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    jp's Alpha Protocol (PS3)

    [December 31, 2020 01:42:07 PM]

    Yes, there were some annoying bugs and things - and I also had to cheese some of the final boss fights (generally speaking I found them to be one of the worst things in the game because you're really forced into combat when perhaps you've been trying to play all stealthy, so you're at a disadvantage).

    But in general? I really enjoyed it, I'm glad I played it - and I'm surprised by how well it holds up (technical issues aside).

    As an RPG - I was surprised by my lack of knowledge/understanding of which were the game's main/story/campaign quests and which ones were not. In that sense, it's an unusual structure - I really felt like I had to do all of them - and, compared to other RPGs, there aren't that many quests either! I'm guessing that RPG fans were disappointed by the "lack of content", there's no after-the-game content to play around in/with (that's probably because the game isn't an openworld RPG where you can just wander around).

    So, it's an RPG in the sense that Obsidian made it and called it an RPG, and that it has a lot of progression mechanics and systems, and develop relationships with other characters?

    Hmmm... what is an RPG is really much more fraught than you'd expect, no?
    In all, I'm glad I played it and I'm ready to move on to my next PS3 game as I try to zero out the pile of shame so I can pack up the PS3.
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    [December 28, 2020 06:41:15 PM]
    I've now finished all the missions in Moscow (unless new ones popup later) and have started playing the ones in Taipei. The game continues to interest me and I'm surprised by how some (but not all) of the hacking/breaking-in minigames have increased their difficulty.

    Before that though, I also noticed a few more bugs/issues - there was a mission I played (US embassy in Moscow) where - in the end summary - it indicated that I had basically gone in guns blazing (which was incorrect). So, some bit got flipped somewhere that was a bit annoying. Thankfully I'm not trying to get some achievement/trophy that depends on that?
    Ok, so on to the minigames. They're all related to "breaking and entering" in a way...

    (a) Lock-picking - There's lots of games with a lock-picking minigame and this might be my favorite? (someone should write a paper about lock-picking in videogames...). You basically need to squeeze a bumper the right amount and then confirm with a separate button push. Each lock you pick has several tumblers and you have to squeeze/confirm for each - what's interesting is that the sensitivity of the squeeze varies per tumbler - so I find that I really have to take it slow, because the "correct zone" for the confirm is pretty small. There's also a timer. I haven't really noticed any increase in difficulty other than the number of tumblers. There might be less time as well or the penalties for a bad confirm might have gotten worse - but the core mechanic seems relatively untouched.

    (b) Computer hacking - This is surprisingly effective/interesting. You basically have two long-ish codes that you must move with each stick separately and then confirm their placement with their respective bumper. The screen is basically a huge grid of numbers (maybe letters too) that are always changing - sort of like the Matrix-code - but the whole area is full with no empty spaces. What you need to find is each sequence on the screen - which are parts where the numbers are NOT changing. So, you need to find both codes on the screen and then move the code you have on top of it, and confirm. If you take too long it changes location! It seems really easy - but it's a lot harder than it seems (locating the static amongst all the noise of the moving/changing numbers). Again, I haven't noticed any meaningful increases in difficulty - I think the codes are always the same length (shorter would be harder to find I think), perhaps the timer is shorter as well how long before the code relocates. I haven't noticed though.

    (c) Keypad hacking - Picture a sci-fi rendition of an integrated circuit with spaces at the bottom (call them "pins") and paths from those pins to a circle in the IC. The circle has a number. You need to select the pins that lead to numbers and select them in increasing order (first 1 then 2, etc.). All of this within a time limit. Get one wrong and it resets - with you having to select 1 again, then 2, and so on. This is the only one that has significant increases in difficulty. First, the sequences get longer (say, from 1-4, to 1-6) and also the paths from pin to circle get more complicated and convoluted. Right now there are paths that bridge, making them harder to visually trace with your finger. Still fun though!
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    [December 22, 2020 02:48:24 PM]
    I've finished Saudi Arabia and now I'm almost done with Rome missions - I think. I don't really know where this is all going (in terms of locations and stuff) but I think I've been making good progress (reached level 8).

    I'm still having fun although I'm starting to run into little things that are making the experience less...good. Perhaps these are the things that got the game mediocre reviews? (I don't honestly recall at this point) So, the AI is a bit wonky - I don't mind when an enemy gets stuck in a position (easier for me to cheese), but when the enemies go on alert on the other side of a wall when you're inside a windowless room....and they start shooting. That's bit more annoying.

    I've enjoyed how the different conversations/mission briefings can result in changes in your relationship with your handlers and other NPCs. It's a simple system that I have no interest in gaming (I also don't have specific goals I'm trying to achieve - like "I want to seduce so-and-so", I'm being very professional as a secret agent here) and it adds a lot to the experience. Especially when certain thresholds result in extra buffs and perks. The most interesting was when I entered a CIA station house and killed to agents (hey, they saw me and I couldn't take them out non-lethally at that point). My handler got really upset! (and I felt chastised AND another NPC brought it up later - how I was sloppy and stuff).

    So, the game continues to be an interesting surprised even as I'm aware I'm not taking full advantage of all the systems/options (as any RPG, you can't play all the classes?). I've mostly tried to go the stealth route and I've only spent some points to have minimal weapon skills. I have not gotten into all the upgrading/changing weapons around - mostly because I save all the money to buy intel for the missions (I really like this system as well)!
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    [December 18, 2020 08:09:03 PM]
    I'm still trying to make my way through the PS3 pile so I can put it away and make room for the PS5. Thankfully the PS5 is sold out everywhere so I have less pressure there. Not that the huge pile of PS4 games is getting smaller either.


    I remember this game as one that reviewed very poorly despite a fair amount of high expectations. It's an RPG, Obsidian entertainment, and lots of hype? I don't actually remember the hype, just what I think was disappointment. But, an espionage RPG still sounds interesting as a concept so here we go...

    At this point I've finished all(?) of the first locations missions - and this includes the intro/tutorial mission that was fun and surprising - definitely a nice example of an in-media res situation. And, I'm really enjoying it!

    So, the tutorial begins with you waking up - and a voice in a screen tells you to escape and so you do...making your way through some sort of military lab/installation. It turns out the whole thing is a test/setup as you are welcomed into this secret organization that handles covert spy stuff around the world. (I think this is the "Alpha Protocol". Anyways, you meet a bunch of characters - who are both your handlers on different missions as well as experts in different areas (who walk you through the refresher/training course for different core gameplay such as shooting, stealth, and so on).

    I found myself quickly drawn into the fiction and enjoying the action aspects - yes, there's shooting and "stealthing", and equipment, and so on. You also have to buy stuff! (using dark accounts as well as money you scrounge up during missions which is strange, but they explain that it's to make things untraceable - anyways, that seems rather strange - money you find/steal on the field you can use to buy gear/weapons on the black market and so on).

    I'm writing this a few weeks since I last played and I'm worried I may have forgotten the controls and so I think I'll head up to play a bit more. At least enough until I get bored or tired.
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    jp's Alpha Protocol (PS3)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Tuesday 1 December, 2020

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 29 December, 2020

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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