Review: Alpha Protocol

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Dam it! You make it sound a lot better than other sites do.
Now I'm totally on the fence. I can't(or at least I don't know anyone how'd) retail it.
And my budget is not so good at the moment(I can afford one full priced game).
I'd only buy it for the RPG and story, but the gameplay sounded a lot more horrible on other sites.
Arrghh, I think I'll wait this one out...

Susan Arendt:
If it weren't for the bugs, I'd have given the game a 3. It's still only half a game, but there's fun to be had. But given how broken it is, I had to mark it down.

Also, just because I enjoy a game, that doesn't mean the game is good. When reviewing a game, you have to keep the greater audience in mind. Sure, I enjoy that the AI is so stupid they never hear me coming, because I'm really lousy at stealth, but will the typical person looking for a fun spy experience feel the same way? Probably not. And while I might be willing to put up with intermittent control issues because I find the RPG elements to be a hoot, it's unreasonable to expect the same of someone else. All I can do is tell people that these things happen and let them decide how to proceed.

Uhm... Games are supposed to be an enjoyment. So, if you're enjoying the game then yes - it is good. At least for you, despite every bug or bad mechanic you'll encounter. If you're having fun - mission accomplished.

I'm not going to argue that low score anymore even though I completely don't agree with it. Situations like that are the main reason why I think any game scoring should be blasted into space. If I didn't already buy AP right after release, I would probably watch the video supplement first (as always), then after first page my thoughts would be 'ok, as I expected. Game full of bugs, but quite enjoyable, and if the RPG elements are great, that's more than convincing. I should buy this game', and then comes page 2 and 'WHOA WTF? 2 stars? 4/10? How? Damn, I hoped it will be at least slightly enjoyable...'

Every gamer should seek through the words if either the game is good for him or not. Locking the opinion in 5 or 10 or even 100 point scale is sometimes really hurting very interesting releases, like this one, because lazy most people will only look at the mark first, and others will have their opinions colored while reading the review, even if the words in it are not really indicating such a low score.

So basically its obsidian doing their usual job of borrowing another companies system (in this case it looks like the same thing Bioware used for Mass Effect), and then half finish a game on it before releasing it.

First off, a lot of it looks exactly like Mass Effect, pick your background, alter appearance, boost stats (in the same menu system as Mass Effect) modify load out with fifty slightly different ad ons Etc.

Secondly can obsidian please release a game for once which isn't still in the early beta stage? KoTOR 2? Neverwinter Nights 2? No? They can make a good game, as evidenced by the demo's released as full games but they just can't seem to get round to making the game fully functional, or just cut out half the content to save time and so doing ruin the plot line.
This is the reason that people here call them Obsidibug

It is really funny that while I was watching the video, the pop up ads where all for Alpha Protocol. Even the ad spot seems slapped together and half made.

Rainboq:
I was kind of hoping that this would be good, now?

I'll just use any copy of this I get as a $60 coster.

im sorry, i was just going to agree with this when i saw you have the worlds most badass avatar. cinema snob in kickassia ftw.

Chipperz:

Susan Arendt:

Chipperz:

Yeaaaaahhhh....there's a lot of that in the game. There's another boss fight (I won't spoil it and say with who) that's even more "are you serious?" You just kind of have to roll your eyes and shrug it off.

Uuuurgh... Tell me it's not in Taipei, I'm there now (wanted to meet up with Scarlet again, doesn't look like that's happening), and I could do with a segment that doesn't have an uber-boss. It utterly destroys the atmosphere the rest of the game builds up.

If I'm being honest, I think Sis was about the perfect power level for bosses in a game that's trying to be realistic. Great use of cover and her guns, but doesn't take too much damage. Of course, I'm also aware that I'm willing to overlook a great many things when it comes to a cute late-teens girl with purple hair, tattoos and just the right number of piercings :P

Thanatos5150:

Chipperz:

How!!??

Loved the talky bits hated the game.

benbenthegamerman:

Rainboq:
I was kind of hoping that this would be good, now?

I'll just use any copy of this I get as a $60 coster.

im sorry, i was just going to agree with this when i saw you have the worlds most badass avatar. cinema snob in kickassia ftw.

Wow, your like the tenth person to say that...

GO CINEMA SNOB!

Yossarian1507:

Susan Arendt:
If it weren't for the bugs, I'd have given the game a 3. It's still only half a game, but there's fun to be had. But given how broken it is, I had to mark it down.

Also, just because I enjoy a game, that doesn't mean the game is good. When reviewing a game, you have to keep the greater audience in mind. Sure, I enjoy that the AI is so stupid they never hear me coming, because I'm really lousy at stealth, but will the typical person looking for a fun spy experience feel the same way? Probably not. And while I might be willing to put up with intermittent control issues because I find the RPG elements to be a hoot, it's unreasonable to expect the same of someone else. All I can do is tell people that these things happen and let them decide how to proceed.

Uhm... Games are supposed to be an enjoyment. So, if you're enjoying the game then yes - it is good. At least for you, despite every bug or bad mechanic you'll encounter. If you're having fun - mission accomplished.

I'm not going to argue that low score anymore even though I completely don't agree with it. Situations like that are the main reason why I think any game scoring should be blasted into space. If I didn't already buy AP right after release, I would probably watch the video supplement first (as always), then after first page my thoughts would be 'ok, as I expected. Game full of bugs, but quite enjoyable, and if the RPG elements are great, that's more than convincing. I should buy this game', and then comes page 2 and 'WHOA WTF? 2 stars? 4/10? How? Damn, I hoped it will be at least slightly enjoyable...'

Every gamer should seek through the words if either the game is good for him or not. Locking the opinion in 5 or 10 or even 100 point scale is sometimes really hurting very interesting releases, like this one, because lazy most people will only look at the mark first, and others will have their opinions colored while reading the review, even if the words in it are not really indicating such a low score.

That is precisely what I hate about most game reviewers. Stop trying to be so bloody objective! Reading between the lines of this review I figured that Susan quite liked the thing but was worried that Joe G Public cannot enjoy what is actually a good game because it's not polished enough.

P.S. I just bought AP based on this review and Susan's reply in the forum, and will be back as soon as it's downloaded + an hour or two of gameplay...

Sounds like this game needed a lot of polish it didn't get. And I'm not just talking about the gameplay, graphics, and controls. This game looks snore worthy. I mean a spy running around with a machine gun shooting terrorist? Yawn. Something more interesting please?

Wasn't ever gonna buy this game but... Just wanted to say that for the escapist to tell it like it is on a game that has been a major advertiser is a great bit of integrity. Thanks to all the review staff once again.

Sigh. Still continuing with the love/hate relationship with Obsidian. They always come so close to making a stellar game...hopefully one of these days they can pull it together and overcome their faults, whatever they are (I'm guessing poor management and overbearing publishers).

Still looking forward to New Vegas though. If they screw that up (which would essentially be taking Fallout 3 and ruining it - it would have to be a spectacular failure), that'll be the end.

qwagor:
That is precisely what I hate about most game reviewers. Stop trying to be so bloody objective! Reading between the lines of this review I figured that Susan quite liked the thing but was worried that Joe G Public cannot enjoy what is actually a good game because it's not polished enough.

There's a difference between lack of polish and brokenness, though.

Yossarian1507:

Susan Arendt:
If it weren't for the bugs, I'd have given the game a 3. It's still only half a game, but there's fun to be had. But given how broken it is, I had to mark it down.

Also, just because I enjoy a game, that doesn't mean the game is good. When reviewing a game, you have to keep the greater audience in mind. Sure, I enjoy that the AI is so stupid they never hear me coming, because I'm really lousy at stealth, but will the typical person looking for a fun spy experience feel the same way? Probably not. And while I might be willing to put up with intermittent control issues because I find the RPG elements to be a hoot, it's unreasonable to expect the same of someone else. All I can do is tell people that these things happen and let them decide how to proceed.

