AU Diary: She's Got Spies

I started playing Alpha Protocol last night. The opening section is pretty rough, but the role-player in me has spotted plenty of potential.

You've no doubt heard that Obsidian's "espionage RPG" lacks a certain polish. And it's true. The environments are boxy and undistinguished. The character models unflattering. The animation ungainly. The framerate is surprisingly choppy and the screen-tearing is distracting. None of this can be denied.

What I have found strange, however, are the reviews claiming the gunplay is unpolished and the stealth is broken. Because, in my experience so far, they're not. At least, they're not if you actually understand what type of game Obsidian has developed.

Alpha Protocol isn't an action game. It's not a shooter. It's not Splinter Cell.

Alpha Protocol is a role-playing game.

Like Deus Ex, Thorton is rubbish with any weapon in which he hasn't invested skill points. He'll miss frequently. The aiming reticule is wide and takes forever to focus on a target. This does not mean the gunplay is rubbish. This is, in fact, the whole point of the game.

It's the same with stealth. Same with when you use your gadgets. You start out terrible and, over the course of the game, gradually improve your character's ability in the skills you've chosen to pursue.

It's called an RPG. Reviewers: please review it as such.


    I completely agree. It took me a while to get past the unpolished nature of the game but after that I am really really enjoying it.

    Yeah I find that my experience with the first few hours have been pretty much the same.

    What's up with the sneaking animation? I just hear a Fred Flintstone style "twinkle toes" effect when I see it!

    Regardless of all that, I still I can't wait to get back into it and and find out what lies ahead for both the story and the progression of my character.

    I've heard some reviewers call this game a poor mans ME2. But is that such a bad thing? Its certainly not for us PS3 users.

    Just one question. i've seen some gameplay videos of the stealth, and it seems like the main character has an upgrade that just turns him somewhat invisible for a few seconds allowing you to be in plain sight. Is this true? because that seems horrible to me.

    Stealth, for me, has always been at its best when trying to find the perfect place to hide, and watching your enemy and working out his next move. Only to sneak in undetected and snap his neck.

      It's far more of an RPG than Mass Effect 2. So, yes, if you're looking for a third-person shooter with conversation, then Alpha Protocol is a poor man's Mass Effect 2.

        To tell you the truth, this game was a total sleeper for me, i had never heard of it before the competition on Kot. And i was really thrown off at first by the visuals (the game is rather bad to look at)but the more i see of it, the more i want to play it.

        I think the comparison to ME2 is what throws people.

        ME2 was a shooter with RPG Speech System and a stripped out skill system.

        Alpha Protocol is a true RPG, everything revolves around skills, and if you don't play to the skills you've invested in, then you'll get roughed up.

        My only complaint is that during the Omer Deng Boss Battle, he can block your melee attacks, but you cannot block his...maybe if you level up Martial Arts enough you might...but the point is if the enemy can do it, you should be able to do it as well without having to invest in that skill tree.

        I've had a few people tell me its unplayable and stuff....but Im getting through it. I think it takes at least one playthrough to really get used to it.

        The Second Playthrough I imagine will be a better run when I've comprehended the system Obsidian used and know it inside out.

        Im glad you're glad you're sticking up for Alpha Protocol, Obsidian are a great studio...sometimes they're ideas are just a little too grand.

        Bring on New Vegas, I think that will fully showcase what this studio is capable of.

          I found the trick with that fight was (especially if you have martial arts high enough) break up your combos with shots from whatever you have equipped. I know at higher level Martial Arts, you can integrate pistol shots as part of your combo.

          That, and never let him back off.

    I've been playing my copy I won off here and I'm having a similar experience, however, i'm really getting into it now... sure alot of the features aren't polished and sure it could have been better. But once you start investing into good weapons and skills (based on your gameplay preference) it starts to blossum.

