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zippdementia I'm best known for my extensive work in the fields of this and that. I tend to be better at that, though I have more fun with this.

I'm an odd jobber with an even personality who isn't afraid to roll with the punches but prefers to dodge them when able.

Title: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (12:59 PM)
First of all, I love the whole concept. Not enough games do the espionage setting well enough to bother with it. Alpha P., with its emphasis on setting up for a mission and planning out the style of approach, really does feel like a spy game and I like it.

I also really like the conversation approach. Well executed overall, even if most of the time I have no idea what the hell everyone is talking about.

There is a definite sense, during the missions, of "why did I just die?" and even more of "why did that guard spot me?"

I often feel like I'm suggesting things the character might like to do in order to not die and then he takes that under advisement (and usually dies).

Still, it's a shame this won't be happening again.
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (01:04 PM)
Glad you finally got the game.

It seems I'm one of the extreme minority that hasn't really experienced many issues with the AI!
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (03:31 PM)
After playing more I don't think it's the AI so much as it is the cover system. It really isn't a good system when your "run" button is the same button as "get under cover."

Also, it's never very clear what is cover and what isn't. What should feel like Uncharted 2 feels more like controlling a magnet through a metalic corridor.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (03:51 PM)
FOR INSTANCE:

When I charge onto a bridge filled with wooden boxes, why can't I get behind them for cover?!
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (03:52 PM)
FOR INSTANCE:

Why, when I run inside a little shack half a mile from any guards, is everyone suddenly alerted to my presence?
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (04:04 PM)
Running does seem to alert the guards really quick -- most likely because of the loud footsteps (from my experience). If you're going for a stealth approach, always crouch!
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (04:07 PM)
And yeah, the cover system isn't great. :(

I don't really use it unless I'm in a tough firefight.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (04:55 PM)
Yeah, that's one of my only real complaints. There are things the game doesn't do as well as it could, but the cover system is the one thing it doesn't do as well as it SHOULD.

Overall, I'm having a ball, though. Easily one of my favorite games of all time. I know it's not near polished enough to be on most people's top 10 lists, but I just love the subject. And I never get tired of watching Mike punch people in the throat.
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SuskieUser: Suskie
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (10:45 PM)
It really isn't a good system when your "run" button is the same button as "get under cover."

I can think of countless games that use such a system beautifully. Gears of War, for example, is still easily the industry standard for cover-based combat. I think the trouble is that Alpha Protocol's controls are just inherently sloppy.

Out of curiosity, Zipp, what's your approach to combat been so far? Easily the most fun I had with Alpha Protocol was when I dumped all of my points into stealth and pistols and just tried to sneak my way through most of the levels. I think the reason the stealth is such a turn-off to so many people is that it's an RPG, and you really need to specialize in stealth to pull it off, i.e. you need to beef up your stats and equip yourself in such a way that ups your sound dampening and enemy sight reduction. The first time I played, I was suited up in straight combat gear and wondering why it was virtually impossible to sneak up behind someone without alerting him.

Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. I get the feeling that anyone enamored with the concept behind Alpha Protocol will find a way to overlook its flaws. It's got too much going for it.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (11:35 PM)
Definitely taking the stealth route. I started out with Sub Machine guns and a more violent approach, but I found myself favoring the silenced pistol much more.

After the first set of missions, I changed my points pretty drastically, taking focus on Stealth, Pistols, and Toughness. Personally, I think Stealth and Toughness are the best skills in the game because of their bonus abilities (being able to see where enemies are all the time is painfully helpful). Pistols, I think, have the best combat ability (freezing time to fire is really cool and reminds me of Red Steel a lot).

As secondary skills, I have shotguns (which are way more fun than the sub-machine guns), sabotage (which is pretty much mandatory for some of the objectives and for keeping your cash flow high), and martial arts (which are just cool to watch and useful for silent take downs).