Uhm... Games are supposed to be an enjoyment. So, if you're enjoying the game then yes - it is good. At least for you, despite every bug or bad mechanic you'll encounter. If you're having fun - mission accomplished.

Every gamer should seek through the words if either the game is good for him or not.

I agree completely. The game is enjoyable for me personally, but it's easy to see how others might not share that enjoyment. This is why we have a written review, to try and give you the full picture, and allow you to decide for yourself whether or not the game is worth a shot.

The game looks decent enough to me, PC port will certainly be the most "Playable", but has anybody else noticed how desperately unfunny Susan is?

Hm, think I'll get in a while, when some of the bugs may have been cleared up.

pneuma08:
Sigh. Still continuing with the love/hate relationship with Obsidian. They always come so close to making a stellar game...hopefully one of these days they can pull it together and overcome their faults, whatever they are (I'm guessing poor management and overbearing publishers).

Still looking forward to New Vegas though. If they screw that up (which would essentially be taking Fallout 3 and ruining it - it would have to be a spectacular failure), that'll be the end.

qwagor:
That is precisely what I hate about most game reviewers. Stop trying to be so bloody objective! Reading between the lines of this review I figured that Susan quite liked the thing but was worried that Joe G Public cannot enjoy what is actually a good game because it's not polished enough.

There's a difference between lack of polish and brokenness, though.

I agree, but I got the feeling that game isn't broken (at least not on PC and 360) just sort of... under developed. I also got the feeling that it's something I might enjoy (interesting and well told story? choices that are squarely in the grey area and do affect the way story plays out? stealth play with miopic NPCs hard of hearing? Yes, please). I also have pre-emptive low expectations and at GBP 24.99 (USD 36.51) it is affordable mistake. I shall know in 2h26m...

Nimbus:
I never noticed any control problems or visual glitches on the PC version. Bad port maybe?

The PC was a port of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. Also, I can confirm that I have had absolutely no problems on the Xbox 360.

Maybe the review versions sent out were f---ed up the arse? Cause I haven't had any problems whatsoever. In fact, I freaking love the game!

Although I was honestly rooting for Obsidian here, I was expecting very little after playing KOTOR II. It seems they just don't know how to finish making a game before releasing it.

This bodes poorly for New Vegas.

I wish companies would do something to salvage things like this. A lot of these ideas seem really good, just crappy workmanship. Ya I know AI is beyond tweaks and polish, but I'd buy this game if they got a good review from escapist. Plus, the bad reviews will act like a skeleton to scare other companies from making a similar game. So RPG and spies won't be together in any future games for a while.

and yet another game becomes an unwitting prototype for something else

That's a shame. I wonder if the PC version will be getting a patch?... I don't worry too much about minor graphic glitches, but controller glitches are another kettle o' fish.

That's a shame... it looked like a really sweet idea too. Thanks Susan for the honest review about the bugs. I'm sure it'd be awesome if Ubisoft worked on it :)

Nimbus:
I never noticed any control problems or visual glitches on the PC version. Bad port maybe?

That's what I am thinking, as I have had no problems with the pC version. I did have the controls not respond once, but that was cause the batteries in my keyboard died >_>

This was nearly Obsidian's last hope. If they mess up New Vegas I expect the studio to fold. They really had no excuse with this, no strict timeline, not like KOTOR 2 (which considering the development time was a great game - Obsidian's only saving grace).

Obsidian is ending up like Ed Wood. Has the passion but not the talent.

I'm on my third playthrough and I have yet to run into the mass number of bugs people are bitching about. Only a few times has the AI retarded out on me and most graphical glitches have been few and far between. As for the shooting, well it's trying to be somewhat realistic in the fact that you have to steady your aim before you can start putting caps between eyes. There are glitches but the story and the working parts of the gameplay over ride that for me.

I'm quite shocked this review failed to even mention the story and the fact you have so many different ways of playing through the game or the fact that there are about 32 endings depending on what choices you made or the fact that people will react and mention things you have done and said in the past and that this will affect how you are percieved in the game .

Two Angels:
As for the shooting, well it's trying to be somewhat realistic in the fact that you have to steady your aim before you can start putting caps between eyes. There are glitches but the story and the working parts of the gameplay over ride that for me.

Not at five meters, and only a little bit more at thirty-five.
And the extent of my firearms training was a powerpoint presentation and a trip to the shooting range. I didn't even make Marksman and barely qualified.

Hotshots:
The game looks decent enough to me, PC port will certainly be the most "Playable", but has anybody else noticed how desperately unfunny Susan is?

I wasn't trying to be funny. Perhaps that's why you didn't think I was.

Um.. thought about something. :D ...can anyone who has played the game explain how the aiming/shooting system works?

I love the game, to be honest. I'm about 80% of the way through it on the PS3, and I don't understand how my experience is so different from most other peoples.

Yes, the graphics are bad, but that doesn't bother me. The texture pop is, for the most part, minimal, the lip syncing isn't bad... I think that the numerous delays just make the graphics seem worse than they would've been.

The stealth isn't entirely broken. Your armor choices, the speed you move, the powers you utilize all make a difference. Don't put any points into stealth, and if you don't stay far, far away using silenced weapons, the enemies will respond. Sure, sometimes you get away with sneaking up on someone you shouldn't have, and sometimes an enemy will spot you from across the way, but I think the hidden dice have something to do with that, not just less than stellar AI. My biggest issue here was that the bodies disappeared, so unless an enemy was staring at another enemy when you shot him, you could get away with it. The bad AI comes in smaller doses, like climbing ladders mid firefight, or not taking cover. But even that doesn't bother me so much... mooks are always stupid in spy movies. Also, they can never hit for anything, so really, if this was accurate to spy movies, I'd never get hit, except maybe in a dramatic cutscene.

I didn't have any control issues either, other than the occasional issue of what I have dubbed "Gearsofwaritis", wherein too much shit is mapped to one button. Cover, drop from ledge, pick up loot, hack, lethal takedowns.... sometimes it would mess that up, but not often. The closest thing to a control issue I can think of is a flincky camera in tight spaces... it zooms in too close and is a tad uncontrollable.

And actually, the guns do play fairly differently. Each one has its own mechanic. Pistols must be trained on a person to activate their critical hit, but you can move the cursor and maintain that damage bonus as long as you stay on your target, with a skill that lets you stop time to aim a bunch of shots a la Red Dead Redemption's Dead Eye. ARs don't need to stay on a target, but they lose their critical hit if you adjust your aim, though they have a skill that lets the game track an enemy for you while still gaining critical. Shotguns build up knockdown chance the longer you aim down the sights, with an ability that removes the need for charge time to get said knockdown. Get full, and even one pellet will knock someone down from well beyond the range a shotgun does any respectable damage (which seems to me like a perfect use for Flechette rounds). And SMGs build damage the longer you spray one target, and they have a skill that lets you have a bottomless clip, so who needs accuracy? Sure, you're likely to stick with your favorite, and maybe have a few points in a backup but that happens in every game (Hell, that's how I played Mass Effect too), plus you can only carry two guns anyway.

But really, the key here is the story, which as Ms. Arendt says is quite good. The voice acting is generally good, the story is fun and believable and more dynamic than just about any other game out there (where what you do, how you do it, and in what order actually dramatically change the story), the characters are interesting and engaging, and you can feel your impact on it.

Honestly, I think Alpha Protocol's biggest roadblock is that most reviewers seemed to have wanted Mass Effect 3: The Moderning (yes, I made up a word). And while it bears a resemblance on the surface, it's not that. Sure, it could've used more polish, and the AI could've used a bit of beefing up. But the game is still good, and it's gotten an unfairly harsh rap.

