I Spy: New Alpha Protocol Trailer

By John Walker on March 16th, 2009 at 7:29 pm.

Just another Baldur's Gate clone!

We’re not in Aurora any more. Obsidian’s next game, Alpha Protocol, is the least RPG-looking RPG I think I’ve seen. In the new video released today (below), showing lots of new in-game footage, it looks like third-person action. But do not let loose your cries of foul just yet – this is Obsidian, and while it would be nice if they’d remember to finish their games, they’ve yet to make a mistake. And this is Chris Avellone and Feargus Urquhart, who brought us KotOR II and Planescape: Torment. The men know how to tell a story. There is pedigree, and with pedigree comes optimism. Doubly so, since there’s not a potion or magical goblet in sight: this is a spy-based RPG, set in the modern day.

The combat indicates it could even be real-time shooting, but of course it won’t be so simple. There’s something called “chain shot”, which lets you enter a slo-mo mode, setting up your attacks, sounding similar to Fallout 3′s VATS system. And more importantly, this won’t be a game of running around and shooting at men. Unless, I guess, you choose to play it that way. The hints given so far suggest a Deus Exian approach to encounters, with each mission completable in numerous ways, partly based on taste, and partly based on how you’ve levelled and tailored your character. There’s also apparently going to be sizeable downtime, between missions. You can head back to your pad, chat with friends via your computer, watch the news to catch up on your exploits. Oh, and there’s going to be some chatting.

Being an Avellone/Urquhart game, dialogue is going to play an enormous role. Conversations will allow you to chose your response, and thus your personality, using the Dialogue Stance System. It seems that in Alpha Protocol you won’t be given the usual luxury of weighing up your choices for too long – there’s a timer forcing you to pick quickly, in the pace of natural conversation. There’s a few more details in the dev commentary video we showed you last November.

However, none of this is shown below, which focuses purely on action. The trailer claims it is the first modern-day spy RPG. There has to be an obscure Polish game that beat it in 2002 or something – first person to think of one wins an imaginary prize. Do enjoy.

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66 Comments »

  1. Optimaximal says:

    Wasn’t it Gorky Zero or something?

  2. Tomo says:

    Hmm. Looks ok. Bit hard to believe it’s an RPG from that trailer though.

    And I saw a lockpick minigame in there somewhere :/

  3. Pidesco says:

    I’d like to point out that Chain Shot is just one of many special abilities, as opposed to the balance breaking VATS.

  4. Larington says:

    Isn’t The Agency supposed to be modern day. Not that its been released yet (Besides, I’ve heard that its dice rolling not proper shooting, so I shan’t be bothering with that one). Reserving my judgement on this until more info leaks into the Internets.

    Heh, being able to heal your character up from the inventory screen is far more balance breaking than VATS.

  5. tekDragon says:

    Oh lord… they recycled the moronic lockpicking mini-game from Oblivion.

  6. O.DOGG says:

    I’m really looking forward to this one. Hopefully SEGA will let the guys at Obsidian finish it before it’s released.

  7. John Walker says:

    I thought about Gorky’s Zygotic Zero. I reviewed that for PC Format back in the day. And Aurora Watching, the sequel, for Gamer. Neither were RPGs, however. The were stealth action. Where neither the stealth, nor the action, worked. But they were Polish. I feel the need to reproduce the game features for GZ, as listed on the box:

    “Different camera perspectives”
    “Gameplay adjusts to the gamers (sic) needs and wants”
    “Tactical stealth action at it’s (sic) best”

    However, the prize for best box boast still goes to one of my favourite games ever, Legacy: Dark Shadows. It not only quotes positive review lines from Just Adventure forum posts, but in the features list, below “Non-linear dialogues”, lies:

    “No aliens, no time travel”

    Er, I went off topic a bit there.

  8. Dominic White says:

    As snarky as folks might be about Obsidian not finishing their games, they get a free pass for KOTOR 2 at the very least. Midway through development, the publisher ended up cutting their deadline by six months, leaving them with a half-finished game with only time to develop a quarter of one.

    It’s why there’s huge amounts of amputated content still lurking around in the data files. Whole planets, even! They spent most of their now-truncated development time trying to seal things off and make it actually playable, rather than the whole ‘finishing it’ they had budgeted for.

