v1.1 patch at Sega.  There are no patch notes, no readme and Sega hasn't even bothered with an installation script: it seems you download a new .exe and manually copy it over to the correct location.  Here's Sega's entire post:

We’ve recently released a patch for Alpha Protocol PC that addresses issues with installation, activation and some other minor technical problems.  Below are the simple steps to install the update.

1) Got to:
http://help.sega.com/index.php?_m=downloads&_a=viewdownload&downloaditemid=262&nav=0,1

2) Download the new APGame.exe

3) Open Alpha Protocol’s binaries folder.  The default location is C:\Program Files\SEGA\Alpha Protocol\Binaries, though various download retailers often change the default layout to be under their own folder.

4) Replace the APGame.exe in the binaries folder with the new APGame.exe you downloaded.

[Update]: Multiple posters note that the game fails to start with this file.  Whether it only suits a particular version or Sega has made a mistake, we'll have to wait to find out.

Friday - August 13, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Walkthrough @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 23:44

GameBanshee let us know they have finished their illustrated walkthrough for Alpha Protocol.

Friday - July 30, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Sells 700k

by Dhruin, 21:38

Posters on the Alpha Protocol official board noticed some sales figures from recent Sega financial results.  Here's a snip from an article at the Examiner:

Alpha Protocol was released for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in Europe on May 28th and North America on June 1st. As of June 30th, the role-playing game has sold 700,000 units.

Tuesday - July 06, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Sega Not Interested In A Sequel

by Korplem, 18:52

Mike Hayes, Sega West president, told CVG in an interview that Sega will not pursue a sequel to Alpha Protocol due to poor sales and reviews.

"Let's speak very commercially; the game hasn't sold what we've expected, therefore we won't be doing a sequel," said Hayes.

"The concept was brilliant, though," he added. "You know this whole thing with Metacritic where you have to be in the high 70s to mid-80s minimum [to have any success] - well, with RPGs you have got to be in the late 80s. 

Edit: Thanks also to Melvil for a similar submission.

Source: Blues News

Thursday - July 01, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Review Flood # 3

by Aries100, 15:45

More reviews have come for Obsidian's Alpha Protocol.

There's one at Bitmob - no score though.

I don't like to give number scores, so I'll tentatively say that Alpha Protocol is worth a rent. The experience won't be recreated for another couple years so if u can shell out 6 - 8 dollars for a play through I'd recommend doing so. Just don't be surprised if the taste is a bittersweet one in the end.

Read more: Alpha Protocol Review: Don't Give up on Obsidian yet http://www.bitmob.com/articles/alpha-protocol-review-as-bad-as-everyone-says-it-is#ixzz0sRgXbkog

There's one at Games Eyeview with a score of 6.5/10

Honestly, we had high hopes for Alpha Protocol.  We were intrigued by the concept and by Obsidian’s RPG pedigree.  But unfortunately much of Alpha Protocol falls short of the mark.  Inconsistencies in combat, enemy A.I. and overly difficult minigames seriously hamper what could have been a very good overall experience.  Despite all that, we enjoyed the story and might be drawn back in for a continuation of the franchise if some of the more serious gameplay flaws can be addressed in the future

There's one at Honest Gamers with a scoe of 7/10

The question of whether or not that sort of thing appeals to you is an important one to answer before you invest your time in Alpha Protocol. Those looking for tight, wall-to-wall action will be bored and disappointed within a few hours, whereas the players who judge it as an RPG first and foremost will be drawn in by the expansive character-building, the branching conversations and the fantastic NPC interaction. They’ll be frustrated by its bugginess and datedness, too, but they’ll also be willing to put up with that. Depending on your perspective, Alpha Protocol will either be a technical disaster that should never have been released, or the most flawed masterpiece that you’ll ever play. I definitely fall into the latter category, and despite myself, I can’t wait to play it a third time.

Source: GameBanshee

Sunday - June 27, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Review Flood # 2

by Aries100, 17:12

There's more reviews for Alpha Protocol. First up is The Escapist with an article named Alpha Overhaul. Here's a tidbit:

If you're used to playing a renegade type of character you might be in for a shock when mouthing off to powerful people and sucker-punching jerks comes back to haunt you later. If your playstyle leans towards the paladin end of the spectrum, then you might learn a little lesson in pragmatism when sparing the life of an enemy means they might come back to give you a wedgie in a subsequent mission. Some choices are clear, and others aren't, but after the first few decisions you'll come to appreciate being able to change the game in meaningful ways. Sometimes a choice can turn a boss fight into a conversation. Or save the life of an ally. None of the decisions follow the cheap formula of "do you want the money and the bad karma or do your want to make some trivial sacrifice as a down payment on your halo?"

Second, we have a review at Game Critics which gives the game a 1.0/10 - the reviewer doesn't like the game:

I could go on like this for quite a while, if I thought it necessary. Alpha Protocol fails on multiple levels, from its completely inappropriate boss fights down to its absurd Looney Toons-style stealth creep. Nothing about this game suggests its makers have any acquaintance with sound design principles or even quality control. Flawed in its conception, impoverished in its design, and thoroughly inept in its execution, Alpha Protocol is an unmitigated disaster. Rating: 1.0 out of 10.

And then there's this doodle review at  Strident UK.

Source: GameBanshee

Tuesday - June 22, 2010

Alpha Protocol - More Reviews

by Aries100, 16:33

A few sites more have reviewed Obsidian's spy-rpg, Alpha Protocol.  The Adreneline Vault gives it a 2/5 and here's an excerpt:

Unfortunately, Alpha Protocol feels like an extension of what Obsidian has been doing all along. In my intro, I mentioned that they have garnered fame stepping in to handle many sophomore outings. That’s what this game feels like – a shadow copy of better games – most specifically Mass Effect. The cinematic approach to the narrative mimics Mass Effect’s radial dialogue choices but the key difference is that Mass Effect tells a densely plotted, compelling tale where the narrative in Alpha Protocol is all over the map. A good story is key to a great role playing experience. Without it, there’s no real reason to invest in all the grinding required to build your character. Unfortunately, Obsidian steps into a fertile landscape and then simply decorates it in cliché – never bringing anything new or unique to their retelling.

Computer Games Romania is more positive with 83/100 - here's a snop from the beginning:

And in some ways, Alpha Protocol is way more of an important RPG than Knights of the Old Republic II or Neverwinter Nights 2 were in their day. For the latter they only had to carry on the torch, already having a solid base to work on. But this time, Chris Avellone and co went 100% on their own – new setting, new characters, design decisions and so on. If something didn’t appeal to the players, they couldn’t go “Uhm, you know, it’s because of George Lucas / Wizards of the Coast. We would have done it if we could have”. This time, they pretty much had full discretion to create an RPG as they saw fit.

Even though some will say otherwise, I firmly believe that RPG will remain (probably forever) niche games. I’m talking here about true RPGs, not any title where you have some experience points and abilities and bang, it’s an {insert genre here}/RPG. Truth be told, it’s Dungeons & Dragons’ fault that we, gamers, are classically viewed as geeks rolling dices in basements.

The rest of the review is a pretty interesting read that deals with the game in-depth.

Source: GameBanshee

Monday - June 21, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Patch and DLC Plans

by Dhruin, 21:01

Posting excerpts from an upcoming E3 interview with Obsidian, GameBanshee has news of an Alpha Protocol patch and the status of DLC:

In regard to a patch, Chris told me, "We're working on one, but we don't have an exact release date yet." Feargus was more specific, telling me: "We wanted to release something fairly quickly based upon some feedback we were getting. I think [SEGA] wanted to take a different approach by gathering more information over a longer period of time and provide a patch then. That's what we're figuring out right now."

Unfortunately, the possibility of DLC doesn't seem as good. Feargus tells me, "I don't know if [SEGA is] talking about that at all yet. I can say that we're not working on any DLC right now. We'd love to, but we're not."

Alpha Protocol - Reviews and Price Drop

by Aries100, 14:33

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.

Source: GameBanshee

Friday - June 11, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Review, Database @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 22:45

We're overdue rounding up another batch of Alpha Protocol reviews but our friends at GameBanshee have posted a piece written by Brother None, as well as getting their database online, so we'll post about it.  Brother None lambasts the bugs and weak gameplay elements but ultimately concludes this "was one of the more satisfying RPG experiences I've had in years".  This isn't the most informative quote but I was fascinated to see little details that went over my head:

I don't know each of these places as well as the next, never having been to Taipei or Saudi Arabia, but their interpretation of Rome looked accurate, while their interpretation of Moscow – to me – showed a great attention to detail needed to make the game world breathe. This starts at getting the look of the city right, but where it shines is when they start doing “fanservice” of sorts for Russians and those who know Russia somewhat, from the appearance of Nikolai Valuev in the form of Championchick, to little jokes like the name of Lazlo's yacht: originally named победа, meaning victory, the п and о fell off so it now reads беда, meaning trouble or misfortune.

Thursday - June 10, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Editorial about Consequences @ Bitmob

by Aries100, 18:40

Bitmob discusses in their latest editorial consequence and choice in rpg games, mentioning that consequences matters more than choices. Alpha Protocol are seen as one of the game in which this is done very well:

The recently released Alpha Protocol goes even further, packing countless choices and results into the game and interspersing them throughout. Every character has a relationship scale based on how much they like you. However, a person liking you is not always the ideal situation. Sometimes you have to make someone angry in order for them to divulge information. In addition, your handler trusts you more if they like you, but sometimes having them like you too much can negatively affect the mission. Gathering intel opens up conversation options.

Read more: Consequences Matter, Not Choices http://www.bitmob.com/articles/consequences-are-what-count-not-choices#ixzz0qThOzL00

Source: GameBanshee

Thursday - June 03, 2010

Alpha Protocol - 11 Ways it is Better than Mass Effect 2 @ Fidgit

by Aries100, 14:49

Tom Chick from Fidget spent some time putting this list together. Here's his reason why Alpha Protocol is the better roleplaying game:

11) As a role-playing game
Alpha Protocol is often awkward and sometimes ridiculous. But it's internally consistent because it is first and foremost an RPG. Sure, it's silly when spies can hide in plain sight like cloaked predators. But stealth is an important "leg" of the game, along with gadgets, hacking, and gunplay. The idea is that you choose among them for the kind of spy you want to be. From there, everything is based on advancing how and how well you do these things. This evolves based on your skills and gear, which are the hallmarks of any good RPG. Contrast this to how Mass Effect 2 distills everything down to crossing space dungeons by playing a streamlined shooter with skills aplenty and gear that doesn't matter so much.

Thanks also to badesumofu who also sent this in.

Source: GameBanshee

Monday - May 31, 2010

RPGWatch Feature - Alpha Protocol Impressions

by Dhruin, 10:44

After a dozen hours play, we've got some early impressions of Obsidian's Alpha Protocol.  Here's a sample:

I found a stealth character (or at least, a cautious character that doesn't rush in) to be rewarding.  Using cover (which could be better), watching guard movements and carefully choosing the best route meshes with the slow aiming for critical shots and using different abilities.  While I enjoyed the stealth play, it could be better.  The level design could offer more choices and there's no real use of light and shadow; anyone expecting something like Thief or Splinter Cell will be disappointed.  Because stealth is more about watching guards and hiding behind objects than melding with the shadows, the advanced stealth skills are underwhelming.  Shadow Operative, for example, simply makes you invisible for a limited period.  It works well enough but breaks the suspension of a real world setting to simply press a button and walk past guards unseen.  In practice, it's probably not that different to other stealth games but it does stand out in the supposedly realistic setting.

Read it all here.

Friday - May 28, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Review Flood #1

by Dhruin, 22:53

The Alpha Protocol review avalanche has hit and it's a ridiculously mixed bag.  The scores and opinions are contradictory (even on the same issues), although "unpolished" is a common theme.  I'm going to break out some bigger reviews and line list the rest.  Note that most of these are console reviews.

Eurogamer has what reads as a balanced article, with a score of 7/10.  They say they weren't impressed at two hours but really enjoyed the game at eight hours.  Here's a snip:

As the cast list expands and the action abilities opened up by the levelling process become increasingly cartoony - two favourite unlocks are an evasion skill which allows you to go unnoticed for a few seconds even if you absolutely blow your cover, and a temporary shotgun boost that lets you knock down enemies as you hit them - Alpha Protocol starts to come to terms with itself as a slightly tongue-in-cheek enterprise. Helpfully, the script has plenty of classy moments, both in terms of the cut-scenes and the text, if you're willing to plough through the emails you'll constantly receive from both friends and enemies. Even the action, formed from pieces which are only really second-rate by themselves, eventually comes together into something that tugs you forward with surprising insistence.

And while it's a linear adventure at heart, the game takes its commitment to player choice fairly seriously. It offers plenty of moments where you have control over the big things - who lives, who dies, who becomes an ally and who becomes a boss battle - as well as the little things, like how your approach to a mission changes what your handler thinks of you.

VideoGamer says AP "plays like a sub-standard third-person shooter" but it's still "more enjoyable than it should be".  Graphical issues, texture pop-in, frame-rate and other issues hit hard and the score is 6/10:

Despite borrowing the mechanic from BioWare, the dialogue system happens to be one of the game's strongest assets. Obsidian is well known for its talents in the dialogue department (KOTOR2 being a shining example) and Alpha Protocol has been treated with the same care and attention. How you decide to react to different situations determines what missions you're given and what characters you're likely to encounter. Supporting this branching narrative is an impressive 30+ endings, and the mid sections will differ dramatically from game to game, too. To see everything the game has on offer will take a serious investment of time. [...]

Thorton's mission is orchestrated out of several safe houses acting as the hub for real world locations including Tai Pei, Rome and Moscow. As far as spy-pads go, these safe houses are pretty swanky, offering services to check email, change weapon load-outs and even watch the news. It's the kind of place you imagine James Bond chilling out with a Martini before a mission. This is one thing that Alpha Protocol does reasonably well: it makes you feel like an undercover agent. Whether you're flipping through enemy dossiers on your PDA, catching up on new emails or tinkering with your equipment – you'll feel suitably like an employee of the secret services.

1Up says 'B+', which is a certainly a decent score.  They describe the action as competent but are really taken with the dialogues and choices.  The article uses a spoiler as an example (be warned), so here's a quote straight after a situation that impressed the writer:

I like this sort of thing. It's always left me a little bit dismayed that the modern definition of a role playing game has been "pretty much any other kind of game, except with a lot more numbers in it." Alpha Protocol has XP and skills to level up and whatnot, but the dialogue is what has me paying attention. I don't have a lot of patience for cut-scenes, but cut-scenes where at any second I may have to make a snap decision that will determine how a good chunk of the rest of the game plays out, as well as how other characters will relate to me? That's the textbook definition of roleplaying, which doesn't enter into games all that often, and almost never in a context that doesn't involve elves.

Going to to the other end of the scale, Destructoid hated everything and the score is a brutal 2/10:

The game is supposedly able to be played one of three ways -- using stealth, using brute force, and using gadgets. Stealth is no good because the enemy AI is so unpredictable and spotty, not to mention the useless camera and poor graphics make spotting enemies ahead of time difficult, and the complete lack of hiding places negates the idea of sneaking around. The gadgets are a cool idea, but nothing too innovative, and playing strictly as a gadget-based character mostly means throwing grenades around. That leaves you with a combat-oriented character, but combat is so crap that it's not really very fun. 

It seems as if Obsidian tried to mix RPG combat with real-time shooting action, and it doesn't really work (what a surprise!). All it means is that sometimes the guns will miss even if the reticule is dead on target. You can stay still and watch the reticule close in an enemy for a critical shot, but the opponents are running around like the aforementioned decapitated poultry, so good luck with that. Steadying one's aim is next to impossible with the insane characters who are either running towards you, running in circles, or running nowhere, with Thorton stuck in the middle of this chimp's tea party surrounded by grenade spam and broken cover systems.

More middle-ish ground, with GameSpot finally posting their 6/10 review.  As noted yesterday, they describe "astounding intricacies" but "clumsy gameplay mechanics":

Playing Alpha Protocol is like putting together a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle with 500 pieces missing: You get a sense of what the big picture should have been, but the final product is still maddeningly incomplete. This intriguing role-playing game boasts an extraordinarily flexible plot, in which your choices have real consequences both on the story and on the gameplay. Sadly, almost every other element has been skimped upon, resulting in an awkward amalgam of half-baked gameplay elements that never come together. On paper, Alpha Protocol sounds thrilling: You can go into each mission guns blazing, sneak up on your enemies to take them down before they see you coming, or mix and match methods as you see fit all while hacking computers and picking locks to uncover the enemies' deepest secrets. In practice, none of these mechanics work out very well. Terrible AI, a too-close camera angle, and other annoying inconsistencies make the stealth route feel random and unsatisfying. These issues, along with the unreliable cover system and a number of bugs and weapon imbalances, make shooting feel equally clumsy. It's easy to appreciate Alpha Protocol for its high ambitions; it's just not that much fun to play it.

Let's take a higher one, with NowGamer scoring 8.1/10:

What sets it apart is the time limit: every answer must be given and every decision made in little more than five seconds. It doesn’t sound like much, but it invests almost every discussion with a heightened sense of drama. If you missed something through not paying the game your full attention there’s simply no time to recall the details, and if you don’t make the call, the game will make it for you. That’s one thing when you’re only deciding if Thorton should make a lewd comment to a beautiful investigative journalist, but quite another when you’re asked to choose between saving a friend’s life or disarming a bomb that will kill dozens of innocent people. Alpha Protocol is short for an RPG, but it boasts a disarming number of no-win situations that can radically alter the path of the game.

On a personal level, things are no less complicated. Obsidian might have taken inspiration from Mass Effect for its conversations, but the way other characters form opinions on Thorton is more granular than Bioware’s blunt paragon/renegade split. The way he responds to someone - in person or through the game’s well realised e-mail system - will effect how much they like or trust him, allowing you to choose Thorton’s allies and enemies on an individual basis.

