Is That A Gun In Alpha Protocol’s Pocket, Or…

By Alec Meer on April 20th, 2010 at 6:35 pm.

This is disorientating. Much-delayed Obsidian secret agent RPG Alpha Protocol has hoofed out of couple of new videos. Thing is, they introduce characters we were introduced to at length a year ago. So, if the marketing cycle is taking it from the top again, just what have Obsidian been doing to the game for all this time? Applying a thick, classy layer of ultra-polish, hopefully…

Or maybe not. Carry On Spying below.

See Sie:

Good grief. I know it’s trying to be James Bond, but this is more Confessions of A Window Cleaner. Still, a similarly awful sex-based marketing approach didn’t accurately reflect Dragon Age or Mass Effect’s greatness. It’s just a trailer. It’s just a trailer. Right?

Then there’s Grigori:

Hmm. While these trailers don’t evidence the calibre of writing we’re perhaps accustomed to from Obsidian, it’s certainly not fair to judge the game on them – what (hopefully) matters is the roleplaying and the spy-harding, not a collection of out-of-context cutscene clips lumped into a Youtube video.

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89 Comments »

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  1. 12kill4 says:

    going by those trailers, they certainly havent spent the last year improving the animations…

  2. robrob says:

    This is the new shit.

  3. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Why can’t there be a videogame based off of the TV show Archer? Just make the characters ridiculously amoral and occasionally incompetent…

    • Lack_26 says:

      I know, although someone would almost certainly call for its ban. In other news, Archer is brilliant.

    • Brumisator says:

      the incompetence usually comes from the player:
      “Lol, I thought you could rocket jump in this game!” as the protagonist explodes into a fine red mist.

      Alpha Protocol…hmmm… the graphics look pretty bad…other than that…what can I say based on a trailers?
      Hype meter remains at 0.

    • sfury says:

      The only thing close to Archer we got was Kate Archer. ;)

      I really hope among the Bond/Borne/Bauer options we’ll get some humorous lines too. Chris Avellone can write hilarious stuff when he wants to, I just hope they didn’t take themselves too serious in Alpha Protocol. That wouldn’t be ZOMG TEH REAL SPY RPG I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR, just …plain boring.

      Also those trailers… SEGA better ramp up the marketing and make it more interesting, what is this generic stuff? Even playthrough videos look way nicer.

  4. Jaedar says:

    For a more in depth look at the developers and development of AP check this one hour long video: http://blip.tv/file/3491456/

    “Apple juice” drinking games ftw.

    • Swimteampie says:

      Verily good stuff.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      I like their sarcastic attitude towards the trailer. Indicates that their marketing department’s stupidity and their writing are mutually exclusive.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      The key takeaway for me from that video (which is great, everyone watch it) is that if you miss a certain mission in Moscow you can completely avoid running into ‘Sie’. Hooray!

    • KillahMate says:

      Love the bit where Matt pays respect to X-Com. Topical!

  5. Dave says:

    I will kil Sei and have sex with Grigori.

  6. Tei says:

    This girl with the M60 is seind me conflicting signals. One is “He..come here, and lets have a hug, and babies”. The other is.. “look, this weapon can cut you in the middle with a controlled 0.2 s burst”.

    I don’t know what to do!.

    But I have this one preordered ages ago, just in case.

  7. Paul says:

    I don’t care if trailers suck, Obsidian won me over with that recent PAX panel presentation – just watch it if you haven’t already, FFS.

    • ulix says:

      Yep. Me too. Best game presentation I’ve ever seen.

    • Ricc says:

      @Paul:

      Just google it and watched the presentation. Really good stuff! :) Made me much more intersted in the game, too.

    • sfury says:

      I made the CHOICE to watch it. Awesome stuff.

      Also I ran out of apple juice.

      CHOICE CHOICE CHOICE

  8. The Pink Ninja says:

    AP has a cycle of a shit trailer, then a good one, then a shit one add infinitum.

    It’s a law of nature. I’m shocked at how consistent it is.

    Nevertheless Dragon Age rocked my socks and its trailers were universally dreadful. Trailers are full of shit.

  9. Hat Galleon says:

    I don’t know about saying that the first trailer is trying to sell the game with sex. I think it’s more of a satire of classically oversexualized spy women in james bond movies and the like.

    However, both trailers are pretty bad, yeah.

  10. Durandal says:

    Why do I get the feeling that there is more to ‘Sie’ than the trailers would indicate? A seemilgly shallow character that uses your assumptions against you? I could be thinking too deeply about it though. This might just be an attempted cash cow for Obsidian.

