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Seriously, what the fuck Obsidian?
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 10 June 2010, 15:16:52Tags: Alpha Protocol; Obsidian Entertainment
... is a question raised by Gareth Fouche, of the Scars of War RPG fame. Gareth, also known by the handle Naked Ninja, shares his first impressions with Alpha Protocol.
Let’s start with the design decisions. Probably the poorest is how they’ve done the stealth system. I was completely flabbergasted to discover that you have no UI indication whatsoever of how well you’re hidden and how much sound you’re making. I know it is based on finding cover instead of hiding in shadows, but still. Am I more exposed behind this potplant than behind this column? How much noise am I making with this equipment load-out? What about when I shoot this pistol? I can’t think of a stealth game which didn’t feature at least some feedback for the player. But AP shows nothing. Am I doing well at stealth? The only way of knowing is when the guards ring an alarm.
Speaking of which, cardinal sin number 2 : Gradually increasing levels of awareness, and the lack there-of. This is key to a stealth game, it allows the player to experiment and make small mistakes without completely blowing things. AP has an incredibly tiny margin here when you’re starting out, even though I took a stealth character. If you don’t hide well enough the guards go hostile, alarms blare and everyone starts shooting. As you get access to skills like evasion it becomes a little better, you can make a slight slip and quickly duck away, but the margin is still really tight in comparison to other games. Combined with lack of UI feedback it results in a seriously poor stealth experience.
And then there are the magic powers. I’m not talking about Shadow Operative, which I haven’t got yet. I’m talking about Awareness. Thorton must be part bat, because I just activate Awareness and now all the guards show up on my sonar. You’d think it would be a great help with all the insta-spotting nastiness but it actually further ruins the stealth gameplay if you don’t have to even check around walls to see that the only hostiles nearby are in front of you, or in that room. So it’s a choice between very little margin of error when you stumble, or complete awareness of every NPC in front of you when you activate the power.
So the basic stealth mechanics are shit. But it’s compounded by fucking terrible level design. I’ve played three missions in Saudi Arabia, bear in mind, and people say it gets better later. Fuck, I hope so.
Huge & Drastic C&C make up for everything Gareth.
Spotted at: SOW