Licence Revoked: No Alpha Protocol 2

By Kieron Gillen on July 7th, 2010 at 10:22 am.

So – no Alpha Protocol 2 then. This perhaps unsurprising news emerges from a C&VG interview with Sega West’s President Mike Hayes, with the relative meaty bits torn free by VG247, the finest jackals of the videogame press savannah. Key quote: ““Let’s speak very commercially; the game hasn’t sold what we’ve expected, therefore we won’t be doing a sequel”. Well, that’d explain it. The interesting thing for me though is how important he positions metacritic, stating explicitly that an RPG needs an average score in the high eighties to be a hit. While that’s arguably not true, it puts the blame entirely on the game simply not being good enough. Good, yes… but not good enough. I actually bought it myself, but only have got a couple of hours in, bouncing off the surface and having trouble finding the will to return to it. Still – it’s an obvious shame that an attempt to break the Fantasy/Sci-fi duopoly on the genre failed, because an accountant’s logic will mean that further attempts are even less likely. As in “Look what happened to Alpha Protocol”. My 70s punk RPG will never be. Despairing emoticon.

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178 Comments »

  1. TotalBiscuit says:

    Maybe it didn’t sell very well because it was a buggy, unfinished abortion of a game and a complete waste of money. When’s that patch coming, let me guess, never.

    • sfury says:

      Obsidian said they wanted to release a patch soon after the release (and dismal reviews) but SEGA told them to wait and gather more bug info instead and release a patch at a later time.

      I don’t understand what the problem would be to have some interim patch fixing the most obvious issues.

    • Mac says:

      If they had gotten a patch out close to release, then this would have helped to appease some of the reviews, and people would see that the game was getting reasonable support – as it is, I wasted my cash, and I will not be pre-ordering another Obsidian or Sega game.

  2. Jonathan Strange says:

    Pity, the game had potential. I can’t help but think of Alpha Protocol as Vampire: Bloodlines all over again. An interesting character driven rpg where the character travels from hub to hub interacting with an assortment of oddball characters intermingled with sporadic bursts of mediocre combat gameplay?

    The two could be brothers. Hell, Vampire: Bloodlines received poor reviews on release as well and also boasted mediocre sales. It’s only a couple patches, some fan mods, and a good dose of nostalgia and retrospect later that people began to view it as a classic!

    Same story here. Good ideas but flawed execution and a poor quality release.

    Was really hoping it’d do better. Ah well! I liked it!

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Alpha Protocol has much bigger problems in terms of game design than Vampire ever did. You can’t fix that awful shooting with a couple of patches.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      @Jonathan Strange
      At no stage does Alpha Protocol even approach Vampire’s quality of characterisation or plot (IMHO of course). There’s nothing even close to the Haunted Hotel, or the Jeanette Voerman reveal or the whole Heather saga. They’re the things that make Vampire the buggy classic it is; Alpha Protocol just doesn’t have that backbone IMO.

    • Jonathan Strange says:

      @Schadenfreude

      Oh I agree Alpha Protocol isn’t as good as Vampire: Bloodlines, but it certainly isn’t as shoddy as many people make it out to be either and you can’t deny the similarities between the two games. When Vampire was released it faced almost the exact same reception, with mediocre reviews, complaints of bad combat (And it *is* bad, I love vampire, but the combat is atrocious) as well as bugs (Two of which even prevented people from beating the game) and just a poor quality release. Now here’s a game in the same style facing an identical situation. Hell, if you wanna go even further, both were also the third games by renown rpg developers known for buggy yet clever games. Go figure!

      Besides, as mentioned, I liked it! AP was far from perfect, but still a damn fun experience. With any luck it’ll also get the same sorta treatment Vampire did with some fan patches and tweaks to help it shine like it has the potential to.

    • sfury says:

      @TotalBiscuit What the fuck are you talking about, man? I may love Bloodlines but it has one of the shittiest shooting mechanics ever. You just need to level up in Alpha Protocol to get better. That said, yeah, AP is a buggy unpolished game and I don’t like it as much as Bloodlines, but they are very similar cases in my view.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      @sfury – (BISCUIT! – Ed) gunplay in Vampire was in the style of System Shock 2 more-so than anything else, whereas Alpha Protocol lives or dies by it’s shooting mechanics, since it has so much of it. Anyway, who the hell used guns in Vampire, really?

    • Levictus says:

      So AP overall isn’t as good as Vampire: Bloodlines? Because Vampire is probably one the best games I ever played. Vampire just blows my mind. Almost all other games look like bland garbage compared to Vampire. So the writing and characterization isn’t as good in AP? Any other differences similarities that weren’t mentioned?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Sorry Ed :<

      The biggest problem with AP that Vampire doesn't have, is that it's far more gun-centric than Vampire ever was. It's got more combat by a significant margin than Vampire, the conversation segments are too few and far between (shame, because they are the best thing the game has going for it). The gunplay just flatout sucks across the board, it suffers from extremely painful consoleitis, even with registry hacks the keyboard/mouse is sluggish, inaccurate and sometimes randomly decides not to work properly, so you end up running out of cover and dying. For all it's problems, Vampire did not have major control issues that significantly hampered the enjoyment of the game.

      That's one of it's many, many problems.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Vampire was genuinely blighted by bugs, while AP is blighted by design. Let’s not beat around the bush – not only was the whole combat system rubbish, almost all the missions (the exception being a couple in Rome) were rubbish too, of the ‘follow a linear path hitting or shooting dudes’ variety, with no interesting objectives or locations. You can patch Vampire’s failings, but to patch AP’s you’ll require a whole new game.

      The conversation system in AP is pretty great though!

    • DrGonzo says:

      Vampire is highly overrated imo. Not a bad game by any means, but the combat was awful in general. It doesn’t matter if you go melee or guns, it sucks. The haunted house is good, as is the woman with split personalities. But then it takes about 6 or 7 hours more game for anything remotely interesting to happen.

      Plus it had way too many boring combat levels.

  3. Chris says:

    Wouldn’t be very punk if it had accountants attached to it. Cheeky winking emoticon.

  4. Tei says:

    Alpha Protocol is a very good game.

    It failed to get good scores because:
    – Some reviewers where reviewing the wrong type of game. “This is nothing like Gears of War”, “This is nothing like Snaaaake Hidden Kills Simulator”. I blame here the clueness of some reviewers. But thats why you need PR, people… Good PR could have informed these reviewers what type of game was AP before giving then the oportunity to play it.
    - Lame poor start. The game gets better and better, so if you play it for more than 3 hours, you will have a good time. Some reviewers only played it 2 hours, the worst 2 hours of the game, and some gamers only played it 2 hours, the worst 2 hours of the game. It seems that RPG’s need a fucking good start to sell better in this internet age.
    - Poor code. The hacking minigame was poorly coded on the PC version, using the keyboard and the mouse to move two different things is hard, more if the controls are poor, so the marker don’t follow the mouse. The console dudes accept games that hare hard because you have to master the controls… but the PC dudes gets frustrated because a game is hard because you have to master poor controls. Other people have other minor problems, X, Y, Z… some people describe this as “lack of polish” or “unfinished work”. I don’t know where lies the truth, but overall, the game feel less finished/polished than Mass Effect 2.
    - Is not Halo 4, Mass Effect 3. There are morons out here that will buy a game based on {know name} + number. These morons will not buy Alfa Protocol, but may buy Alfa Protocol 2.

    IMHO, the problem with AP lies in wrong PR (not informed reviewers what type of game was AP), poor start (bad design), poor code (bad QA).

