Friday, April 26, 2013

Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol: Episode 20: Cougar-Lover Voice

This episode concludes the great train robbery! How exciting!

Anyway, there's not a whole lot to talk about this episode. This was pretty much a straight up combat mission. Aldowyn spent a lot of time doing poorly shooting targets with a pistol/shotgun this episode.

How you deal with the weapons shipment makes for a very interesting choice. Although we couldn't because we pissed him off, if Grigori likes you and you have yet to do this mission, he'll ask you to reroute the weapons to him. Doing so nets you a sum of money worth more than you could sell the weapons for, but causes Mina to like you less (-1 Reputation) and Grigori to like you more (+1 Reputation). This, and the follow up e-mails, are the only way you can get Grigori to "Like" you. In a similar fashion to SIS, Grigori drops out of the narrative past this point and will no longer be relevant to the plot.
Regardless, you still have two other choices. You can destroy the shipment and get Mina to like you, as we did, or you can send the weapons to yourself. Spending yourself the weapons nets you some okay pieces that honestly are inferior to any weapon you're likely to have, but you can easily sell them for some money and Mina's reputation is unchanged. It's overall an insignificant choice, but it serves as another opportunity to flesh out Thorton's character.

I forgot to mention, but that whole scene where we get a copy of the manifest is why we're here. We knew the missiles came from this trainyard, so we came here to get more information, which we did.

I'm going to be honest, there is absolutely zero reason to take part in this fight with SIE. We're doing it mostly because we also have no reason NOT to. You can get her Reputation up easily without this fight, you'd only really fight her if you want her knee pad and e-mail.

Speaking of her e-mail, this is one of my favorite trolls I've ever done. Anaphysik, Irridium, and I were ALL of the same page. The result was... beautiful. Thank you Obsidian, for making a character that has that particular line. I have mixed feelings towards SIE, but since her character trolls Aldowyn, she must be good.

PS: The next episode batch may take some time before it comes out. It's the end of college term, so time is precious and scarce.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol: Episode 19: A Mute Point

In this episode, we talk to an old man with a fetish for teenage girls. This isn't creepy AT ALL!

I stand by my statements regarding Sis and her backstory. I dislike how there is no follow or resolution to it at all. Things like this make the game feel like it was rushed out the door, with many facets left incomplete and/or unpolished. Obsidian always says that the reasons their games feel like this is due to some sort of constraint from the publisher, usually with regards to time. Since other developers do not have this problem, I often wonder who's truly at fault. Perhaps Obsidian is overambitious when it comes to these kind of things or perhaps they do just have very bad luck and often get screwed over by publishers. I suppose we'll find out definitively one way or the other once Project Eternity gets released, but until then it's interesting to speculate.
On the flip side, my disappointment may very well stem from the promise such a plot point had. I loved how they used the legend of Saint George and the Dragon as a means for Sis to communicate her story and position in the world was a very nice touch. We know enough to suss out the story of these two characters in broad terms, but we can't do any more than that. It's frustrating!

Albatross made an interesting comment when Thorton said that it seemed like everyone knows about Alpha Protocol. He said that it only looks that way because Thorton's been interacting within a small circle since he's thus far been focused on Halbech. When you think about it, Thorton really only interacts with about 25 or so characters throughout the course of the entire game. Out of those people, the majority are aware of the Alpha Protocol program. It also makes sense that the intelligence community would be a very small group. This line reminds players that this game is still set in the "real world" and that we're only dealing with a very small cast of characters. It's still a grand, globe-trotting spy thriller, but a focused one.

And now we meet SIE. SIE is a walking, talking, stereotype. The funny thing about her is that if you do complete Rome first, the main boss of that hub and SIE cannot stand each other, so you can get a +1 or +2 Reputation with SIE just from stopping his plan and/or killing him. With that, it's trivial to get SIE all the way to "Trusted" in just this one mission. As for her character, I feel indifferent towards. She's one of the games more "out there" characters, and while she can be entertaining, she's no where near as entertaining as Stephen Heck is. And her VCI are completely uninteresting, stereotypical dumb muscle. There's nothing special to make note of until we get into Rome. Given our current schedule, that should be sometime before Half-Life 3 comes out.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol: Episode 18: Grand Theft Yachto

Dear god, it's been so long. Sorry for such a late post guys, but we have been busy. And by "we have been busy," I mean "Aldowyn has been lazy." Regardless, we're back.

I apologize in advance for this week's episodes. Not only were we slacking on the commentary, but the recording was a bit of a... massive failure. The net result is that I have to make it all up with witty and informative posts.

Shame that's never going to happen. Oh well, at least we managed to rope Tyler/Irridium into our symphony of mediocrity. Anyway:

All I want is the Lumberjack beard (and another thing, but we'll get to that later). Instead, we got the Douche Patch. Goddammit. This is like a Cannibalism in the Spoiler Warning season of Fallout: New Vegas. At the very least, we got a very nice view of the Moscow safehouse. It's still amazing that Obsidian took the time to create all of those details for people to look at. It would've been easy to put blinds over them or a crappy texture.

Though we only meet Grigori this one time, the time players spend with him is so much more memorable than the encounters with some other one note characters like Hong Shi. Part of it is simply how customized the whole affair is. Grigori will change his dialogue based on both whether or not you did other hubs before meeting him in Moscow and whether or not you finished other missions in Moscow before talking to him. This is one top of the number of ways you can go about this conversation that all feel unique. Truthfully, I like Grigori and only voted to headslam him because I doubt people other than those like me, who played through multiple times, actually saw that scene. He's a pretty interesting guy who feels a bit more "real" than other characters and has a very dry sense of humor. It's almost a shame we missed that conversation, but on the other hand we slammed a dude's face into a desk, what could be better than that.

This horrible failure on the Yacht marks Aldowyn's very first use of a Med-Kit. Make a note of that because I don't think we'll be see it too often as he'll be too busy dying in the future.

There usually is an intel to hack a computer to get money off this mob underboss's account. I have a suspicion that we didn't get it because Grigori hates us. I wonder why he hates us so much....

As you all have no doubt suspected, I was the one who proposed that we kill Sis. It's not even for the reasons you would think. I like her character. In fact, I wish they utilized her a bit more because she is a pretty interesting little firecracker. I just wanted her to die because so few people actually do that and it really does change the way you and Albatross interact as the game goes on. With her dead, you can either make amends to Albatross, showing that he's willing to put personal feelings aside in order to work with you, or mock him with her death. Had we done Taipei after this and instead chose to kill Sis here, for example, Thorton could meet Albatross by saying, "Hey Albatross, how's Sis? Oh, she's probably not well since I KILLED HER!!!" I like the way the game accounts for her death and changes the dynamic between Thorton and Albatross accordingly. I thought it would be interesting for the viewers to see it for themselves. Still, I don't mind being outvoted. The contact mission it unlocks is one of my personal favorites, which we'll see next episode.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bioshock: Infinite Podcast with Marc Price and Javy Gwaltney

This weekend, I had joined a discussion with two friends of mine, Marc Price and Javy Gwaltney, over the recently released Bioshock: Infinite. All three of us had finished the game at least once and we all had our own thoughts on the game. (Warning: There were a LOT of spoilers.)

The resulting two hours conversation was a delight. I hope you guys out there enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed having it.

You can listen to it, here: