Friday, July 12, 2013

Disclosure Alert: Alpha Protocol: Episode 27: Roman Charges May Apply

In this episode of Disclosure Alert, I scream, you scream, a Gelato shop owner screams, when we shoot him for ice cream. That's how the old saying goes, right?
Then, we talk to an anonymous person... who turns out to be Marburg and call a totally random chick that we've never met before a bitch.

As anaphysik points out, the gelato shop owner made a very brief cameo in the first episode. Because we are using the Veteran background, which is only unlocked after beating the game on Recruit, we got a special introduction sequence where the drugs administered to Mike made Mina looked like this guy on the PDA. This variation is only available as a Veteran, likely because otherwise it'd be a minor spoiler.

Aside from that, the other noteworthy things about this mission is that it provides foreshadowing for the reveal that Mina works with the NSA and it has a lot of comedic potential, especially with "horse porn... all over your computer". And then you can pull the trigger for no reason. I always thought it would be cool if games gave you the option to try to kill every person in the game. It'd be like the Renegade interrupts in Mass Effect 2/3, except they are there for the entire conversation. I don't even care if some particularly skilled NPCs are powerful enough to stop you, I just the option would be pretty cool. If anything, this game shows that something like that could lead to some pretty great moments.
NPC: Could you get me 10 of this thing?
Player: *draws gun and fires*

I really like the conversation with Marburg. Like many others before it, there are quite a few different ways it can go down. Depending on what you do, Marburg can think of you as a friendly rival, a bitter nemesis, or anywhere in between. The discussion also changes a fair bit depending on whether or not you obtained a lot of dossier information on him. Lastly, your relationship with SIE matters to him, because Marburg and SIE both hate each other. (Likewise, SIE will like you if Marburg hates you and vice-versa if you meet her in Moscow after this.) It's another fine example of the game at it's best.

And yes, I needed to point out the whole "mercenary" thing. Considering the person who is guest starring in these episodes, I felt compelled to. (Although I honestly probably would have anyway.)

God, I love these interview segments. They really are a great way to frame the narrative. It allows the game to comment on what you've done and then gives you a chance to respond and possibly justify what you did. It also helps to give you insight into the mind of the big villain. As for the comparison to Dragon Age 2, I never played that game so I'll let Aldowyn and Josh handle it.

To be fair, Josh was totally right to call me on "except a solid gameplay experience". However, the point I was trying to make was that this is a game where the player interactions with the story matter a lot more than any of the "gameplay" sections in it. In fact, I think the game would've been better if they gave you more dialog and less gameplay, because the gameplay segments really do feel artificial at times. Sadly, I don't think a lot of people besides myself would go for it, and others would accuse it of "not being a video game" because reasons. Sometimes I really hate the culture surrounding my favorite hobby.

I also concur with what Josh said at the start of the Contact Madison mission. When I first played through the game, I honestly only had a bare-bones idea of what was going on. It took a 2nd and 3rd playthrough to really get a sense of the plot, and this is coming from someone who can easily understand Tetsuya Nomura's way too overly-complicated storytelling in Kingdom Hearts.

I still find it hard to believe that the one, totally random stranger that happens to suspect that her employer might be less than ethical JUST SO HAPPENS to be Alan Parker's daughter. It's such a long shot that it's pretty baffling. This becomes important later on, but it just seems like it's too out there. On the other hand, I like how the game let's you be suspicious of her, because quite frankly I would be in that position.

And #AldowynIsDumb again for forgetting his Pistol. Oh well, it only made the next episode more interesting.


anaphysik said...

"Sadly, I don't think a lot of people besides myself would go for it"

And me. Very much me.

anaphysik said...

"This variation [with the gelato shop guy] is only available as a Veteran, likely because otherwise it'd be a minor spoiler."

More likely because it would make /no fucking sense whatsoever/ on your first viewing of the game (Veteran normally requires at least one playthrough to unlock, though if you don't mind ending spoilers, you can grab an endgame Recruit autosave and unlock it that way (which I did after my first normal playthrough)). It's not a spoiler, it's just an in-joke.


"foreshadowing for the reveal that Mina works with the NSA"

We all kinda totally goofed on this during the episodes, but Mike totally knows that Mina is actually a NSA plant in Alpha Protocol (her cover being that she *used* to work for the NSA). That's from her fourth dossier entry, which we found at the CIA listening post. The endgame reveal is actually what Mina's specific involvement in the Desert Spear mission (the one in Saudi) was.


Also, there's a highly relevant Stolen Pixels comic about what Josh brought up: Actually /discussing/ the ever-evolving situation with a handler/secretary/analyst/etc. would have been pretty awesome - and could have been what Mina's role on your team was all about, but they pretty much dropped the ball on that idea :/

2house2fly said...

Ah, it wouldn't be a spy pastiche if a completely random character didn't turn out to coincidentally be another character's close relative. Plus it's the one-in-a-million unexpected wrinkle that the big Master Planner couldn't possibly have accounted for, one of many ways you can own him at the end of the game :D

Anonymous said...

I really like how Marburg's personality as described in his dossier translates into the reputation system. He's quick to judge and a sloppy judge of character, and as such it's very easy to sway his reputation one way or another.
Though I've heard others say otherwise, in my experience you don't have to get Marburg's reputation especially low in order to have a shot at killing him, nor do you have to complete his dossier. The important thing is that you're predominantly suave, both before and when you talk to him. True to the game's attention to detail, the way that Mike taunts Marburg during their final battle is determined by how much of his dossier you've completed; if you've fully completed it, Mike will specifically mention Deus Vult, whereas if you haven't completed it, he'll make a vaguer reference to Marburg being abandoned by the U.S government.