Story: 5
Graphics: 2
Gameplay: 3 for the action, 5 for the dialogue
Sound: 2 for the SFX, 4 for the voice acting
Replayability: Well once I beat it tonight, I plan to immediately restart and pick different stuff, so 5.
TOTAL: 4 out of 5

As a side note, I think this may be one of the first times I've disagreed with Ms. Arendt.

Huge bonus points for the designers who selected the nice 2-step garage track at the opening sequence ;)

nipsen:
Um.. thought about something. :D ...can anyone who has played the game explain how the aiming/shooting system works?

Four different systems, four different guns:

Pistol:
You hold the aim button (L.Trigger on the 360 controller) and put your targeting reticule near the guy's hitbox or on it, and hold it. The reticule will turn red and shrink and a bunch of little arrows will draw closer to the dot at the center. And its shrunkenist and reddest, firing will result in a Critical hit.
Extra points for headshots. Moving, standing, or dropping your reticule off the target will spoil your aim, and the reticule will grow larger and less red. At level zero, the whole process takes a little more than three seconds.
Firing spoils your aim completely and the reticule grows to maximum size. You can only precision aim at nearby targets (five meters or so)

Assault Rifle:
You hold the aim button and hold the reticule in one spot, four arrows at the "corners" will slowly close and converge on a red "x" in the centre. All three bullets in the compulsory three-round burst will land between the arrows. Moving or shooting completely spoils your aim, nudging the stick, standing or couching only slightly affects your aim. The AR is actually good for precision and mano-a-mano close combat.

SMG:
Spray and Pray and Sell at First Oppertunity. These are nothing resembling accurate. There is no real "aim system. Hold the aim button will give you a (large) reticule and a bar which climbs with every hit. The higher the bar, the higer you damage multiplier for each successive hit. Reloading resets the modifer.

Shotgun:
Hold aim, put target in reticule. When the whole thing is red, pull the trigger for maximum damage and probable knockdown effect.

I wasn't looking forward to this game much so this doesn't bother me. What does bother me is the fact that Obsidian is also working on Fallout: New Vegas, a game I was very much looking forward to. Now...I'm more than a little cautious.

Obsidian, you had your chance. You were finally given a decent time schedule for a game and your blew it anyway. I was looking forward to seeing a blending of the old and new Fallout in NV but now not so much.

Korhal:
*snip*

Our opinions are actually fairly close, but given what a buggy experience I had, naturally I scored lower than you. Really quite befuddled by the number of people who say they had no problems at all on the PS3. I'm wondering if perhaps the version of PS3 you have makes any difference at all. Because if something happens once, maybe twice, I'm happy to chalk it up to my imagination, but these issues were just too frequent to be all in my head.

Susan Arendt:

Korhal:
*snip*

Our opinions are actually fairly close, but given what a buggy experience I had, naturally I scored lower than you. Really quite befuddled by the number of people who say they had no problems at all on the PS3. I'm wondering if perhaps the version of PS3 you have makes any difference at all. Because if something happens once, maybe twice, I'm happy to chalk it up to my imagination, but these issues were just too frequent to be all in my head.

Might it be an issue with your controller?

... who am i kidding even asking that question?
I'mma go wander off for a bit and bludgeon my skull using the nearest wall as an improvised thwacking implement.

Thanatos5150:

Susan Arendt:

Korhal:
*snip*

Our opinions are actually fairly close, but given what a buggy experience I had, naturally I scored lower than you. Really quite befuddled by the number of people who say they had no problems at all on the PS3. I'm wondering if perhaps the version of PS3 you have makes any difference at all. Because if something happens once, maybe twice, I'm happy to chalk it up to my imagination, but these issues were just too frequent to be all in my head.

Might it be an issue with your controller?

... who am i kidding even asking that question?
I'mma go wander off for a bit and bludgeon my skull using the nearest wall as an improvised thwacking implement.

:)

Yes, thought of that first, actually. Sadly not the case.

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