 

Thursday - May 27, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Review Mini Roundup

by Dhruin, 21:13

A couple of Alpha Protocol reviews have hit the net, although it's hard to tell the quality of the articles.  Bit-tech systematically pulls the game apart, criticising almost everything you could imagine.  While they do acknowledge some good ideas, they clearly don't like the overall presentation and basic gameplay.  There are several references to "the opening portions", which did leave me wondering how much they played.  The score is 5/10 and here's a snip:

Ostensibly an RPG at heart, Alpha Protocol also suffers a bit from the way it attempts to fuse this structure onto a shooter frame. It wants to be a new Deus Ex, but poor balancing and over-simplified mechanics mean it feels more like Invisible War at best.

The RPG-side of the game isn’t all that well presented or interesting either – basically a case of dropping a point into weapon skills to get an accuracy boost or recoil adjustment. All out action characters will unlock a range of bullet-time abilities, while those who want to be a bit sneaky are lumbered with endless minigames and terrible pistols.

A site called Gladriel has a very short article, with a score of 7.5/10:

Still, there are some saving graces in this game: the role-playing and storyline are both excellent. We can level up our spy the way we want, just like in Mass Effect, or other good RPGs. There’s a plethora of specializations and special skills to develop and it’s really fun to use the latter on the missions. The story is top-notch, with well-drawn characters, exciting missions, double crossings, back stabbings, and many other surprises as well. So should we buy Alpha Protocol? Well, if you are itching for a good spy thriller with tons of customizations and a cool story, and if you can pass by its glaring design faults, then this game is clearly for you.

Gamespot has a score of 6/10 up, but the link to the review currently just circles back to the summary page.  The review summary is up, though, and says "Alpha Protocol's astounding intricacies are tarnished by bugs, clumsy gameplay mechanics, and rough production values."

Finally, CVG reports one of their magazines called Gamemaster has a review in the latest edition.  The score is 84%, though we can only read their summary:

The mag's awarded Sega's espionage RPG a very respectable 84% thanks to its, "dynamic shooting, insane levels of customisation and a thumping near-future dose of espionage and sinister conspiracy."

Wednesday - May 26, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Two Trailers

by Dhruin, 22:14

Here's a pair of new Alpha Protocol trailers.  The first is a lengthy walkthrough trailer, with 10 minutes of footage starting with character creation and then the opening scenes and tutorial mission.

The second is another of CVG's own videos, this one focusing on the RPG aspects.

Tuesday - May 25, 2010

Alpha Protocol - News Roundup

by Dhruin, 21:57

Here's a small collection of Alpha Protocol news as we enter the final stretch before release.

...and an interview at MSXbox World with unnamed developers:

How much exploration will there be in terms of mission structure, can gamers expect to look off the beaten track for example to discover new things, new ways to tackle objectives? How much freedom will the player have? Will players be able to revisit locations to explore?

Players will have an option to choose the order of missions and operations. The chosen order will affect the way the game will play out. Some missions will disappear or appear, if a certain mission is completed before it. Due to the reactive nature of the story and Locations, players will not be able to revisit mission.

Monday - May 24, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Community Interview @ Kotaku

by Dhruin, 20:56

You may recall Kotaku collected some reader questions for Alpha Protocol a week or two back and the answers are now in, with responses from various Obsidian developers:

SirJD
Recent RPG’s have been met with cries from both crowds, on whether they are moving towards what some would say is a simplification or “dumbing down” of the genre, due to the lack of classic “RPG” elements. Others take the view that they are moving in the opposite direction, and becoming more of a natural role-playing experience. What can you tell us regarding Alpha Protocol’s position, and more specifically both of your thoughts on this current back-and-forth?

Chris Parker: Personally, I’m a terrible person to take sides in this particular discussion. I think some games benefit from a simple RPG scheme and yet I love other games that are more complicated. For example, I have no numerical idea what any of the upgrades in Bioshock 2 do, but I still feel like my character is growing and I’m picking how he does that (yes, that’s RPG-lite, but appropriate). In Fallout 3 there are tons of numbers for me to look at and analyze, along with a bamillion items and a gigantic open world. I love both those games, and as long as games are still being made on that broad spectrum, I’m happy.

Alpha Protocol did stay away from some “hard-core” RPG elements. We wanted you to get equipment, but have specific types of guns. And we didn’t want you to be stuck with a class but we wanted you to have skills. The story is very reactive to the decisions that you make all the way up to the end. Is it as hard-core as some of the golden oldies? Nah, but I think it’s the appropriate amount level for the game we made.

In other AP news, CVG has a new weapons trailer they made using their review copy.

Friday - May 21, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Music Video

Thursday - May 20, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Choose Surkovs Fate Trailer

by Dhruin, 21:27

There's a new Alpha Protocol 2-part trailer at Gametrailers titled Choose Surkov's Fate.  Nearly 5 minutes of footage is on offer in the first part, then you get to make a choice and a second trailer plays to show the result.  A nifty idea and worth a look for anyone interested in AP.

Edit: fixed link and extended description.

Tuesday - May 18, 2010

Alpha Protocol - First Review

by Dhruin, 22:36

Well, sort of.  Obsidian is pointing out a short summary of an Alpha Protocol review at Segabits, based on Spanish mag PlayMania.  They awarded 88/100 and here's the not-so-informative score summary:

Graphics -> 80 - The exteriors are not so bad but the models and their animations are far from perfect.
Sound -> 90 – Appropriate soundtrack.
Diversity -> 89 - Even though it’s the same game, there are many possibilities when it comes to customizing your character and deciding how to play.
Duration -> 90 - The replayability factor is really high. You can play Alpha Protocol a lot of times without experiencing the same adventure.

Overall -> 88 - A spy role playing game that succeeds in blending action with stealth and gives players a high degree of freedom in choosing how they want to proceed.

Monday - May 17, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Small World Trailer

by Dhruin, 21:11

Sega Europe has released a new trailer for Alpha Protocol, showing off the globe-trotting nature of the game.

Meanwhile, Joystiq is highlighting recent interview answers to the question of the delays.  It seems Sega has been inconsistent as to whether the delays were purely for business reasons or to improve the game.  Mystery.

Friday - May 14, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Interviews @ RPS, IGN

by Dhruin, 23:29

Sega Producer Matt Hickman has been interviewed today at both Rock, Paper, Shotgun and IGN.  Here's a snip from the first:

RPS: You’ve said that it’s possible to get through the game without killing anyone. Beyond the technical aspects of creating the game such that this can work, what drove the desire to offer this? Is it simply a choice of style – how you want your spy to work – or is there a philosophy behind creating a game with such options?

MH: How the player decides to deal with opposing characters is really an extension of the role playing experience. Just as there are often not any clear cut good or bad decisions in other aspects of the game, how players should deal with opponents can also be ambiguous. In certain areas of the game, your opponents may be anything from US agents to security guards to terrorists. We set a precedent very early on that you’re never really sure who your enemies are and who are your friends, so it makes sense to be careful who you kill. With this in mind we figured there are going to be players out there that don’t want to kill anyone just in case. It’s also just a fun challenge for players to test themselves with.

...and from IGN AU:

IGN AU: Do you have internal stat collection processes in place to gauge how different players experience the game? Which decisions and directions are being taken, and so on?

Matt Hickman: We were very diligent about tracking play through choices, outcomes and reactions to them. We wanted to make absolutely sure that after all the decisions were made and the cards were down so to speak the outcome was what the player expected.

There is a great in game feature that helps with this. After each mission you receive a summary that lists all of the objectives, optional objectives and choices you made within each mission and the consequence of that action. By tracking all of these results on a given play through we could keep track of how each player's run through was unfolding.

Thursday - May 13, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Factions Trailer

by Dhruin, 21:25

Sega Europe's Youtube channel has a new Alpha Protocol trailer introducing the game's factions.  It's an action-oriented video but we see the VCI, Russian Mafia, G-22, CSP, the Triads and Al-Samad - looks like lots of dealing and double-crossing.

Wednesday - May 12, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Video Preview @ Gametrailers

by Dhruin, 21:30

Gametrailers has a video preview of Alpha Protocol.  The three or so minutes has familiar action footage but you do get a good look at the interfaces, choosing missions, reading dossiers and the hacking and lock-picking mini-games.

Friday - May 07, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Hands-on @ VideoGamer

by Dhruin, 21:24

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.

Wednesday - May 05, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Developing Your Skills Trailer

by Dhruin, 21:09

There's a new Alpha Protocol trailer at VideoGamer, showing off a handful of the specific skills, such as Stealth, Fury and Chainshot.

Tuesday - May 04, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Gone Gold - Michael Thornton Vignette Trailer

by Aries100, 19:20

Gamebanshee brings word that Alpha Protocol has gone gold and thus will be released in Europe on May 28th and in North America (US/CAN) on June 1st 2010. Here's the full press release:

Sega is very pleased to announce today that Obsidian's espionage RPG "Alpha Protocol" has gone gold and is headed off to manufacturing. Alpha Protocol is scheduled for release on June 1 in North America and in Europe on May 28 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Alpha Protocol unites role-playing, stealth, and action gameplay into a single experience that captures what it feels like to operate as a modern day spy. With production values on par with a blockbuster action movie, the consequences of the player's actions in the high stakes underworld of arms dealing can be explosive. Perhaps unleashing on suspected terrorists with the Pentagon's latest weaponry is the best move... or maybe just stay in the shadows and stay cryptic in your interactions. There isn't a single correct approach.

Alpha Protocol ups the stakes in the RPG genre with the integration of the innovative Dynamic Stance System (DSS), dialogue tech that allows the player to pick a ‘stance’ instead of a direct answer. Players need to think on their feet, because in Alpha Protocol a key weapon IS choice – and every decision not only shapes your relationships with in-game characters, but it changes the entire world around you.

To celebrate this golden moment, they have also released a Michael Thornton vignette trailer which you can view at Youtube.

Monday - May 03, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Combat and Weapons @ CVG

by Dhruin, 21:09

CVG has an Alpha Protocol preview that focuses on combat and weapons.  Here's a snip on Perks:

Naturally as you build up your secret agent's combat skills, you'd expect to gain some tangible benefits from your experiences and these come in the form of the excellent combat perks system. If you're determined to plough through the game all guns blazing, then perks like focused aim, which improves accuracy when used with the assault rifle and shotgun Critical Hit perks will make blowing your enemies away a cinch.
CAMERA
Yet there's also some really relevant perks for the more stealthy style player. Chain Shot, allows you to slow down the action bullet time-style and tag up to three enemies with a pointer . When time starts to flow normally again, those bullets will chain together to take down three enemies down simultaneously which is especially handy, for getting the drop when faced by superior numbers. If you're more of a hand-to-hand combat specialist, then the Fury perk will temporarily power you up Bruce Lee style where you can move at deadly speed and deal out furious amounts of critical hits and hacky sockey style damage. Nice.

Alpha Protocol - DRM Details, Previews

by Dhruin, 09:22

VoodooExtreme has more details on the Uniloc DRM system for Alpha Protocol, posting a FAQ that Sega provided them.  The key points are initial, once-only, online activation, a system to revoke activations (for re-installs and the like) and the promise the DRM will be  patched out down the track:

The system chosen for Alpha Protocol is Uniloc: SoftAnchor. The system will allow the user to activate Alpha Protocol online immediately out of the box and once activated the user never needs to worry about activating again. The activation can be used on a limited amount of PCs, and can be deactivated through our online servers allowing the user full control over their license – should they need to re-install, swap machines or suffer a catastrophic hardware failure on their normal PC.

In the future, SEGA will be releasing an unprotected patch of the game to alleviate any fears of not being able to play the game when the Uniloc servers won’t be around anymore.

We also do not use Steamworks – the Steam released version will use Uniloc DRM.

Head over for the full FAQ (thanks, Omega).

There are also a handful of new previews from the weekend. First, 1Up has a nice article that tries three different character types and looks at the results.  Some minor spoilers:

Several times, the developers at Obsidian have pointed out that you can play through their upcoming, spy action-RPG Alpha Protocol  as one of the three "big Bs" of modern espionage fiction: Bourne, Bond, or Bauer. To that end, I actually play through the opening act of a recent preview build with three different versions (in terms of character class and attitude) of main character Michael Thorton. While I won't go as far as to say it feels like three different games, I'll admit that there are some pretty cool tweaks and twists depending on your general attitude and play-style.

From what I can tell (I've only played up until the end of Operation Desert Spear, meaning the tutorial and four missions within Saudi Arabia), the story begins with a terrorist organization called Al-Samad firing stolen missiles at a civilian airliner; Desert Spear is Mike's operation to track down Sheikh Ali Shaheed (Al-Samad's chief financier). The different attitudes (suave, aggressive, and professional) you adopt during dialogue affect things such as your relationship to other characters (and what bonuses they give you when you start a mission under their supervision); for now, I'm focusing on Mike's boss (Yancy Westbridge), the first contact/romance option (Mina Tsang), and rival agent Sean Darcy. Other factors that change depending on your style during Desert Spear include what happens while pursuing an arms dealer named Nasri (his own fate, and a sequence involving his guards, have different consequences), and what happens when you finally meet Shaheed himself.

A standard preview from Fragland (thanks, Blue's):

Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to discover more, but what we got to see was already a pleasant surprise. Especially the conversation system and the possible consequences of your actions are a nice touch and result in a large replayability. We did spot some downpoints in the version we got to play but then we were told that this version was already two months old and when we got to see a slightly newer (but still unfinished) version we already saw a huge improvement.

...and a preview from PC Only.nl.  You can check out a Babelfish translation here, for English readers.

Saturday - May 01, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Hands-on @ G4TV

by Dhruin, 01:54

There's a new preview of Alpha Protocol over at G4TV, based on the editor spending time with a "beefy preview version of the game for the last few nights". It's also one of the few articles that gives a little insight into how well things come together, so worth a read:

What’s struck me about Alpha Protocol, based on the amount I’ve played thus far, is that despite the rather vanilla storyline (oil controls everything, corporations and PMCs are bad, can’t trust governments, nobody is who they seem, etc.), the mission structure and conversation system really create a good sense of actually playing as a spy. By that, I mean it’s not just running around shooting the terrorist bad guys…there are missions where you go to a suspected safehouse and attempt to say the right pass phrase, or sit down at an outdoor cafe and have a talk with a menacing adversary. And though there is ample opportunity to run around shooting terrorists, there are investigation elements to it that remind me of why I enjoyed Heavy Rain so much, as well as moments where I know that I have to make important but ambiguous decisions that I can’t go back and change.

Wednesday - April 28, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview, Pre-Order Bonuses

by Dhruin, 22:11

Here's a trio of Alpha Protocol items.  The first is a preview at NowGamer, where they spent four hours with the game at a preview event. This is one of the better articles and is quite positive, although beware of light spoilers because of the typical walkthrough description.  A bit on combat:

Using the stealth class, we clung to the shadows, picking people off with a silenced pistol. Alpha Protocol wants you to play to your strengths, and even with an assault rifle for back up should things go loud, it’s quite difficult, at least initially, to go in all guns blazing. The targeting system belies the game’s RPG roots, meaning that the reticule must be placed over the enemy, and, dictated by your skill with respective weapons, the reticule will take a certain amount of time to zero in on your target.

In theory it sounds like a royal pain, but in practice it’s nowhere near as intrusive or staid as the mechanic suggests; in fact, it’s a fantastic method to keep in character and actually use your abilities. Stealth players should be lining up unseen critical headshots anyway, and soldier classes will also level up quickly to facilitate smoother combat. Despite the RPG underpinnings, Alpha Protocol’s combat never really feels anything other than fast-paced and compelling.

Omega points out the pre-order bonuses for NA and Steam and the Sega blog is promoting a free-stuff-Friday giveaway that includes an Alpha Protocol flak jacket.  Follow the link for details, including a promo video clip.

Tuesday - April 27, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Launch Centre, Preview

by Dhruin, 22:24

1Up has an Alpha Protocol launch centre if you want to catch up on recent news (or watch the countdown).  Meanwhile, Brit newspaper The Telegraph has a general preview:

A departure from such genre tropes is most welcome, but Obsidian is keen that its RPG stays an RPG. As such, the combat – which may walk and talk like a third-person shooter – is as much to do with your statistic sheet as it is your skill with an aiming reticule. Trying to take out a garrison of bad guys with a rifle from a distance, for instance, is never going to work if you’re not trained in the fine art of sniping; no matter how well-positioned you have your red dot. Similarly, engaging in hand-to-hand combat without the requisite stats is likely to get you a smack in the teeth.

This behind the scenes dice-rolling may seem anachronistic for a generation raised on shooters – especially in a game which loves guns as much as Alpha Protocol – but Obsidian are keen on players building their own Agent Thorton, moulding a skill set around their style of choice. Want to channel Jack Bauer or Daniel Craig’s Bond, go right ahead, and pour all your stat points into combat upgrades and weapon skills, shoot everyone and save the world. Prefer a subtler Sam Fisher style stealth approach? Build up your sneaking and sabotage (there are some neat hacking and lock-picking mini-games) skills.

Thanks to Omega for this one.

Friday - April 23, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Trailer Roundup

by Dhruin, 21:17

Today we have four trailers and a podcast for Alpha Protocol.  The character vignettes wrap up with complicated redhead Scarlet Lake, Michael's "main ally" Mina Tang and Conrad Marburg, who heads up a large prviate military force.

Meanwhile, GameSpot has a Dialogue Stance Trailer that offers a little under 2 minutes of insight into the timed dialogue and Chris Avellone joins the Adrenaline Vault for their latest podcast.

Thursday - April 22, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Brayko Trailer

by Dhruin, 21:03

The next Alpha Protocol character trailer is Konstantin Brayko:

Konstantin is all sorts of messed up. He has a few screws loose and even rolls around with dual gold plated uzis. Also, he's a huge jerk.