    The game was a rought gem. And I will not call it a failure. Maybe it will sell well for years, since good feedback will be produce. This can be fueled to give it more life, if a miracle patch is released fixing some of the details that make the game a bit buggy for some. I don’t regret buying it, and I may recommend it to others.

    • Tei says:

      “Bad PR? Yes, clearly that was the problem with the game. Bad PR”

      I was not talking about the game, really, but mostly about the reviews.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      The game was fucking horrendous and your defence of it is flimsy at best. I don’t think I need to repeat myself, wrote words on the subject here – http://www.cynicalbrit.com/gaming-express/alpha-protocol-review/

    • Tei says:

      I have read your blog entry. You list a really long reason why AP makes you angry and make your opinion of the game very negative. This could be one of these “Yea, she is ugly, and is always angry, but the sex is awesome”. .

      And about the minigames. I am somewhat sadist, seems, because I kind of like the hacking one. First fun and challenging minigame. But I can be alone here, I could see that.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      I’m with you Tei. Alpha Protocol has been one of the best games of the year so far in my opinion, and that it failed commercially makes me depressed (and disgusted with modern gamers, especially those who complain that “the graphics look like ass”).
      :(

      Hacking minigame is pretty fun, but it can be frustrating when you *see* the right solution, but moving the keyboard controlled cursor goes so slowly time runs out.

    • Tarqon says:

      Precisely. The game starts weak then just keeps getting better and better. If you give it a chance you’ll love it. Such a shame even a large part of the RPS crowd won;t give it a chance.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I beat the game (eventually, after summoning up the courage to brave yet more terrible bossfighters and awful controls), I gave it a chance, it did not got better at all. Obsidian apologists are strange creatures.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I agree that if they wanted more positive scores they should’ve shuffled the locations.

      The section in Saudi Arabia is an absolute car crash.

    • neems says:

      I am genuinely curious Tei, what type of game were you playing? Was it an RPG set in the world of espionage, or a third person shooter with a conversation mechanic?

      This post, I had to refresh the CAPTCHA… 8 times.

    • Tei says:

      McNorton say Alpha Protocol is spyware. Action-RPG with focus on poor action and great dialogs.

    • TheHumanBlur says:

      @TB.
      Shaking your fist at others opinions that do not precisely match your own doesn’t do you much credit, dear Sir.

      I care very little about the game itself – but the fact that another game that was trying to be different has failed is a tragedy. as it brings us one step closer to that brown world of digital generica that looms threateningly over every decent man or womans keyboard

    • Nick says:

      I am loving the game, in spite of the irritating minigames (not quite as bad with some skill points spent appropriately) and slightly dodgy combat (again, improves with appropriate skill point spending). The only thing I flat out hated so far have been the boss battles. The characters, conversation system and general feel are all brilliant, I am sad that it didn’t sell well, I am also sad that it didn’t get an extra few months of polishing.

    • kyrieee says:

      Maybe you liked the game, it’s fine if you do, but it’s still not a good game and certainly not “very good”.

      The story is poorly written, the characters range from average to embarrassingly bad, the animation sucks across the board, the combat is some of the worst ever, the minigames are bad, the interface is passable at best, the 2D art is cringe worthy and the mission design is completely uninspired.

      There’s always people who like something no matter how bad it is.

    • Ragnar says:

      @kyrieee

      And still AP is a lot better than Mass Effect 2 which everyone praised to the sky.

    • TeeJay says:

      @Tei: “This could be one of these “Yea, she is ugly, and is always angry, but the sex is awesome”

      I’ve got nothing to add just wanted to quote this. :D

    • jaheira says:

      @ kyrieee

      What do you imagine is the difference between an enjoyable game and a “good” one? Surely the definition of a “good” game is one that is enjoyed eg. Alpha Protocol, by me.

    • kyrieee says:

      “And still AP is a lot better than Mass Effect 2 which everyone praised to the sky.”

      HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHA

    • Wulf says:

      BAD kyrieee, bad, bad kyrieee! D:<

      "There’s always people who like something no matter how bad it is."

      You cannot say something like that because it directly implies that good and bad are objective terms, which they are absolutely not!

      You can’t say that a piece of entertainment is objectively bad, unless you’re one of those people who could look at a brilliant piece of art, find the tiniest mechanical flaw, and claim that it’s bad art just because of a tiny mechanical flaw whilst ignoring the beauty of the piece.

      If you’re not one of those, then you should most certainly know better. Really.

      And if someone happens to like a game more than you, and if someone happens to like a game that you like less, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically right and that your opponent is worthy of mockery for not supporting that which is popular, either.

      I’m really getting sick of the popular automatically equals good mindset, it’s putting me off Mass Effect 2 just because of the attitudes of those who liked it. :/

      If popular does automatically equal good, then the Twilight series was one of the best literary works of this or any other century.

    • kyrieee says:

      Oh please, you should know better than to pull that argument on me. You can invalidate all judgments of the world with philosophy but we don’t because it’s impractical and even though we technically can’t make objective statements about something so subjective as quality there often cases where that doesn’t matter in practice. Casablanca is a good film, Crime and Punishment is a good novel and Bach’s suites for Cello are great pieces of music. They are because history has judged them to be. History hasn’t had its say about ME2 yet but I’m fairly confident it and I won’t have any major disagreements.

      Regardless of this discussion games contain parts which can be judged objectively. Depictions of real world objects can be judged, technical aspects of a game can be judged and so on.

      Alpha Protocol has bad character animations, bad facial animations (both indisputable), bland voice acting (especially if you try to play a tough guy), not very good UI design (massive radial menus ripped staight from the console version), bad AI (guys with guns rushing to melée you), extremely bad combat mechanics (also indisputable), broken cover system. It just has a bad production overall, the particle effects look bad, even the CGI intro looks like it’s from 10 years ago ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SBqT0TBHQ4 ).

      A lot of the characters are just embarassing ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QclvnLosOco ), the bossfights are in their worst moments worthty of mocking ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRojSYNg7k0 ) and in their best just generic as all hell (pick up RPGs to shoot the tank!!, exciting stuff!!!).

      ME2 on the other hand has an amazing production overall, the voice acting (at least the female lead) is some of the very best in gaming, the environments look fantastic, characters emote and move around duing conversations, the music rocks, it’s just slick overall. The combat and coversystem is inarguably better than Alpha Protocol’s, the writing is fantastic in a lot of spots and guess what, the game actually has some ideas. They do interesting stuff, they surpirse you, they have variation.

      Now, Deus Ex had bad combat, bad animation, bad graphics and it was still a good game so what I wrote doesn’t prove all that much, but Deus Ex had good writing and cool gameplay. Alpha Protocol has complexity in terms of narrative differentiation but it doesn’t matter when the writing isn’t any good and the combat / stealth (which is the majority of the game) is an order of magnitude worse than Deus Ex.

      I honestly don’t care which game you like more but Mass Effect 2 is just so much better made in every single way. The only part of AP that you could claim to be good (because it’s not possible to prove you wrong) would be the writing, but if you think the writing is good then I’ll laugh at you anyway. Early in the game while you’re on a mission you get betrayed by your own agency and they shoot missiles at you (wtf?) to kill you out of the blue. You’re doing your fucking mission and you literally get a radio transmission out of the blue (ZERO CONTEXT, and you don’t care because it’s so early in the game anyway) saying that they betrayed you and that there’s a missile strike incoming. IT’S EMBARRASSING, and it’s not good writing.