Overall, I'm all about the silent takedown and manipulative personality. I change my personality depending on who I'm talking to (which has given me a lot of perks) though I will always default to a more aggressive voice.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 24, 2010 (11:40 PM)
More thoughts (see above): I agree with you, Suskie, that stealth is by far the best aspect of the game. That's when everything seems to work right. Getting into firefights is much more of a crap shoot, laden with poor controls, confusing on screen indicators, and no consistency. When i get into fire fights, I turn on that toughness perk and just start looking for a corner to hide in and take people on one-at-a-time as they approach.

Admittedly, the machine guns helped a lot in the fire fighting.

Still, I occasionally do something awesome, like when I was beset by three attackers, who were hanging around right outside the room I was holed up in. I kicked open a door, knocked someone down, then fired a shotgun blast to knock another one down. The third guard got caught in the blast and took some damage, so I smacked him in the face to knock him out and then stomped his two buddies.

Three guards down, no kills... Mina still loves me. The demanding bitch...
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SuskieUser: Suskie
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (12:08 AM)
I briefly had to go combat-intensive recently to get the achievements for the SMGs and shotgun. Never again. The stealth is really fun once you get into it, mainly because of the cool abilities you can taking advantage of (like you said, master awareness is fantastic), but the combat is just a sluggish chore. It doesn't help that I beat Mass Effect 2 again in between Alpha Protocol playthroughs, which only served to highlight just how much that game cremes this one in terms of straightforward gunplay. Though there are definitely things Alpha Protocol does better, too.

Martial Arts, from my observation, only really improves hand-to-hand combat and doesn't factor into silent takedowns, so if you're decent at stealth, you won't ever need it. I agree about pistols, though. On my stealth run (which I did on Hard, I should mention), I thought I'd be screwed during the boss battles, but I was usually able to line up, like, five headshots all at once.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (01:17 AM)
Yeah, balance sort've went out the window on this one. It doesn't bother me to have abilities like that pistol shot, because the game is really friggin' hard, but it does make it hard to justify taking points in anything else. While the game certainly offers a lot of replay value, I'm not sure I'd enjoy it as much if I took other skills. I am eager to try out recruit, though. That sounds like a fun challenge. Maybe I'll take assault rifles that playthrough. I've yet to use one.

I'm also going to have trouble sitting through the story again. I'm barely into the game, just on the second set of missions, and I already have no clue what's going on except the general feeling that it's mirroring the modern-day plot of governments creating wars.

Rarely do I have a clear idea of why I'm going somewhere or what I'm specifically doing once I get there.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (01:42 AM)
Another double post...

When I review this game, I think the opening will be "Alpha Protocol is the best stealth game I've ever played and the worst action game."
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (05:49 AM)
I agree that the Awareness passive ability is incredibly useful. Sabotage can be useful, but I found it to be not that necessary once you get enough practice. You can back out of a mini-game without any consequences before the timer runs out (except for lockpicking). The extra money is nice, though.

I didn't put a single point in Toughness for my Normal run under the thought that I was relying on stealth and not being seen. It worked fine, and Chain Shot was useful in getting me out of tight spots. But for Hard (I only used a silenced pistol for the entire playthrough), I found that investing in Toughness was essential in ensuring my survival, because you can die really quickly.

Martial Arts is really fun. I always put points into it.
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SuskieUser: Suskie
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (07:23 AM)
I'm barely into the game, just on the second set of missions, and I already have no clue what's going on except the general feeling that it's mirroring the modern-day plot of governments creating wars.

This seems like a pretty common criticism for the game, and I can't say I agree with it. I had no trouble following the story. Let me explain the basic gist of it to the best of my ability:

Alpha Protocol sends Thorton to investigate Al-Samad, the terrorist group responsible for shooting down the airliner, and kill Shaheed. He finds Shaheed, who points the finger at Halbech, a private weapons manufacturer (think Stark Industries) that sold him the missiles. After Thorton gives Alpha Protocol his coordinates, someone from Halbech who has infiltrated Alpha Protocol fires missiles on his location in order to cover up Halbech's involvement. So after that, Thorton is rogue and forced to hunt down Halbech on his own, with Mina's help. He tracks Halbech activity to all three of the major locations he then travels to.

Let me know if you need any additional clarification. I live to serve.
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (08:11 AM)
I'll add that Halbech's motives are to create a cold war and reap financial benefits, but Mina suspects that what Halbech are doing can stir a real war.

