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So Alpha Protocol, in many ways, looks back to Deus Ex for inspiration. I don't think there's any doubt about that. Near-future-real-world setting, choices & consequences throughout the game, RPG mechanics taking precedence in a shooter experience, multiple solutions to gameplay challenges, etc. Skipping the stupid "X > Y" "No your mom" stuff, I decided to go back to Deus Ex and see what kind of specific comparisons we can draw, and think about what features work well in which game.

 

I only played Deus Ex a couple of years ago, in fact, when stranded in a foreign country with a crappy laptop, and I think I had to stop about half way. I really like the game - but at the time I didn't think it was this amazing thing that towers over the rest of the video game landscape like some others do. Anyway.

 

So far I've played the first mission and got to Hell's Kitchen, on Realistic. There are some really interesting things here, most of all:

 

Deus Ex reticule is very similar to Alpha Protocol reticule.

There are people that think AP's combat fails just because you can't get a headshot like you do in Halo... but when you start the game in Deus Ex, even though you are 'Trained' in Pistols, your reticule is massive. *massive*. It takes more than 5 seconds to hone in, and if you move even a little bit, it goes out again. So nearly identical to AP's assault rifles with a few skill points in it.

 

Practically speaking, this means that despite being a nanoaugmented superagent (i.e. more badass than Mike Thorton), you can't run & gun, and you have to be very careful and line up your shots. Even then, the NSF goons might survive a headshot, and require a few more. This is essentially the same kind of experience as AP: early game, you can't just spray bullets and hope to get them, you have to line up your shots. If you are lucky, you can get headshots even without any (I've managed to headshot and instantly take out the first guard you see after you pick up the pistol in the tutorial), but really, you'll have to level up and use the critical hits.

 

If anything, on Hard/Realistic, Deus Ex is even more punishing because there is no regenerating armour, you can be crippled in arms/legs, and you die a lot faster. The point is, in both games (and, to an extent, in Mass Effect 1, I think), it's your character shooting, not you. Does it work? Well, in Deus Ex, it does, at least. I think perhaps the idea is easier to grasp in DX, it's communicated more simply.

 

Deus Ex art design & Alpha Protocol art design

I can't quite remember what Hong Kong was like, or Paris, but man, it's really dark... and it's pretty bland. The UNATCO offices and the Greybox look exactly the same - and they both look just like you'd expect a real life secret agent HQ to look. Grey, grey, doors, tables, etc. The difference is that DX seems to push a more unified, realistic style (i.e. everything is grey and dark and concrete), whereas AP goes for a more stylised and schizophrenic style to differentiate its hubs. It works for both games, I think - DX is a much more sombre game as a whole.

 

Deus Ex AI & Gameplay

Coming back to this I was really surprised by how poor the AI is. I didn't remember it being this bad. There's no indicator for stealth, but when you are crouching and sneaking up behind a goon, they might turn around - and you would be at 90' angle, 5cm next to them - and they wouldn't see you. They are really blind. And then when you shoot them in the head, they turn around - facing you directly - then stand still for a couple of seconds, before reacting and firing. meaning you can get at least 3 or 4 headshots in there. We'll see if they get smarter in the later levels.

 

On the other hand, DX' gameplay - pretty hard to criticise, IMO. There's so many things you can play with - picking up things, TNT boxes (hey?), using boxes to climb, hell, using LAMs on walls to do rock-climbing, swimming, etc, etc. I remember one place in Hell's Kitchen where you can wire the entire corridor with traps and go nuts.

 

More to come..

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You can quite easily "fix" the Deus Ex reticule by the second or third mission with a few accuracy mods and/or a laser sight, while you're stuck with a crappy one in AP all the way to the end.

 

I agree on the art style, both are pretty bland and uninspired. obviously Deus Ex has the excuse of being ten years old.

 

As for gameplay, just the level of interaction with the environment in Deus Ex creates a lot more opportunities to deal with situations in different ways.

 

 

And I'm not even a rabid DX fanboy like some people here...

 

Edited by Purkake
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Interesting - I don't remember what it was like last time. It doesn't bother me, but then AP doesn't bother me either. As I say, it's early days - we'll see.

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Without wanting to be Captain Obvious here... Deus Ex was released 10 years ago. How many 10 year old games can even begin to stand up to a comparison with todays titles? Right there is what makes it a classic. Will we be comparing games in 2020 to AP as a benchmark? I think it's unlikely.

 

It's been forever since i played DX, but at the time it stood head and shoulders above most other games. With that said, I think in 2010 it is harder for a game to stand out. Art budgets, advertising budgets, politics (reviews, drm) etc all allow average games to do far better than they would on a level playing field. While very good games (I'd include AP in that category) can easily be buried in all the noise.

