Not Secret News: Alpha Protocol By June 1st

By Jim Rossignol on February 25th, 2010 at 8:49 am.


And lucky old Europe should get Alpha Protocol a few days earlier on May 28. SEGA have accompanied this announcement with a new story-trailer, which you can see below courtesy of IGN. Well, I say story, it’s impossibly vague, suggesting something about nuclear weapons, something about loved ones in peril, and something about Russian-lady sexytime. It’s still almost impossible to call whether this will be one of the games of the year, or whether it’ll get tangled up in its own garrote and be whisked off in the body-bag of history. Oh well, not too long to wait until we find out.

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65 Comments »

  1. Alexander Norris says:

    She’s German, not Russian. She has a stereotypical German accent. Also, less obvious since it’s not in the video, but her name is “Sie” (which is just about the stupidest name ever, since it the deferential form of “you” in German).

    I can’t help but wonder if they’ve finally given a release date because of how well Mass Effect 2 did. Alpha Protocol was delayed because it “wasn’t RPG enough,” but ME2 pretty much proved that as long as you have conversation branches and your game is good, you can get away with making a game that’s mostly a third person shooter.

    One one hand: spy flicks as a game! On the other hand: Obsidian, King of Rushed and Buggy Releases. :(

    • The Dark One says:

      You should have left your explicit Gears of War reference from the post in SA. :V

    • mrmud says:

      Mask of the Betrayer is still one of the best RPGs of the last few years (ME2 and DA included). So not everything obsidian touches is rushed and buggy.

    • Wulf says:

      Obsidian is with SEGA now instead of Atari, I’ll give everyone a moment to wonder why to see if they figure it out before I drop the Obvious Bomb.

      The so-called ‘rushed’ releases were actually Atari imposing insane deadlines on them. They wanted to make proper games, Atari just wantd to gain more money and spend less. When Mask of the Betrayer came around, they were determined to get a proper game out of it, and that put hem on bad terms with Atari, after which they released the Storm of Zehir, which I assume was supposed to be a gift to the fans with all the resources, because it certainly wouldn’t have sold on the merits of anything else, it was mostly a pack of module creator assets. I imagine that was a big F U to Atari, considering they parted ways with them, after that.

      If you’re looking for anyone to blame for Obsidian’s previous failings, blame Atari, this is pretty much public knowledge, which you could research for yourself. Obsidian, understandably fed up with their evil, avarice-driven overlords decided to pitch their game to less avarice-driven overlords, and since SEGA has a good track record with actually letting a developer finish a game, I think thy’re going to do great. And I think that we, as gamers, are in for something magical, here. At the very least, it’s going to have dialogue that would do the best of novels proud.

      I’m looking forward to it, obv.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Atari were grade-A pricks alright (Shortly before NWN2′s release they put a stop to a number of NWN1 Premium Modules because they had features that weren’t going to be in NWN2 and owed Bioware a fortune in royalties they weren’t paying). They nearly had to shut up shop completely, but NWN2′s sales saved them (at the time at least).

      That said NWN2 was pretty much content complete (apart from the multiplayer stuff; the DM client still isn’t anywhere near the standard of NWN1′s); could have done with more QA on a technical level but it wasn’t the full on premature delivery that KotOR2 was (Which Atari had nothing to do with).

      I’m just not that interested in Alpha Protocol, if it gets good word of mouth and there’s not much else out I’ll pick it up but I’m just a little bit jaded with Obsidian and I’m certainly jaded with every one of their failings being blamed on the publishers. Deadlines slip and move sure, but for it to happen everytime suggests to me that Obsidian could do with a better project manager who’s not afraid to tell the creatives when they’re biting off more than they can chew.

    • luminosity says:

      SEGA are sadly, also pretty shitty. Not to the same extent but, then again I’m fairly sure they’re a large part of why I’m not interested in TW anymore (encrypted files, too much DLC, raised prices for Australia). I still can’t quite get used to how 2k, Ubisoft, Activision, Sega and Atari are all heading shittier and EA of all companies are showing them how it should be done.

    • terry says:

      EA have only changed insofar as to now channel pure liquid hate to their customers directly through their online store experience, rather than depending on middlemen.

  2. Pew says:

    Well I agree with you on Obsidian. But if anything, this game can’t be rushed thaaaat much can it? After all this time?

    *fingers crossed*

    • Wulf says:

      Exactly, Alpha Protocol has been in development for a long, long while, unlike the games Obsidian developed under Atari’s whip.

      You’d think people would be able to put 2 and 2 together, deductive reasoning isn’t hard.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Alpha Protocol was announced on 13th March, 2008, so a June release gives us a 2 year, 3 month cycle (Be generous and add a few months work before the announcement).

