Crispy Gamer

First Shot: Alpha Protocol

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You have to love a game that has the balls to, at the end of the tutorial, reference how great the rest of the experience is going to be. Upon being sent through a crash course teaching me the gameplay, my new boss had a few parting words for me before my first mission that went something like this:

"Remember Mike, all of your actions and words have meaning and people will react to you based on them. If you insult someone's mother, not only have you made that guy mad, you've also probably burned your bridge with the mother...so don't go looking for a job interview at the law firm she works at. On the other hand, if your enemy has a fear of horses or she is on the rag, you can use that to your advantage. I can't tell you how many time equinophobia has factored into a successful black-op, Mike. Also make sure to lick your finger and check wind direction every 10 minutes or so. Can't stress that enough."
 
Judo CHOP!
 
Forgiving the embellishment, Alpha Protocol's first hour does make it seem as though developer Obsidian has created the world's first learning AI and realistic game world. Will the game live up to that promise? My two decades of gaming experience would tell me "No way in hell, absolutely not." But still...gotta admire the balls that it takes to make that claim.
 
Mike never thought he would hit the "game over" screen due to cancer.

Comments

Yeah the one thing I've never worried about with Obsidian is the writing. They even managed to steep me in the lore of Faerun (D&D setting), which is no small feat considering how bland and cliche that world is.

To me, Obsidian is almost like a writing team that moonlight as game developers. Gameplay has always been...adequate. Never quite stellar. And so far, Alpha Protocol is living up to that track record.

The good news is, for New Vegas, the gameplay and such is already established for them. They just need to add a few bells and whistles (which it seems like they are) and keep the writing strong (very likely) and NV will be great fun.

True it is their first original IP as this company. That's a bit iffy of a statement though.

Obsidian Entertainment's only made: Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic 2, and Neverwinter Nights 2 (plus expansions) before now (and I liked NWN2 better than NWN1).
However alot of the people involved in Obsidian came over or founded it after Black Isle Studio went down.
Black Isle was responsible for: Fallout 1&2 (mostly this crew worked on 2), Icewind Dale, Planescape, and Baldur's Gate. While not their own IPs in many of these cases, these are the western RPGs we use as a benchmark for quality gaming. Not to mention Chris Jones who left Black Isle for a bit to work on Arcanum before returning.

So while Alpha Protocol is their baby through and through, I think the question isn't "can the pull it off?" but rather "so how well does the current team work togeather and how are their writers doing?"

Chris Avellone is one of the top designers for both Alpha Protocol and Fallout:New Vegas, so they both have it going for them there.
What Alpha Protocol has going for it is that the other top designer is Chris Parker and he's got one hell of a list behind him.

Similarly, what has me slightly worried about Fallout:New Vegas is that the other top designer on the project is Josh Sawyer. His list of credits isn't as flashy and though he has NWN2 on it, the rest is mainly the Icewind Dale series (which was a bit like Baldur's Gate without the story) and those awful console Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance games.

So things look good for Alpha Protocol.

The interesting thing about this game is that it's the ONLY original IP for the company. This will probably be the truest "test" for Obsidian since they are beholden to no one and nothing in terms of narrative or setting rules, ala D&D or Star Wars. The sky is the limit for them in this one, so they will either sink or swim with it, developer credibility-wise.

Obsidian has great roots and they keep getting better and better at making rpgs. To be honest the only reason why I'm keeping an eye on Alpha Protocol is because if it's good, that validate my pollyanna-esk hopes regarding Fallout: New Vegas. ^_^

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