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Alpha Protocol First Impressions
Posted 13 July 2011 - 02:19 PM
After looking on various forums to preemptively debug any common problems, I ran through all the fixes that were available and began a new game. I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised.
Alpha Protocol presents you with an action/sneaking oriented RPG in a modern environment... something you really don't get that often... Either a game is action oriented, stealth oriented or an RPG in a futuristic or medieval setting. Having all of these elements is a refreshing gameplay experience.
You play as a new agent in a highly secretive spy organization. Starting out in training gives you different ways of approaching the same problems... This is done usually through brute force action, or stealth. Gameplay is reminiscent of the Splinter Cell series, though here you are not shrouded in total darkness and have to rely on memorizing guard patrols and using cover.
The game's graphics are good, though slightly dated. Sounds are done very well, and voice acting is superb from what I've seen so far. The NPC characters you interact with react dynamically to how you respond, which you can chose based on what you think they would like... You can either be a smart ass, professional, and so forth. Depending on who you are talking to, they will either like or dislike your responses. While this has been explored a bit in other games like Mass Effect, the way it's presented here seems more organic and realistic. You are limited in the amount of time you have to pick a type of response, so there are no lags in the conversation while you pick what you want to say, so conversations are fluid and realistic.
There are bugs in the AI, and loading checkpoints. In one of the first missions, I found myself having to reload a checkpoint, only to find that all of the NPCs I took down were missing, even though I was starting back at the beginning of the level... This was good for me, because I could just run back to where I left off, but this wasn't always the case. In later checkpoints, the NPCs would sometimes re-appear or not, meaning the checkpoint system is inconsistent and buggy. You just sort of work around it. I would have preferred a quick save system, but there are enough checkpoints to not have to keep replaying the same part of the level over and over too much.
There are a lot of secondary objectives that they don't tell you about when you are in a level that will help you in future levels. For example, when you are on-site, your handler tells you that the main target's elite guards are present, and if you take them out now, you won't have to deal with them later. This is a nice touch, and makes you feel like what you are doing is actually going to make a difference in gameplay.
Overall, I am enjoying Alpha Protocol, I just hope it has a good ending
Posted 22 August 2011 - 07:31 AM
The game feels very open because you can basically control who you want to work with or piss off based on the responses you provide in your dialog with NPCs. Even though the missions were somewhat linear themselves, I felt like I had control over my fate just by how I handled myself as a secret agent. I've played large open world RPGs like Oblivion, and I've played story-driven cinematic games like Mass Effect.... But Alpha Protocol just feels different.
I like the spy genre RPG, I think they handled it really well, and I wish more game companies would try to get away from the same old medieval/fantasy settings for RPG games. I think there is a whole world of possibilities out there.
The storyline itself was pretty solid. There were times where I neglected to read dossiers, and was lost a bit, but overall I got the jist of the story.
There are possible romances to be had with up to (I believe) 3 ladies... There are no "sex scenes" from what I've seen. I managed to get 2 of the girls, and it just fades to black. Absolutely rated PG and not anything like the erotic scenes from Mass Effect. It's more like a James Bond movie, where all you really get to see if the before and after pillow talk. No moaning or whatnot. The one thing I didn't like is that they don't give you a lot of time to spend with the women to actually develop any feelings for the characters themselves... The only character you actually talk to through most of the game is Mina, but that's only through your headset as she is your handler for missions...
But even though I spent a lot of time with her, when I had to chose between saving her life and pursuing the mission... I actually didn't feel any regret pursuing the mission just because I hadn't really given much of a damn about her as a player. She's quickly replaced by a similar sounding voice actress and NPC so it's like I didn't really LOSE anything by sacrificing her.
The characters are nice and varied, but again, I didn't feel as emotional about any of them as I did for Alyx Vance in Half Life 2, or any of the characters in Mass Effect.... I can't really place it. The voice acting is done very well, and each character is very distinct, but it's sort of the fact that most characters are rather stereotyped... You have a douchebag coworker, the sexy Russian "bad girl," the sultry reporter, and so on... Just felt cookie-cutter-ish, if that makes any sense.
There are, from what I read, 3 endings you can get, depending on who lives and dies, and which side you want to be on when given the choice. My first playthrough, I was stealthy as possible, and tried to never kill anyone... My gameplay time was about 20 hours due to having to restart from checkpoints either because I set off alarms that I didn't want to set off, or I was horribly overpowered by enemies that wiped the floor with my brains. I just started a new game focusing on martial arts and submachine guns.... blazing my way through levels, and I must say it's going a LOT faster now that I just don't give a damn.
Not being a tech ninja, I find that the hacking mini-games are in fact PHYSICALLY HARDER because I don't have any skill points in my tech area. So I guess that is a bit realistic.. You're not going to know how to hack a computer if your only love is for punching and shooting.
The sad part, though, is that hacking is required for almost all of the missions, in one form or another... So having points in it will save you from some of the IMPOSSIBLE mini games that show up as you play through the game....
For example, hacking a computer consists of 2 codes, and a WALL OF letters... Your goal is to find the sequence that matches your codes in the WALL OF letters. Practicing over and over, you get better at it, but at higher levels, you find that the timer gets shorter and you get locked out much easier... Buying EMPs gives you a freebie but those cost money and you are limited to the max number you can carry... The easiest minigame is picking locks, but even that is somewhat sluggish at times.
Overall, I'd recommend this game to anyone who is into 3rd person action/stealth games the next time it comes up for sale on Steam or if you see it cheap on Amazon... The biggest bug I encountered was loading a savegame after dying, the level would be empty. The best way to fix that is to quit the level and go back to the main menu, and load your checkpoint from there... And also I recommend to use the "Save Last Checkpoint" function a lot just in case you need to jump back a few checkpoints in the game if you screw up or miss out on an opportunity or extra bonus objective...
Have fun saving the world!
Posted 24 August 2011 - 06:35 PM
Now, taking on 2 completely different attitudes though the game, I found that I had influenced people in different ways. But even though I took completely different approaches, there was not a lot of difference between the two playthroughs. I did actually miss out on a mission because I executed a gun trafficker before he could explain his side of the story, but that's about it.
Other than my attitude and the way people treated me, I didn't really feel like it was as epic as other games that have the same mechanic... Like with Mass Effect, even though all the missions were all based in the same locations, the conversations you had felt completely different, where the conversations in Alpha Protocol seemed to be more similar and less drastic in contrast. Could be due to the voice actor or scripting, but I dunno. Being a badass in Alpha Protocol just isn't as rewarding as taking the Ethan Hunt "Mission Impossible" stealth approach. So I'm glad I got the stealth gameplay done first, because the second playthrough, I knew where to go and went in without hardly stopping.
Overall the game handles both stealth and action evenly, so no matter what your play style, you'll find yourself having a lot of fun playing this game!
Posted 25 August 2011 - 12:40 PM
The same is with movies, games, puzzles and etc. it the same annoying thing if you want to watch a movie and someone says what's going to happen next or how the movie will end.
So I guess for people who will want to play Alpha Protocol themselves by reading this review, they won't read the part which is tagged with the spoiler alert
IMDB has a good spoiler alert, you can't see it unless you move the cursor to it and read what's inside of it
Posted 25 August 2011 - 12:47 PM
So, when I start reading Herbert's post, I stop reading as soon as I see "spoiler alert" and I skip to "End Spoiler".
Thanks for that info.
Is was not aware of that kind of talking, saying "stop listening if you are interested" but it's really useful for sending info without breaking the pleasure for those who don't know how the movie finishes.
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