      Not substantially more than NWN2 was in development for (development began July 2004, for an October 2006 release = 2 years 3 months) and that was the deadline they agreed to when they began development; see here (16th Aug 2004 – one month into development).

      1UP: You mentioned earlier that there’s a long development cycle for this game…

      Urquhart: Yeah, so it’ll be out in 2006. We were very happy about this, because it was looking like the publisher would want it to be a Christmas 2005 title for a while.

      Lucasarts were the ones who stiffed Obsidian with KotOR2; Atari gave them the time they asked for and stuck to the deadline, don’t blame the publisher (however crap they are in other respects) if Obsidian are incapable of meeting deadlines.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I thought AP was delayed so it didn’t get trampled in the rush of first Dragon Age, then MaffectZwei?

    • Lilliput King says:

      @Schadenfreude

      So they were given a deadline, agreed to it, then failed to meet it.

      I’ll agree, difficult to be sympathetic in those conditions.

  3. Lambchops says:

    I’m quite hoepful for this one but I think I’ll be waiting for some reviews and word of mouth before plonking down my cash.

  4. Lobotomist says:

    Obsidian:

    Company that makes best story in rpgs, period.

    But has no talent in coding, graphic or animation

    • Wulf says:

      The rather nifty Electron engine thinks you’re a bit uninformed.

      But gamers… uninformed and clueless? GASP! That can’t be right.

    • mrmud says:

      Ill gladly defend obsidians games until the end. But they do look a bit rubbish.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Say what you like about Obsidian’s writing and design (No secret you’re a fan) but I wouldn’t call Electron nifty. Never mind the awfully sluggish, floaty camera but it’s a complete resource hog, unjustifably so considering the quality of the visuals it puts out. Maybe this has improved, and faster PCs these days would certainly get on better with it, but as of Storm of Zehir I’d noticed little improvement personally.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      NWN and NWN2 had really, really rubbish writing.

  5. Irony says:

    Obsidian are great at writing, and thats one of the most important things for me in an rpg. Even if it does turn out to be flawed like a lot of their games, theres usually enough good to out weigh the bad.

    Will be looking forward to this one with some interest.

    • N'Al says:

      re: Obsidian’s great writing skills.

      NWN2 vanilla would suggest otherwise; its story and characters were pretty mediocre, boardering on dire at times. What I’m saying is, Obsidian CAN slip up.

      Let’s just hope they don’t, and Alpha Protocol is more like Kotor 2 or MotB.

    • Wulf says:

      @N’Al

      In regards to the plot of Neverwinter Nights 2′s main campagin, the plot was charming and it had its funny moments but I agree. I think that perhaps, given their track record, this is because they were politely asked to make something more mainstream, and not something challenging that would weird out the average idiot (a la Mask of the Betrayer). Hence their creativity being restrained. So again, I’d put that blame squarely with Atari, since Obsidian have proved time and again that they can come through, when the conditions allow for it.

      Am I right, am I wrong? Alpha Protocol will show the truth, either way, I’d think.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I think that perhaps, given their track record, this is because they were politely asked to make something more mainstream, and not something challenging that would weird out the average idiot (a la Mask of the Betrayer).

      Do you reckon? I mean, it was their second game.

      The first was KoTOR 2, which was far from challenging, intellectually or otherwise.

    • terry says:

      Wow, I thought I was the only one utterly underwhelmed with NWN2. One of the few games I actively pursued a refund on because it ran so terribly. Storywise I didn’t get past the tutorial “run around the fair” bit.

  6. Flameberge says:

    God, I have my fingers crossed for this to such an extent that my hands either look like gigantic turkey twizzlers or gigantic curly fries, I haven’t decided which.

    I really hope this is going to be good, but I can’t help doubting that, at least it got delayed for an extra 4, 5 months so they could add some polish / sort bugs out from the end of last year.

  7. kyrieee says:

    I think this trailer looks like shit. The faces look bad, animate bad and the voice acting doesn’t sound great either. I’m a huge Obsidian fan however, and their previous games haven’t exactly been good in those departments either so I’m going to wait for reviews

    • Wulf says:

      Because polygon-pushing is everything in RPG, far more important than choices with accountability, dialogue, story, character growth, an interesting scenario/setting, and things like that… which are obviously things that RPGs shouldn’t be worrying about.

  8. neems says:

    Is the guy in the screenshot actually doing a ‘judooooo CHOP!’?

    Terrifying.

  9. Zealot says:

    Sounds a lot like Splinter Cell: Conviction.

    Nukes, Spies, betrayal, vengeance, killing his former bosses….ect

    • Lanster27 says:

      But I don’t think Splinter Cell will offer you any dialogue choices. It’s like the discussion between Gears of War and Mass Effect 2.