 

Personally, I wouldn't change anything about AP even if I could. Sure it could be improved given an infinite budget etc, but i'd rather have an enjoyable game released every year by obsidian (or any company) than one 'perfect' game every 10 years. Lets also keep in mind that DX2 was complete crap by comparison. That was an epic failure and deserves more criticism than AP ever will...

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Honestly, I think the whole age consideration's rubbish. We don't look at a gangster film released today and say "of course it should be several times better than The Godfather or The Goodfellas". Obviously games are a little different with a very rapidly developing technological element, but there are areas of game design technology clearly improves, and others where it doesn't so much. There's this big illusion that games get (or should get) better year after year, or that old games are no longer good to play. That's both rubbish. All that matter is, there are a lot of games; and smoe of them are really, really good.

 

That said, what's the point here? Just looking at what things DX did well, and what AP did well. I think it'll give us a better perspective on what things make good spy games and how AP might be improved... certainly better than all this nonsensical comparisons to ME2 and others.

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I don't know if Deus Ex really needed an excuse for being "bland and uninspired". I always felt it was intentional and part of the whole atmosphere of desperation in the world they tried to make you feel. Lush, colourful environments that make you watch for 10 minutes because they are just so pretty or artistic valuable wouldn't have fit the overall mood. I'm quite sure if they would have wanted to make it prettier they could have done it, because the unreal engine although aged even at that time was clearly capable of more beautiful surroundings.

 

Oh and to be honest I don't see so much in common between the 2 games. Sure both use an underlying skillsystem to determine your ability to do certain thing, but apart from that?

The leveldesign is quite different, the conversation system, the way to influence the outcome, the amount of info on your world.. nearly everything I loved in Deus Ex was done differently some things better some things worse.

The most common factor (and it's an very admirable one) I can think of is the feeling that here is a developer that really tried to change the way we expect games to behave. Not just completely rehash an old formula with a new setting.

Edited by Laverre
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I'm not sure I agree about age not being a factor for computer games. Technology provides huge limitations for a game, and much less limitation for a movie. Any amateur programmer could write a better game today than any of biggest titles released 30 years ago (what was the average ram back then? 16k?) you certainly couldn't guarantee to make a better movie than those made 30 years ago...

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Honestly, I think the whole age consideration's rubbish. We don't look at a gangster film released today and say "of course it should be several times better than The Godfather or The Goodfellas". Obviously games are a little different with a very rapidly developing technological element, but there are areas of game design technology clearly improves, and others where it doesn't so much. There's this big illusion that games get (or should get) better year after year, or that old games are no longer good to play. That's both rubbish. All that matter is, there are a lot of games; and smoe of them are really, really good.

 

That said, what's the point here? Just looking at what things DX did well, and what AP did well. I think it'll give us a better perspective on what things make good spy games and how AP might be improved... certainly better than all this nonsensical comparisons to ME2 and others.

The key difference is that in games the gameplay changes with the technology, while in movies the same basic concepts have remained through the medium's history.

 

I don't know if Deus Ex really needed an excuse for being "bland and uninspired". I always felt it was intentional and part of the whole atmosphere of desperation in the world they tried to make you feel. Lush, colourful environments that make you watch for 10 minutes because they are just so pretty or artistic valuable wouldn't have fit the overall mood. I'm quite sure if they would have wanted to make it prettier they could have done it, because the unreal engine although aged even at that time was clearly capable of more beautiful surroundings.

 

Oh and to be honest I don't see so much in common between the 2 games. Sure both use an underlying skillsystem to determine your ability to do certain thing, but apart from that?

The leveldesign is quite different, the conversation system, the way to influence the outcome, the amount of info on your world.. nearly everything I loved in Deus Ex was done differently some things better some things worse.

The most common factor (and it's an very admirable one) I can think of is the feeling that here is a developer that really tried to change the way we expect games to behave. Not just completely rehash an old formula with a new setting.

Deus Ex's atmosphere is good, specifically the art style is bland because of one simple reason - the Unreal engine.

 

I agree that the two games don't have as many similarities as Tigranes seems to think. They aren't both set in a "near future real world", DX is set in the near future while AP is set in modern day. Also, Deus Ex isn't really a "spy game" you can be stealthy, but you aren't exactly dabbling in international intrigue.

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The key difference is that in games the gameplay changes with the technology, while in movies the same basic concepts have remained through the medium's history.

 

I disagree with both of your suppositions for several reasons.

 

Movie technology has changed just as much over the past, say, 50 years as gaming technology has changed in the past 20. CGI simply didn't exist until around the 80s, and it wasn't very realistic until today. What you see in films today is substantially different from films of old. Just look at recent CGI-fest movies like Transformers or Avatar and older movies like Jason and the Argonauts, or the difference between the original Star Wars trilogy and the new trilogy.

