Thursday, February 21, 2013

Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol: Episode 7: Mike Hates Sean Doorcy

In this episode, we piss off Darcy, break into a weapons stockpile, and have a brush with Glitch.

Let it be said that I really, really dislike Darcy. While he has an interesting backstory and character, it does ever go anywhere. And as previously stated, his relationship to Mike is one of the most static relationships in the game. Whether or not he likes or hates you, nothing really changes about him and how he reacts to you. In a game like this, that really stands out.

Anaphysik made a great point about the reputation system. That is: What Mike actually feels about any character in the game is left entirely up to the player. The game gives you the possible interpretation that you are just manipulating them to suit your whims, whatever those whims may be. It is also possible for players to make what Mike says what he genuinely feels. It's all left to interpretation. The game itself generally assumes nothing about the player and his/her attitudes, which is a point I want to elaborate more on when we get further into the game.

My question that I posed to you viewers still stands: Do you consider Alpha Protocol to be a "good" game? It's a difficult question because it really depends on what you are looking for in a game. Some people will be put of by the admittedly rather mediocre gameplay, some will adore the way the game handles choices, and even more will find the way the game handles dialog to be off-putting. None of these states are mutually exclusive either. While I personally enjoyed Alpha Protocol, there is no denying it is a flawed game. What do all of you guys think and why?

I have heard many stories in the past about Alpha Protocol being glitchy, but honestly this recording was the first time I've seen the glitchiness firsthand. It was actually quite amazing to me the amount of bugs we encountered. I can hypothesize that it has something to do with how FRAPS, the stream, and the game itself interact with each other because this is an oddity to me.

Confession: When I first played through the game (Recruit/Hard/Assault Rifles), I ALSO put very few points into either Sabotage or Martial Arts. I didn't think I would need either of these skills. Because of that, I became all too familiar with the 8-12 numbers keypads and super difficult hacks/lock-picks because I put no points into Sabotage. I learned from my first playthrough, and I can only hope that those who watch this and decide to play Alpha Protocol learn from my mistakes.

Did I seriously call him "Mikey" at the end of this episode? Good lord!

(As a side note: Whenever Aldowyn stomps on a guard, I think of this clip from LA Noire.)


Thomas said...

Having a reputation for bugs can help you're game get a worse reputation too (for example the guard you guys said doesn't spawn at the top right, does always spawn there). I#d somehow gotten the gadget button and ability button mixed up and spent a night thinking the game had bugged so my skills wouldn't activate =D

Also I agree Darcy is completed wasted, he had a really cool backstory and I always wanted to know what he thought of his father and his position etc but they just make him a standard jerk by the end. Next most wasted is Sis and then Westridge (although I skipped his boss fight so maybe he got more interesting)

I don't know whether it's a good game, I'd argue maybe that it's a brilliant game, but not a good one.

SougoXIII said...

Even if you take out the mediocre gameplay, Alpha Protocol's as much as a game as The Walking Dead is - more so in a sense that your choices and action actually have consequences.

As for Darcy, I think he's clearly design to be hated by you. If I remember correctly, he's the only one you have to kill regardless of your relationship with him.

I totally agree with anaphysik: I always felt that the 'right' way to play Thorton is to manipulate the hell out of everyone for his own gain - just like a spy does. I get the impression that Thorton have never show his real character and his interaction with others are just a mask he want to show them. I also have a criticism for the reputation system but I'll get to it when you guys get to the SIE/Conrad relationship.

newdarkcloud said...

Oh Sis, we'll get to Sis because I have a lot to say about that. Really, I have much more to say about the other sections than I do Saudi. It's not the interesting, relatively speaking. As for Darcy, all he really needs is some form of plot resolution.

newdarkcloud said...

To be clear, I think we all agree it's a game, the question is more one of quality.

Yeah, Darcy is the only one you have to kill. It really sucks.

Interesting. Sadly, you'll be on to that for awhile because we plan on doing Taipei, than Moscow, with Rome last.

anaphysik said...

"(although I skipped his boss fight so maybe he got more interesting)"

Actually, the boss-fight with Yancy (or more correctly, the dialogue with him afterwards) actually gets kinda bonkers weird, much like how I called out some of his early dialogue. But I'll mention it when we (SPOILERS!) get there.