  10. Vinraith says:

    A good espionage RPG would be absolutely brilliant, I used to love PnP sessions of Millenium’s End and Top Secret SI. Unfortunately, my current sense is that this is going to be more shooter than RPG, mechanically speaking. I’ll get dogpiled again for saying it, I’m sure, but dammit I like traditional RPG mechanics.

    • Wulf says:

      If they go with the Mass Effect meaning of ‘shooter’, then… I could live with that. But in general, I agree.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      Indeed. I’m not one of those “this isn’t an RPG!” people, I enjoyed both ME games and have nothing against shooter mechanics, but it seems like there are fewer and fewer traditional RPG’s (and no shortage of shooters) so I can’t help but be a bit saddened when something with such a great underlying concept goes the action-heavy route.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      @Vin: Age of Decadence, dude. Age of Decadence.

    • Vinraith says:

      @FunkyBadger

      Amen to that. I’ve been looking forward to it since I first heard about it here on RPS back in ’08.

  11. drewski says:

    Oooh, I’d forgotten this was due out this year. Colour me interested. I’ve never not liked an Obsidian game yet.

  12. Sagan says:

    Since it’s Obsidian, I don’t expect a perfect game, but I know that they know how to make the kind of games I like, and that’s why I know I will like it.

  13. Paul S. says:

    I was really looking forward to this, but every trailer just makes it look worse and worse. The combat looks shakey. Acting sounds odd. Script sounds dodgy. “Your Weapon Is Choice” is also the worst tagline I’ve ever heard.
    Here’s hoping anyway, but currently I fully expect this to be arse.

    • Wulf says:

      The Mass Effect 2 trailers absolutely had me convinced that that game would be total arse, too, and utterly worthless. If it wasn’t for a sage friend telling me about certain parts of the game, I’d never have bought it!

      We can’t put too much stock in trailers, and really… only time will tell.

      But I’m hoping, they deserve a good break, they try harder to make an actual RPG than most developers.

    • 1stGear says:

      Have you seen the trailers for that Dragon Age game Bioware is making? Ugh, the dialogue is awful and its totally just riding on its sex and violence. And Marilyn Mason for the music? WTF Bioware? The game is going to be shit.

      I think its safe to say that we can no longer judge games by their trailers.

    • drewski says:

      There was a time we could?

  14. Kadayi says:

    Looks a lot better. I’m Interested to see how it all comes together. I pre-ordered this Via Steam back when it was originally announced. I do find it amusing that everyone berates Obsidian for rushing previous games, yet here is an example of them delaying a title. Will it be better than Mass Effect 2? Probably not in some ways (I expect the ME2 had a bigger budget), but since game developers no longer live in a bubble I’m fairly certain that they will be aware of their reputation and be attempting to make strides to correct it.

  15. Wulf says:

    Kadayi has the right mindset in regards to this, because Obsidian are almost an indie dev these days and I’m willing to forgive much if they can give me a proper RPG, with choices, proper RPG elements, and a fantastic story, the things that Obsidian are good at. In which case I couldn’t give a rat’s arse about the graphics, as I’m not a graphics whore, never have been… thank goodness.

    So I’m very much loking forward to this one! Very much.

    Also… guh, no more CAPTCHA. No mooorrrre… I’ll go and get a bloody account then.

    • Lobotomist says:

      Again lets remind people the facts:

      At least 50% of best RPGs of all times come out Obsidian: Planescape Torment, Kotor 2, Mask of Betrayer.

      So when asked will the story be good, the plot ?
      You can expect pretty much 2-3 notches above everything else (yes that includes Bioware)

      But when it comes to game programming. Engines…. yes even graphic and animation.
      Not so good….Take NWN2 for example. It had so many fundamental design problems, it was hard to count…

      So what am I expecting here ?
      Excellent RPG game in ugly and clunky shell.

      Lots of fun :)

    • FunkyBadger says:

      You rate KOTOR2 far too highly, its an unfinished work of sprawling genius – but that would make it a Gangs of New York rather than a Goodfellas (PS:T).

    • Kadayi says:

      @Lobotomist

      You seem to have fallen into this awful trap that a lot of gamers have of thinking the past = the future. We live in communications age, where in people and the companies they work for are well aware of their reputations and on the whole (if they have sense) actively work towards improving them (consider everything EA have done over the last few years to counter their ‘evil’ tag). From a production cost perspective I doubt Alpha Protocol is going to have the kind of money thrown at it by Sega that EA pumped into Mass Effect 2, however I’m expecting that after the extra months of polishing they have allowed on the project it should be a pretty solid gaming experience. The aim is clearly to establish a franchise, so they are going to want to come out of the starting blocks strong. If the game gets 85+ on Meta critic I expect they’ll all be pretty happy.