      Obsidian had their absolutely terrible sneak animation at E3 last year and they didn’t replace it. They don’t have any excuses and I’m not going to look past all the shit that’s bad because when you do there’s hardly anything worth seeing anyway.

      As for liking bad stuff, you can dig up the worst reviewed thing ever and you can be 100% sure that some little guy out there loves the shit out of it but that doesn’t make it any less of a turd. Lost Planet 2 wasn’t good AT ALL and there were still people who loved that game.

  5. Schadenfreude says:

    Personally I think it was the least buggy Obsidian game I’ve yet encountered. It was still deeply average though. I could forgive the sloppy animations and the dull sneaky/shooting if the plot was up to snuff but we’ve seen it all a hundred times before. The range of choices and outcomes was staggering I’ll give it that (They must have one enormous flowchart plastering the walls of Obsidian Towers) but it’s for nothing when it’s supported by such pedestrian characters. I just thought it was really forgettable on a story level; never mind the mechanics. Not surprised we won’t be seeing another but hopefully this slap in the face will make Obsidian raise their game in the future (Though I’ve said that after most of their releases).

    It did have one of the best lockpicking mini-games I’ve seen for a gamepad though.

  6. SirWhat says:

    better writing than Mass Effect 2, but gameplay was much worse than ME2. still went through it in 2 days. final mission was a big dissapointment.

  7. macc says:

    “My 70s punk RPG will never be.”

    Good theme! This would need to be done by the guys Troika who did Vampires: The Masquerade Blodlines. You can’t stop dreaming right?

  8. toni says:

    AP is pretty ace and there were more inspired and fresh decisions than to be put down by the bad implementation and lack of polish. I REALLY look at the gameplay not the visuals as others claim and the shooting was not bad, it was STATS-driven and you had to put points in it. just like in DX1. AP, Vampires, CallOfCthulu + Dystopia should have a baby called DeusEx.

  9. Dawngreeter says:

    The saddest part about this is the attitude that there is absolutely no way a game can both be successful and not have a sequel.

    • Wulf says:

      Exactly. And, you know, Full Throttle was one of the worst games ever since it never had a sequel! :o

      Oh, and Outcast? Bloody awful thing. Anachronox? That must’ve been the worst RPG of all time.

      I don’t know about anyone else, but to me this comes over more as behavioural conditioning rather than anything else, since many of my all time personal classics didn’t have sequels.

      What I find more worrying is the relative ease advertising companies seem to find in changing the opinions of gamers over the long term.

      Frankly, I think that the reason Alpha Protocol ‘failed’ had nothing to do with the game itself – because there have been some really atrocious games which have been huge financial successes – but rather that the advertising campaign was really poor.

      See: BioShock 2. I think if it had been advertised as well as that decidedly mediocre game was, then it would’ve been a massive success.

      And yep, I don’t put a lot of faith in the ability of the average gamer to make their own decisions. Sorry to whom that offends, but after years of watching which games sold by the bucketload and which didn’t, it became pretty obvious that advertising > game quality.

      I believe this is what Tei was trying to say.

    • neems says:

      Ah yes, but it probably helps that Bioshock 2 was a sequel – half the advertising has already been done for you.

    • NightKid says:

      BioShock 2 actually fell short of the numbers 2K were expecting so I wouldn’t use it as an example.

      http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=253689

    • bob_d says:

      Given how risky game development has always been, combined with the huge dev costs now, developers always have to go with the safest option, which is sequels. Not only are you guaranteed a certain amount of revenue, but as others have pointed out, a certain amount of advertising has already been done, plus the game mechanics are at least partially figured out, so it’s the much cheaper option as well (especially if you can reuse your basic engine).
      Games in the past have been able to be successful without spawning sequels because the costs of taking risks on new IPs were low enough, and developers usually resist the idea of making the same game their entire career.

      @ Wulf:
      Yeah, there is, sadly, a direct correlation between the amount of money spent on marketing a game and the amount of money it makes. Which leads to the really unfortunate dynamic of routinely spending 1.5-2 times more money on advertising than on the game itself…

    • Wulf says:

      @neems

      Point.

      @NightKid

      Still, it outsold Alpha Protocol despite being rather dire, and it had about a good magnitude more sales than it probably should have had. Publishers are greedy, so it’s very rare that a game actually reaches the levels of financial saturation that they would consider acceptable. See: Publisher views on PC piracy.

      @bob_d

      I think I’m actually picking up some kind of lifelong aversion to well advertised games for that very reason, when something has that much money sunk into advertising, I find it very hard to take the product seriously. Just like with infomercials.

  10. Heliocentric says:

    I love Obsidian, they build really incredible games, but they are a bit rubbish at the same time. So i always wait for things like community patches. No rrp then, so my sega exec can certainly say the game has failed in that regard, but I’m disheartened that even hybrid pc publishers still look at things purely from the first quarter perspective in the age of steam.

    • Garg says:

      I think Sega are paticularly miffed as they did give the game a fair old bit of extra funding and time. Although I reckon this is the kind of game that’ll sell really well in a good Steam sale, as you say.

    • suibhne says:

      Garg, I don’t think that’s true. According to the most recent interview with Avellone, SEGA delayed the game but didn’t devote additional resources to it – so it came out exceedingly late compared to previous expectations, but didn’t benefit from any of that time. Seems to have been a decision by SEGA made purely about market timing.

    • Garg says:

      I seem to recollect it got delayed and some extra funding once (a while ago now), and then delayed again much more recently. Although I may be wrong.

  11. Freud says:

    I liked the game (even played through it twice) but surely this comes as no surprise. I assume they had a reasonably big budget and plenty of time and still couldn’t get it shiny enough for todays climate. Also, there were a lot of odd and clumsy design choices that made it go from a classic to flawed gem. The PC version felt like a console conversion, with the interface choices.

    Hopefully Obsidian one day manages to release a game that goes beyond being a flawed gem. They are brilliant when it comes to characters and story and hopefully they manage to get gameplay and polish up to par one of these days. Hopefully Fallout: New Vegas will be that game. I would hate to see Obsidian go the same way of Looking Glass, Origin, Ion Storm and Troika.

    • WhiteLung says:

      Apparently, New Vegas is finished content wise and just has QA and voice recording to do for the next few months up till release. Hopefully it’ll be the game where Obsidian finally realise their potential…hopefully.

    • Xercies says:

      I actually think that Obsidian should just be writers and leave the game stuff to someone who can make a game.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Exactly. I won’t buy an Obsidian game without waiting for a review these days and, as a result, I usually don’t buy their stuff. They’re just not good enough at the whole game making thing to justify me putting down my money. New Vegas will hopefully be an exception to the rule.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I won’t buy another Obsidian game until they get into the habit of releasing finished games (burned by KOTOR2 after KOTOR was so awesome, never again). How the same people working for Black Isle made so many awesome games I can not fathom.

      I get that it’s often publishers demanding games are released to hit certain sales hot-spots but some people need to man up & learn the skill that is saying no instead of being spineless yes men. Take some bloody pride in your creation or don’t bother wasting our time with it.

    • Marar says:

      Kotor 2 was much better then the first one, sorry, just had to say that.

    • Grunt says:

      Isn’t it time to wave goodbye to Obsidian, really? It irritates me putting them in the same pedestal as Looking Glass et al when LG never had a problem releasing a playable game. Yes there were bugs but never games in the same half-complete, broken state as, say, KOTOR 2.

      How many chances do we give them before refusing to be unpaid beta testers? Ambition is fine but it really needs to be backed up by a capacity to deliver and this is, what, the fourth or fifth time they’ve comprehensively failed on quality?

      Even the infamous Cryo could finish their awful games to a playable standard.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      @Grunt

      I’d much rather take ambitious and flawed than polished, mainstream and bland. Obsidian is one of the greatest studios around.

    • Lilliput King says:

      @Lars

      That’s slightly misleading, though. NWN2 and KotOR2 are some of the least ambitious games around.

    • jeremypeel says:

      “I actually think that Obsidian should just be writers and leave the game stuff to someone who can make a game.”

      Isn’t that what New Vegas is? The workable engine is already built; this should be Obsidian’s chance to shine.

    • Vodkarn says:

      I bet I know exactly how this went down:

      Pitch: “Alright, so it’s [game description here] – we need [dollar amount] and two years.”
      response: “Change [game description here] to [watered down game description here], and you get [60% of dollar amount] and ten months.”

      I shit you not; I feel awful for Obsidian – they are the guys who get the engine/licence to make sequels, and are given half the time a quarter of the budget.

  12. Brulleks says:

    Somehow I knew without looking that that link would point to The Witcher…

    I’ve been visiting this site for too long.

    Although apparently not long enough to remember the bloody Captcha…

    • Red Avatar says:

      Same here. Funny how nearly all the magazines and websites that gave it a low score were related. PC Gamer, PC Format, Edge and Eurogamer all share some of the same writers. I always suspected it was a case of “cross contamination” where some influenced the opinions of the others. Either that, or none of Future Publishing’s writers got any taste of decent RPGs.

    • Richard says:

      “I always suspected it was a case of “cross contamination” where some influenced the opinions of the others. Either that, or none of Future Publishing’s writers got any taste of decent RPGs.”

      Hey, I gave The Witcher: Extended Edition a good review.

    • Red Avatar says:

      I know Rich – I enjoyed your review but it’s not that one which is quoted on Metacritic. It’s the original review which got quite a lot of criticism. But honestly, what is up? I see this happen a lot where one game seems to get the same range of scores in most Future magazines. Is it a case of colleagues hanging out together to discuss the game?

  13. Duoae says:

    Whatever happened to building a franchise? How many games aren’t hits right off the bat but then go on to sell megabucks several iterations down the line?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Whatever happened to making games from original concepts instead of constantly trying to build franchises with yearly updates to an average game in the hope that eventually it turns into something worth playing?

    • Duoae says:

      The cost of games and their limited audience… that’s what.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Hahahaha, oh wow 7 Seas, look at how totally fucking furious you are about a videogame. Alpha Protocol is a bad, buggy game, there’s a consensus on this, the reviews say it is, RPS pointed out the glaring flaws in it, now a handful of hardcore Obsidian fanbois are raging at RPS for what, speaking the truth? Alpha Protocol is a bad game. It had potential, just like Battlecruiser 3000AD had potential. Should we praise Derek Smart (hi Derek) for making a bad, buggy game just because it had potential and a spark of innovation? No, because it was a bad game. Alpha Protocol is a bad game (repeat after me, Alpha Protocol was a bad game).

      There are 2 parties to blame for Alpha Protocol failing miserably. The first is SEGA, who shelved it for 6 months due to Mass Effect 2 and didn’t give Obsidian the money to fix the game. The second are Obsidian themselves, who made it and can be blamed for everything else. Don’t give me that ‘the gaming media is killing originality!’ bullshit, it’s incredibly infantile.

      But yeah, obviously I’m just here to plug my review, yeah, that must be it. You’d rather I just repeat everything I said verbatim here? What a waste of time… like Alpha Protocol (which is a bad game)

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      And… that reply missed the intended target completely. Whoops

    • bob_d says:

      There is a strong argument to be made there – sequels can be much cheaper to make and some of the marketing has already been done, not to mention you have an opportunity to improve upon the previous game(s). Sadly, in a sense, for many developers, the only way to get the time to do a “finished game” is to do a sequel.

      A sequel to even an unsuccessful game has a better chance of doing well than a completely new IP. Some companies do recognize this: none of the “Red Dead” games have been financially successful, but the sales and quality of the sequel was much higher than the original; we’ll see if they keep making them.

  14. 7 Seas says:

    Awesome, thank god diversity fails, LONG LIVE THE ENDLESS SEA OF REPETITIVE SHIT.

    Screw you RPS for not giving the game a fair shake, and screw you to the commenters above calling this game an “abortion”. What the fuck is wrong with you, did you even play it? You people just get into a circle jerk hate parade and parrot the same asinine lines as the rest of the herd.

    A the very worst this game is a 70-75 (ultimately I would score it at around an 85), which *obviously* is not a fucking “abortion”. The game was also completely stable for me and virtually everyone else I’ve spoken to that ACTUALLY PLAYED IT and remarkably bug free, and yet you parrot the line about it being a “buggy broken mess”.

    RPS goes out of it’s way to make the main character look like a buffoon (something they acknowledge, look at the goddamn header pic of this article and other AP articles!) and then snarks about the fact that he looks like a buffoon. Fuck you guys, what a disappointment.

    Let us now return to our endless train of sequels Call of Duty, Madden, and flawed Bioware games given completely uncritical adoration because they have big PR budgets. Let us return to our incredibly shitty DLC that is reviewed with such rose colored spectacles as to be almost ridiculous. Overlord = peice of shit. The “new mako” segments are good?? If you didn’t have your head so far up Bioware’s ass you would acknowledge the fact that that craptastic platforming belongs in a budget title from 98, not a AAA from 2010. However the extremely subpar quality of the gameplay does indeed match the abysmal shooting elements, so at least it is uniform.

    I cannot stand the double standards being applied here. Shame on you all. Most of all shame on you who are delighting in the fact that this game has failed, may your life be as bland and featureless as you seem to wish it to be.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Don’t defend a game just because it has the faintest spark of originality, the game was awful, deal with it. Great job, the game was stable ‘for you’, your opinion matters more than every other review that said it was a buggy mess? Yeah whatever you say. I played and reviewed this game on launch and it qualifies as the biggest disappointment of 2010, it’s going to take some work to beat that.

      Excuse me while I fall through the floor of an untextured room.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I think you’re confusing us hating how he looks with us loving how awesome he looks.

      KG

    • Fwiffo says:

      Do what the rest of us do and salve your guilt by filling your hard drive with indie games you never actually play.

    • Freud says:

      @TotalBiscuit

      I had zero bugs of that kind in AP. Meanwhile in ME2 I got stuck in the scenery and had to reload a handful times. Guess there is an element of bad luck when it comes to these things.

    • sfury says:

      Well I played it too relatively bug-free the 1st time, then on the second playthrough a plethora of ridiculous bugs kicked in especially when reloading levels after dying – missing enemies/ mini-bosses, locked doors that don’t let you continue the level, random crazy stuff happening (dreaded Brayko glitching and getting stuck below the stage, leaving me to shoot him like a practice dummy to the end of the fight…)

      Face it – for all its RPG goodness and non-linearity the game is very unpolished and you can’t expect everyone to just shrug this off like you and me and enjoy only its positive sides.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      I’m really finding it tiresome the way Angry Obisidian Fans only seem to defend their games by attacking Bioware. It’s kinda boring (just like Alpha Protocol!) and the implied jealousy doesn’t do Obsidian any favours.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Freud – it honestly doesn’t matter if you had zero bugs because those bugs are mentioned all over the internet. They don’t disappear just because you got lucky, if anything all that shows is a vast amount of inconsistency and a poor as hell port.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Michale Thorntons looks

      I’d like to go on record to say that my Thorntorn looked exactly like the one int his article’s picture except with aviator shades. indeed one of the thoughts running through my head while making him was “this is awesome, every character creator should now have a lumberjack beard option.” It makes cutscenes much more fun.