    So long as they’re not forced into rushing Alpha Protocol, it could be very good.

  9. Mike says:

    ‘It will take more than guns!’
    and there goes the hardcore Gear of War crowd…

  10. Meat Circus says:

    This is just Planescape: Torment with guns. Meh.

  11. Nimdok says:

    Cold Zero wasn’t very spy-ey, but it was a Polish, modern-day, and an Action RPG. In fact, aside from the Splinter Cell setting in this one it feels a lot like Cold Zero…

  12. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    So if it takes more than guns, force, and technology, why does the trailer only show those things…

    And wouldn’t a real spy focus on developing humint and data collection?

  13. Thants says:

    There was Spycraft back in 1996. Although I guess it was more of an FMV/Series of mini-games kind of thing.

    Man, I remember that game being awesome, although it seems like it’s probably aged badly.

  14. John Walker says:

    Nope. I played Spycraft last year, and it’s still awesome.

  15. Garg says:

    Obsidian strike me as a developer that will eventually make a truly great game; I really enjoyed NWN 2 and the first expansion, and KotOR 2 would have been more than just good too if it hadn’t been unfortunately curtailed. Here’s hoping that this is their great game.

  16. Hunam says:

    Contrary to what Garg says above, I have a fear that this is going to be another Vampire: Bloodlines. That is to say, fantastic action rpg with an excellent story and fantastic characters, hidden behind broken game mechanics, dated techniques (take a look at the animation and ragdolls in AP, looks almost hitman 1) leaving an unfinished game that will take the developer down with it, eventually the fans will pick up the slack and joy will be had.

    I hope to god that doesn’t happen, Obsidian are my Favourite Development House in the World™ but I just can’t shake the feeling. If they don’t push the ‘Modern day Mass Effect’ PR steamroller they might just disappear.

    Also, I want them to make more D&D stuff. Maybe even resurrect the Planescape setting. Eberron is for losers.

  17. chris hyde says:

    That was so boring I couldn’t even make it to the end of the trailer.

  18. Stijn says:

    Isn’t Alexander Brandon in charge of Obsidian’s sound department? Alexander “Deus Ex, Unreal Tournament, Jazz Jackrabbit 2″ Brandon?

    Well at least the music will be good then.

  19. Hunam says:

    It’s about time they hired some programmers worth their salt in my opinion.

  20. LionsPhil says:

    “Oh lord… they recycled the moronic lockpicking mini-game from Oblivion.”

    Yup, another “bah” about that from here. Horrid little thing. *tink* *tink* *tink-SNAP* *violent murders…and in the game!*

  21. roBurky says:

    Huh. This actually looks interesting. I’m sure I’ve seen RPS mention this before, but I skipped over it because of the very generic name.

  22. Andrew Dunn says:

    It is a very generic name. It’s like an airport novel title.

  23. ...hmm... says:

    generic music too :(
    and also: “every decision could be your last”
    … no quicksave?

  24. Svengali says:

    > This is just Planescape: Torment with guns. Meh.

    What does that even mean? You get a floating skull that dispenses wisecracks, personal history, *and* ammo?

  25. Jeremy says:

    Yeah, I’m not going to buy this game because the lockpicking sucks.

  26. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    @Svengali:

    I assumed he was making meta-snark.

  27. Hermit says:

    > Svengali

    Yes, only the skull is also diamond-studded and on the run from a crazed, heavily armed rap artist.

  28. wvanh says:

    I think they could use a new cinematics director/editor.

    “It will take more than guns” followed by 30 seconds of shooting everything that moves.

    “It will take more than force” followed by 30 seconds of forcing fists and feet into people.

    Doesn’t really give me the impression it will.

  29. Svengali says:

    @Dorian:
    That makes sense. Blame my assumption to the contrary on having read the WoW forums. Ever.

    @Hermit
    As long as the skull uses the word “bitches” regularly.

  30. Panther says:

    Dan Brown: Alpha Protocol?

    Mini-games?

    Wierd mass-effect conversation model?

    Action-based twitch gameplay?

    Gee… sounds just like the RPG I always dreamed of…

  31. Alex says:

    Is there a way to actually buy Planescape: Torment at the moment that doesn’t involve eBay and spending more money than a new console release?

  32. Pags says:

    Yes, only the skull is also diamond-studded and on the run from a crazed, heavily armed rap artist.