 

"Basic concepts" change as well. As society and the world around us changes, movies have changed as well. The best stories reach across generations and are still relevant today, but many times older movies deal with issues like the cold war and are somewhat outdated today as a result. I'm not really sure what else you mean by "basic concepts", aside from maybe the fact that all movies are committed to film and have actors, but such generalizations can easily be applied to video games as well.

 

As for gameplay changing with technology, I find that difficult to accept as well. Gameplay has unarguable changed as video games have "evolved", but what is the reason for that change? I assert that modern gameplay mechanics have arisen from the game industry itself. The game industry has been monkey see, monkey do for many years now, and whenever a new game comes out that achieves critical success and sells a lot of copies, other companies are soon folding the mechanics of that game into their own. It's gotten so bad that practically every game tries to blend what would have once been three or four separate genres into one product, with many elements usually done poorly as a result.

 

These modern gameplay mechanics (many of which I personally cannot stand) are simply the result of companies taking the safest route when making games. It's much easier to do something that someone else has already done than try something new.

 

 

As to the original topic, I felt that AP took quite a bit of inspiration from Deus Ex, but I wasn't particularly impressed with the way AP did it. I don't want to go into too much detail since this is supposed to be a spoiler free board, but I always felt that Deus Ex had more cyberpunk "realism" packed into it than any other game I've ever played. Perhaps the (by modern standards) low quality textures had something to do with it, but I always felt that the DX world was grimy and used, just like a society suffering all the problems that occurred in DX would be. I think AP was trying to appear brighter, as may spy movies do, but that entire genre is so overdone that it didn't really feel novel to me.

 

I think that's my main problem. I can't think of a single other cyberpunk game aside from System Shock 1 and 2, so the world as a video game felt new to me. I've watched cyberpunk movies and played cyberpunk tabletop games, but cyberpunk video games are so rare that everything felt novel, even if the story really is cliche. For AP, however, the setting is modern day earth, and that's really been done to death. To make matters worse, the story is also fairly cliche. I felt like I knew where it was going almost from the first mission.

 

Still, I don't want to leave the impression that I disliked AP. The game overall was pretty fun, and I will definitely replay it if Obsidian ever decides to release a patch (hint hint).

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Deus Ex visuals Bland and uninspired? Those settings had me in awe when I first played it. Maybe because I played it in 3DFX mode, I do remember the game not looking so good on other cards at the time.

 

Its still my favorite game of all time. I went back and played it recently and it was still great.

Edited by Lidda-Bit
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Yeah, it did perform better in 3dfx. But I'm not talking about graphics in that sense - polygons and whatnot. Now that I've played more, I think Hong Kong does a bit better, though.

 

Anyway, now I've played through most of the game, I can see the point some of you made - there are a lot of differences between the two games. DX levels really get *big* and there are tons of secrets, tons of alternative paths - a sprawling level design that I think is probably the single biggest thing lacking in AP. I think that's a big part of what makes DX enjoyable.

 

I did notice a few things that I didn't use to think about DX - I think some of Denton's dialogue is a bit odd, and his take on events / attitude sometimes seems a bit out of wack (e.g. his sudden tear-eyed line talking with Sam Carter in Vandenburg). The augmentations don't seem very well balanced - there are few that are clearly much more useful (e.g. Cloak, Spy Drone) than others. The game is entirely too long and stretches like thin butter over bread - should have been wrapped up more quickly after Hong Kong.

 

But in the whole I think it still has a great feel to it and an entertaining core gameplay that stands up very well. AP could definitely have learnt from its level design.

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You think Spy Drone is useful? :o

 

Anyway, the limited level design is probably due to consoles. See DX:IW vs. DX for example. :*

^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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Formerly known as BattleWookiee/BattleCookiee

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[...] there are few that are clearly much more useful (e.g. Cloak, Spy Drone) than others. The game is entirely too long and stretches like thin butter over bread - should have been wrapped up more quickly after Hong Kong.

 

But in the whole I think it still has a great feel to it and an entertaining core gameplay that stands up very well. AP could definitely have learnt from its level design.

Couldn't disagree more. Quick "wrap-ups" is the bane of modern gaming. If anything, I think the game ended too abruptly with Area 51. On the topic of augments, I sorta agree, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. All augments do have a place for a specific playstyle.

 

The only augment that I find absolutely craptastically useless is.. well.. Spy Drone.

t50aJUd.jpg

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Well, it's true for Deus Ex : Invisible War.

For Alpha Protocol, while I'm not sure if they could reach Deus Ex as far as level design goes, they certainly could do better, especially since the Unreal Engine already showed us bigger and more interactive environments.

There had to be some problems technically and internally with the engines (programmers struggling to get used to it etc.) because the levels are really crippled and not even that detailed.