  11. Auspex says:

    “Seeing you in action makes me want to… debrief you”

    Good grief, and to think I was more hopeful about AP after watching the PAX Obsidian panel…

    • Uhm says:

      It was just missing a line about firing blanks.
      I hope.

    • Auspex says:

      It suddenly occurred to me that it was very odd I used the phrase “good grief” in my comment earlier as it is something I’d never normally write.

      Then I noticed Alec had used it in his spiel at the top and I came to the realisation that I’m pathetically impressionable…

    • Uhm says:

      You want to give me money.

  12. leeder_krenon says:

    who actually watches game trailers? bunch of weirdos.

  13. Andy_Panthro says:

    In the first trailer, it mentions Sie is ex-Stasi… Given that unification (and the break-up of the Stasi) was in 1989, when is AP supposed to be set? If she was 21 in 1989, she’d be 42 now… not exactly the best age for anyone to be running around firing an rather large machine gun…

    • ArgleBargle says:

      She’s described by the main character at one point as a cougar, so yeah that actually would fit.

      Games gonna own, dumb trailers aside

    • Doug F says:

      The trailer specifically lists her as in her 40s.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Ah, so it does. 40s (?) specifically, obviously they didn’t want to ask her, cos that would just be rude.

  14. Schadenfreude says:

    I have no enthusiasm for this game at all. What does interest me however is whether any and all of the game’s shortcomings get blamed on the publisher yet again; as always seems to be the case with Obsidian’s games.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    Sie, meaning either “she”, “you (polite)” or “they”, is not a name a German would choose for herself. Nobody knows what the hell that is supposed to mean, because that word has so many meanings.

    Funny aside: The Mass Effect translation team has the really annoying habit of translating each of those English words using the word “Sie.” Which means, that sometimes during dialogue you have to think hard about what was just said. Like ‘Wait a second, that didn’t make any sense… Oh now I get it, the second “Sie” meant “they” instead of “you (polite).” ‘
    They made that same mistake in both Mass Effect titles, and I really wonder how they can mess something this basic up, and then do it wrong again in the next game. You never use a word multiple times in the same sentence with different meanings.

  16. Dreamhacker says:

    I’ve been disappointed by every Obsidian game made thus far, is there any reason I should change my mind for this one?

  17. Lilliput King says:

    Looks utterly abysmal.

    :-(

  18. Heliosicle says:

    Man that took alot of thought naming that woman, Sie….

  19. geldonyetich says:

    It doesn’t look bad to me, just not particularly genre breaking.

    It’s like, if you’re talented enough, you can nail the feel of the genre you’re going for… and this will completely go over the audience’s head because they’ve seen it before.

  20. Enoch says:

    Seriously, everybody should watch the link that Jaedar posted. It is really quite awesome, and not just for the drunken game developers. Some of AP’s spy movie tropes are indeed looking tiresome, but if they deliver on the unprecedented level of feedback and consequences for player choices talked about in that presentation (think of a 30-hour-long “Way of the Samurai”), it’ll be worth cringing through some bad puns.

  21. Mac says:

    I managed to pre-order this for £15 from CD Wow – definately looking forward to it :)

    • Wulf says:

      You’re looking forward to this too, RL? Yay! I remember you from AdventureGamers as a person of impeccable taste, and definitely someone whom I respected.

  22. Wulf says:

    I have two things to say, really.

    1.) I’m as hyped about Obsidian and their things as I always was.

    2.) I am not a graphics whore.

    To elaborate on two, I think there are more important things for RPGs, such as:

    – A properly fleshed out world in regards to history, lore, and whatever else is relevant.
    – A carefully crafted, intricate, and immersive storyline is the hallmark of an RPG.
    – Elaborate levels of interactivity, where the player is allowed to do things that have no impact on the story.
    – Multiple approaches to jobs/quests/missions, so that the player can do things their own way.
    – Power to the player (choices which affect the storyline in a noticeable way).
    – Branching content, ensuring that each character has different experiences (on micro and macro scales).
    – Well written dialogue engages the mind and imagination, provoking thought and feeling.
    – Detailed characters that come over as being very individual (so that each is unique and memorable).
    – A living world, with hidden things to discover, and people travelling/doing tasks.
    – A decent ecology (if relevant), where every living creature doesn’t try to exterminate the player.

    That’s my personal manifesto for RPGs, and my favourite RPGs tend to be those which include satisfactory amounts of some/most of those elements. Examples include: Fallout 1, Outcast, Mask of the Betrayer, Uru (if I’m allowed to classify it as such), Mass Effect 2, Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines, Gothic III, and so on. Graphics and animation don’t rank all that highly for me.