    Careful, Damien Hirst has sued for less.

    I hope that I can get through this game without firing a single shot or karate-chopping a single baddy. That’d make it a real Avellone game imo.

  33. Kanamit says:

    Subscribe to Gametap. Not really buying, but it’s the only legal way to get it without paying a lot of money. And it doesn’t have mod support, so you can’t use the community bugfixes.

  34. Tworak says:

    I dunno, could be cool. I really really really don’t like all the brown, though. Jesus christ.

  35. Lukasz says:

    Just pirate Planescape and the first moment you can buy it, do so.
    nobody loses, everybody wins.

  36. Adventurous Putty says:

    I love Obsidian for KOTOR II, broken gem that it is, so I have faith that Avellone will pull something sexy out of his ass for the story that puts the rest of the RPG devs to shame.

    Hm, that didn’t sound quite right.

  37. SanguineLobster says:

    Hmm, I think a company could make a game about spies that focused on information control, maybe setting it before the internet to avoid all that hacking nonsense.

    Oooh, that could be a good multiplayer game, everyone plays a spy in an autocratic society and the goal of the game is to get all of the other players arrested and killed for knowing too much.

  38. Wulf says:

    Obsidan: One of the last bastions of intelligent games. Strong characters, complex storylines, keep-your-damn-steroids-thank-you-all-the-same. I’m surprised no one mentioned that, really.

    Some of their work has been stimulating, and even moving (in the case of Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer), and I personally find it easier to tolerate an average game with a better World filled with vibrant characters rather than a fantastic game filled centered around a plot written by someone on a napkin and acted out by drama school rejects (most of the mainstream these days, sadly).

    But that’s just my take on it. You go, Obsidian. I just hope this isn’t the last game due to, y’know, the buying trends of the masses.

  39. hoof says:

    I sort of feel the same about this as I did about that Bioware Sonic game – studio I love doing game that has very little appeal for me. Is it true that their Alien rpg is canned? I was much more interested in that than in generic action spy rpg…

  40. Conquests says:

    chris hyde> agreed, it was painful for its consoleness cinema crap, but right in the end there’s the only positive element… they wrote “your best weapon is choice”

    it sounds like some a mockery but not sure to whom.

  41. Thiefsie says:

    larf at the matrix rip off music.

    Unfortunately as much as I want to like this game, it reeks of GENERIC all over. Graphics, premise, name, music, etc.

    I might give it a chance being that it is obsidian… but still.

  42. Daniel says:

    MCA is writing it.

    That is all.

  43. Al3xand3r says:

    First modern/sci-fi RPG? Um, Deus Ex?

  44. Al3xand3r says:

    Also, lol @ having the exact same lockpick as Oblivion like someone else said. It’s merely mirrored lol.

    But I can see myself liking this, I don’t mind the generic look, there’s only so much you can do with “real world” style stuff. As long as the story is actually good and they do have a lot of choices to make that affect the course of the plot, since that’s the only RPG aspect they keep hyping it better be good.

  45. Bobsy says:

    @Al3xand3r: First modern SPY rpg. But I still think Deus Ex counts. Ho hum

    On “every desicion could be your last: does that mean it’s very hard then? Gah.

    And the music: I thought we stopped ripping off Clubbed To Death years ago. I’m naive.

  46. mister slim says:

    Deus Ex isn’t really set in modern-day, though I suppose that will eventually be true.

  47. PC Monster says:

    Showing a healthy degree of promise: me like.

  48. Ian says:

    As long as Nocturnal turns up and lets us get by Oblivion’s lockpicking game with Oblivion’s Skeleton Key it’ll be fine.

    Or the ability to explode doors open.

    Or just steal the key.

    Or something.

  49. skalpadda says:

    This really didn’t catch my interest at first, but then thinking of the writing in KotOR2 and given the setting, this has the potential for some pretty interesting and, if you choose it, controversial story telling.

    I couldn’t care less about combat or graphics in a story driven RPG, so it’s a bit disappointing that the trailer doesn’t show anything else. And indeed, groans aplenty at the Oblivion lock picking and the music. Give us juicy RPG goodness instead :)

  50. John Walker says:

    Al3xand3r – Unless they’ve been keeping the cybernetically augmented humans a secret, I’d suggest DX isn’t set in the modern day.