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Well, it's true for Deus Ex : Invisible War.
And Thief: Deadly Shadows. The Sunken Colony constituted of four big rooms! D:

 

The universal excuse for everything.
That would be "**** you I'm a dragon". Don't ask me why.
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I'm still in Area 51 so I don't know about after that, but the game is too long in the sense that it outlives the natural lifespan of its gameplay. What does Deus Ex's core gameplay involve? Scoping out a new area, choosing your method of infiltration (tech, sneak, shoot, mix & match), and executing it while picking up some interesting tidbits. It doesn't really fundamentally change. If anything, the gameplay gets a little bit worse because of all the superhuman bots with rockets they throw at you. The story didn't benefit that much from the addition of Silhouette and the Illuminati, either, at least, not yet. I think it drags on a bit.

 

On Spy Drone I may be totally wrong - I didn't get it, I just read you can disable enemy bots from afar with it. I'm curious - is the targeting aug, for instance, useful by the time you get it, when most people would have a few points in the weapons of their choice? (With no training I had no problem with most weapons anyway.) The anti-rocket defence aug and such - isn't it way too clunky to go for your F buttons in the middle of a fight? Maybe they were of use for other people.

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I'll parrot what everybody else already said (or most).

 

DX was amazing, IW was crap. AP is somewhere inbetween.

 

You can't really compare games from 10+ years ago to today, not even 5 years ago. When technology changes, so do people's expectations of what a game can do and look like.

 

For a treat, here's one of the best scenes in DX:

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I'm still in Area 51 so I don't know about after that, but the game is too long in the sense that it outlives the natural lifespan of its gameplay. What does Deus Ex's core gameplay involve? Scoping out a new area, choosing your method of infiltration (tech, sneak, shoot, mix & match), and executing it while picking up some interesting tidbits. It doesn't really fundamentally change. If anything, the gameplay gets a little bit worse because of all the superhuman bots with rockets they throw at you. The story didn't benefit that much from the addition of Silhouette and the Illuminati, either, at least, not yet. I think it drags on a bit.

 

On Spy Drone I may be totally wrong - I didn't get it, I just read you can disable enemy bots from afar with it. I'm curious - is the targeting aug, for instance, useful by the time you get it, when most people would have a few points in the weapons of their choice? (With no training I had no problem with most weapons anyway.) The anti-rocket defence aug and such - isn't it way too clunky to go for your F buttons in the middle of a fight? Maybe they were of use for other people.

If I'm not mistaken, Spy Drone is a Cranial augment, whereas Targeting is an Eye augment. The only two choices for Cranials are Spy Drone and Aggressive Defense System.

 

If you're surprised in combat, I can see how it could be annoying to activate the ADS, but if you activate it beforehand, it means being completely immune to rockets, flamethrowers, and even darts. Fully upgraded, it can potentially kill enemies shooting rockets or throwing grenades, detonating them so close to them that they will take considerable damage.

 

That said, I can't say that I used either of them very much.

 

When it comes to Eye Augments, there are similarly only two choices. Targeting is actually great, because aside from increasing your accuracy with each and every weapon, it also displays the health of the target. However, I prefer Vision Enhancement, which allows you not onto to shift into Night Vision without Tech Goggles, but also allows you to see enemies through walls.

 

My favourite Augments overall, by far, is likely Speed Enhancement and Microfibral Muscle. It can radically change the way you do things, by allowing you to jump off tall structures without taking damage, or rearranging big crates to allow you to access areas otherwise inaccesible. I've been meaning to make a seriously playthrough where I'm not using any of these two, but.. I just can't do it.

 

The other options are great, especially if you are doing a pacifist stealth playthrough or somesuch, but I just love mobility augments and mobility spells, no matter the game.

t50aJUd.jpg

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Targeting also increases damage and reload speed.

 

As such, it's very useful for a combat character. Activate it before taking the first shot, then deactivate once the foe is down makes combat a LOT easier.

 

Plundering the TNM Wiki (note the "aug" description of lvl 4 is TNM only though, but the rest is true for regular DX as well):

Every level includes features of the previous level.

 

* Level 1: The name, distance and rough health status is shown. A general damage bonus of 10% of base damage is given, rounded down, though it appears as "4%" on the stats screen.

* Level 2: Rough health status is replaced by a detailed health percentage for every body part. Damage bonus is 20%, but appears as 10% on the stats screen.

* Level 3: The weapon currently being carried is added. Damage bonus is 30%, appears as 14% on the stats screen.

* Level 4: Telescopic vision is added, and you are are able to see which augs someone has, and which of those augs are currently active. Damage bonus is 40%, appears as 20%.

 

Additionally, every level decreases the time needed to take perfect aim, and increases the accuracy of every weapon by 2.5% per level. Even more so, reload time of all weapons is decreased when Targeting is active, more with each level.

Edited by Hassat Hunter

^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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Formerly known as BattleWookiee/BattleCookiee

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