E3 2008: Alpha Protocol Impressions

gaming today

Michael Thorton has an exciting job. He’s a super spy. Alpha Protocol, the upcoming action spy RPG from developer Obsidian Entertainment looks like it’ll change the dynamic of the RPG genre with its modern setting, believable geo-political story and a few innovations that show Obsidian has learned a few things from its time in the shadow of Bioware and is ready to step forth and make its own impressions on gamers.

The demonstration I attended at E3 focused a bit on the game‘s innovations. Unlike previous titles like KotOR2 and Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol is giving players a dialog system with a sense of urgency and impact. I watched as the developer demonstrated the dialog stance system, which allowed players to chose a posture but not explicit dialog. While we’ve seen something like this in Bioware’s Mass Effect, Obsidian seems to be taking the system a step further by imposing real time pressure for decision making and a branching but non-looping choice system. Make a decision, the character speaks and the opportunity passes. This means players will have an extra reason to replay the game and alter the outcome.

The game plays from an over the shoulder perspective and “felt” like most omodern action shooters because the core RPG number crunching was obscured. Players can use any of the weapons inthe game and their proficiency will simply modify the ease of use or what “special abilities and shots” you can utilize in combat.

The look of the world was very Jason Bourne-like as well and the graphics seemed very polished even at this early stage of development. I’m looking for good things out of Obsidian and Alpha Protocol looks like one of the games that might just set them apart from their reputational as the tag-along developer who comes in once Bioware moves on.

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