Wednesday - April 21, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Leland Trailer

by Dhruin, 20:50

"Arms dealer extraordinaire" Leland is the next Alpha Protocol character trailer.  Watch it at Gametrailers.

Tuesday - April 20, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Sie and Grigori Trailers

Monday - April 19, 2010

Alpha Protocol - But Thou Must: Choice in Games

by Dhruin, 11:13

But Thou Must: Choice in Games is the title of a GDC presentation by four Obsidian developers about choice and reactivity in roleplaying games.  I've filed this under Alpha Protocol, because they use this as their illustrative example.  They discuss some of the reactivity in AP (such as characters responding to to what the player is wearing), provide a brief history of choice in RPGs, the benefits of choice but also the developmental resource costs involved.

There's a video here at Blip.tv and although I haven't had time to fully watch the nearly 1 hour panel, I can tell you Chris Avellone is a funny bastard and this is well worth a look.

While we're on AP, GameSpot has nearly 8 minutes of footage and conversation with Sega's Tim Ernst, although we've seen most of it before.

Wednesday - April 14, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview, Video Interview @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, 22:28

GameSpot has a preview of Alpha Protocol that covers familiar ground, as well as a video interview with Sega's Tim Ernst.  The video is the better of the two and while there's little new material, it does provide a decent overview - although this is the first time I've heard about the actual background story.  From the preview:

While developers told us that you can play the entire game without killing a single enemy, it seems like combat will be plentiful. The game is played from a third-person perspective, and when aiming your weapon, you'll have a targeting reticle pop up--the longer you aim the reticle without firing, the more accurate your shot will be. If you use stealth wisely, you'll be able to sneak up on enemies and take them out without even firing a shot. This being a spy game, you can also use the game's plethora of gadgets to aid you in the action--things like electro-magnetic pulse grenades, radio mimics, incendiary grenades, and, of course, the ubiquitous first aid kits.

Alpha Protocol - To Use Uniloc DRM

by Dhruin, 22:21

I'm not familiar with Uniloc DRM but Eurogamer has the news this is the system that the PC version of Alpha Protocol will use.  Details are scant, though they promise a "polite" and "unobtrusive" experience.  Fingers crossed this won't impact sales or enjoyment of the game, so AP can stand or fail on its own merits.

Tuesday - April 13, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview, Video Interview

by Dhruin, 12:32

Omega points out another couple of Alpha Protocol articles.  Gamereactor TV has a video interview with Sega's Matt Hickman, set to familiar footage in the background.  Meanwhile, Play.tm has a preview; here's a snip on the combat:

Last but not least is the actual combat system itself. We got our hands on a stealth  mission where Michael was infiltrating what looked like a casino. There were alarms that could be triggered from the lights above and there was a good amount of stealth play to be enjoyed. We triggered the alarm a few times and some enemies appeared. The shooting feels a little raw, still styled like a third-person action game but the recital in the middle was so large it covered most of the target. Its lucky that the damage doesnt increase or decrease depending on where you shoot them in the body. For a game that focuses on guns and gadgets, youd think Obsidian would have at least included the trusty headshot.

We found it easier to run up to targets and taken them down with some punches and kicks rather than with the guns. As the damage output from the guns is totally reliant on the player constantly upgrading their weapons, we were struggling to take down large swarms of enemies. There is also a selection of skills and moves to utilise during battles. We enjoyed stealth killing enemies by going invisible or by throwing flash-bangs down. You can place mines on pillars or even throw grenades, although the combat system looks pretty diverse from the limited time we had with it.

Monday - April 12, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview and Interviews

by Dhruin, 20:53

Obsidian is pointing out a couple of Alpha Protocol articles with an audio interview with Sega's Matt Hickman at Xbox Audio and a stream-of-thought PAX preview at SideQuesting:

There is no protocol for the way you conduct yourself in Alpha Protocol.  There is no definite right and wrong way to play through the game.  Since having a poor reputation with someone is not always a bad thing, we can piss off in-game characters without having to worry about our paragon character being tagged with renegade points.  The missions that you will have available to you will depend on your reputation with different characters.  Missions open up and close depending on the state of these relationships.  The  Obsidian developers said that there’s a lot of gray in the espionage world, and that’s what you will see in Alpha Protocol.  There is no “good” option or “bad” option; there is no morality.

There are more than two paths to walk in Alpha Protocol.  You’ll have to play through the game at least three times to see everything.  Unlike Mass Effect, there aren’t two main paths to walk and things aren’t outlined in terms of red and blue.  You’ll have to react since you’ll sometimes have a limited time to make choices.  You’ll feel it out and go with your gut feeling on these decisions.

Friday - April 09, 2010

Alpha Protocol - An Interview @ Iron Tower Studios

by Aries100, 19:38

Vince D. Weller has made a sharp and exceptional interview with Chris Avellone, Matt McLean, and Chris Parker, from Obsidian Entertainment about the design choices made in Alpha Protocol. The questions he asks are  both inventive as well as insightful. Here's an example:

1. While most players tend to agree that hacking a goblin in an isometric dungeon with your trusty axe is definitely an RPG, shooting a mercenary in the face in a first or third person modern city produces mixed opinions, doubts, and confusion. So, what's the difference between a shooter with RPG elements and a first/third person RPG?

Chris Avellone: In Alpha Protocol, the genre defined the 3rd person player perspective and the amount of action/shooting/stealthing the game should have. The game is an espionage RPG, which means we present spy challenges, combat challenges, character progression, and attribute changes based on the genre conventions. So what does that mean for the RPG experience? Well:

- Being a spy conjures (excuse the irony) forth images of infiltrating an area undetected. So, you are rewarded for being stealthy and avoiding detection as much as if you'd killed someone in your path. 3rd person was the best way to communicate this aspect in the game.

- We wanted martial arts, which we felt was key to the Bourne experience - the ability to perform satisfying martial arts moves in 1st person is harder to do than in 3rd person. Much of the emotional payoff from hand to hand combat is being able to see exactly how your kicks and punches connect with the enemy, so again, we felt 3rd person was a good choice.

- We wanted the player to identify with Michael Thorton, which means we wanted him visible during the action.

Source: GameBanshee

Thursday - April 08, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Full Achievements List

by Dhruin, 21:38

This is spoiler-ish but French site Succes Full has a list of Alpha Protocol's Achievements for anyone interested.

Source: GameBanshee

Wednesday - April 07, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Previews @ CCC, Gaming Angels, IGN

by Dhruin, 21:20

Obsidian is pointing out a couple of new PAX East previews for Alpha Protocol.  A sample from Cheat Code Central:

However, there is a lot to differentiate Alpha Protocol from the pack. For starters, the combat system is far more varied than Mass Effect 2 could ever hope to be. In any given mission the strategy you take is your own choice. If you want to build a stealth character that can sneak through the level and snipe his enemies one by one, there is certainly enough customization to make that happen. And, if you want to march through the level blasting fools into the next world in a macho display of power, you are also afforded that opportunity.

A pretty short article at GamingAngels:

Another interesting item about the timed dialogue options, and in fact, the entire dialogue options throughout the game is that they vary more than usual from our standard RPG fair. Most of us are by now used to the dialogue trees common to most RPG games where if you don’t get the option you want in a conversation with a character, you can go back and cycle through the options differently to get the one your want. Or, you can try and trigger different responses or options by continuing to go back and rehash old conversations. In Alpha Protocol, this isn’t an option. You make a decision for Mike to say something, and that’s it, it’s said and you’re on to the next topic. This also means, much as we’ve seen with Heavy Rain or Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, that it’s not about a specific dialogue option, instead Alpha Protocol has what they call the Dynamic Stance System (DSS) which means you’re not choosing a specific for Mike to say, but instead a ’stance’ for him to take: Aggressive, Professional, Suave; though they may not be labeled as such in the game.

...and IGN has a 4 minute Behind the Scenes promo video.  If I understand correctly, this is a sample of the full upcoming dev diary.

Tuesday - April 06, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Dialogue and the Reactive World

by Dhruin, 12:48

Here's a third Alpha Protocol dev diary, titled Dialogue and the Reactive World, at GameSpot.  This feels familiar, so I think it might have been remixed from earlier material.  Chris Parker, Fryda Wolff, Avia Roberts and more talk about dialogue and reactions for a little under four minutes.  Thanks, Omega.

Monday - April 05, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Previews @ GamePro, Thunderbolt

by Dhruin, 20:38

A couple of Alpha Protocol previews from PAX East, spotted by GameBanshee.  First, GamePro:

Alpha Protocol will no doubt draw constant comparisons to Mass Effect 2 when it releases this summer, and for good reason; the conversation system is virtually identical, and the leveling system even appears to be very similar. While developers Obsidian Entertainment would have players believe that AP is a mixture of Bourne, Bauer, and Bond, in video game terms it's probably more accurate to call it a m‚lange of Mass Effect 2's RPG and conversation elements with a touch of Metal Gear Solid. The "three B's" analogy is still apt though; one of the neatest things I saw in the conversation system was that each possible response tends to correspond with one of those characters. Essentially this isn't a Bourne/Bond/Bauer mash up like many other spy games--it's a Bourne, Bond, Bauer lifestyle choice made by the player.

...and Thunderbolt:

With the demonstration concluded and the story hook revealed, one of the developers from Obsidian opened the floor up for a brief QA session. Much like the Madison sequence from earlier, he continued to stress how the combat could have been approached differently and how the General could have been spared. Keeping with the many middles theme it was revealed that the game has close to twelve hours of cut-scenes, but given the branching nature of the storyline it’s likely during a single playthrough you’ll only see about four hours worth.

Source: GameBanshee

Friday - April 02, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Interview @ GGtL

by Dhruin, 21:08

Matthew Rorie and Chris Avellone answer the questions for this interview at Gamers Guide to Life on Alpha Protocol.  A sample:

How open and expansive will these mission maps be? Will there be many different routes of access, or destructible environments?
MR: This will depend on the mission - most are intended to be freeform, with a variety of paths through them for you to take, which we usually use to reinforce the type of character that you've created. For example, in our train station level, do you want to stick to the walkways above a firefight and attempt to sneak by the gangs that are shooting at each other, or get down to the killing floor and participate in the bloodbath? Do you want to sneak into the embassy via the side entrance, or persuade/kill the guards at the door and bust in that way?

As far as destructible environments go, it hasn't been a huge focus for our game, but we do use them in a few places to amp up the action.

Spotted by Omega.  While we're at it, Alpha Protocol can now be preordered (or re-preordered, because I did mine about 6 months ago) at Steam, with a bonus Space Siege thrown in.

Thursday - April 01, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Gamer's Hell

by Dhruin, 21:35

A PAX preview of Alpha Protocol from Gamer's Hell, based on the same demo we've seen several times before:

Swapping to the other 360, we were at the same point in the game, but clearly things were a bit different between these two characters. Not only was the ambiance of the location darker than the other, but now instead of some implied hanky panky your player character ends up getting smashed over the head by some sort of sculpture before the woman storms out of the room. Unfortunately, the characters just don't emote particularly well and there were some lip sync issues. We were told this was basically a final build, so I don't think they're going to shoehorn a sweet facial animation system in this late in the game.

Thursday - March 25, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Sega Nerds

by Dhruin, 20:12

A new preview of Alpha Protocol can be found at Sega Nerds, with the subtitle "Plot depth beyond good and evil".   The piece covers a couple of scenarios we've seen before:

Similar to Heavy Rain, the player can choose one of several responses from different emotional spectrums, ranging from “joking” to “aggressive.” Unlike Mass-Effect, Alpha Protocol makes no suggestion to a clear cut “good” or “bad” response, making the focus on human relationships seem far more realistic and dynamic. For example, when acting tough and harsh to Mina, a blip popped onscreen showing that we had gained a “-2” relationship status with her. Clearly Michael was handling the situation the wrong way if he wanted to win Mina over. 

Wednesday - March 24, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Now Gamer

by Aries100, 20:12

Now Gamer has written quite a large excerpt from an interview about Alpha Protocol where they talked with Nathan Davis, programming producer at Obsidian. The full interview with Nathan Davis will be published in the next issue of X360 Magazine.

Here's a bit about on how to approach conversations:

Is there a right and wrong way to approach conversations, in the game? We don't want to punish the player for making choices. Our whole philosophy on this is we want the player to be the kind of Michael Thorton they want to be. You're always going to play that character but the way you play him can be radically different. That definitely goes for dialogue.

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ GotGame

by Korplem, 07:22

GotGame has a short preview of Alpha Protocol from their time at GDC.

Days after seeing the demo session, the shock of how vastly  different the same scene could play out is still lingering in my mind. Alpha Protocol is not even released yet, but I can tell it’s just waiting to be played multiple times, with an array of split-second decisions to shape not just one scene or dialogue tree to the next, but the overall experience of the game itself.

Tuesday - March 23, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Video Preview @ G4TV

by Dhruin, 21:37

G4TV has a video interview / preview on Alpha Protocol with input from Producer Matthew Hickman.  It runs at just under three minutes and focuses on "storyline and gameplay". Thanks, Omega!

Monday - March 22, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Eurogamer, Games Radar

by Dhruin, 08:23

Two new previews on Alpha Protocol and thanks to Omega for sending them both in.  First, over to Eurogamer, who take a cautious approach:

In the genre-bending world of modern videogames, things are not always what they seem. Alpha Protocol looks, walks and talks like a shooter, but it's not - under the hood it's a skills-based RPG. It's far more about character stats than firepower, and interactive cut-scenes form a substantial portion of the action.

This has a lot of counter-intuitive implications. Empty a clip of bullets into an enemy's head, and the damage done is determined by your character sheet rather than where you're aiming or how powerful the gun is - so you can rush up to a boss and unload a shotgun into his stomach, and it will do practically no damage if your shotgun stat isn't high. Try to fire an assault rifle from far away without the requisite skill points, and you simply won't hit anything, no matter where you aim.

...and then Games Radar, who saw the game at a press event in Prague.  They describe three different characters they tried:

Playing as a 'stealth' style agent

This required an altogether more sneaky approach to the mission. No longer rock-hard, we quickly realised that employing the balls-out fire fight tactic would make Thorton collapse to the floor in a heap of slow-motion deadness with alarming regularity.

No. The best way here was to exploit the stealth skills to their fullest. On-screen arrows now indicated enemy locations and temporary invisibility allowed Thorton to get close and execute fatal takedowns without being detected.

Friday - March 19, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ A+E Interactive

by Dhruin, 22:59

The Obsidian site is pointing out a new Alpha Protocol preview at A+E Interactive, describing some of the consequences from the demo they were shown - though we've seen this example before:

Since then, the developers have been polishing the gameplay, emphasizing the branching storylines. To show me the impact of choice, the team showed two different scenarios. In the first one, the main character, Michael Thorton, is a ladies man. He’s suave and heartfelt, and he manages to seduce one of the game’s love interest, Madison. The move wins the player a passive perk that makes women putty in Thornton’s hands.

Obsidian restarts the demo, and I see a different result. It’s almost like watching an episode from the last season of Lost. It’s almost like an alternate reality. Michael walks into the room, where Madison is staying, but instead of being greeted with a kiss, she knocks him on the head with a lamp. It shocks him. He doesn’t know why she did it, but the developer explains that to that point Michael has been a mean guy. Fans shouldn’t worry though. They’re not penalized for being a creep; Michael gets a breakup perk from this as well, so it’s really a no-lose situation. Both ways are feasible.

Thursday - March 18, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Multitude of Choices Video

by Dhruin, 11:18

There's an Alpha Protocol video interview with Matthew Hickman from GDC at Gametrailers titled Multitude of Choices.  Matt describes the game with around 2 min of mixed footage in the background.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Wednesday - March 17, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Choices and Sequels

by Dhruin, 07:35

Omega points out this short article at Destructoid, with Obsidian's Tim Ernst telling them about choices and how they might continue into a possible sequel.  Here's a sample:

"We've been working on this game for four years," he tells me, "so even before Mass Effect came out we were talking about these kinds of issues. I think every game is taking choices in a different direction. What we try to do is we have conversations, and depending on the choices you're going to see your reputation change. It's not this grand 'good or bad' scale; you're going to see different reputations with each person."

Tuesday - March 16, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Hooked Gamers

by Korplem, 20:29

Hooked Gamers has posted a quick interview with Obsidian's Matt MacLean and Matt Rorie. 

Here is good news for our readers lacking in charisma:

Hooked Gamers: It is our tradition to give developers a chance to say something about the game that they are desperate to get out. Is there anything burning on your lips?

Matt Rorie: When equipped, Alpha Protocol grants its wearer +3 Charisma, and enables the user to cast Have An Awesome Time Playing A Video Game at will. 

Monday - March 15, 2010

Alpha Protocol - GDC Walkthrough Video

by Dhruin, 10:39

Obsidian is pointing out a 6 minute Alpha Protocol GDC walkthrough video at Gametrailers, with Sega Assistant Producer Matt Hickman showing off a combat sequence using various skills.

Saturday - March 13, 2010

Alpha Protocol - GDC Preview @ GamesRadar

by Magerette, 17:29

Another take on the Alpha Protocol  demo presented at the GDC, this time by GamesRadar, who give their impressions in a short update  including a description of some of the character skills:

We only got a brief look under the hood at the character sheet and skill trees, but there were more than enough active abilities, passive abilities, tech and weapon upgrade options for die-hard RPG fans to customize to their hearts’ content. During combat, active abilities had a brief cooldown time but could be effectively employed in succession to get past tougher spots. Chain Shot was a particularly effective ability, which allowed the player to line up several shots and then unleash them in one sudden burst (much as in Splinter Cell: Conviction’s co-op gameplay).