    • Nick c says:

      On one hand, I completely agree with the above poster’s scathing comment. Alpha Protocol was an amazing game, with almost limitless combinations of choices/consequences. I don’t even like spy movies, and I absolutely loved the game. It filled the itch i’ve had for a character driven game with open gameplay options since Deus Ex and Vampire.

      That being said, it was also a buggy mess. Even with the *.ini fixes from the community, I was constantly jerking around with my mouse, texture pop in was horrible (and to those who say it’s a limitation with UT3 engine, look again at ME2, Bioware fixed it) and a lot of the missions had forced combat making a stealth based character severely handicapped.

      Obsidian simultaneously scares and excites me. Kotor 2 was a real heart breaker, but with the latest community restoration patch, it’s at least twice as good as the first one. Neverwinter Nights 2 had a fair share of issues, but with the continued patches they released, and both expansion packs, it has become my ideal definitive Forgotten Realms playground.

      The talent is clearly there, which makes it so frustrating when they fuck it up. And those of you who think Black Isle were gods need to take off the rose tinted glasses. Their games were just as buggy. Fallout and Fallout 2 were very buggy, The Icewind Dale games, while not really buggy, were very pedestrian compared to Baldur’s Gate and Black Isle’s own Planescape. In fact, it seems to be the legacy of their games and game ideas that matter more nowadays than their actual games. I hope New Vegas turns out to be the exception to the flawed masterpiece template that Obsidian keeps following.

    • 7 Seas says:


      Don’t defend a game just because it has the faintest spark of originality, the game was awful, deal with it. Great job, the game was stable ‘for you’, your opinion matters more than every other review that said it was a buggy mess? Yeah whatever you say. I played and reviewed this game on launch and it qualifies as the biggest disappointment of 2010, it’s going to take some work to beat that.

      Total Douchebag more like. I don’t give a crap if you reviewed it on your crappy podcast website HEY EVERYONE I@:M A REVIEWER, COME FIND ME AT http://www.cynicalbrit.com/ I@M SO EDGY, WATCH ME ROAR RAR RAR You’ve commented 11 or so times on this thread plugging your review and saying you hate this “buggy mess” of an “abortion”. I think you are the one pushing an agenda.

      If you think this game is an “abortion” and that I just just “deal with it”, well then that’s your right. As it is mine to say, fuck you pal, take your “Original Shock Jock” of World of Warcraft back to WoW and shove it up your ass.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      You seem to be taking this random stranger’s opinion to heart 7 Seas. Is Alpha Protocol the mother of your children or something?

    • Clovis says:

      I can’t decide if this crazy rant was entertaining or if avoiding this kind of thing is why I read RPS.

      I kinda’ understand the anti-TB comments, but why the RPS hate? Since when was RPS such a big champion of mediocre games? Didn’t RPS spend like a week doing almost nothing but babble on and on and on about Deus Ex?

    • Nick says:

      Yeah.. I suddenly raised through the air and got stuck at least 6 times during my ME2 playthrough, bloody annoying it was.

    • kyrieee says:

      So if you don’t like Alpha Protocol you must love the annualization of CoD?

      AP only has one redeeming quality and that’s the branching narrative. Too bad it’s spoiled by the story not being worth caring about.

      As for Overlord, I’d rather have paid 50€ for that piece of DLC than AP. Sure, AP has more content but it’s all shit. Overlord has art made by talented artists, levels designed by creative people and cool surprises all of which AP lack. The writing isn’t worse than your average game but you don’t play most games for the story.

      You can tolerate bad art, bad animation, bad UI, bad sound design or whatever if the game has redeeming qualities, but AP doesn’t.

      The animations aren’t even lo-fi, they’re detailed but they still suck. When the gameplay, art, animation, UI and writing all suck well then your game pretty much sucks. And like I said it’s not even bad in an unfinished or rushed way, I think it’s fairly complete but the level of quality of everything in it is just terrible.

  15. Danda says:

    All the people I know who played this game LOVED it, and I found no bugs whatsoever during my two playthroughs.

    It’s sad that Sega gives so much importance to the Metacritic score, tainted as it is by buffoons like Jim Sterling. A 20%? WTF? Alpha Protocol is NOT a broken game.

    But I’m also disappointed by the lack of support by RPS. I expected more from Kieron. I’m sure in a few years AP will be seen as a “flawed classic”, just like Vampire: Bloodlines.

  16. Lukasz says:

    eh….
    I hoped for DLC at least. And a patch of course….
    Somebody said that already but the game will sell really really well on steam christmas sale.

    Loved the game. Finished it twice in a row which really happened only with KOTOR games (both of them)

  17. Lambchops says:

    In the few hours i’ve played so far I have encountered bugs but only of the ilk of enemies getting stuck in scenery rather than anything game breaking. Rather than buggy I’d just accuse it of shoddy AI but then again enemies standing there gormlessley doing nothing while you punch their comrades in the face does succesfully capture the enemies queuing up feel of the Bond films!

    I like what I’ve played so far and definitely get the Bloodlines comparisons, although the characterisation isn’t as strong and as yet there hasn’t been any particularly memorable levels. However I’m loving the way it’s doing conversations and choices so far and it’s one of the first RPGs I’ve played where it doesn’t feel so much like there’s an obvious “right” or “wrong” way to go about things – for which it deserves some credit. Plus the collecting dossiers thing and buying extra intel for missions and so on works rather well.

    The way the game is put together appeals to me it’s just a shame the execution wasn’t a bit stronger. So far it’s not as good as Vampire but at its best but it’s better than Vampire’s lacklustre final third.

  18. DK says:

    Good to see the Obsidian apologists are already out of the woodwork and laying into anyone but Obsidian. SEGA’s Fault. Reviewers Fault. Metacritics Fault. Biowares Fault. Players Fault.

    Anyone else but Obsidian you want to blame?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I’ll defend KOTOR2 to the death (because it was a better game, regardless of bugs and cut content) but it’s impossible to defend Alpha Protocol without sounding like you have an agenda.

    • Eric says:

      Honestly, TB, you’re the one in this thread sounding like you have an agenda, though I suppose it makes sense that you’d want to defend your review of the game.

      I’m a little more than halfway through Alpha Protocol and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve encountered no bugs on the PC at all that I’ve noticed, and by leveling up the stealth and pistol skills I’ve relegated combat to at worst a minor inconvenience. The dialogue system is the game’s true star, and I’m having a blast making my way through the story.

      I strongly suspect that Alpha Protocol will be much more fondly remembered in the future by a lot of people than it’s being given credit for now. Whether I’m right or wrong, though, WTF is it to you if people are enjoying the game? There are plenty of “games press” type folks coming to the game’s defence, there’s obviously a division of opinion about it, and no, not every review was as harsh as you seem to think they were. For the Steam sale price I got it for ($30 and change) I don’t feel cheated in the least, and I’m easily recommend others check it out when it’s inevitably featured in other future sales.