  16. dowon says:

    ex-Obsidian lead designer Ferret Baudoin was responsible for story and major characters concept in NWN2. He was one of the writers on Dragon Age: Origins at Bioware and is currently working as lead designer and lead writer on Awakening, an expansion pack for DA:O.

  17. el Chi says:

    Wulf, do you work for Obsidian or something?

    • Wulf says:

      Yes, I work for Obsidian. There is a bit of a contradiction there though, a paradox, if you will, since if I were working for them I’d probably have better things to do than replying to sarcastic comments in RPS threads with further sarcasm. Such as beta-testing their latest games.

    • N'Al says:

      Hah! We’ve got you now, Wulf!

      Given the state of their games at release, we all know Obsidian don’t beta-test their games. ;-)

  18. Orange says:

    Obsidian developed with Avellone as lead designer makes it a must-buy for me.

    Can’t wait for it.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Yes, it looks horribly visually dated, has some… questionable graphic design and there’s nothing to really grip me about the plot hints, voice acting and so on but still, Obsidian and Avellone is pretty much all I need to hear to buy it. All kneel and praise.

      Oh, and

      >>Have you seen the trailers for that Dragon Age game Bioware is making? Ugh, the dialogue is awful and its totally just riding on its sex and violence. And Marilyn Mason for the music? WTF Bioware? The game is going to be shit.<<

      Oh, this was sarcasm! Funny, that's pretty much how DA turned out to be for me (Marilyn Manson would probably have improved it). Ah, Obsidian, the company who can release a rushed, half-broken, unfinished mess of a game (KOTOR 2) that still flattens nigh-on anything Bioware have ever released. Although admittedly I’ve tried playing Neverwinter Nights 2 and simply couldn’t get into it, it seemed that generic-o-fantasy. Even more so than Dragon Age. So perhaps their narrative genius isn’t all-powerful… I’d still rather go back to NWN 2 though.

  19. disperse says:

    No no no, you’re doing it wrong. The bra goes on under your clothes.

  20. Heliosicle says:

    I’ve been wanting this for a while, so I’ll most likely get it.

    However, for a character rpg/action type thing, the animation definitely seems rather…poor.

  21. UK_John says:

    Another sales failure like FAr Cry 2, Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space… Mark my words…. Review scores in the high 70′s to mid 80′s at best.

  22. Tertiee says:

    Alpha Protocol’s been in development since 2006 when it was known as Project Georgia and it was just announced as an RPG published by Sega based on a new IP.

  23. Lars Westergren says:

    Aah, my most anticipated game this year. :)

  24. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    That’s funny. I was actually sitting down to do a poo at this exact time yesterday and suddenly thought “Gosh, whatever happened to Alpha Protocol?”

  25. The Dark One says:

    I’m looking forward to the game, but don’t expect the delay to mean any serious improvement. Josh Sawyer had posted that Obsidian’s work on the game finished months ago. Sega could very well be fixing bugs and tweaking things on its own, but it isn’t Obsidian’s doing.

  26. Gareth says:

    I’ve always been a bit troubled by Obsidian. They always seemed to be the Treyarch of the RPG world, picking up sequels to successful IPs and then doing a pretty decent job that had the big issue of being shadowed by the original.

    I really wish that Alpha Protocol hadn’t had so many delays to it, because it does harm the image of the game, especially with how sneaky some of the delays have been. I’m still hoping for a really good game, something that proves they’re more than just a sequel machine, so I’m still picking AP up come release. I just hope that… well, I’m not getting my hopes up.

  27. UK_John says:

    Unless they have changed it radically (which doesn’t seem the case!), we are still looking here at a ’25 hour RPG’ (quote from Obsidian!), which is always worrying. I mean, 25 hours – for an RPG?! This tells me it will be closer to an action-adventure than a true RPG. Also, I heard a rumour that, for example, to go into stealth mode, you put a silencer on your gun! If that’s the logic of the game, count me out! I’ll wait for The Witcher 2!

  28. Gareth says:

    I wouldn’t exactly compare it to The Witcher, they’re fairly different branches of the RPG genre. Can’t see anything overly wrong with putting a silencer on either, given that in all honesty, it -is- an action RPG with more of a hint towards the action than the RPG.

  29. whalleywhat says:

    I’d say this and New Vegas are Obsidian’s chance to redeem themselves for NWN2 and KOTOR2. Their track record (as Obsidian) isn’t exactly sterling at this point, but I still have a lot of faith in them. Personally, if the story in Alpha Protocol is good, that’s great, but I’m mostly interested in the “multiple approaches to missions” aspect, hopefully putting it in a Deus Ex/Hitman vein. Couldn’t care less about the animations and whatnot.