Source: N4G

Thursday - March 11, 2010

Alpha Protocol - GDC Preview @ G4TV

by Dhruin, 20:16

G4TV recaps Alpha Protocol after seeing a GDC presentation.  A nifty snip:

Our most recent experience with Alpha Protocol showed off the divergent paths one can engage upon in the game.  SEGA's associate producer, Matt Hickman, put it another way, “Where other games talk a lot about multiple endings, we're all about multiple middles.”  As an example, the game was set up on two different stations, each playing out the same scene side-by-side.  In one, our super spy Mike arrives back at his safehouse to find his lady friend resting.  The scene is full of prompts, allowing the player to react in a variety of different ways.  In this demo, he's appreciative, tender and the scene culminates in the two sharing a kiss.  Clearly, he's earned this somehow.  In the other, upon walking inside, Mike's beaten and eventually electrocuted into submission by the same woman, in reaction to some heinous acts he must have committed along the way.  There's no opportunity to interact with the scene; it's merely a byproduct of a past sin.

Thanks, Omega.

Meanwhile, VG247 has some brief and not very informative comments from a Sega rep on the improvements over the delay:

If you’d seen it before, the visuals and the gameplay were rock solid back then. We used the time to do a lot of under-the-hood stuff and tweaking, things that you wouldn’t notice unless you’d played it in terms of polish.

Monday - March 08, 2010

Alpha Protocol - See it in SF

by Dhruin, 19:58

Sega is taking appointments from the public to see Alpha Protocol at GDC in San Francisco on Wednesday.  If you'll be in the area, head here to register your interest.

Friday - March 05, 2010

Alpha Protocol - The Toys Video Diary

by Dhruin, 08:05

There's a new video developer diary from Obsidian titled The Toys of Alpha Protocol, with three minutes or so of talk and video about weapons and spy gadgets.

Thursday - February 25, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Official Release Dates

by Dhruin, 09:13

Sega has finally released dates for Obsidian's much delayed but highly anticipated Alpha ProtocolThe news comes via IGN but since the Obsidian site is pointing out the article, we can presume it's all nice and official.  Oddly enough, Australia will be first out of the gates, then Europe, then NA:

For North America, the release date has been nailed down as June 1. Europe will get it a few days earlier on May 28. Those in Australia will get it earlier still on May 27.

New trailer, too, at IGN.  Titled A Man Alone, it offers around 2 minutes of footage.

Monday - February 15, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Video Preview @ Pixel Enemy

by Dhruin, 20:03

A site called Pixel Enemy has a video preview of Alpha Protocol from the recent Sega event.  Assistant Producer Matthew Hickman says the game will be out in "early Summer" and talks about the improved lighting, a "huge amount of polish", inventory screen improvements and then shows a short gameplay sequence.

Thanks to a poster on the Obsidian boards.

Thursday - February 11, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Kotaku

by Dhruin, 19:59

Kotaku writes an odd preview of Alpha Protocol based on Sega's recent demonstrations, offering praise for the wide-ranging consequences but saying it doesn't "look" like an RPG.  Here's a bizarre rationalisation for why Mass Effect looks more RPG:

It Doesn't Look Like A Role-Playing Game: At least the Mass Effect games are science fiction, which makes it possible that someone might mistake one of them for being a role-playing game, even though they look like shooters. Obsidian's Alpha Protocol, built like Mass Effect in the Unreal Engine 3 but set in the modern world of a James Bond or Jason Bourne sort of spy, really does look like a third-person shooter. I watched a Sega producer play part of one of the game's early levels during a demo of the title in New York City last week and it sure looked like he was playing a third-person machine-gun raid of a Middle Eastern military complex. I needed the producer to tell me that the size of the gun's targeting reticule was affected by some of the player-character's gun-oriented stats. I needed him to remind me that he was activating various earned perks that would, for example, briefly display enemy positions on a mini-map before needing to shut off for a cool-down period. In other words, I needed him to remind me of the underlying stat-based, RPG-ness of this game. It's not obvious at a glance.

Saturday - February 06, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Summer Release

by Dhruin, 21:31

MTV is another site to attend Sega's recent press event and they claim a Summer release for Alpha Protocol.  Here's a quote from Sega Assistant Produce Matthew Hickman on the delay and some improvements:

We had a few reasons for doing it. One: We wanted to position it better, give it a lot of time. The main reason: We really wanted to polish the game up, make it everything Obsidian planned it to be, and give the consumer a very polished game. "We added a couple of other things. Tweaks in lighting here and there, added the inventory comparison screen so you can compare what you're buying to what you have equipped. Just bringing the whole quality level up.

Friday - February 05, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Dual Shockers

by Dhruin, 21:54

Playstation site Dual Shockers has a generic preview of Alpha Protocol from a recent Sega press event, which will hopefully provide other info as we move along.  A snip:

Speaking of choices, the game’s narrative is heavily influenced by the many choices you make. Here’s a brief breakdown of what I mean. Let’s say I’m Saudi Arabia tracking down gun runner “A”, who has information on where I can find gun runner “B”. Now depending on how I deal with “A” will determine how “B” will in-turn deal with me. If I simply arrest A, then B might be okay with exchanging information with me. If I kill A, then B might not be so hot about telling me anything as he’ll think I’m going to kill him anyway. I hope you guys understood all of that. Moral decision making is an aspect of gaming that has become more frequent in the current console generation, nevertheless I think that AP, is the first title to truly hit the nail on the head.

Saturday - January 30, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Footage @ Gametrailers

by Dhruin, 21:22

The latest Gamertrailers TV episode has some new Alpha Protocol footage showing "some of the weapons, characters and more that you'll encounter as you journey along with Michael Thorton".

Friday - January 15, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Gamebanshee

by Woges, 22:29

Chris Avellone and systems lead Matt MacLean interviewed at Gamebanshee on all things Alpha Protocol with hints of other unannounced titles in development at Obsidian.

There really hasn't been a whole lot of news about Alpha Protocol since the game's most recent delay, so I thought I'd change that by tracking down lead designer Chris Avellone and systems lead Matt MacLean for a conversation about a few of the game's moral dilemmas, taking a non-lethal route through the game, some of the lesser known gameplay mechanics, and more.

Thursday - January 07, 2010

Alpha Protocol - IGN Blog Update

by Dhruin, 20:14

Confessions, Motivations and Moral Codes is the title of a Chris Avellone blog update on Alpha Protocol at IGN.  The piece goes on to summarise the motivations of some of the characters and here's the intro:

So... a confession. I've worked on Alpha Protocol for almost 2 years, and I don't know which characters are good or bad. Which, in the spy genre, is a plus.

They all have their reasons and agendas that don't break down neatly into good and evil. That's fine; Obsidian's already worked with the Dark Side/Light Side range (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords) and also juggled the spectrum of Dungeons and Dragons alignments (Neverwinter Nights 2, Mask of the Betrayer), so diving into murky moral grey areas was a nice change of pace. Also, it was kind of liberating to just have the player do things, with the world reacting, and leaving the results up to cause and effect.

In Alpha Protocol, the cause and effect breaks down into your objective, the means, the results, and then someone's reaction (and the results/reactions usually spur different objectives, and... and well, the vicious cycle continues). In short, the way you treat someone sends ripples outwards, and others agents and figures in the espionage community may either disapprove of your methods (loudly or quietly or with a fake smile as they're slowly drawing the gun from their jacket), or they may like the fact you stomped over someone to get where you needed to go. Even your bitterest rivals may respect the fact that you keep your mission in mind... no matter how many of your allies lie dead on the battlefield once you leave.

Monday - January 04, 2010

Alpha Protocol - Sequel Hints

by Dhruin, 20:20

While we don't even have a firm release date for the delayed Alpha Protocol yet, various sites are suggesting a sequel has been confirmed.  I'd suggest "confirmation" is too strong but some quotes from Sega's Constantin Hantzopoulos on a 1Up podcast certainly point that way.  A site called TheSixthAxis seems to be the source of the story, having picked up the comments from the mentioned 1Up podcast.  Quotes from Constantin:

I’ve got some folks playing it [ed: Alpha Protocol] right now internally, and, you know, basically coming up with some concepts for, eventually, AP2.

It’s the old slap on the head, looking back, and saying ‘What were we thinking?’ but sometimes you just go ‘We’ll shelve it for AP2.’

Friday - December 11, 2009

Alpha Protocol - From Script to Digital Vision

by Dhruin, 21:22

A fascinating blog update at the IGN blog for Alpha Protocol gives some insight into the process of moving from a written script to the finished, voice-acted, game experience.  A flowchart of the interaction with a character named Grigori is provided (although it's too small to read any spoiler detail) and seems to show five different outcomes across a large number of conversation nodes and/or actions.  Whilst you can't draw hard conclusions from a flowchart you can't even read, it would seem to nicely refute the famous Sony tester comment that the game isn't RPG enough.

Here's an introductory snip:

Mike Thorton walks into a dry cleaner's shop; he hears muffled yelling to which he calls out, "Hello?"

"In the back." He follows the voice to the source to see a man tied in a chair, tape over his mouth, along with another man - an informant for Thorton in the Taipei hub, Steven Heck - walking toward him with a huge bottle of bleach. Clearly the man tied to the chair is about to be tortured for incredibly important information; yet Thorton needs information of his own from Heck -but he's (obviously) preoccupied. Alas,Thorton needs to say something and what he says could affect how Heck looks at him from then on. Does Thorton hesitate, offering to come back later? Does he instead offer to help, possibly gaining some reputation points with Heck? Or does Thorton go the professional route and get right to business, thus possibly angering his would be informant?

The three choices - or Stances as they are referred to in AP - will come up in every major cinematic in the game. Matched with a timer, the player will have to make their choice quickly to keep the conversation going toward what they think would be best. Yet how do we, as the developer, incorporate what can be a spiderweb of choices and reactive callbacks into the game with relative ease?

Tuesday - December 01, 2009

Alpha Protocol - MCA Blog on the Narrative Process

by Dhruin, 21:13

A lengthy blog slash ramble has been posted by Chris Avellone, discussing their decisions and the process of iterating the story in Alpha Protocol and giving thanks to those involved.  The piece describes Sega's commitment that allowed them to go back and make large changes to improve the number of choices available to players throughout the game.  A sample:

For the narrative part of the process, Travis, Matt, and I did take on the existing characters and levels, wrote a new story using a portion of the already-made locations and relationship chains (where it made sense), and then rewrote the script and in-game emails to account for the story changes. We also added a lot more "what if the player did this" moments, took some of the plot elements and characters that were formerly untouchable and exposed them to kryptonite, and also accounted for the new reactivity mechanics and giving the player more choice and interactions in the missions. We also changed a lot of the motivations and focus of the storyline as well, as well as allowing the protagonist to have more choices with his background in character creation, which was a plus (Mike formerly had one role in the Agency, and one outlook on the greater good, so we decided to let the player choose their beginning and ending over the course of the game instead).

There was also recasting some of the voice actors. Some of the news bits were untouched, other large chunks Travis rewrote for the title. Some elements (locales, models, conversations) we left, others changed drastically - and we built a brand-new plot on top of existing assets. Levels that had been built often remained as they were, but their purpose in the grand scheme of things would change (and often, the player was no longer required to go through them to get to their objective, they could pick and choose).

Monday - November 30, 2009

Alpha Protocol - New Screens

by Skavenhorde, 09:20

There are some new screenshots up at Worthplaying for Alpha Protocol.

Friday - November 06, 2009

Alpha Protocol - MCA Interview @ grupo97

by Dhruin, 07:42

A site called grupo97 has an interview with Chris Avellone that wends its way from his position to the attitude to of publishers and finally on to Alpha Protocol:

You said that the moral ambiguity of Alpha Protocol will be closer to Fallout 1 and 2, which is very promising. Could you please explain how is this system being developed?

Alpha Protocol doesn't attach a moral absolute to the main character - instead, we track the player's attitude and individual NPC's perception of the player's morality and ethics. Basically, the player gets judged by the NPCs, but his morality isn't a number or scale attached to him personally.

Basically, the world paints you as a saint or demon - but even that's too simplistic for people's attitudes in AP, since each of them has a different perception of right and wrong. Each NPC brings their own morality judgments to the table - so saint/demon can translate into sympathetic, worthy of respect, friendship, object of romance, aggressive shithead, etc., but in terms of you judging yourself? Hell, you're just doing a job. You know why you did what you did to get the job done, the world be damned.

I've also read the player will be able to finish the game without fighting. Is that true?

Almost - you can finish the game without killing anyone (martial arts and tranquilizers and gadgets for the win). No need to take a life if you don't want to, but the pacifist route isn't easy or, ironically, for the faint of heart.

Monday - November 02, 2009

Alpha Protocol - Environmental Screens

by Dhruin, 20:04

The Obsidian forums have noticed some nice hi-res environmental screens from Alpha Protocol on the personal site of 3D Environmental Artist, James Garcia:

While it is a real drag that the release date for Alpha Protocol has been pushed back, we were given the okay to re-publish screenshots that are already up on other sites. These are care of Illuminate Labs. They make Beast, a lighting plugin we used in Unreal to bake radiosity into our levels.

While there are a few more on their site, the images I've included below represent levels that I developed and lit.

Also check out the original Illuminate Labs gallery.

Wednesday - October 28, 2009

Alpha Protocol - Interviews @ Critical Gamer, VG247

by Dhruin, 21:47

Matthew Rorie has pointed out two new Alpha Protocol interviews on the official forums.  First, Critical Gamer speaks with Chris Avellone - let's take a fun quote that isn't about the game:

CG: Which of the JB’s (Bourne, Bond, Bauer) would win in a fight to the death?

CA: They’d all die, here’s how I figure it: In the opening five minutes, Bauer shoots Bond dead after finding out Bond slept with Bauer’s daughter, his ex-wife, and all of his romantic interests from Season 1 through 5. Bauer then shoots up with heroin to smooth himself out, unaware that Bond already poisoned his black tar blend with a synthetic poison that’ll kill him in 24 hours. Bauer takes a deep breath, searches Bond’s possessions and discovers he’s just murdered a British intelligence agent. Bauer goes underground as a rogue agent, but CTU counters this by drafting Jason Bourne to go after Bauer and bring him in by any means necessary.

Bourne ambushes Bauer, and in the midst of the fistfight of rapidly-shifting camera angles and improvised weapons, Bauer (face bloodied) explains why he killed Bond. Bourne (face bloodied, and now with a limp) nods and says he would have done the same thing if Bond had slept with Sarah Silverman.*

Bourne offers to help Bauer get the antidote – another lethal poison that ironically enough, perfectly counteracts Bond’s poison but is otherwise lethal if ingested.

Bauer tells Bourne, you aren’t going to “forget” are you?

Bourne says no way, “mind like a steel trap.”

Bauer says, well, let me write you a note to make SURE you don’t forget and puts it in Bourne’s jacket pocket. Bourne goes after the antidote being held at CTU, recovers it in a bloody shootout, Sarah Silverman shows up for 10 minutes, takes a bullet and dies saying Bourne’s name, Bourne is sad and mopey, and on the way out has an amnesia attack and forgets everything that happened. Searching his jacket for clues, he reads the note from Bauer which simply says, “recover the antidote to save my life.” Bourne assumes the antidote is for him, then injects himself with the counteragent and keels over dead.

Bauer waits the remaining 22 hours (becoming the most boring season of 24 ever) and then dies. Then there’s an explosion.

Next is VG247, who gathered senior producer Ryan Rucinski, PR producer Matthew Rorie and lead designer Chris Avellone.  On that infamous Sony tester and being "RPG enough":

An alleged internal Sony tester recently said that Alpha Protocol wasn’t “RPG enough.” Ever since I read that, it’s been bugging me. RPG is such a muddled term these days. How does Obsidian define “RPG”? What makes a game an RPG, and not, say, a shooter with RPG elements or something like that?

Ryan Rucinski: “RPG” is a broad term with plenty of sub-elements. Technically, in any game you play as a character, you are playing the role of that character. A great game that was a shooter with RPG elements would be one of our favorites: System Shock 2.

In SS2 you ran through the game with pretty much no movies, a fixed story, and only one way to win. You did get bits of the story as you played through, and you got skills that helped you with some puzzle elements but besides the three archetypes of characters you really didn’t get too in-depth. On a side note, even if I heard that freakin’ monkey sound effect to this day I would probably swear and jump in the chair. Low on ammo and swinging a wrench at a monkey is no way to go through life.

Now, SS2 is very different than a Fallout or Oblivion title where everything is skill- and stat-based. Both are still technically RPGs one is just more about the numbers than the other.

Chris Avellone: An RPG is a game that provides character progression, opportunities for exploration, the ability to confront or fight adversaries and obstacles to achieve rewards, and, most importantly, gives choice in everything from character construction to action and dialogue choices in the game, and the game reacts to those choices in measurable ways. I agree with Ryan’s System Shock 2 analogy. I think if that game had had one chance to choose sides or make a choice outside of the level progression, then it would have the spine of an RPG, no question.

The percentage that a player is engaged in each of the RPG elements also factors into the definition as well – Alpha Protocol is a pretty strong blend of action, character building, character interaction and reactivity (as well as providing options and optional content you never need to do). We have several major characters that you can kill, change the allegiance of, or never encounter at all, and all of these opportunities have major effects in the game. We think that’s core to the RPG experience; we want people to discuss “their” path and see how much it compares to someone else’s. (Our reactivity summaries in our debriefing screens showcase this pretty well.)

As a side note, we had a debug option that showcased all the reactivity for each level, and when a reviewer took a look at it, it was one of the aspects he enthusiastically brought up – he found that seeing all the reaction results for a level was pretty fascinating. He was able to see how all the mission choices and dialogue choices could have played out and the effects it would have on people’s reactions, intel, and future mission structure.

We’ve been tempted to provide the debug command to expose all the reactivity for the official reviews, but we’ll see. We may just want to let people discover them on their own.

Tuesday - October 27, 2009

Alpha Protocol - IGN Blog Update

by Dhruin, 21:59

It's good to see some fresh material from Obsidian on Alpha Protocol.  This IGN blog update from Senior Designer J.R. Vosovic details the Moscow train yard level demoed at E3.  It's an in-depth description of the initial approach and then changes that were implemented over time and well worth a read if you want to peek behind the curtain:

The train was one of the first missions I designed for Alpha Protocol around Feb. 2007. Having just come off Tomb Raider: Legend in March 2006, I was still very much in a puzzle-y state of mind and my instructions were simple:

"Mike and SIE are chasing after an informant pivotal to the story and the climax to Moscow."