    • malkav11 says:

      Just because you had a terrible experience with the game does not mean other people can’t have a great time with it. I am, and have. I’m not discounting the bugs that the game apparently has – I say apparently because I have encountered none of them – but I think that fair dues must be paid to the game’s actual play and design, which are almost uniformly excellent. (Certainly, I’ve encountered substantially buggier games that have earned far better reviews.) If anything, I think Alpha Protocol’s main failing is that, well… it’s not science fiction or fantasy. I honestly think that Obsidian’s done about as well as can be expected in making a modern day espionage RPG (I guess it could be more realistic, but eh.), but as well as they’ve rendered classic spy locations like the subway and hotel and park, these are not exactly as glamorous as the blasted pseudo-50s post-nuclear wasteland of Fallout, or the alien worlds of Mass Effect (I didn’t actually find ME2′s locations all that exciting, either.). Or Sigil, the City of Doors, in Planescape. Or even the undead-haunted California of Bloodlines. Similarly, I can’t get as worked up about variations on assault rifles and pistols as I could about nanoswords or bee guns or portable nuke launchers. And while a few of Thornton’s abilities are basically magical, that’s not quite the same as having an actual spell list.

      Still, I’d have been up for more. And I don’t think Alpha Protocol’s gotten a fair shake most places.

  19. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I didn’t buy it because of Sega’s DRM, I Played it through and thoroughly enjoyed it and would gladly pay full price for it without the DRM, but then that’s the same reason i don’t buy all segas good DRM crippled games and i’m sure it’s not the reason it didn’t sell well.

  20. Chris D says:

    I hated Alpha Protocol to begin with. Then I read that quite a few people loved it so I persevered. I started to kind of like it despite it’s flaws through Taipei and Rome. I began to feel I’d misjudged it. Then I reached Moscow and it hit me with a crappy escort mission followed by a boss fight against knife wielding disco guy where not having put any points into toughness has apparently condemned me to certain death. Not sure I can face going back.

    Regarding whether reviewers were unfair because they thought it was the wrong sort of game: If you’re going to out “Alpha Protocol: The Espionage RPG” in big letters on the front of the box it’s not unreasonable to expect the game to be about spying, yet the game clearly just want to be a conventional shooter. If you try to play stealthily without putting any points there you won’t have a good time of it, but too many points in and it removes any need to actually be stealthy as you can just go invisible when you need to.

    If I want to buy a box of apples and you sell me a box of oranges they may be perfectly good oranges but I’ll still be angry because I wanted apples, especially if that’s what was on the front of the box.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The pistol tree lets you freeze time and line up 5 or so critical head shots, so I insta-killed every boss the second the fight started.

      But yeah, Taipei and Rome were good sections, I thought. Rome in particular.

    • DjchunKfunK says:

      If you are struggling to beat the Russian guy then there is an easy way to do it. Right in the middle is a table or something. If you keep running round this he can’t catch you and eventually he runs out of breath and then you can shoot/hit him. Just repeat this until he is dead.

  21. Ricc says:

    I find it funny that the first blurb from The Witcher Metacritic link you posted says: “Take notes, Obsidian. This is how stuff should be done.”

    Indeed… indeed.

  22. coldwave says:

    AP was a disappointment.
    Not a bad game but obviously nowhere near Vampire Bloodlines or Deus Ex.
    And it’s not Masseffect-ish enough to be a mainstream hit.
    I quite enjoyed it, especially beating levels without kills by shooting people with a shotgun and then stomping on their heads, damn Shanghai Security guards and their Glock pistol-machineguns.
    And damn mini-games, only Lockpick was somehow beatable.

  23. Arasaka says:

    There were armour mods that you could install that significantly helped in hacking and lockpicking. You could even swap them in mid-mission though this was tedious and a definite flaw.

    Otherwise, I really enjoyed the game and had no bugs apart from a somewhat vapid AI. Otherwise I found the voice-work to be well done, and the story to be engrossing. I looked firward to getting home from work each day to uncover more of the plot. I am disappointed that there will be no more. The whole fantasy/sci-fi/horror RPG is getting a bit stale, even for a massive RPG fan like me.

    But yeah, that fight against Brayko was a ball-breaker….

  24. Orange Required says:

    More people should realise that you can skip almost literally EVERY MINI-GAME IN THE GAME if you get three levels in Sabotage, I think it was, and bringing EMPs along. They even SHOW YOU HOW TO DO THAT IN THE TUTORIAL.

    And yet people who don’t like the minigames continue to flagellate themselves.

    I liked AP a whole bunch. Only had one bug the entire time, and really enjoyed the story – it may have been fairly standard but the writing was damned good and the characters all had secrets running beneath the surface to discover. I’m sad it won’t see a sequel, but oh well.

    • lethial says:

      But, that means that I have to SPEND SKILL POINTS in the hacking tree. I want to be able to shoot everyone with pin point accuracy AND hack everything with ease, AND talk my way out of things all AT ONCE!
      Clearly, this is a crappy game, since it didn’t let me do that…

    • Freud says:

      I think the mini games difficulty was reduced by adding points into Sabotage and not Technical Aptitude, despite the descriptions made it sound like it was the other way around. Just another indication of confusing design.

      My second playthrough I put a few points into Sabotage and hacking was extremely easy.

  25. RLacey says:

    I really liked this game. Aside from the boss fights, which were dreadful.

    Yes, it has bugs and flaws, but part of me was still hoping for a sequel. Oh well.

  26. Danda says:

    I’d certainly buy a sequel in a heartbeat.

    The Metacritic score for the PC version is 73, which is not bad. Also, check the user reviews and you’ll see that they agree with that rating.

  27. DSX says:

    I found it enjoyable, and certainly worth a sequel. Of course, I cheated and used a trainer that stopped mini-game timers. It was the only way I could progress (setting off EMP’s alerts any near by guards) with my pistol stealth build. I also had to pop on the invulnerable hack for one of the boss fights where the guy lobs 5 grenades at you at once – but that’s my fault for missing the sniper perch that’s semi-hidden because of the direction it’s door faces and evidently crucial to the fight. Bugs? Other then crappy PC controls which are standard fare, just a few gimpy AI glitches. No CTD’s, no doors that won’t open etc.

    I think it’s a shame it didn’t sell well enough to merit a franchise, or even patches, but AAA game companies exist to make money first, not games unfortunately.

  28. Bioptic says:

    Y’know what stood out most about this game for me? I actually wanted to keep playing and reach the next section. I cared about what I was doing, the people I was doing things for, and enjoyed exploring the spaces I was put in. When I completed it, I was really satisfied with an ending that built in elements of everything I’d done so far and had been working towards, and immediately wanted to play through it again.

    I realise that this doesn’t sound like anything astounding, but SO MANY games fail to acheive this for me – I get mired halfway through in a sea of apathy or frustration. The very fact that I had an enjoyable, engaging time playing Alpha Protocol makes it one of the best games of the year so far for me.

    Another part of me is saddened that the ‘Explore a bit, Fight a bit, Talk a bit’ brand of RPG seems to be on the wane outside of Bioware. Rise of the Argonauts bombed similarly (and perhaps more justifiably), and I can’t think of any other RPGs on the horizon that follow the formula – which is a shame, because as a template it’s remarkably compulsive.

  29. WhiteLung says:

    I really enjoyed AP despite it’s flaws. However I can understand why people didn’t like it because the flaws were there and they’re glaring.
    What annoys me is that other games can have a similar level of flaws and get nearly universal acclaim i.e. Fallout 3. While I enjoyed it too, for what it was, F3 had awful combat, AI, animation, textures, dialog , badly designed levels (subway stations etc.) a broken stats system and was completely unbalanced all of which were just as bad as what was present in AP but all is forgiven for F3 while AP gets torn to pieces…although F3 does let you make people’s heads explode in slow motion so, you know, fair enough.