I understood the story fairly well my first time through; the only thing I was confused with initially was that the term "Alpha Protocol" has two meanings: 1) the agency that Thorton is working for before he turned rogue; 2) the action of being made rogue by the agency in Alpha Protocol's attempt to distance themselves from an operation gone wrong.

In this case, Thorton has gone Alpha Protocol and the Saudi operation is deemed to be his own doing, not Alpha Protocol's, who have denied any involvement in it.
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SuskieUser: Suskie
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (08:58 AM)
Yeah, Mina says at the end of the Saudi mission that the reason Alpha Protocol exists is so the government can deny ops like this. So since Alpha Protocol has abandoned Thorton, he has no one to turn to.
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (09:39 AM)
Man, even though I had a few points into Sabotage, the mini-games got on my nerves a little on Hard. I slowly started to get better at lockpicking over time (the time limit is still ridiculous -- five locks in 10-12 seconds), but the computer hacking and disabling the alarms would've really benefitted from mouse controls.

The alarms in particular bugged me. You had to disable 12 or so wires in around 20 seconds, and often consecutive ones were really far apart. I ended up carrying a few EMPs with me in case I got frustrated and had to restart several times.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (10:27 AM)
No, I get the general gist of the story fine. More what I mean is that I don't really understand why Thorton goes the places he does. The little nuances of the story are lost amidst lots of poorly written dialogue. Or maybe I just don't care enough.

The biggest problem is that the story isn't shown for the most part... it's discussed. Imagine if Bourne Identity had only had dialogue in briefing rooms and the entire rest of the film was just action scenes with no character development. I think Alpha Protocol is a lot like what such a movie would've been.
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SuskieUser: Suskie
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (01:21 PM)
Hmm... well, I disagree. I'd say the dialog is one of the best things about the game, in fact.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (01:31 PM)
Yeah, again I think I'm using the wrong words. Reading it over, I don't so much dialouge as... the presentation of the dialouge. It's hard for me to pay attention to a head on a television screen. I mean, I'm already looking at a screen...

For example, one scene I remember all the dialouge and information from is when you have Shaheed at gun point at the end of the first mission and then rockets start flying in. That's a great scene.

On the other hand, when I arrived in Taipei and Mina sent me a transmission explaining everything that had happened up to that point, I got a little lost.
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (02:22 PM)
If you do get a bit lost, there's a text briefing as you confirm the mission you're undertaking. That usually gives insight into what you're supposed to be doing.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 25, 2010 (02:49 PM)
Yeah, I'm more lost in the sense that I have little emotionally attachment to the story. When I think about playing the game, I yearn for killing guys from the shadows or figuring out a clever way to distract them all with gadgets.

Or lighting them on fire, if that doesn't work. I swear, fire is the one redeeming weapon in my inventory.

But I don't think, "God, I need to see what happens next!" I will admit to some interest in the funky guys that show up in the warehouse mission.
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blood-omenUser: blood-omen
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 26, 2010 (06:02 AM)
i dont like the fact that the speech options has a time limit and the fact that speech options are usually single words so sometimes i dont have an idea what will happen when i choose a certain word.....

also,computer hacking mini-game sux on the PC....one code u have to do with WSAD and the other with the mouse.....
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BenUser: Ben
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 26, 2010 (06:33 AM)
Well, with the dialogue options, nearly all the time they're Professional, Suave, and Aggressive -- the words may be different, but the stances are still the same. But I do agree that it's occasionally hard to tell what will come out of Thorton's mouth based on one word. As for the time limit, I really like it. It keeps conversations moving, and forces you to pay attention.

I wonder if anyone else used subtitles? I always put subtitles on if I can whenever I play a game with spoken dialogue -- there aren't many games where the lip-syncing has been perfect, so that kind of distracts me. But in Alpha Protocol, I can see a real benefit in subtitles, as it lets you read the rest of the character's line as the timer is going down, giving you more time to decide what to do.
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zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: And now MY thoughts on Alpha Protocol
Posted: July 26, 2010 (06:52 AM)
Just like hacking in real life!
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