    I know a lot might disagree with me or my chosen examples, but I think the list is a good one for elements that should make it into an RPG, and I’m usually quite optimistic that Obsidian has a very similar list hidden away, somewhere.

    • Levictus says:

      Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines is one of the best games created, along with Fallout 1/2 and Deus Ex 1. :)

  23. jameskond says:

    You could have sex in Dragon Age and Mass Effect though.. O.O

  24. Simon Jones says:

    This looked pretty ropey back in its initial marketing push, all the trailers leaving me perplexed at how excited people were. This new one is even worse. It’s like taking a time machine back to the late 1990s. A female spy with her bra showing? Obsessed with sex? Really? Games have come this far?

    Then again, I was one of the few people to think KotOR2 to be awful (even taking into consideration its truncated development time), particularly in the writing department. Maybe I just don’t ‘get’ Obsidian?

    • jameskond says:

      You remember that Alien Girl that could kill people by having sex with them? You do right? I mean that was about the same, maybe even worse. BUT! it was an alien so it’s OK right? it’s Bioware, so it’s a-okay..

    • Wulf says:

      Not everyone gets everything, and you’re welcome to your opinion. If we all liked the same thing then the entertainment pool would be pretty shallow, and we’d only have a couple of books on life and philosophy, rather than a couple of thousand.

      There are people who would be completely baffled at your reaction, and where you draw the line between the things you like (as noted by kond), but again, these are just opinions. Everyone has a different one. Treasure yours anyway. There’s no need for you to like Obsidian, you should like what you like.

      I don’t ‘get’ Dragon Age, but there are people who’d want me to die in a fire simply because of that, but I don’t think that I should have to like it really, and I don’t think you should have to like Obsidian. We might disagree, I know we do, but you’re completely entitled to your opinion.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sagan says:

      @jameskond:
      The concept does sound sexist, but Morinth was actually a very well realized character. She was a plausible, sexy, confident woman. That sounds like she fits into the femme fatale stereotype, but actually she doesn’t seduce people using her body, but rather by having an awesome personality. Nothing sexist at all here.

      But I think a trailer for Morinth would have looked very bad. Maybe Sie also only looks bad in a trailer, and will be a surprisingly realistic woman in the game. We don’t know yet. And there are tons of good reasons for women to wear that kind of clothing. Except I don’t think those include combat situations…

    • Wulf says:

      @Sagan

      I could say the same about the Justicar’s and Jack’s clothing.

      I don’t really have a problem with it, you know? The characters are decent ones, so I can respect them regardless of what they wear, it’s just that the double-standard bugs me. It’s okay for X, but it’s not okay for Y. Yet in fairness, I think that if it’s okay for X, it should be okay for Y. It’s okay for Mass Effect 2, and I think it should be okay for Alpha Protocol.

      *shrugs.8

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      I always did want a dialogue option to tell Jack to put some f!#$@ing clothes on, but obviously it didn’t do anything to damage the game experience on the whole.

    • Wulf says:

      @Vinraith

      I agree on all counts, completely! The only thing I’m saying is that just as it wasn’t a fun-hampering problem with Jack or the Justicar, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem with Sie for the same reasons.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      Yeah, I wasn’t disagreeing, just adding a bit.

    • Simon Jones says:

      @jameskond – I don’t think I mentioned Mass Effect 2 in my comment. But as you brought it up, I wasn’t too keen on a lot of the female visual designs in that game, many of which were overtly sexualised in ways that seemed very incongruous. In terms of character, though, I thought Bioware did a great job in both the writing and acting departments.

      As others pointed out, there’s a possibility that this is just a bad trailer. Although the sheer amount of badly written, badly delivered lines makes that an unfortunately slim possibility.

      @wulf Thank you for explaining the concept of opinions to me. I’d not heard of them before.

    • Klaus says:

      Re Jack’s clothing choices; it did not occur to me that all she had on was a belt until I actually met her in the game. And I had saw her trailer about a dozen times before I got the game. Those tattoos did ‘the trick’ I suppose. With that said, I did switch to her alternate costume and left it on for the rest of the game.

      Actually Miranda’s ass bothers me far more than anything Jack said, did or wore. As for Sie; perhaps she will be another Morinth – who I was convinced was just a murdering tramp, but is actually as interesting as her mother.

    • Wulf says:

      @Simon Jones

      Er, you’re welcome? No need for the snark, though. I was simply pointing out that all opinions are equal, something that we can all forget, occasionally, and I don’t think that the odd reminder really hurts.