Thomas said...

I liked Darcy. I was hyper paranoid about everyone betraying me (which I kinda wish the game punished me more for and on the other hand it was something of a lesson when a person was killed in front of me and I realised I could have probably trusted them), so Darcy seemed to be the most trustworthy because he was too obvious. He's a little bit spoilt, struggles to really get a grip on his life and the people around him and basically just wants a hug =D (all the casual interactions). I thought his father might be a bit pushy and he probably resents having his position devalued by a senator making 'requests' for him and he might be looking for a way to break free and stop being subservient.

None of it really came up in the end though

anaphysik said...

"I totally agree with anaphysik: I always felt that the 'right' way to play Thorton is to manipulate the hell out of everyone for his own gain"

Actually, I merely offered that as a possible interpretation. Certainly I tend to talk to people as I mean, and get high reputation with those I genuinely like (Albatross, Sis, Madison, Heck, Mina, Deng, Grigori)

Others are manipulation - but to varying extents, given the person (Parker & Marburg less so, Shaheed and Surkov and Brayko and Hong more so)

Also I've always gotten SIE's rep high, but honestly I'm not sure it's possible to get below trusted XD, regardless of whether I treat her nice (like she hates it) or mean (like she likes it). And no matter what I do, Leland thinks I'm super cool, even when I punch him in the face (and again, and again, and throw him across the room, and shoot him in the face).

Also I think my Darcy-high pans out more interestingly than Darcy-low. Anyway, I'm just glad we've managed to get Yancy pretty low. In my current playthrough he's somehow at ~+3 :MAD!:

In conclusion: Scarlet is BUTTS and I don't like her.

(There, I think I listed everyone you can influence.)

Thomas said...

(So no Parker then?)

Hmm, so you have a lot to say about Sis, either you want to comment on Albatrosses reaction and maybe the lack of motivation for the choice about her or on the way she interacts with you. The latter sounds more interesting, but then you said 'it is possible for our minds to change.' which I read as you planning to do her in.

...if I keep bringing this up, maybe you'll end up giving away enough information for me to figure this one out ahead of time. This feels like playing Alpha Protocol all over again

2house2fly said...

I'm going to go with Yes, it's a good game. The combat is a bit rough, but I still find it fun, especially running up to a guard once your martial arts skill is high enough and dropping him with a flying knee to the face. It feels more visceral and exciting than, say, Elder Scrolls(I'm playing Oblivion currently and there is just no feeling of connecting with an enemy when I swing my warhammer at them) and the controls are more intuitive than a Metal Gear or Resident Evil. I also like the minigames, though they're designed more for a controller than a mouse and keypad I think.

Jake Albano said...

As much as I like the reversal of expectations when you leave the tired setting of the Middle East and can travel the world on a whim (including between missions, I've found; you can even alternate missions between world hubs if you want), I feel like having the first few hours be in Saudi only hurt the early reviews, which already largely panned the game as a Mass Effect clone.

I personally would call Alpha Protocol a good game. There are a ton of issues I have with it, but I think I could say the same about most other games I love. The focus on story, player agency and interesting characters really sells the experience for me, and I'm more than willing to put up with a few bugs and rough edges.

Regarding Darcy: I wish there could have been an option to continue emailing him after you go rogue. It would have been nice to be able to turn him by showing evidence of Halbech's misdeeds, or goad him into meeting up with you to duke it out partway through the game.

Finally, can I just say that the title of this page has more colons than an organ transplant center.

newdarkcloud said...

You are welcome to try.

newdarkcloud said...

Speaking with a number of PC players, the lockpicking minigame is very geared towards a controller's analog inputs and the hacking very clearly expects two analog sticks and two shoulder buttons.

Honestly, I wasn't sure HOW they implemented those games in the PC until we started. Now that I've watched it, I can see how they could be bad.

newdarkcloud said...

Yeah. I would agree that it is almost always a terrible idea to start the game off on its worst foot possible. This is exactly what Saudi Arabia did.

You should at least be able to do SOMETHING with Darcy. He has only a few roles and is otherwise irrelevant for most of the game.

And like most colons, it's complicated.