In my first sketch the player had to perform a series of hacks to change tracks, move loading cranes and other props to gate SIE from getting to the informant who she is trying to kill. The player would essentially be leap-frogging through the different sections getting ahead of SIE with a successful hack, then be gated by enemies allowing SIE to catch up or get ahead. This heavily-scripted series of events puts the player under pressure, forces some tough decisions and adds to the drama. The level was heavily influenced by the physics puzzles of Tomb Raider, and to a lesser degree, being a huge FPS fan, de_train from Counter-Strike.

Thursday - October 15, 2009

Alpha Protocol - Delay PR

by Dhruin, 23:22

Sega and Obsidian have finally commented on the Alpha Protocol delay, although the joint press release avoids any real detail.  Interestingly, there are two different versions floating around - the US version suggests the delay is to polish the game, while the European one speaks more of building the marketing and finding the right release window.  Here's the first, courtesy of Blue's:

“Alpha Protocol is a new take on the RPG genre and from day one the team has been working to make Alpha Protocol a truly unique game for players to experience.” says Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian Entertainment. “We’re very happy that SEGA has made the decision to hold back the shipment of the game in order to give it the best chance at becoming the publishing success that we at Obsidian and our partners at SEGA are striving for”.

“Since the inception of Alpha Protocol, SEGA has recognized the potential for the game to establish itself as an AAA title.” says Masanao Maeda, President and COO, SEGA of America, Inc. “We’ve worked in conjunction with Obsidian Entertainment in making the decision to move Alpha Protocol’s ship date to spring 2010 to ensure that we have the best game possible at launch.”

...and the second, via CVG.  Only the second paragrah changes:

"Alpha Protocol has been a very promising title since the beginning of the development cycle." Added Sega Europe MD, Alan Pritchard. "By pushing Alpha Protocol to Spring 2010, we can ensure that the game will be released in the best commercial release window possible and will also receive the focus this true AAA titles deserves."

Obsidian's Matthew Rorie adds these comments on the official boards:

Sorry again for the long delay in putting out something official. It was frustrating for everyone involved, including you guys, I'm sure.

I don't think I should extrapolate on the press release too much at this time; just keep in mind that, in the end, this is going to help Alpha Protocol achieve the greatest success possible for it. The game is going to get a good coat of polish to it, and it's also hopefully going to become more visible to the gaming community at large. So that's a win-win for everyone. It sucks that it won't be coming out for a while, but it'll be awesome when it does.

Thursday - October 08, 2009

Alpha Protocol - Presentation @ Framework

by Dhruin, 12:01

Like the previous newsbit, these two Youtube videos (one, two) offer 20 minutes of Chris Avellone presenting design concepts for Alpha Protocol at the Framework '09 conference.

Source: Blues News

Tuesday - October 06, 2009

Alpha Protocol - It's official: Spring 2010

by Dhruin, 23:08

Several sites - such as VG247.com - report that Sega changed the release date on the Alpha Protocol product page to "Spring 2010".  Checking myself, I find the date says October 2009...comments on the Obsidian forums suggest the date was changed...then promptly changed back.  Does even Sega know what's going on?

Update: thanks to some readers to point out Sega's international sites are lagging but the NA site says Spring 2010, which we'll take as official.

Saturday - October 03, 2009

Alpha Protocol - No comment yet...

by Dhruin, 11:14

Yes, a pointless post but it's as close to a status update for Alpha Protocol as we have.  From Matthew Rorie on the official forums:

Hey all,

Sorry that we've been quiet this week. Hopefully everyone understands that we (Obsidian) can't talk about this much at this point, one way or the other. Just wanted to say that we appreciate your patience, and that hopefully we'll be able to talk about all this at some point soon.

Wednesday - September 30, 2009

Alpha Protocol - Mike Thornton Twitter Feed

by Dhruin, 23:49

Looking around for information on the status of Alpha Protocol, the official forums reminded me of the Mike Thornton Twitter feed, written by Chris Avellone.  It's still being updated and - with just a dash of appropriate spy-ish paranoia - it's easy to see a hidden commentary on the current situation.  See what you think, reading from the bottom up:

  • Should know if the virus worked within the next 24 hours when they return my PDA.
  • They took my PDA to upgrade the software, so I placed a virus on it - when it's hooked up to the mainframe, I'll have full server access.
  • PDA got confiscated... again. Place should be called Omerta Protocol. Am hacking into Darcy's computer in the interim.
  • One doctor said my symptoms are "even less of an illness than the traditional version of the illness" - whatever that means.
  • Looks like the initial level of tests were more challenging than the doctors thought, so medical's keeping me for another day.
  • Been in infirmary all week, should be out tomorrow if the doctors sign off on the release. We'll see how the tests go.
  • Monday - September 28, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Bit-tech

    by Dhruin, 11:31

    We don't know the real status of Alpha Protocol but, in the meantime, Bit-tech has a pretty encouraging preview:

    The dialog system itself is aesthetically similar to Mass Effect’s, with each spoke on the conversation wheel representing the attitude and approach of the three most famous spies in the world. While there are extra options added in for most situations, the standard selection is the manipulating suaveness of James Bond, the brutal efficiency of Jason Bourne or the desperate aggression of Jack Bauer. It’s a shame there isn’t an option for Our Man Flint based around using his trademark cigarette lighter to solve every problem.

    In this case, the options we were given involved executing the now-defenseless girl, bullying information out of her or turning her loose. Opting for the third, we were then fast-forwarded to a later encounter with the head of one of the bigger in-game factions, who the girl worked for. He thanked us for releasing her and offered to form an alliance as way of thanks – options that would not be available had we killed or tortured her.

    Saturday - September 26, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - More Delay Signs?

    by Dhruin, 13:04

    If you recall, most online retailers quietly shifted Alpha Protocol to late October a couple of weeks ago.  Kotaku has noticed a couple of them have shifted again...8 months, this time.  Gamestop, for example, now list June 2010.  It's not official until it's official, of course.

    Wednesday - September 23, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Sega Tester Comments

    by Dhruin, 02:26

    I'm not sure the value of this but no doubt it will make its way around other sites and a couple of Obsidian developers have commented, so I decided to post.

    The NeoGAF forums have posted claimed minutes of a SCEA (Sony) meeting apparently found on Sega's press FTP server.  Among the items from the August 5th meeting are brief comments from a Sony tester on Alpha Protocol:

    Alpha Protocol
    Michael Foster, product evaluator, said AP felt barely RPG. Initial level too challenging for players. “Mass Effect felt more RPG.”
    Review notes sent to John Merlino a few weeks prior. After meeting Gerald mentioned AP is a high priority for his team.

    Obsidian's Matthew Rorie had this to say on the official forum:

    And yes, I believe the gentleman in the quotes works for SCEA (assuming this is legit). As for what he said, obviously we enjoy any feedback that we can get, but without knowing how much of the game he played (and I seriously doubt that someone as busy as a product evaluator for Sony is going to be playing through an entire game if it's as long as Alpha Protocol), it's hard to judge what he meant by those comments. Suffice to say that Alpha Protocol is going to tickle your RPG tastebuds when it's released.

    ...and also Joseph Bulock:

    The only counter point I can offer you guys is that watching and interacting with gamers who played our game for almost two hours, they clearly enjoyed the RPG experience that AP had to offer. I'm not going to comment on this particular commentary, but I can say as a general trend, people who play one level don't see the RPG experience. They see the action side of our game, without the deep character choices and reactive story.

    Matthew Rorie also commented on the Shack forums:

    Hey guys. I work for Obsidian. As we said on our forums, we're not really sure how much this gentleman played of Alpha Protocol, or what his ideas of an RPG are. Suffice to say, the game is 100% an RPG; we don't really make any other kind of game. You earn XP, you get levels, you choose your skill progression, you modify your weapons, you interact with NPCs (or kill/sleep with them), the world reacts to the choices you make in pretty dramatic ways, etc.

    If he only played one level, though, he might not have seen much of that. But again, we don't know what he played or the broader context of his statements.

    Take this as you will but bear in mind we don't know the context or the tester's expectations.

    Thanks to our occasional anonymous tipster and leth.

    Monday - September 21, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ CVG

    by Dhruin, 22:10

    A preview of Alpha Protocol is up at CVG from one of their stable of magazines, covering standard territory:

    Since we're just starting out, Thornton sucks at shooting, and we die a lot. In combat, things feel very familiar, and the aiming is twitchy - something we're assured will be fixed before release. In fact, if it wasn't for the RPG bits AP wouldn't actually be that remarkable. It's definitely designed with stealth in mind, and comes into its own when you're outsmarting guards and leaving traps with proximity mines and concussion grenades.

    Interrogation is also a big part of the game. We see Thornton talking to an informant in a Russian bar and there are dozens of paths the conversation can take. The first time we slam the guy's head against the bar and demand answers, which he fearfully gives. But then we try a gentler approach and we actually procure better information.

    Monday - September 14, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ OXM

    by Dhruin, 22:51

    According to OXM, the humour and dialogue quality were the standout aspects when they viewed Alpha Protocol.  Interesting.

    The art of humour in a videogame. Not something you see very often and even then, not something you see done right. Yet Obsidian nails it so well that it's at the forefront of our mind as we walk out of a morning's hands-on.

    We could linger on the solid control of the cover and shoot combat, talk about the extensive character customisation list that'd have the average Fallout fan shivering in anticipation, or discuss the amalgamation of espionage thriller and RPG. But no. What stuck in the brain was the quality of the dialogue.

    Wednesday - September 09, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - MCA Interview @ X360 Magazine

    by Dhruin, 23:45

    Chris Avellone has done an interview for X360 Magazine, primarily discussing the story and related elements for Alpha Protocol.  On the dialogue system:

    How does storytelling work in tandem with the gameplay in Alpha Protocol? Is the dialogue stance system only used at certain times, or do you communicate with all characters in this way? What benefits are there to this system?

    There are two cinematic deliveries in Alpha Protocol – one is strictly cut scenes (no interactivity, usually intros and outros to a level), but for any sequence where you have a conversation with a character (whether by phone, PDA, video screen, or direct confrontation), then the stance system comes into play and you choose your way through the conversation by choosing a mood (suave, aggressive, professional, or an action – like shooting someone in the knee, hanging up on them, or smashing their head into a table).

    The benefits to the system is that it reinforces that the urgency and the attitude of the player character (we’re making a covert ops action title, like 24, and having to make quick, instinctual decisions or trying to pry someone’s hidden agenda out of them) is important in the dialogue mechanic, as well as giving more action-based players a chance to pull a Jack Bauer when they want to. 

    Monday - September 07, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Short Delay?

    by Dhruin, 22:35

    A least two online retailers have moved out Alpha Protocol's release date with Amazon and GameStop both now showing October 27.  There's no official word yet but we'll keep an eye out.

    Wednesday - September 02, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Sex and Abstinence

    by Dhruin, 22:59

    Wired discusses the sex in Alpha Protocol - and the two related Achievements:

    While the 2007 best-selling BioWare title had one optional yet infamous love scene, Hickman said the male protagonist in Alpha Protocol can have up to four sexual encounters. If the player cultivates close relationships with several of the female characters, the love-making can occur. Score with every woman, and you get the “Ladies’ Man” Achievement.

    But if you’re not interested in watching virtual characters making whoopee (we’re sure you aren’t), you’ll also get an Achievement for remaining celibate.

    However, Hickman contended that if you decide to go all the way with the women, it will be worth it.

    “It’s pretty provocative,” he said. “And there’s one that actually has a couple of ways it can go depending on how you react in the middle of it.”

    Wait, in “the middle” of it? To clarify, Hickman said the decision-making wouldn’t necessarily happen “during the act,” but declined to give further details so as to not ruin the story.

    “I can say it’s one of my favorite scenes,” he said, “and it’s hilarious when it happens. It’s just so unexpected when it comes and how it plays out… it’s great.”

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Play.tm

    by Dhruin, 00:36

    This preview of Alpha Protocol from Play.tm at GamesCom expresses some doubts:

    There's no arguing with these structural elements, and all were painstakingly highlighted during the (annoyingly non-playable) demo. But therein lies the problem. The majority of the presentation involved delving into the many layers of customisation available to the player whenever Thornton is between missions housed in one of several international safehouse locations. Surrounded by clean but strangely bland environments, the unexpected graphical sterility, atmospheric shortfall and lack of scale was carried over when Thornton left his Moscow safehouse to finally take on a mission.

    Specifically, segue cut scenes looked disappointing by the standards of some genre heavyweights - and worryingly there was no exterior exploration or travel to view as Thornton prepared to unleash his heroics. Surely the final game won't simply transfer the player from safehouse to mission and back again... surely that was merely an unexplained demo condition designed to save time? Regardless, it was safehouse-to-segue-to-mission. Done. Exterior gameplay was necessary, and its no-show was a distinct disappointment. Furthermore, as an aesthetic aside, characters were visually lacking in, well... emotion and character, and dialogue animation was particularly undercooked.

    Monday - August 31, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Sys Reqs

    by Dhruin, 22:42

    A site called Game Debate has a list of recommended system requirements for Alpha Protocol, although I'm not sure how official this is:

    Intel CPU - Pentium 4 2.66GHz
    AMD CPU - Athlon XP 2400+
    Nvidia Graphics Card - Geforce 7900 GT
    ATI & Intel Graphics Card - Radeon X1800 Series 256MB
    RAM - 2 Gbs
    Hard Disk Space - 12 Gbs
    Direct X - 9
    * System requirements displayed are based on recommended system requirements and should be used as a guide only.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 22:36

    GameSpot AU has a general interview with Obsidian's Matthew Rorie on Alpha Protocol from late last week:

    GS AU: How will the RPG element of the game affect story? For example, will completing one scenario one way affect the main storyline down the track?

    MR: Reactivity has been the driving force behind Alpha Protocol since very early on in the design. With the multiple outcomes that we provide to all of Mike's choices, it would be difficult to imagine Alpha Protocol without the amount of reactivity that we've thrown in.

    So, you'll notice as you play through that characters you come across will react to all of your choices. Other characters will react to things like the character background that you've chosen, your choice to kill or bypass enemies, your interactions and relationships with other major characters, choices you've made in other parts of the world, and, of course, how you engage them in conversation.

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Games Radar

    by Dhruin, 12:30

    "Reactivity" is the word of the day in Games Radar's preview of Alpha Protocol:

    Whatever your choices while assigning XP, using Perks and Skills and making dialogue choices, the game will react to them. We found this out in one of the first missions proper. A trip to a Moscow train station began with an ambush by a Russian agent called Sie. The familiar dialogue screen opened up and we soon discovered she likes her men to be aggressive, so picking speech paths that were antagonistic got us on her good side and she agreed to help with the mission. If we’d chosen different answers to her questions she would have attacked, meaning we’d need to take on the Russians on top of the terrorists we’d come to fight.

    Sunday - August 30, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Video Interview @ Gametrailers

    by Dhruin, 12:16

    Gametrailers has a video interview from Gamescom with Associate Producer Andy Alamano discussing Alpha Protocol.

    Friday - August 28, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Mike Thorton on Twitter

    by Dhruin, 00:34

    From the Alpha Protocol forums comes news Obsidian has kicked off an in-character Twitter account for the protagonist, Michael Thorton.

    Wednesday - August 26, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Impressions @ NowGamer

    by Dhruin, 00:47

    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.

    Thursday - August 20, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview, Movie

    by Dhruin, 23:19

    According to this preview at PS3 Attitude, you'll need three play-throughs and around 100 hours to see all that Alpha Protocol has to offer:

    There are also several factions within the game and a range of different people you can align with to ensure your experience of Alpha Protocol is different from other people. You won’t be able to complete every single mission in one play-through (which will take you around 30 hours), so if you want to play everything you are going to need around 100 hours of spare time.

    Obsidian has also kicked up a GamesCom Community Interview, featuring Associate Producer Alvin Nelson answering questions and soem snippets of new footage:

    Source: Blues News

    Alpha Protocol - IGN Blog

    by Dhruin, 00:39

    "Choice" seems to be the word of the day.  Obsidian has launched a new blog for Alpha Protocol at IGN, with the first entry introducing the game:

    One of our goals with Alpha Protocol was to highlight player choice, and, perhaps more importantly, ensure that the choices you make are meaningful and have an impact on the world. As an RPG, we of course allow the player to choose between a number of different skills for Mike Thorton, so if you want to go balls-to-the-wall with assault rifles and increased health, you can specialize in the associated skills, or if you want to play a quiet, leave-nothing-behind-but-footprints character, you can max out your stealth and your skill in silenced pistols. Or if you prefer to hack through your troubles, you can specialize in technical skills and gadgets. Or you can try to mix and match skills that you find intriguing and try the jack-of-all-trades approach!

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - August 19, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Eurogamer

    by Magerette, 15:48

    Eurogamer  posts an interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone on their upcoming espionage-themed rpg, Alpha Protocol, discussing characters, world, pace, choices and replayability, among other things. Here's a snip:

    Eurogamer: How do dialogue choices affect the world?

    Chris Avellone: It affects the game in a number of ways. It usually affects the reputation level of the person you interact with and potentially other characters you're talking about in that conversation. You can get reputation pluses and minuses in those conversations.

    The other thing that takes place is you can gain dossier pieces, and dossier basically represents the amount of research you've done on a faction or individual. Once you achieve a full dossier or you find out secret facts about a characters, that will also give you game bonuses as well.

    Another aspect that comes into play is, depending on the choices you make during a conversation, you can gain new gameplay mechanic quirks. For example, if you take a very heavy Jack Bauer route through the game and you decide you don't want to leave any enemies behind you, if you'd rather not talk to people and shoot them in the knees and have them spill their guts to you - you really don't have time to figure out where the missile is - we allow you to do those options and we award you perks based on those choices in the dialogue choices.