    Having just finished the game, I gotta say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and couldn't understand the bad rap it's been getting. But I was playing it as an RPG. I can't believe I didn't realize how good chain shot was until the end, though.

    But yeah, I didn't notice the graphics thing, but then again, I went from playing Shadow Hearts Covenant on PS2, to No More Heroes 2, to this, so my judgement may be impaired. But I knew I loved Obsidian games for a reason.

    Now I think I'm gonna shotgun the KotOR games again, and maybe finally get round to Torment.

    That or play Nier or something.

    Oh man, reviewers all over the world just got lectured by Wildgoose.

    Pretty much have to agree with everything that was written here. I'm still kind of surprised by all the times I've seen people say that can't hit a head shot with the pistol since it sounds like they're trying to use the damn thing like a sniper rifle.

    I've seen the poor man's ME2 comments as well since Mass Effect gave up on being an RPG, at least with the shooting, the last go round. Also, I'm willing to bet that compared to ME2 Alpha Protocol has a budget that makes it look like an indie game.

    Actually this is something I'd like to see reported on more often, since I have to wonder if people would judge the look of a game differently if they knew how it stacked up in terms of development costs.

    I've just started it tonight.

    There are elements in there that have some merit... and I can see that there are some good ideas here.

    But it needs work. The conversation decision tree for one.

    It reminds me of another Obsidian game, KOTOR2.
    Good RPG, Good story, and ultimately unfinished feeling.

    I think if they had a sequel it would be improved... but for there to be a sequel, the first needs to work.

    Also, Dave, 1up did review it as an RPG and their "Active Time Babble" is discussing it this week.

    My main issue with the game is that it makes no distinction between you killing and subduing people. I've gone on a non-lethal only run, and have killed 0 people in the game. Yet all the cutscenes have people going "YOU KILLED MY BODYGUARDS!" and "You're a stone-cold killer, Mike."
    There was even one sneaking mission where in the after-mission summary I was accused of killing the innocent security people guarding the place.

    I haven't seen any of these framerate or screen tearing issues or any of the other bugs people have complained about, or the poor AI issues. Only thing I've seen was one issue were Mike got his legs in the floor for a few seconds before popping back out.

    It's by no means a bad game, I just wish they'd paid more attention to the finer details.

      I've only had that happen once, and I figured I was being blamed for some of the killings that another faction did.

      Not sure if it was sloppy design on that mission, or if you were expected to neutralise the other faction before the guards were killed.

      But yeah, I haven't had a chance to play as much AP as I would like, and when I'm not playing it I'm seriously jonesing. It does lack some polish, but it's still seriously compelling.

    I can appreciate where you're coming from and agree that any reviewer playing the game needs to treat it as an RPG rather than a 3rd person shooter.

    But the stealth system IS broken and the game IS bug riddled. After a few hours of playing the mess that they've released I have little urge to return.

    Take the very first proper mission for example, I'm sneaking through the air field and I get halfway through before being spotted due to a stuffup of my own.

    I reload the checkpoint from the start of the mission and it begins with the first guard alerted to my presence and already firing at me as soon as I've finished loading.

    I dispatched the guard and continued on, the first part of the level is empty of NPC's and the rest of the base is on high alert.

    This is after loading a checkpoint, I tried again figuring it was a once off and every time I loaded that checkpoint I would get the same thing occurring time and time again.

    So I loaded the checkpoint before the mission during the briefing. Skipped through the conversation and finally, everything was acting like it was supposed to, first guard wasn't on alert, rest of the first area was still manned and the rest of the base was still unaware of my presence.

    Again I got spotted midway through due to my own stuffup and so I loaded the checkpoint. Only to get the first guard alerted, first part of the map empty and the rest of the base alerted.

    I think I had more luck in Clear Sky when it came to glitchy games than I have in the very first mission of AP.

    Every review I've read so far as cited the same issues I've had with the game. The sad part is with just a few more months ironing out the bugs this could've been a brilliant game.

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