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Alpha Protocol - The new Deus Ex @ Joystiq

by Dhruin, 2013-02-10 21:31:07

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.

Information about

Alpha Protocol

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Modern
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release: Released