    Friday - August 14, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Previews and Interview

    by Dhruin, 00:18

    Three new Alpha Protocol items for us today, all courtesy of Obsidian.  First, MTV talks about "recruit mode", which makes the game harder:

    I saw the game in New York last night. It was the E3 build again, but there was something I didn't notice the first time around. "Alpha Protocol" has what's called "Recruit" mode. Just by the name it sounds like "Easy," doesn't it. Well it ain't. Starting the game as a "Recruit" kicks you off with exactly zero skill points (normal play-throughs start with a handful, spread out among several skills). Not to mention, everyone it in the game treats you like a recruit, so if you try to intimidate someone, they may just laugh in your face.

    Next, Digital Spy has a standard preview:

    Our demo starts as Thornton reaches Moscow to interrogate a hardened Ruski named Grigori, who is the source for intel on some heavy weapons. Interrogating non-playable characters (NPCs) involves using the game's conversation mechanic. Rather than choosing between specific phrases, the conversation system involves adopting different approaches which are based on the three JBs - James Bond (suave), Jack Bauer (aggressive) and Jason Bourne (professional). When playing the game for real, players will only have one stab at each NPC conversation, but for the demo it was useful to see how these different approaches lead to different outcomes.

    ...and then they also have an interview with Anthony Davis:

    Davis remarks: "One of the Sega producers in the US likes to say that it is open-story versus open-world. What you will see in the game that you won't see in many open-world games is the level of reactivity. Because we know exactly what you have said and all this other stuff, we are able to react to those things and we are able to create unique storylines. Open world gives you a lot of options but it also gives you a lot of imitations in terms of what you can do in the game."

    Not only will this reactivity hopefully provide some compelling experiences on the first playthrough, but it will also generate multiple options for subsequent playthoughs. Even though statistics gained from one campaign cannot be carried over to further games, beating the main campaign once opens up the recruit difficulty level. This involves players starting off with zero stats on the RPG mechanic, which provides a significant challenge when taking on the missions (and also unlocks the rather confused recruit dialogue responses). Beating the game on Recruit unlocks the Veteran mode, in which players start off with level five on every RPG stat and also get to use the veteran dialogue.

    Thursday - August 13, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Non Lethal Path [Updated]

    by Dhruin, 00:39

    From Obsidian's tweets comes the surprising news that Alpha Protocol can be completed with killing anyone.  Obviously that could mean a number of things and my headline may not be strictly accurate but I look forward to finding out:

    Learned yesterday that it's possible to get through Alpha Protocol without killing anyone. That's kind of awesome.

    Edited: Several readers have pointed out that existing information suggests this is a combination of stealth and non-lethal takedowns.  Hit the comments for the conversation.


    Source: GameBanshee

    Thursday - August 06, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Full Interview @ Destructoid

    by Dhruin, 21:59

    Destructoid has been teasing their Chris Avellone interview for a few days now but they finally have the full conversation online.  Here's a sample:

    Destructoid: How important is the story to Alpha Protocol? Is the writing particularly involved, or does gameplay come first?

    Avellone: The story is gameplay -- the alliances/enemies you make in the game effect missions, respect, endgame choices, reactivity, and also special perks for your character as well. Interaction with a character in the game is a game system and gameplay in itself, which was our goal. We didn't want the story or dialog to be divorced from the missions or gameplay. The debriefing screens alone are pretty amazing for tracking reactivity, and people tend to pour over them to see all the consequences of their actions -- both immediate and long-term.

    Wednesday - August 05, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Alpha Protocol

    by Dhruin, 22:35

    Prime Junta writes in to point out an excellent preview of Alpha Protocol.  The piece seems convinced by the choices and different outcomes, although they do note mundane art and some kludgy writing.  Here's a snippet:

    Adaptation to your play-style, not punishment. In fact, Alpha Protocol could even be said to be rewarding you for playing however you like. While clearly this is only one example, if Obsidian can stretch this philosophy across all 30-odd hours of the game (which sounds short for an RPG, but the 120 hours of dialogue hint at huge scope for replay) it could achieve something role-playing developers have been chasing in vain for years: a game that's truly shaped by you, not one that simply tumbles into arbitrary good, bad, and somewhere-in-the-middle.

    While we're talking Alpha Protocol, Destructoid has another short article teased from a larger Chris Avellone conversation.  This time, Chris is talking about sex in games.

    Tuesday - August 04, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Gaming Heaven

    by Dhruin, 23:44

    Obsidian's Alpha Protocol has been previewed at GamingHeaven, with short paragraphs sandwiched between trailers and screens.  That makes it hard to quote, so head over for a pictorial look at the game.

     

    Sunday - August 02, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ NowGamer

    by Dhruin, 10:34

    Alpha Protocol has been previewed at NowGamer, covering familiar material:

    This means that Alpha Protocol can be completed endlessly, in theory, as you experiment with what’ll happen if a key person is turned against Thorton, or what would happen if you decided not to execute someone at an important juncture in the story. This structure might play with your head a little bit. Games always tend to boil decisions down to good or bad – you’ll say to yourself, ‘I’m going to beat Fallout 3 and be bad this time’, or, ‘This time in Mass Effect, why don’t I punch that reporter in the face?’ In Alpha Protocol, sure, you’ll be able to take on the role of the good or bad guy, but making tense decisions on the spot – ones that, maybe, you’ve never experienced before in a game – may not push you down such a distinctive route.

    Wednesday - July 29, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 00:40

    IGN has a preview of Alpha Protocol that really pushes the RPG aspects:

    Alpha Protocol follows the RPG template to a tee with its tight focus on character progression and customisation, although it makes several interesting detours. There's no open world as such, with missions instead doled out in a safehouse, a clinically clean dwelling whose every surface seems to be taken up by swathes of high-tech gadgetry. Here it's possible to fit hero Michael Thorton in a variety of outfits (and given the tongue-in-cheek humour we see in the demo, we expect some outlandish costumes to come into play).

    On one level, the RPG mechanics fuel the dialogue, with Alpha Protocol's world full of smooth-talkers and double-crossers. Indeed, some of the missions are entirely dialogue driven - including one we were witness to, in which Thorton interrogates Grigori, a Russian informant who's holed up in a Moscow dive.

    Thursday - July 23, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ VideoGamer

    by Dhruin, 22:49

    VideoGamer serves up a detailed hands-on preview of Alpha Protocol:

    In Alpha Protocol, the upcoming Bourne-inspired RPG/shooter from Knights of the Old Republic 2 developer Obsidian, you’re able to reply to emails in three different ways: brief, cordial or snarky. Our handler Mina Tang has asked us for a password to access a server. We choose the snarky option, and have a gander at the email the game’s main man, Michael Thorton, has written. The password is “M1LFLuv3r”. We hit send. -1 reputation.

    Alpha Protocol, “the espionage RGP”, will be full of moments like these. Fleeting diversions designed to make you smile. It’s a serious game, dealing with worldwide conspiracies and containing plenty of swearing and the murdering of many a goon, but it displays a sense of humour that shows Obsidian isn’t afraid to have fun.

    Although the word you’re most likely to remember from that opening paragraph is “M1LFLuv3r”, the most important one is “-1 reputation”. It seems that reputation is affected by almost every action Mike takes during this hour long private demonstration programming producer Nathan Davis is putting on. More than any RPG in recent memory, Alpha Protocol seems to have cause and effect nailed. This is not an understatement.

    Wednesday - July 22, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Video Walkthrough #2

    by Dhruin, 23:16

    Obsidian is pointing out a new Alpha Protocol walkthrough video:

    Wednesday - July 08, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Podcast @ GameHounds

    by Dhruin, 00:36

    GameHounds episode #71 is available featuring Obsidian's Matthew Rorie discussing Alpha Protocol.  The podcast is a hefty 113m long, so if you listen to the show, let us know where to find any good bits.

    Thursday - July 02, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Boxshot, Diary 4 and Release Date?

    by Dhruin, 23:11

    Sega has released the Alpha Protocol boxshot and the fourth video dev diary.  The boxshot should be showing up on the left of this newsbit if you refresh but you can also check out a hi-res version on the official forums.

    The dev diary is below but, first, Worthplaying adds the release date has been announced as October 6th, although we haven't seen that PR ourselves. 

    Sunday - June 28, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Global Conspiracy Walkthrough Video

    by Dhruin, 12:25

    Danutz_plusplus from our forums points out a meaty Alpha Protocol video at Gametrailers.  The 15 minute walkthrough sees Producer Matthew Rorie showing off a sizeable chunk of play and demonstrating most of the game systems, albeit with a combat-oriented commando-style character.

    The HD version is here and the SD version, here.

    Wednesday - June 24, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ A+E Interactive

    by Dhruin, 23:33

    A new E3 preview for Alpha Protocol at A+E Interactive:

    Because this is an RPGs that offers choice and romance, I wondered if you could try to carry on two relationships at a time. After all, you are a spy, and if James Bond has proven anything, it’s that yes you can have wanton sex and still come out all right in the end. Rorie said that yes you can cheat in relationships, but there are consequences, and in fact, almost anyone can die in the game. It’s an interesting fact that brings up the fact that Alpha Protocol does have branching storylines.

    Tuesday - June 23, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - E3 Impressions @ RPS

    by Dhruin, 13:26

    Wrapping up some loose ends from E3, RPS has some quick observations about Alpha Protocol:

    This was perhaps the most surprisingly mediocre presentation of the week. I’m still very much looking forward to the game – I look forward to anyObsidian game based on their superb track record – but it put in a peculiarly lacklustre showing at E3. What we saw was two versions of the same scene, designed to show off the differences between two styles of play. On one screen someone was playing using stealth, on the other all-guns-out fireplay. The demonstration was designed to show how differently a scenario in the spy-based action RPG could be tackled. How in one instance you could slip your way through, those you killed never knowing you were coming, the rest never realising you’d been. And how in the other you could play it as a third-person shooter. The trouble was, the scene was a remarkably unenigmatic grey industrial area, which was hard to remember to even watch.

    Wednesday - June 17, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview Roundup

    by Dhruin, 00:54

    Here's a new Alpha Protocol E3 roundup from Obsidian:

    ...and a quote from Giant Bomb:

    Obviously, there's more to Alpha Protocol than just hitting the talky talky buttons. Large stretches of the demo I saw looked like a third-person shooter with cover mechanics, with only a few hints of the dice rolls and role-playing elements that await you on the service record menu screen. You'll be able to trigger abilities in combat, such as Room Sweep, which makes you fire your shotgun twice as fast for a short period of time. You'll also gain experience that can be funneled into a number of different statistics, such as stealth or weapon-specific skills. Yes, even the shooting is governed by these systems--as you dump more points into a type of weapon, your accuracy with that style of weapon becomes better, and is illustrated by the size of the on-screen reticle. That'll probably be a tricky balance, considering how actiony a lot of the game looks. In games with a lot of shooting, I tend to get frustrated when I put the center of a reticle on someone's head and pull the trigger only to be rewarded with a miss.

    Monday - June 15, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Worthplaying

    by Dhruin, 22:31

    Worthplaying serves up an E3 preview of Alpha Protocol:

    The demo started off at a trainyard area in Leningradski, where a weapons shipment was taking place. As Mike enters the yard, a mercenary named Sie introduces herself, and here's where we were shown the timed dialogue system. Several choices were displayed as shorthand responses to the attitude that Mike could reply with, but if the timer runs down, it will default to the last choice that was selected. In this demo, the presenter decided to side with Sie and ask for help, but he also had Mike reply in an honest fashion, which earned points with the mercenary. The dialogue system and the choices that it offers, along with the consequences, shouldn't be too much of a surprise to players familiar with Chris Avellone's prior work (Planescape, Fallout 2), and it looks like fans can expect much of the same expertise to shine in Alpha Protocol.

    Thursday - June 11, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Previews @ 1Up, Kotaku

    by Dhruin, 00:12

    A decent Alpha Protocol preview is up at 1Up, describing the scenario in Obsidian's E3 presentation.  Here's a bit on the dialogue system:

    When the actual mission starts, Thorton is immediately presented with a dialogue/decision point: the Russian Mafiya is under attack by another organization known as the VCI. The VCI representative, Sie, is best described as a "mercenary cougar", and she proposes a temporary alliance with Thorton. Throughout the whole dialogue system, I notice that the responses are timed, and they never repeat; you can't dilly-dally while talking and you can't just have the characters endlessly restate stuff over and over again. The conversation briskly moves forward, and depending on the choices you make, you gain and lose reputation with the individual character you're dealing with. So there doesn't seem to be a global "are you a good or bad dude" meter; it's more like how much does each significant character likes you. Rorie has Thorton make direct, aggressive, and no-nonsense statements, gains quite a bit of reputation with Sie as a result, and then agrees to a temporary truce.

    Kotaku has a much shorter piece - here's a bit on player vs character skill with weapons:

    I was most intrigued by the way the weapons operate. Since the game plays like a shooter, but is actually an RPG, Obsidian had to find the right mix to reflect both styles of play. What they ended up with was a system that used your skill ratings and the weapon type to impact the size of your targeting reticule. The more skilled you are with a weapon, the better the weapon is, the smaller the reticule is.

    So when you're fire off shots with a gun you're not proficient with, your reticule is pretty big and the shots can go anywhere in that targeting circle, either hitting or missing your target depending on how much space they take up in the reticule. It's a great way to have skill levels impact a shooter without taking control away from the player.

    The Obsidian site also has news of some E3 award nominations for AP.

    Monday - June 08, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - First Look @ Destructoid

    by Dhruin, 13:05

    Destructoid has a decent write-up on Alpha Protocol:

    When it comes to actually getting into the thick of a fight, Alpha Protocol presents itself as a standard but competent shooter. It's all third person with an over-the-shoulder perspective for gunplay, while stealth is handled with a typical "crouch, follow and take out" formula. When stealthily dispatching foes, you can choose between lethal and non-lethal methods, again adding to the choices that a player can make. A great non-lethal scenario discussed by Obsidian was setting up a "shock trap" with a stun grenade. You can stick a shock trap to the wall, then use a special noise generator to draw enemies to the desired location. Oh, and you can always sneak up behind someone, turn them around and punch them in the throat. Good times!

    Source: Blues News

    Thursday - June 04, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview Roundup

    by Dhruin, 23:18

    Here's a small list of Alpha Protocol articles from the Obsidian site:

    Here's a snip from GameSpot:

    This being a modern-day role-playing game, your moral choices also play a big part in the character you build and how the world reacts to you. After completing a major part of the mission, you have the option of sending a shipment of weapons to another dealer or hoarding them for yourself. This will in turn affect the outcome of the mission, and in the demo we were shown, the Russian woman ended up turning into a miniboss fight. True to the spy genre, though, it appears as though she had a romantic affair with Thornton, and it's clear that your love interests will also play a large part of your relationships in the finished game.

    Wednesday - June 03, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Screens @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 07:31

    Four screens from Obsidian's Alpha Procotol at GameSpot.

    Monday - June 01, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Pre E3 Preview @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 22:53

    Catching up with some news from late last week, IGN has a pre-E3 look at Obsidian's Alpha Protocol:

    Obsidian has created a massive spy network in Alpha Protocol, with multiple agencies that have their own agendas. Within these agencies are operatives, each with their own personas and personal goals. The decisions you make on each mission will impact the organizations differently and can also affect specific people in different ways. There are always choices – do you destroy the weapon cargo or ship it to your contact who offered you some serious cash for just such a thing prior to your mission? Destroy it and you are going to please some people, maybe even people you've yet to meet, but might upset your contact. Sell it, and the same thing is true in the opposite direction.

    Saturday - May 30, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - CG Trailer @ Shacknews

    by Dhruin, 01:06

    Shack has an Alpha Protocol CG trailer showing Thornton going through some options for a scenario with his handler.  It would be cool if these were actually playable but one suspects that would be asking too much.

    Thursday - May 21, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Video Diary #3

    by Dhruin, 00:27

    Dialogue and the Reactive World is the enticing title of the third Alpha Protocol video dev diary at Gametrailers.  Chris Parker starts the discussion, talking about the Dialogue Stance System, although I'm not sure anything new comes out.

    Thursday - April 30, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Swag Peek

    by Dhruin, 22:44

    The Sega blog is showing off the contents of an Alpha Protocol Spy Dossier swag kit that will be given away, although no news as yet on how to get one.

    Tuesday - April 28, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Gro.o2.pl

    by Dhruin, 23:52

    Polish site Gry.o2.pl has an interview with Matthew Rorie on Alpha Protocol.  As always with this site, the conversation comes in both Polish and English.  Here's a snip:

    Klecha (Gry.o2.pl): What sort of skills will be available in Alpha Protocol?

    Matthew Rorie (Obsidian): Since Alpha Protocol is an RPG, our skill system is the primary method by which players will customize Mike Thorton to play with as they wish. You're going to have skills that rotate around the use of each of your weapons, including unarmed combat, as well as skills that allow you to more easily use gadgets or hack into enemy systems, increase your health, and so on.

    Each of the skills will also let you unlock certain abilities that you wouldn't be able to otherwise use. For instance, if you increase your SMG skill high enough, you will unlock an ability called Bullet Storm that will allow you to temporarily fire your SMGs without having to reload them. Pretty handy for clearing out a room full of enemies.

    Source: Blues News

    Saturday - April 25, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Walkthrough Video

    by Dhruin, 01:18

    Matthew Rorie from Obsidian talks us through a new Alpha Protocol walkthrough video that is available at Shacknews and elsewhere.  The 5 minute video shows footage from an early Moscow hub mission and shows the "dynamic dialogue system" with its time-limited selection of suave, professional and aggressive stances - as well as different mission approaches.  The core of the video is showing the different way the mission plays out if you choose a different handler at the start of the mission, as well as hinting at possible future consequences.