      .As for trailers having badly written, badly delivered lines, you really should check out the Bioware trailers. I’ve not got anything against their games, but it’s a perfect example of a horrible trailer that turned out to be a great game, and every single thing you’ve said can be pretty much applied equally to any Bioware trailer in recent years. I think that’s fair.

      All I want to say is that we should wait for a demo (if there is one) and the reviews, then we’ll see. To judge anything based on a trailer is–in my opinion–utter folly. it’s like voting for a political party after hearing single sound bites for each on their most important policies.

    • Wulf says:

      Baah… what I’m trying to get at here (and having a great deal of trouble explaining) is that I don’t think that a trailer actually really tells us anything about a game, it’s rather what their marketing wants us to know, I’ve rarely seen a trailer that’s honestly told me much about a game, so I don’t put much stock at all in them. Most of them I think are utterly hopeless and utterly fail at what they’re supposed to do. So the worth of a game can’t be determined by its trailers, in my opinion.

    • Klaus says:

      Companies still make demos? Can’t remember the last time I played one.

    • DMcCool says:

      Yes the trailer is awful in every way the Dragon Age trailers were awful, and that game turned alright didn’t it?

      Oh wait, no, Dragon Age’s characterisation was as offensively bad and the lines were as poorly written as their trailers suggested. As commendable as that game is, the dialogue was written by a horny 14 year old LOTR fanatic. And here we have a horny 14 year old James Bond fan writing Alpha Protical.

      Its amazing how bad this game seems to be turning out to be, considering who is making it. I don’t know what they could do now to make it less appealing.

    • Wulf says:

      @Klaus

      Go to Steam and search ‘demo’, I’ve played lots of demos lately! The Mythbusters really need to deal with myths like the PC being dead, adventure games being dead, and demos being dead.

      @DMc

      I think a more fair comparison is Mass Effect 2 in my opinion, since DA:O’s trailers were questionable, but not nearly quite as very bad as Mass Effect 2’s trailers, and I thought Mass Effect 2 turned out all right.

    • DMcCool says:

      I guess you have a point, still I think neither games show having but sub sci-fi channel levels of dialogue. Which is what we are seeing here again with Alpha Protical. TBH I’m struggling to think of any RPGs other than Vampire Bloodlines and the first Fallout that rise above that level. Its either american cheese or everyone is a talking book.

    • Simon Jones says:

      @wulf – agreed. It’s a shame that developers don’t have more control over their marketing. Presumably Obsidian didn’t create this trailer themselves (I hope not!). It’s the same with films – occasionally a director has enough control to oversee the cutting of the trailers, and it almost always results in a trailer that represents the film properly, is properly enticing and doesn’t spoil the whole thing. When the marketing men do it, they misrepresent the movie, spoil the story and generally make it look entirely generic.

  25. Klaus says:

    Whenever I hear ‘Grigori’, I affix it to Rasputin. I hope this guy is some sort of strange intel-mystic. That is also the incorrect way to treat your elderly!

    Not sure if I want to be debriefed yet, will get back to you later. Thanks.

  26. Chris says:

    I had Alpha Protocol down as the Bourne-em-up I was going to buy, because I didn’t want to suffer the annoyances of Ubisoft’s ridiculous DRM. Then SC: Conviction comes out to good reviews, and Alpha Protocol seems intent on putting me off with everything released about it at the moment (lack of solid shooting mechanics in favour of dice rolling is a real turn-off. We’ve known how to do this properly since Deus Ex!).

    Come on, Alpha. I want this to be good. Don’t force me to play through ME2 again as an adept.

    – Chris.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Malcolm says:

    For some reason the “character” profiles at the beginning of those vids list Sie as being 6’0″ tall and Grigori as 1.78m. Inconsistent much?

    Or maybe he just changed the regional settings on his copy of Microsoft Spyfighter between trailers.

  28. Pidesco says:

    I sent link to the PAX presentation to the RPS hivemind, last Saturday but they proceeded to ignore it.

  29. Fullbleed says:

    Keep repeating:
    It’s only a trailer,
    It’s only a trailer,
    IT’S ONLY A TRAILER.

    • Wulf says:

      I was about to say something, then I saw Vinraith’s post after hitting reply (and thus refreshing the page)…

      But yes, when I saw the trailers of Mass Effect 2, the marketing had me 100% convinced that it was a game I would absolutely despised, full of smut, more smut, sexual objectification, guns, more smut, more women portrayed as something for nerds to fap to, more guns, and really poorly chosen music.

      However, I was convinced to give Mass Effect 2 a try and to the contrary I actually found it to be quite brilliant, and it was then I was reminded of adverts in the magazines of my youth, and I realised that more often than not marketing tends to do a product a huge disservice.