  30. CLD says:

    What a shame.

  31. Sharkticon says:

    I guess I’m lucky then, played through Alpha Protocol without a single bug. Then again it seems that nowadays the threshold of what constitutes a ‘bug’ is wider than ever. Anyone who wants to declare a game ‘buggy’ should go and play Soldner and Boiling Point first.

    While AP certainly had its flaws (boss fights, linear levels), I applaud it for its dynamic plot and its premise/setting.

    The problem with AP’s shooting is that its set up like a typical 3rd person shooter but with RPG mechanics behind the scenes. This is a fundamental thing that lots of reviews seem to miss.

    • Lilliput King says:

      There is the RPG mechanics thing, yeah. But there’s also this:

      Poor animation, shallow mechanics, boring environments, rubbish AI, awkward controls, repetitive fights, ludicrous abilities (turn invisible, run around instakilling a room full of guards while they watch, powerless to intervene), unbelievably thick bosses with silly amounts of health, pointless cooldown timers so half your time is spent squatting behind a fence, extremely linear levels.

      That’s not even touching on the criticals system, which is just an unbelievably poor idea. Hovering your gun over people for several seconds before taking action – for what? So Michael can get his eye in? It’s unintuitive, arbitrary and pointless, and severely screws up the pace of the combat.

      The shooting is just a bit rubbish in all respects, really.

  32. pipman300 says:

    why can’t sega die already they’re like some kind of retarded midas that turns everything he touches into shit. notice how the total war series started sucking as soon as sega got their greedy hedgehog claws on it?

  33. 1stGear says:

    I think anyone who writes an Alpha Protocol review needs to also write/link their Mass Effect 1 review, just so we can make certain its the game and not the name on the box they are reviewing.

    • pipman300 says:

      alpha protocol was a poor man’s mass effect so it’d be completely normal for someone to like the real thing over a cheap knockoff

    • Orange Required says:

      Oh, I’d forgotten about Mass Effect, the famous espionage RPG with all its stealth takedowns, intel purchasing, and vast array of branching plotlines.

      Thanks for reminding me.

    • pipman300 says:

      alpha protocol was supposed to be about espionage? i forgot since almost all of the game was spent shooting guys in boring linear levels.

      protip tor obsidian: if your game’s combat is even more boring then mass effect 1′s then you shouldn’t center most of the game around it. also if you make another espionage rpg put some actual espionage in it

    • pipman300 says:

      really it’s like how dragon age was advertised as dark fantasy when it’s really just normal high fantasy with more blood, rape, and swearing tacked on

    • pipman300 says:

      instead of a dotted line being drawn where you’re going on the map it’s a trail of blood drops!

      instead of black and white morality in a world of orcs and stuff it’s black and white morality with a few drops of grey in a world of darkspawn and stuff!

      instead of villains who do awful stuff because they’re evil it’s villians who do awful stuff and also rape because they’re evil

      instead of a space marine or space physic or whatever who kills hordes of mooks you’re a spy who kills hordes of mooks!

      also why was the flirty,sauve/whatever option in dialogue sounded more like an escaped sex offender then the james bond humpswomenallot thing they were going for?

  34. Flint says:

    Uh, maybe I’m missing something with what not playing or following Alpha Protocol particularly, but what’s with the constant references to Mass Effect / Bioware by AP’s defenders here? Did Obsidian and Bioware have some sort of deep rivalry that I’ve completely missed? Cause from an outsider’s point of view the constant stretches to Mass Effect’s direction just seems very random and silly.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Obsidian are the perennial bridesmaids to BioWare’s bride.
      BioWare made Knights of the Old Republic. Obsidian made Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
      BioWare made Neverwinter Nights. Obsidian made Neverwinter Nights 2.

      They both essentially collaborated on Baldurs Gate & it’s sequel. BioWare developed the games & expansions with Obsidian in it’s previous incarnation as Black Isle doing some of the work too & IIRC Black Isle made an expansion for Baldurs Gate & it’s sequel on their own.

    • Orange Required says:

      They kind of are random and silly, and they kind of aren’t.

      AP does take quite a bit from some of Mass Effect’s general layout, but at the same time, the more you play it, the more you realise how different it is, and how it’s aiming for a very different feel.

      I do wonder if most of the more anti-AP INTERNET ANGRY MEN ever got past Saudi Arabia. If they didn’t because they weren’t enjoying it or whatever, fair dos, but it grows a hell of a lot once you’re into the main three hubs. By the time you’ve completed one of those three it’s a very different game.

    • Freud says:

      I think it is mostly that no review of ME2 mentions any bugs and most who play it have experienced bug, even some serious ones. Meanwhile for the same bugs AP gets hammered. Most ME2 reviews give more praise to the simplistic good/evil dialog system than APs much more satisfying dialog/reputation system gets.

      I think the comparisons come naturally where one game (the big budget hyped one) get love bombed in a way that is puzzling and the other one get hated on to an unreasonable degree. Many gamers I know don’t understand why ME2 is a 90+% game and AP is a 70+% one since the latter is a more fun game to play, if much less shiny. So I think that is why you see comparisons here.

      It is clear that AP is a dividing game. Some people can’t enjoy it while some have it as their GOTY this far.

    • 1stGear says:

      And if you dig deeper, Mass Effect had a similar lack of polish. The game had an incredibly stupid difficulty curve, wasn’t worth playing on anything above Veteran difficulty, the PC port had game-stopping bugs for several months after release and still has a few lingering around (The Matriarch Benezia bossfight, for instance, is a complete crapshoot on whether or not you will get through it without getting stuck in the scenery and having to reload), friendly and enemy AI tends towards the dumb side, and it didn’t even have the saving grace of excellent writing and an astonishing degree of reactivity towards the player’s choice.

      But Bioware made it.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Tu Quoque!

  35. Fitz says:

    Alpha Protocol is my second favourite game of the year so far, and I rank it ahead of Mass Effect 2 in terms of how much I personally enjoyed it (and hey, ).

    It was rough around the edges, sure, but some of the commenters here are treating it like the second coming of Daikatana.

    I hope New Vegas turns out as well creatively (and better commercially).

  36. Fitz says:

    Wish you could preview comments. Or that I wasn’t crap at html, clearly.

  37. bill says:

    Haven’t played it, and opinions are all over the place, so I’ve no idea if i should.

    But IF it turns out to be a hidden/bugged classic then it’ll have a long tail in terms of sales. Deus Ex, Planescape, Vampire, etc.. all had pretty low sales on launch, but their reputation has grown, and they’re still in demand and selling (where available) years later.

    Can’t say if AP has that potential, but it seems unrealistic to expect bumper first month sales from that kind of game.

  38. Spoon says:

    Out of curiosity, how many people complaining about combat mechanics and boss fights in the game were using pistol? It seems like Obsidian made really awful weapon mechanics for everything BUT pistols, which are perfectly fine (and/or maybe a bit overpowered). Boss fights with pistol in that game amount to switching to your good ammunition, using the pistol-specific special power that slows time, then lining up 5 critical headshots on the boss and winning.

    I suppose I could see the game being awful if you picked SMGs and wanted to fight through everything, but I stealthed through everything I could and enjoyed myself.

    • Lilliput King says:

      To be honest, insta-killing bosses is just as ridiculous as them being impossible to kill.