    Friday - April 17, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Video Interview @ The Escapist

    by Dhruin, 22:51

    The Escapist Show this week includes a video interview on Alpha Protocol.  Here's their blurb:

    This week on The Escapist Show Russ goes deep undercover in Obsidian Entertainment to get a sneak peak at Alpha Protocol and interrogates Senior Producer Ryan Rucinski.

    Apparently new new gameplay features are shown.

    Thanks, buccaroobonzai!

    Friday - April 03, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Video Diary #2

    by Dhruin, 22:21

    A second video diary for Alpha Protocol has been released.  Ryan Rucinski, Chris Avellone, Feargus Urquhart and Chris Parker talk about what the game will offer over 3:24.  You can watch it at Youtube.

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - March 17, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Screens @ VoodooExtreme

    by Dhruin, 22:18

    Five new Alpha Protocol screens were released with yesterday's delay announcement, which you can find at VoodooExtreme.

    Monday - March 16, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - October Release Announced

    by Dhruin, 21:07

    Sega sent out a press release to promote the first gameplay trailer and a release date. We've already linked the trailer but this is important enough to raise separately - look out for Alpha Protocol in October:

    FIRST GAMEPLAY TRAILER FOR ALPHA PROTOCOL GOES LIVE

    The World’s First Modern Day Spy-RPG To Be Released In October 2009

    LONDON (16th March, 2009) – SEGA Europe Ltd. today announced that Alpha Protocol™ – the groundbreaking game combining espionage, action and excitement with RPG choice and depth – will be available on retailer shelves globally October 2009.

    The new gameplay trailer, showing in-game footage for the first time shows how players will travel to exotic locations around the globe, infiltrating terrorist camps and spy on unsavoury characters in the manner of their choosing. Alpha Protocol’s RPG and dialog system will allow players the choice to be smooth like James Bond, cold and precise like Jason Bourne, or just plain explosively kick-ass like Jack Bauer.

    The year is 2009. Worldwide political tensions are at a breaking point when a commercial airliner is shot down by a U.S. missile over Eastern Europe, killing all aboard. Despite evidence to the contrary, the U.S. government claims no involvement and dispatches agent Michael Thorton to bring those responsible to justice. With more options than any other RPG, Alpha Protocol offers unprecedented control over the development of Thorton’s abilities and interactions with others. Physical combat, weapons mastery, cutting-edge technology and even seduction are just some of the skills to master. Hunted and alone, players will discover just how deep the conspiracy goes in Alpha Protocol.

    For more information about Alpha Protocol, please visit www.alphaprotocol.com.

    Saturday - March 14, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview, Trailer @ GTTV

    by Dhruin, 12:37

    Gametrailers TV has around seven minutes of footage and interviews on Alpha Protocol, including the first official gameplay trailer.  Feargus Urquhart and Chris Avellone provide the answers, along with the in-game footage.

    Thanks to danutz_plusplus on our forums.

    Friday - March 13, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - PS3 Qore Video

    by Dhruin, 23:25

    Obsidian's site pointed out an Alpha Protocol feature video on PS3's Qore series but it doesn't seem they post it to the 'net.  Fortunately, GameBanshee noticed the segment on Youtube.  It's worth a look with short interview segments with Ryan Rucinski and Chris Avellone and plenty of action on the screen in the background.

    Source: GameBanshee

    Wednesday - March 11, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - on Spike TV

    by Corwin, 04:17

    Reywind sent along this newsbit which might interest all our US readers. It's from the Obsidian forums:

    Get ready Alpha Protocol fans! The folks at Spike TV recently had a chance to visit the Obsidian offices to film some action packed AP footage! The all new segment will air THIS FRIDAY at 1am Pacific time! You can catch it online over at GameTrailers.com! Stay tuned for all the latest breaking Alpha Protocol news!

     

    Monday - March 09, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Develop

    by Dhruin, 20:52

    This Alpha Protocol piece from last week deals almost exclusively with the use of the Unreal Engine 3, for those interested in such stuff.  Chris Parker supplies most of the responses but here's a short clip from MCA:

    “In Alpha Protocol, the storyline isn’t linear – we’ve given a lot more freedom in how you choose to save (or not save) that world, and tried to provide the player with options on how he chooses to uncover the plotline and the relationships between the key characters in the game.”

    Friday - February 27, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Play.tm

    by Dhruin, 22:26

    Obsidian's Ryan Rucinski fronts up for an interview with Play.tm on Alpha Protocol.  On character development:

    How does the new ‘classless’ RPG system work?

    In the very beginning we have some suggested archetypes that are geared towards particular playing styles, but we also allow a 'Freelance' character where a player can put points wherever they want. Later, they can choose to change their skills or specialize in the high-end abilities.

    This allows the player to put advancement points into the skills that they want to use. For example, the player could put advancement points into technologies and stealth. They could then use their abilities to remotely hack into computers, lay traps, and skirt around sentries without ever being detected.

    Conversely, the same player could get to a point where they might prefer a different play style and instead of putting points into stealth skills, they could easily put them into assault rifles and then specialize into the top tier abilities. They would be loud but deadly from a distance.

    We basically just let the player make the kind of character they want to play but we do reward focusing into the higher end of the abilities. The Jack of All Trades is the master of none.

    Thursday - January 15, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ OXM Online

    by Dhruin, 23:42

    A hands-on preview of Obsidian's Alpha Protocol is up at OXM Online.  Here's a bit on choices and the results:

    Those decisions are a main thread of Alpha’s gameplay. “A big thing we wanted to go for was reactivity and consequences for your choices,” Parker says. Every call you make — a dialogue selection, a life spared or extinguished — will pay off with both equally valuable in-game rewards and changes to future missions and conversations. “We’ve all had a game culminate in a different ending,” offers assistant producer Nathan Davis. “But…we have different middles. Those can be subtle, or they can be big story points.”

    Thursday - January 08, 2009

    Alpha Protocol - Release Date Window?

    by Dhruin, 00:49

    VideoGamer.com has Sega's upcoming release schedule, which shows Obsidian's Alpha Protocol with a "Q1 2009" release date window.  According to the piece, Sega would not clarify exactly what this represents but they speculate it probably means April - June, as this is the first quarter of the Japanese financial year.

    Source: Blues News

    Tuesday - December 09, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Q & A @ 1Up

    by Magerette, 16:16

    1Up has a question and answer session with Obsidian's Chris Avellone and Chris Parker previewing their espionage rpg in development, Alpha Protocol. Here's Avellone on the approach to dialogue:

    1UP: When I hear about a game that you guys are doing, I think of previous writing-heavy titles like PlaneScape: Torment or Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. Can you talk a bit about the writing and dialogue for Alpha Protocol?

    CA: What we're trying to do with Alpha Protocol is tailor the dialogue system to reinforce the feel of the game -- give it more of a 24, or "timed momentum," feel. When I say that, I mean that in a lot of our previous games like PlaneScape or KOTOR 2 or Mask of the Betrayer, the conversations in those games are very interrogation-based, in that you can go through each dialogue option repeatedly and explore everything that character has to say. In Alpha Protocol, that is a lot different; there is one path during the conversation, and it keeps going in a forward direction -- you don't usually have the chance to go back and talk to people again. We call this overall system the Dialogue Stance System, which was developed by Brian Mitsoda who worked on Vampire: Bloodlines. The whole intent of the conversation system is to make conversations feel more real, so a lot of the Stance choices you make won't loop back on themselves; they'll take one path of the conversation, and you'll see reactivity and results based on that choice.

    Saturday - November 22, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Video Diary @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 23:19

    Obsidian is pointing out an Alpha Protocol video diary at GameSpot with Chris Parker, Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone and Ryan Rucinski all providing a couple of sentences on the gameplay and how it came about (2:33).

    Friday - November 14, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Interview Part 2 @ RPG Vault

    by Dhruin, 21:30

    RPG Vault continues their interview with Obsidian's Chris Avellone on Alpha Protocol.  Big thumbs up for Brian Mitsoda:

    Jonric: Can we expect Alpha Protocol to have enemies that act like more than unthinking drones? What are some interesting or unusual ones we can look forward to facing?

    Chris Avellone: Credit for the "named" adversaries in the game goes to Brian Mitsoda and Annie Carlson (Vampire: Bloodlines and Neverwinter Nights 2, respectively) for the conceptual design, Brian Menze (Knights of the Old Republic II, Aliens) for the visual design, and to Matt MacLean (Mask of the Betrayer) for making their AI behave in ways that make you want to murder these same people by horrible means.

    For the bosses and the significant characters, we have a Kill Bill theme to most of them, with distinctive visual tags and personality quirks... from SIE, a German cougar ex-special forces mercenary (not a literal cougar, but an attractive older woman) with lipstick marks spray-painted on her shin pads, to Konstantin Brayko, a Russian mobster who looks like he just walked out of a Duran Duran video... and that's just scratching the surface. Alpha Protocol has a creative cast, and the player should have a lot of fun interacting with the characters.

    Wednesday - November 12, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ GameBanshee

    by Dhruin, 11:44

    GameBanshee chats with senior producer Ryan Rucinski, lead designer Chris Avellone, and designer Matt MacLean from Obsidian about Alpha Protocol.  Apparently the game has recently reached alpha:

    GB: Where do you currently stand with the development of Alpha Protocol?  Have you recently reached any major milestones or ran into any unforeseen issues?

    Ryan: Currently we are at Alpha stage in development of Alpha Protocol.  Reaching Alpha is huge for us because instead of just dealing with single elements of the game we are seeing all the pieces together.

    One interesting issue we had recently was that our A.I. turned into crack shots.  In the past we could weave our way around and the bad guys would be firing wildly but not hitting the player that much.  With a couple of tweaks the next time we tried that we started getting tooled and were forced to start using cover.

    Then the A.I. started laying suppression fire while another one of their squad would creep up for a more accurate shot.  Needless to say there was some "WTF moments" because what used to be a walk in the park was now getting us killed.  We still need to do some balancing but because of the A.I. actions the skills that the player chooses becomes more important.

    Saturday - November 08, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Interview Part 1 @ RPG Vault

    by Dhruin, 23:36

    Jonric talks to Alpha Protocol Lead Designer Chris Avellone, Senior Producer Ryan Rucinski and Systems Lead Matt MacLean in this first part at RPG Vault.  Here's a snip from MCA:

    Jonric: Since RPG fans expect strong stories from Obsidian, what will this one be about? How linear or open-ended will it be? Will it be possible to reach different endings?

    Chris Avellone:
    The game takes place in the modern day... no matter what time in the next few years you're playing. It consists of a series of mostly linear sub-missions and optional assignments you can pick and choose to best accomplish your objective depending on your character's skill set. Go speak to an informant to get information? Research dossiers on a locale? Intimidate some triad thugs, and maybe kill a few? Buy intel? Hack a CIA listening post? Infiltrate a detention camp?

    Depending on these tasks, the objectives, your choices and the results, you then work your way to the heart of the operation. One of the game's goals is repercussions and consequences for your in-mission actions, so you'll frequently see outcomes sending ripple effects through other assignments, the hub and the global operations.

    Yes, there will be different endings, but we'll let you play the game to uncover those. It's also extremely unlikely any operation will end the same way for two people - the repercussions and reactivity will see to that.

    Saturday - November 01, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 22:22

    Sega producer Tim Ernst and Obsidian PR guy Matthew Rorie speak with IGN about their spy-themed action/RPG, Alpha Protocol.  The conversation sticks with basic stuff and here's a snip:

    IGNPC: What types of skills will the player be able to use to overcome the obstacles in the game? Are you looking to provide options for players to switch freely between combat, stealth, and charm as the situation warrants? Can you give us an example of a problem that can be solved in a variety of ways?

    Matthew Rorie: We want the player to specialize in the different skills and choose how they solve a specific situation. You cannot max out all of Thorton's skills. During any level, you can go in through the front door with your guns blazing and combat armor equipped. If you do, you'd also want to increase your toughness for more hit points.

    Alternatively, you could find alternative paths to sneak around the situation and take people out silently. An emphasis on stealth skills will make this easier for you. If you want to play stealthy, you will want to level up your stealth to increase your evasion passive skill, and use your silenced pistol with chain shot, so you can slow down time and take out up to 3 enemies without anyone noticing. You could also have leveled up your martial arts instead of your pistol as your hand to hand combat is the most silent (and you will have some more abilities to take those enemies out).

    Or, of course, you could try to use a bit of both skill sets, or try to use the many gadgets in the game to make your course through the level that much easier - you can stun enemies, or use noisemakers to distract them, or incendiary grenades to take out a group of them, etc. We really want to put an emphasis on freedom for the player while he or she attempts to tackle a challenge.

    Saturday - October 18, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - German Cinematic Trailer

    by Dhruin, 23:05

    Blue's is pointing out a cinematic trailer for Obsidian's spy-themed Alpha Protocol.  The German-voiced video runs for 39 seconds and shows some uninspiring cinematic sequences.  Grab it from...

    Update: Brother None points out an English version is available at IGN.

    Source: Blues News

    Monday - October 06, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Video Interview @ Gamereactor

    by Dhruin, 22:18

    Alpha Protocol producer Tim Ernst appears in a video interview to discuss Obsidian's spy-themed action/RPG over at Gamereactor.

    Thursday - September 25, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ GLoB

    by Dhruin, 00:36

    Obsidian is pointing out an Alpha Protocol preview from the Leipzig demo at a blog called Games Journalism or Bust:

    This was demonstrated via a mission to capture an arms dealer. Rolling up to the front gate of the scumbag’s fortress, the hero is approached by a guard, triggering a dialogue tree from which players can choose to reason with the guard, allowing them entry, or take him out, meaning you have potentially one less enemy to deal with later. Upon entry to the fort, players can either sneak into the arms dealer’s office, attempt to hack the security systems or take out his personal guard head on. At any point, they will be able to adapt their strategy and choose another path and the level, which seemed fairly large, was thankfully free of any obvious linearity. So if it’s a stealth game you’re after, Alpha Protocol will suit you fine; if you want an all-out action shooter, the game will still do the job.

    Sunday - September 14, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Blend Games

    by Dhruin, 12:05

    A short summary preview of Obsidian's Alpha Protocol is up at Blend Games:

    Obsidian's games, like BioWare's, place a heavy emphasis on players being able to choose the personality of their character as well. When Michael is talking with other characters, the player can choose to act suave, aggressive, or professional. Your choices in conversations will have concrete effects on the storyline and you'll have to play the game through the game multiple times to explore all of the options. Obsidian has proven the strength of its writing team in the past; AP lead designer Chris Avellone also served as lead designer for Knights of the Old Republic II and Black Isle Studios' Planescape: Torment. The game promises a rich, morally ambigious story of international espionage.

    Monday - September 08, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Previews @ Xbox360Achievements & Strategy Informer

    by Dhruin, 23:20

    Obsidian's site is pointing out two Alpha Protocol previews from last week. Let's head to Xbox360Achievements first:

    The considerable focus appears to be on the fundamental RPG style dialogue. Gone are the full line quotes at the bottom of the screen that tend to have the same response no matter what. In come general motives and mood responses that you can use instead. So you’ll be given the option to be sarcastic, suave, direct, confrontational and a whole lot more will be available depending on the circumstances.

    ...and Strategy Informer:

    Like any good spy, it is essential that you ‘dress the part’ whenever you go out on a mission. In Alpha Protocol, Obsidian has added a variety of different sets of clothing that will apply to certain situations. There are no separate pieces, like trousers and shoes, just entire sets. So if you’re going to a dinner party, you equip the ‘tuxedo’ set. If you want to go take out a crime syndicate, you equip the ‘I’m going to kill you all’ set, and so on… A simple system, but view in context with the game, it is an essential part of making this world believable.

     

    Thursday - September 04, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Roundtable Discussion

    by Dhruin, 23:14

    Back in June there was a press event to show off Obsidian's Alpha Protocol - you may recall some of the previews that resulted.  There was also a roundtable discussion with five developers lead by Chris Parker and the invited press, which has now been posted between the Sega site (Part 1) and Obsidian (Part 2).  Here's a bit from Part 2, which focuses more on the actual gameplay:

    Do the actions by the player in previous missions affect the world through news or mission set up in the next mission?

    Nathan: We wanted to keep all of the missions available regardless of what the player is doing. The actions of the player will affect the news but it will also affect all the different missions across the world. In particular, you’ll end up seeing a lot of the little things you did show up in the end game. It will show up depending on who you allied with, which factions are friendly with you. They may come in and hinder or help your ability to complete the end mission.

    Is there some sort of central hub that allows you to roam around freely, before actually going into a mission?

    Chris: We don’t actually have a central hub. We considered that but we ultimately decided to limit most of the free roam aspects of the game down to the safe houses because they’re really quick to use, you can get all the stuff you need to take care of and get right back into the action. So out in these safe houses you’re able to do prep, you are able to contact people, have conversations or whatever else you want to do. So we kept all of the free roam aspects limited to the safe houses and took the more exploration aspects that you apply to a big hub and placed those into the actual missions you are going on rather than using the hub.

    Saturday - August 23, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - GC Preview @ GameSpy

    by Dhruin, 23:44

    Showing off the character's safe house/base seems to be the theme of the Alpha Protocol demo at GC, although here's a vague bit on multiple endings and Mass Effect similarities:

    Whatever way you bring your missions to a successful end, you will be rewarded with points to spend in your various abilities in a way that closely resembles BioWare's Mass Effect. So, at the end of the game you will have your personal Michael Thorton, with his own skills and his own face and accessories. Oh, as far as the end of the game is concerned, when questioned about it, the developers mentioned the presence of multiple endings. Of course, it will be the choices that you make during the game as Thorton that will change your fate and the story that you will experience.