  30. Vinraith says:

    Trailers don’t matter. Surely Bioware’s taught us that by now?

    • Markoff Chaney says:

      @ Vinraith – Hear Hear!

      After almost canceling my pre-order of DA:O due to those deplorable trailers, the more horrid I think an RPG trailer is, and the more it panders to the lowest common denominator, the more hope I have for the game itself. I’m not sure if it is the effect of the world view of the Revolution of Lowered Expectations I seem to happily inhabit or just that I don’t trust the marketing arm of any company as far as I could throw them.

  31. archonsod says:

    Don’t see what’s wrong with the trailers myself. They’re going for the modern day espionage thriller, and it looks like they’ve nailed it.

  32. RodeoClown says:

    The heavy machine gun firing animation looks out. The gun has recoil, and the person firing it is apparently immune to recoil – she’s as stiff as a board while the gun bounces around in her grip.

    One of the downsides of trying to look ‘realistic’ is the little things become much, much more obvious.

    Uncanny Valley wins again!

  33. Proud Warrior of Zillyhoo says:

    Echoing what has already been said; trailers are inevitably a load of shit.
    Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 were both games with trailers which left you cringing. And when they came out, RPS loved them. Not liked, loved.
    I don’t know what it is with geeks like us and immediately thinking we know the whole story from a single minute of footage. I say give Obsidian the chance to impress, as they usually do.

    • DK says:

      You mean give Obsidian a chance to fill their product with bugs and cut half the content then blame the publisher – as usual, right?

  34. Zwebbie says:

    Concerning that presentation everyone is linking to: if you don’t like the first five minutes of it, don’t watch it all in the hope that it’ll give you some insight into game design, like I did. It’s mostly a collection of childish jokes, with an occasional reminder that AP makes the buttons you pressed during conversations come back at some point.

    • Wulf says:

      “AP makes the buttons you pressed during conversations come back at some point.”

      Which is an incredibly important element of any RPG, at least in my opinion. I don’t blame them for harping it.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Personally, I’d argue in favour of making choices through playing, as Deus Ex often did, as opposed to doing it by a choose-your-own-adventure dialogue system. My point was, though, that it’s not as if they haven’t been hammering on this ever since we heard about the game. The video is hardly worth watching for new information on AP.

  35. fulis says:

    I want to believe; I’ve always liked Obsidian’s games more than BioWare but the presentation of Mass Effect 2 has spoiled me.

    The stuff they’re showing looks amateurish, borderline terrible. I’ll try to reserve judgment but it’s not going to be easy

  36. EBass says:

    Well Obsidian are pretty much Biowares younger less successful brother, so I guess I’ll give them the same benefit of the doubt I gave Bioware. Ah sod it I didn’t give Bioware any benefit of the doubt. I’d still have bought ME2 and DA even if everyone universally told me the game was just a long FMV with a quicktime sequence at the end of it.

  37. Thiefsie says:

    woah woeful trailer alert.

    I was vaguely interested in this being that I like the writers at Obsidian… but woah nelly… that was horrible and completely killed the interest I had in the game… The animations are terrible as well… beyond Fallout 3 levels…

  38. Jimbot says:

    I thought the trailers were ok. Nothing terribly exciting, just some character dossiers. I really liked the PAX presentation, though. It really gives you an idea of the choices you have in shaping how the story plays out and tells you what sort of mindset they had when they went into designing the game. Between that presentation and the various gameplay videos, I’m pretty excited for the game. What it lacks in the visual department look like it’ll make up in the gameplay.

  39. JKjoker says:

    this looks pretty awful

  40. Shadowcat says:

    Honestly I think the trailers were pretty decent. A bit corny, sure, but that’s okay. It’s the theme they’ve gone for, clearly. What I took from watching this is that the game is all about making decisions and consequences. Right?

    I don’t get the complaints about the visuals — the game looks good. And as for the complaints about the animations specifically… What the hell? I just watched the first trailer again to be certain, and the animation is excellent. It looks nicely motion-captured to me (and if it’s hand-made, it’s by someone very talented).

  41. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I only bothered watching the first trailer (boobies! [/ironic]) and it made m snicker, and groan. But who cares, it’s only a trailer.

    The harping on about animation really bothers me, given it’s something I could not care any less about if I specificaly devoted ten years of my life to caring less about it, but hey, whatever. If people would rather animation over gameplay, what can you do?

  42. BigBro says:

    Where is the land where older women walk around in skimpy tanktops with bras exposed whilst carrying squad machine gun and how do I get there?