    • Orange Required says:

      This is a really valid point. Pistols are a little overpowered (though a lot of fun to use) and their skills slot really well into the stealth tree in general (critting from behind cover and so on). Martial Arts works well, too, no complaints. And Shotguns are actually pretty acceptable once you resign yourself to the fact you won’t do any damage with them beyond about six metres.

      But SMGs and ARs, ugh. Terrible. Just terrible.

    • Ragnar says:

      I tried to make a stealth character. Without any points in any combat skill at all. Silly me for thinking that would be a good idea.

  39. Dan says:

    You already have a 70s punk RPG. It’s called No More Heroes.

    I know, I know, it’s not on the PC, but let’s face it – it *does* exist, AND it has a sequel.

  40. sendmark says:

    The camera is absolutely awful and that killed the game for me. If it had a better camera, bit more polish and a better opening section, then it would be at least the equal of Mass Effect 2 for me, if not better.

    As usual Obsidian are better writers than Bioware, but just can’t match up on the technical side.

  41. geldonyetich says:

    Even hearing it from the developers’ mouths, I think it’s a bit early to say whether or not there’ll be a sequel. After all, sequels (even not particularly successful ones) tend to have a certain inertia to them.

    They do, however, need to patch the game. Hearing it’s so buggy from everyone is the primary reason I put off buying it.

  42. Vinraith says:

    Anything that produces reactions this strong and divisive has to be worth playing, really. For that reason, if no other, it’s a shame there won’t be a sequel.

  43. Jimbo says:

    It’s not really about being ‘good’ anymore though, is it? It’s about reviewing well across the board – and polished turds review better than rough diamonds. You are far better off making a game that everybody likes, than making a game that some love and some hate. All of these things are unfortunate.

    The Witcher is an interesting case, in that it seemed to sell by word of mouth, rather than by whatever the media did or didn’t think about it. That doesn’t happen very often. It also came out in a very dry spell for RPGs iirc – Bioware hadn’t released anything for ~2 years, Bethesda for ~18 months – whereas Alpha Protocol came out right after the one-two of Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The Witcher was also extremely well cared for and supported (i.e., the enhanced edition). AP hasn’t yet had a single patch.

      It sold by word of mouth generated by hard-earned good will. No reason thus far to treat AP the same way.

  44. Gumbomasta says:

    Why can’t the talented indie devs step up and try to make a mid-tier game? I mean, jeez. Somebody must have a few mil lying around! I mean, I’m not askin’ for 20 mil to make another MAss Effect 2, just like 2 or 3 mil to make another Sins of a Solar Empire, Mount & Blade, Men of War, or STALKER.

    Oh yeah, three out of four of those games come from Eastern Europe. Well, if you don’t like what Obisdian is doing, I guess you ought to fly out to Belgrade, shake down some of those Eastern European publishers and create the next King’s Bounty.

    -g

  45. Andy_Panthro says:

    I feel like I’ve played a completely different game to some people (those like TotalBiscuit).

    I enjoyed it immensely, and think it’s one of my favourite games of this year.

    From my experience (and obviously that’s gonna be different from other peoples), I feel like it’s been reviewed far too harshly by a lot of people. Feels like a 7-8/10 type of game for me.

    Flawed but still good.

  46. Wednesday says:

    Where does this bloody myth that Obsidian are better writers than Bioware stem from? AP had fairly good dialogue but nothing special.

    I think it’s more accurate to say Chris Avellone is a fantastic writer and he happens to work for them.

    I can’t actually recall any single moment of emotional spark in AP, mainly because the characters are so pat. Only Parker was interesting and he’s barely in it. Compared with ME 2, where I can recall quite a few, my absolute favourite being “She’s going to need a name”.

    • HonestObserver says:

      Steven Heck is awesome!

    • Lilliput King says:

      He’s no Mordin, to be honest.

      I agree in general, too. I remember playing with a friend next to me and cringing my way through some of the conversations. The email text in particular is pretty much unspeakably bad, especially the ‘funny’ options.

  47. drewski says:

    No sequel? I’m OK with that. Great games don’t need to have sequels and sequelitis is a blight on videogames.

    That publishers will be far less likely to greenlight this sort of game is a far greater tragedy than AP not getting a sequel.

  48. Ravenger says:

    Some of the lost sales may be due to DRM. I know I skipped it because I refuse to buy games with limited activations, even when it seems to be as ‘friendly’ as Alpha Protocol’s Uniloc system.

    I just don’t see the point of having limited installs, especially if I would have bought the Steam version.

  49. cjlr says:

    Jesus, men, what’s with the vitriol? Unfinished abortion? Falsely-maligned masterpiece? Can’t things just be okay anymore?

    I was expecting mediocrity from AP, and at that I was pleasantly surprised. There were some bits of good writing (and some crap bits), the characters were all a bit bland and archetypal, but I was only expecting a dumb schlocky b-movie spy type thing anyway, so the bits of originality they did have were the parts I remembered.

    Actual gameplay: easy. I went mostly stealth and the invisibility button really makes things trivial. Rank up pistols to the first level of bullet time and you’re golden. Successfull no-kill game on my first run – not that the dialogue noticed, what with all the somewhat perplexing references to all the people I’d killed. The only time I ever used any shotgun/rifle/smg was in the training course in the intro – which I think was also way too long. At least give us the option to skip it, especially on repeat playthroughs.

    Minigames: decent, for minigames – who the fuck decided we all need minigames, anyway? Because I hate that person – the mouse controls were shit, but if they’d been good it would have been trivially easy. As it was I only found the top tier of difficulty any trouble.

    Plot: silly. Predictable. Some half-assed twists. Private military corporations are evil. The government is hopelessly ineffective. I’d kill for a modern/near-future spy-ish thing where a new cold war WASN’T the basis for the plot.

    Stability: Shit. Just shit. I didn’t run into too many casual bugs, unlike some people – no missing textures, bad collisions, objectives not registering, that kind of thing. However there were a number of occasions where performance tanked for no particular reason, and a number of much more troubling occasions where my system abruptly entered a hard reboot (without even a BSOD, for fuck’s sake).

    And just regarding things generally: why does it need a goddamn sequel. Sure, it ends with one Michael “Beardy McLumberjack” Thorton sailing off into the sunset with a girl on his arm (Mina, when I played), but… why do we need a sequel? Something good should stand on its own, should it not? I mean, I’d like to see what they could do, given a second shot, since there was some promise here, but that doesn’t have to be a direct sequel, just a new venture that would benefit from Obsidian’s gained experience.

    TLDR: AP was all right. 65%. A patch could bump it to 80%. Why do sequels matter?

  50. EBass says:

    I actually fairly liked Alpha Protocol, and I didn’t encounter any serious bugs. buttttt………………..

    I’m actually pretty damn courteous to developers, especially those with ambition. BiS games are always so rough they look like they’ve just been dragged through a hedge but I forgive them because they are doing something no one else does.

    If the flaws in Alpha Protocol had been in the areas which are actually ambitious, the branching plotline, the reputation system, the whole actions have consequences thing, I wouldn’t care that much.

    But its not, the whole basic gameplay is TERRIBLE. The shooting? Terrible. The Stealth Mechanics? Terrible. The levels? Almost totally linear and uninspired. Not to mention Thornton can’t jump over anything except in certain pre-defined locations. I’m sorry but if you can’t get the actual GAME part of your game right then what chance do you have? Theres hundreds of amatuer mod developers who manage to self code decent shooting/martial arts mechanics, hell even stealth mechanics for a few mods, but AP is just terrible in this regard.

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