     

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 11:41

    GameSpot takes another look at Obsidian's Alpha Protocol at Leipzig:

    One of the coolest aspects of the espionage is acting and dressing appropriately for what you're doing and whom you're speaking to. If you're talking to an informant in the street, you'll need to dress casually and act relaxed, and you can choose responses by pressing different buttons on the controller. If you're interrogating someone, you might choose to be threatening by pulling a gun or suggesting violence. That person may well give in to your demands, or may get angry and fight back--it's up to you to judge each situation.

    Another cool aspect is the media feedback. Your actions may be reported on the TV news, for example, and you'll also be able to sit down at your computer to check your e-mail. The one thing the team isn't including is vehicles, despite the game's use of Unreal Engine 3 technology.

     

    Source: Blues News

    Thursday - August 14, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ VideoGamer

    by Dhruin, 22:41

    Obsidian's Nathan Davis has demoed Alpha Protocol to VideoGamer, resulting in this preview:

    You'll be able to direct the conversation as you wish, sucking up to the guard or acting like a jerk. If you think the conversation is turning sour you can even draw your gun and take the marine out mid sentence. But Nathan's being patient and, after some initial stone walling, manages to talk his way in. "Each one of these choices has the possibility of affecting things in the short term and the game as a whole," says Nathan. It will be how these kinds of decisions impact the overall story and player experience that will set Alpha Protocol apart from other RPGs.

    Monday - July 28, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Another E3 Roundup

    by Dhruin, 21:54

    A short Alpha Protocol roundup, courtesy of Obsidian:

    Here's a bit from MTV on courting the ladies:

    When I saw “Alpha Protocol” at E3 last week, senior producer Ryan Rucinski told me that there are “a lot of love interests” for Thorton to choose from. There are several factions in the game that you can ally with or fight against, so the women Thorton meets can become collaborators or enemies. As a government operative, the player can acquire missions and assistance from the ladies Thorton’s wooed. But piss them off — by dating other girls, for instance — and there’s hell to pay.

    “It all depends on how you treat them,” Rucinski said. If you have a strong relationship with female characters, they may help with missions. However, he told me that some of them are “bats–t insane” and can get you into trouble. “One may ask you to assassinate a high-level person,” he added. “Maybe that’s not something you want to do, but she’s really hot. But there are obvious repercussions.”

    Friday - July 25, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Similar But Different From ‘Mass Effect’

    by Woges, 19:25

     Little interview on MTV about the little diffences.

    For one, “Alpha Protocol”’s dialogue tree, dubbed by Obsidian as the “Dialogue Stance System,” has timed responses. As players take on the role of super spy Michael Thorton, they will have control of Thorton’s reactions and interactions with other characters via the dialogue system. While there are a few options to choose from, including nice and aggressive responses, the player must choose quickly and carefully. Decide too slowly and your character will revert to saying something that suits the previous stance you selected. Also, non-player characters will not always react in the same way. Rucinski told me that conversations are “cinematic presentations,” and players won’t always have the same conversations. Players will also have a detailed chat log to refer to.

    Wednesday - July 23, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - E3 Roundup

    by Dhruin, 02:14

    Obsidian titles probably didn't get the attention as Fallout 3 and Dragon Age, so in cased we missed good stuff, here's a rip of Obsidian's roundup for Alpha Protocol:

    Friday - July 18, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ IGN

    by Dhruin, 12:54

    The next Alpha Protocol preview comes from IGN and cover familiar territory:

    This embassy mission served as the E3 demo, as the goal is to talk to an important NPC inside. As soon as you're inside the embassy it comes under attack by forces of a rival agency, and depending on how you dealt with the guard can affect how the battle unfolds. If you were nice and the guard let you in, then you'll fight alongside the Marines against the invaders. But if you pulled your gun on him and were hostile, then you'll be in a three-way battle, with the Marines, you, and the invaders battling one another.

    The action unfolds in third-person, behind-the-back style, and uses a combination of reflexes and role-playing statistics. You're more accurate the more points that you invest in a given firearm skill, and as you invest points you unlock special abilities. It's sort of like how skill points work in Mass Effect. For instance, dumping points into the pistol skill will give you the ability to blind fire around corners and critically hit opponents.

    Thursday - July 17, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ GameSpy

    by Dhruin, 22:40

    Although describing the action part of Alpha Protocol as "a bit lackluster", GameSpy's preview also says there are "lots of dialogue choices":

    In the end, the Obsidian demonstrator took the less aggressive path and chose to fast-talk his way in. When he got inside, however, he found that all hell had broken loose thanks to an invasion of mysterious "G-22" agents who seemed to take offense at Mr. Thorne and rudely shot quite a few bullets in his direction. It was here that we first saw the game's combat system in action. The first is a live action run-and-gun mode similar to Mass Effect, in which the player's chance of hitting and speed is affecting by 10 upgradeable skills. The second is an order-while-paused mode in which the player can give Thorne commands to use a variety of physics-defying skills such as one that allows him to charge into a room and blast away with machine guns, loosing more rounds than the weapons are technically able to handle.

    Wednesday - July 16, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - E3 First Look @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 23:59

    GameSpot's first look at Alpha Protocol based on seeing the game in action - rather than from a conference call - is now online.  Here's an introductory snip and read the article for a (small) example of consequences to different choices:

    Our demo began with Michael Thorton--the former spy protagonist who has been cast out of the CIA--overlooking the United States embassy in Moscow. With the story still mostly under wraps, we didn't get much information on what brought Thorton to this location or what his ultimate goal is once inside, but we were given a look at some of the gameplay basics involved in getting there. It begins with the guard at the front door. You can stroll up to him and try to smooth-talk your way in using the game's "dialogue stance" system, which is essentially a way of choosing basic emotions over preset lines of dialogue, but a few other options exist. If you're the sneaky type, you can try to make it around to the back entrance using stealth, and if you're the straightforward type, you can simply shoot the guard where he stands. That last option carries a penalty, however, because one of the many factions you have to do business with over the course of the game is the Marines, so when they get wind that you're killing their own, they'll be less inclined to cooperate with you later on.

    Alpha Protocol - Screens @ VoodooExtreme

    by Dhruin, 00:17

    Half a dozen screens from Obsidian's Alpha Protocol are on offer at VoodooExtreme.

    Sunday - July 13, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Worthplaying

    by Magerette, 17:33

    Worthplaying adds their bit to the previews coming out on Obsidian's espionage-themed RPG, Alpha Protocol:

    Stepping out of a fantasy/science-fiction realm places certain restrictions on RPG gameplay and character development, and Obsidian seems intent on respecting the "reality" of the situation. However, as Alpha Protocol team member Nathan reports, the original design for the game was more purely realistic, perhaps approaching simulative. Eventually, as Nathan says, "Thornton is a super-agent, so he should be a cut above a normal human being." This realization pushed the team to greater balance between realism and elements more fantastical, like handing Thornton some skills that defy real-world physics. An example: Thornton has the ability to stop time in order to line up shots with firearms, something akin to "magic" in a "realistic" RPG, but benefiting the game by adding a better ration of control and excitement to gameplay...

    Alpha Protocol is clearly shaping up as potential motif-changer in modern RPG gaming, an evolutionary title that may well open doors for more traditional RPG developers to occasionally shelve their tried, true plot constructs, creating from scratch original stories free of dependencies upon wizards' fireball spells, elves' crossbows or space privateers' plasma lances. The well-trodden traditions in RPG titles provide a certain comfort zone, and will surely remain fun to play and a stock sub-genre of RPG gaming; but the potential to create RPG fans out of gamers who don't favor sword and sorcery or fantastical, alternate-universe science fiction is an important move in games development, and perhaps much needed to keep the role-playing genre in good health indefinitely.

    Wednesday - July 09, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview Blog @ GameSpot

    by Dhruin, 23:54

    I'm not quite sure what the difference is between a preview blog and just a standard preview but GameSpot has an article on Alpha Protocol based on the recent Sega conference call:

    The guns in the game are loosely based on real-life models, but they can be heavily customized with various modifications and ammo upgrades. In fact, Obsidian says that upgrades are a good way to counterbalance a lack of gun skills. If your version of Thorton is a lock-picking wizard who excels in stealth, you can compensate for the fact that he might be a terrible shot by upgrading your gun to high heaven.

    Of course, you don't have to run around with guns blazing if you don't want to. Characters who specialize in skills like hacking and gadget use can affect the environment in such a way as to minimize the amount of combat they'll need to do. It's entirely within the realm of possibility to sneak around and perform stealth takedowns if that's what you'd like to go with.

    Tuesday - July 08, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Games Radar

    by Dhruin, 12:26

    From PSM3 UK via Games Radar comes this preview of Obsidian's Alpha Protocol that includes some criticism of the combat and lack of ammo:

    But the shooting seems a bit ropey at this early stage. The Middle Eastern setting is where we get to see his trigger-finger in action, and he’s all kitted out in desert-camo while swirling sand clouds whip around the valley. The duck and cover system – as you’d expect – allows you to pop out and fire off a few rounds before heading to safety as we see while Mike’s about to descend into the enemy base via a zip-line. Two quick pops on a red barrel and the wagon parked next to it that goes up in an impressive looking explosion. Even better is the fact that the blokes within the blast radius are still on fire and screaming for mercy – so Mike obliges and pings a couple of headshots with an assault rifle. The best thing about the shooting mechanics is that enemies will drop after only a few bullets, the worst and most confusing aspect is that you never run out of ammo – so why bother to sneak about when you’ve got this endless arsenal? Hopefully, we’ll see a change before the 2009 release. 

    Source: Blues News

    Monday - July 07, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Roundtable Q&A @ GameZone

    by Dhruin, 22:43

    GameZone has an article based on a pre-E3 Sega press event with several key Alpha Protocol developers on hand to answer questions.  Here's Executive Producer Chris Parker:

    Having worked on RPGs for many years, Parker believes that Obsidian’s past experiences were integral to the development of Alpha Protocol. “We have a long history, so we borrowed stuff from all the role-playing games we’ve made. Specifically, role-playing games are pretty complicated, so we definitely have a lot of things behind us and really learned from that. One of the things you’re gonna see a lot of is the character development aspect where you have an input system and how you interact with the character over the course of the game, you influence how they respond. That’s really our third or fourth generation of trying to make that [kind of gameplay] really reactive and that’ll be a great example of something that’s built up from Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2.”

    Friday - July 04, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - News Roundup

    by Dhruin, 01:15

    I'm going to rip this straight from Obsidian's site:

    Greetings gamers; before you go out and celebrate the long weekend be sure to check out these all new AP features and interviews for all the latest news about the game:

    • Gamasutra - Obsidian's Parker: Why Be Frugal With Achievements?
    • QJNet - Obsidian on blending FPS with RPG elements for Alpha Protocol
    • Kotaku - Alpha Protocol Aims Ambitiously For RPG, FPS Fans
    • Gameplayer - Uncharted + Mass Effect + Fallout = Alpha Protocol
    All of us here at Obsidian would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday weekend!

     

    Source: Obsidian Entertainment

    Tuesday - June 24, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ Hooked Gamers

    by Dhruin, 22:39

    Hooked Gamers has put together a preview of Alpha Protocol, covering familiar territory:

    Much of the game will involve dialogue trees. Within any given dialogue, the player may decide to model his approach to emulate the J.B. of his choice: Jack Bauer (aggressive), James Bond (suave) or Jason Bourne (professional). It should be noted that Obsidian pointedly does NOT use these labels. But if it “walks like a duck and talks like a duck… However, you had better get the conversation right the first time, because you will NOT be able to re–initiate any given dialogue tree as you can in many other games. NPC reactions to you now will be influenced by what they have seen of you earlier. Personally, I think this is the aspect of the game that will stand out most favorably; the rest of the game will most likely play as you would expect a third–person Action game to play out. Bodies to the left of me; bodies to the right. NPCs learn about Darwin the hard way.

    Saturday - June 21, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Interview @ Next Gen

    by Dhruin, 02:20

    A trip to Obsidian's offices by Edge Magazine sees an article-format interview-cum-preview of Alpha Protocol at Next Gen:

    “We were looking at what we wanted to do after KOTOR,” says Parker. “There’s not a whole lot of player skill in Knights Of The Old Republic – strategic skill, but not running and shooting.” This decision to put the focus on what the team is calling ‘action skills’ is defining Alpha Protocol, but there’s little chance of Obsidian making a spy-based EDF clone. “RPGs are really what we do: that’s our shtick and we don’t intend to deviate from that. We’ve been working with d20 games forever, so it was a lot of fun to design a new system that does exactly what you want it to.”

    Wednesday - June 04, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ TotallyPS3

    by Dhruin, 12:29

    TotallyPS3 must have slept through the press briefing, because they think Alpha Protocol is an MMO.  They're also missing the X360 as a platform but I'm guessing that has something to do with the usual console fan wars.  Either way, don't pay too much attention to the veracity of this article:

    Sega and Obsidian Entertainment want to change all that with their new Massively Multiplayer Online game, Alpha Protocol. Veteran RPG developers Obsidian, the brains behind titles like Neverwinter Nights II and Star Wars Knights of the Republic II: The Sith Lords are no strangers when it comes to producing in depth character development and customisation placed in enthralling and immersive game worlds. So if anyone can carry off the daunting task of producing a spy-based MMO, they can.

    In the sprawling PS3 and PC MMO, loyalty carries a price and no one knows this more than agent Michael Thorton. You play the young agent cast out by his government, and Thorton is the only one with the information needed to stop an impending international catastrophe. 

    Monday - June 02, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - New Screens @ GamersHell

    by Magerette, 17:13

    GamersHell has added twelve new screens to their gallery for Obsidian's cross-platform espionage RPG, Alpha Protocol. You can get the shots and some game info here

    Thursday - May 01, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Chris Avellone Blog Cartoon

    by Dhruin, 00:38

    OK, it isn't "news" in any meaningful sense but it's always fun to take a look at Chris Avellone's humorous stick-figure cartoons on his MySpace blog.

    Friday - April 25, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ CVG

    by Woges, 17:30

    Another preview of Obsidian's Spy RPG this time at CVG by Will Porter.

    "Yeah, Alpha Protocol has much of the edginess of the new James Bond movie," smiles Ryan Rucinski, one of Obsidian's senior producers, as we mull over his new roleplayer.

    "Although the development of AP actually started before the release of Casino Royale. So when the movie came out and we saw the results, we knew we had made the right decision. There have been a lot of movies that have influenced
    us during the conceptual creation - Mission: Impossible, the Bourne films, Ronin... However, one of the main contributors in look and tone was Syriana. If James Bond is where the action comes from, Syriana has a big influence on the theme."

    Yet what Obsidian want to stress more than anything is that Alpha Protocol is a role-playing game.

    You'll have multiple missions open in different hubs around the world (locations currently being bandied about include Taipei, Rome, Moscow and Saudi Arabia) and you'll be able to flit between them at will - each one containing one overarching operation and a cavalcade of minor missions leading up to it - be they stealing sensitive data on a hard drive, tailing suspects or extracting information from grumpy NPCs through bribery, diplomacy or murder most foul.

    Wednesday - April 23, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Preview @ GamesRadar

    by Dhruin, 23:20

    The first preview on the web we've seen, GamesRadar has a look at Obsidian's Alpha Protocol:

    Yet what Obsidian want to stress more than anything is that Alpha Protocol is a role-playing game. You’ll have multiple missions open in different hubs around the world (locations currently being bandied about include Taipei, Rome, Moscow and Saudi Arabia) and you’ll be able to flit between them at will - each one containing one overarching operation and a cavalcade of minor missions leading up to it - be they stealing sensitive data on a hard drive, tailing suspects or extracting information from grumpy NPCs through bribery, diplomacy or murder most foul.

    Thursday - April 03, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - First Screens @ GameInformer

    by Dhruin, 22:19

    The first screens from Obsidian's spy thriller RPG Alpha Protocol are up at GameInformer. The five "work in progress" in-game shots have a Splinter Cell feel to me but take a look and tell us what you think.

    Thanks, Steve!

    Thursday - March 13, 2008

    Alpha Protocol - Officially Announced

    by Dhruin, 23:06

    Obsidian and SEGA have officially announced their Spy-themed Alpha Protocol revealed a couple of days ago, although they are leaving the April GameInformer exclusive for the real details:

    SEGA is very excited to be introducing a new type of gaming experience to next-gen consumers,” stated Sean Ratcliffe, Vice President of Marketing for SEGA of America, Inc. “With ground-breaking new RPG action and an interactive storyline matching the best spy-thrillers, Alpha Protocol delivers a true next-generation RPG experience.”

    Loyalty carries a price and no one knows this more than agent Michael Thorton. A talented young agent cast out by his government, Thorton is the only one with the information needed to stop an impending international catastrophe. To do so means he must cut himself off from the very people he is sworn to protect. As players determine how to accomplish different objectives, the decisions made and actions taken in each mission will ultimately transform the type of secret agent Michael Thorton will become. Every choice the player makes as Michael Thorton will carry consequences for his future and the fate of the world.

    “Alpha Protocol blends Obsidian’s knack for intricate story, engrossing characters, and significant character advancement with fast-paced modern combat,” said Feargus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian Entertainment. “Alpha Protocol embraces everything we enjoy about making RPGs from a fresh perspective. We are confident our talented staff at Obsidian will enable us to deliver this exciting RPG experience.”

    Alpha Protocol is slated for an early 2009 release for the Xbox 360, the PS3 and PC.

    An official forum is up at Obsidian but presumably devs won't really be able to get into it until the exclusive expires and then perhaps some.

    Information about

    Alpha Protocol

    Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

    SP/MP: Single-player
    Setting: Modern
    Genre: Action-RPG
    Combat: Real-time
    Play-time: Unknown
    Voice-acting: Full

    Regions & platforms
    World
    · Homepage
    · Platform: PC
    · Released at 2010-05-28
    · Publisher: Sega

    World
    · Homepage
    · Platform: PS3
    · Released at 2010-05-28
    · Publisher: Sega

    World
    · Homepage
    · Platform: Xbox 360
    · Released at 2010-05-28
    · Publisher: Sega