Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol: Episode 15: We Kneed More Junk

In this episode, we steal some intel and make a very poorly framed choice.

Aldowyn and anaphysik bring up a very good point here, which is that Michael Thorton has the same problem Adam Jensen would go on to have in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The problem being that players could sneak through an entire mission without ever being detected or raising alarms, yet still walk into the wide open rooms and expose themselves for no reason in a cutscene. It's one of those times where it almost feels like the player character is trolling the player. There is a way to set up this scene so that Thorton looks a bit more competent.
On the other hand, that room is the exact same room where Steven Heck can blow away all of your enemies with a machine gun mounted to a subway train if you buy the intel. This is again why people tend to like Steven Heck.

And now I can get into why exactly Taipei's plot chaps my hide. (But I will first concede that making it so that Mike hacks the flash drive himself instead of Mina if his Technical Aptitude is high enough is really cool. Do more stuff like that, developers!) We know that someone (supposedly Deng, but that's dumb) is planning to kill Sung at his rally, starting a series of riots that will no doubt claim more than a few innocent lives. This flash drive gives us the proof of the whole plan, but the data self-destructs once it's hacked into and gives us only enough time to save either the proof of the riots or the proof of the assassination. Sung will only believe in the threat that we can prove when we go to meet him, so your choice here could save the lives of thousands, or the life of a very influential person.

I theoretically don't mind this kind of moral choice. "Is it better to save a lot of innocent people or one very influential political figure looking out for them?" is a very interesting and ambiguous decision to make. I highly dislike the way it was framed. Since Omen Deng is apparently trying to get this information out to Sung and his people, why would he and his spies bother encrypting it in such a way that it would self-destruct the moment it is hacked into? What would he gain by destroying the information that proves the very thing he's trying to prevent is going to happen once someone besides his staff accesses it? Seems counter-intuitive to me. And as I mentioned, since the plan is to have the assassination trigger the riots, it's a bit far-fetched to have this proof be structured in such a way as to be able to prove the effect will happen without proving the cause of that effect. I have no idea how one would go about that. Once we actually meet Sung for real, I'll have even more to say on that.

I do want to call attention to the fact that the damage bonus you can on bosses with a completed dossier is only 5%. That's not a huge amount by any stretch and you're collecting dossiers more for background than any practical benefit. This isn't the difference between 20 and 30 damage. It's the difference between 20 and 21 damage and hardly worth worrying about.

Lastly, anaphysik made a reference to Delicious Cinnamon, which is a YouTube LP group you can find here.  Also, apparently "Does the Pope shit in the woods?" is just a bad reference.


Thomas said...

Presumably they're doing a deal to find out data from the actual assassin and it was encrypted by the assassin instead of the people who haven't got to touch it yet.

But I feel this is shakier. Ppl suspecting Deng and Deng tricking the CSP feels okay, how this bit went down a lot less so

newdarkcloud said...

The thing is that this is far from the only hole is Taipei's plot. And every explanation for what's going on that I've seen only offers more unanswered questions.

For example, if that scenario is the case, then the agent would have accessed the drive already, meaning that THEY would have triggered the encryption and the data would have already been partially deleted. And if that didn't access it, how do they know that the data is useful. I doubt Omen Deng would show up unless it was a top priority, so not seeing what was in those files, or at least knowing about it, before hand seems unlikely.

Thomas said...

I guess at this point in the game Deng probably didn't 'know' Thorton was the perpertrator. He'd know about him being rogue and in the area but I bet it was Thorton shooting up the courier that made Deng decide it was him. The Sung bit really doesn't make sense though

Thomas said...

It sounds like something that could happen in real life (without the massive army of CSP). A courier is told to move a package and it's encrypted so the courier doesn't have access to the information (because letting random mooks know anything is how you lose in the spy business. EVE players know better than to give grunts information). Deng turns the courier and arranges to meet up. He doesn't know if it's valuable, but it's his job to collect intelligence and he's hardly going to turn up his nose at a lead like that.

newdarkcloud said...

I suppose it's plausible, but that seems unlikely.

Jokerman said...

The bit after this was really strange is Sungs reasoning for not being able to protect against both outcomes. For give him clear evidence that there is a plan to cause mass riots at his speech so he agrees to put guards in the crowds... yet he will not wear a bullet proof vest due to you not having proof on the assassination.

Why? His reason is that he does not want people to think he is afraid or what ever...but when you see him wearing it when you do give that evidence he clearly is wearing it under his suit, its totally unnoticeable.

So why not wear the vest? Just in case... when he knows something hostile is going on at the same time. Really odd moment for me.

newdarkcloud said...

anaphysik had an explanation that, while plausible, opened up an entirely different plot hole.