Alpha Protocol

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FeatureYour fondest Obsidian game memories

"My favourite was shooting Darcy in the bollocks."

In September we asked you to share your favourite moments from an Obsidian game and we, on behalf of Paradox, dangled prizes in front of you in return: consoles for the two winners, PC Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny keys for the 10 runners-up. And you answered in your droves.

Inside Obsidian: How RPG's greatest survivors kept the lights on

"They say the path to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Over the years, I've come to know what to expect from Obsidian, or so I thought. Obsidian makes RPGs, beautiful, intriguing, sometimes slightly shonky RPGs with great writing and vivid characters and just a lingering trace of thriftiness. They make games where the concepts, where the soul, trumps the budget.

FeatureRummaging through Obsidian's drawer of game ideas

Star Wars! Snow White! Prey 2! Warhammer 40K! "There's tons of them."

Everyone has a drawer they can't close because it's stuffed too full of things. Mine has a whisk which always stops the bloody drawer from closing, and it's really annoying, but Obsidian Entertainment's drawer has around 100 game proposals in it. Game outlines in various states, from two-page snacks to 60-page feasts. "There's tons of them," Obsidian co-owner Chris Parker tells me. And for Obsidian there was never a time of greater need of an idea than summer 2012, after Microsoft cancelled Xbox One launch game Stormlands, and when South Park: The Stick of Truth was onboard THQ's sinking ship. It spurred a period now referred to in Obsidian history as the Summer of Proposals.

Imagine a glitzy cinematic sequence where you, as a secret agent, fight your way through an aeroplane soaring through the sky. You're pressing button prompts appearing on the screen while your hero whacks, chops, spins and kicks at the baddie in your way. "You fight all the way down until eventually you beat the guy and rip off his parachute and, I don't know, break his neck, and he floats off and you use his parachute to land." Sounds great, like a James Bond or Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne scene, or something from Uncharted 3, which hadn't been made yet.

I must have thought about Alpha Protocol 2 a hundred times, which is pretty good going for a sequel that doesn't exist. It's not even really a game in my mind, but an aspiration - a benchmark, really - of what so many games I love could be, if they'd only lower themselves to take a few design tips from an RPG that was effectively deemed a failure before it even hit the shelves.

Is Obsidian's new RPG called Eternity?

Countdown points to Friday as new clues emerge.

The number four has become a number three - it was a countdown rather than a number symbolic of the new Project X RPG that Obsidian has been teasing.

FeatureCheap This Week - 04/05/11

Broken Sword! Alpha Protocol! Deus Ex!

Have you got the back-to-work blues? This might cheer you up: cheap games, and lots of them! The selection includes a revisited classic from yesteryear, a couple of flawed gems that might have passed you by and one of the hottest pre-order deals I've seen in a long time. If none of that tickles your fancy, there's more over at SavyGamer.co.uk.

SEGA: Alpha Protocol sales were 

SEGA: Alpha Protocol sales were "slow"

Unspectacular RPG targeted in financials.

SEGA's blamed "slow" sales of Alpha Protocol and Iron Man 2 for weak videogame income in the three months ending 30 June 2010.

The company's consumer business lost $7.4 million during April to June. Bad, but a dramatic improvement on last year's Q1 result of minus $52 million.

SEGA openly told the world earlier this month that Alpha Protocol - an espionage RPG made by Obsidian and released in May - "hasn't sold what we've expected". The upshot: no sequel. Eurogamer gave Alpha Protocol a solid and not-to-be-sniffed-at 6/10.

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Alpha Protocol

Alpha Protocol

007/10?

The legendary agent whose presence looms over Alpha Protocol's Michael Thornton isn't Bauer, Bourne or Bond - although the game is eager to invite all these comparisons. It's Shepard. Obsidian has borrowed a lot from BioWare, a developer it's always had a close working relationship with, and at times Alpha Protocol can feel a little like a Mass Effect mod as much as an original game in its own right.

A contemporary super-spy mod of Mass Effect would hardly be something to complain about, though, and while Thornton's earthbound adventure isn't as gripping - and is hardly as polished - as either of Shepard's galaxy-spanning suicide missions, it's a still decent action RPG.

The narrative, unfolding in a kind of French plait of chatting and blasting people in the face that will be instantly familiar to veterans of any Normandy away missions, is a pleasingly sinister muddle. While agent Thornton hops around the globe, having flirty conversations with enigmatic ladies on planes and making deals - or, like, totally not making deals - with sheiks, Russian crime bosses and Triads, Alpha Protocol slowly starts to pull together a story of international intrigue, as a weapons manufacturer tries to trigger a new cold war arms race so it can cash in on the ensuing panic. (It's worth noting that this firm definitely isn't in any way at all based on former Vice President Dick Cheney's delightful paymasters Halliburton.)

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SEGA explains Alpha Protocol DRM

One-off activation, countless installs.

The Uniloc DRM chosen to protect the PC version of Alpha Protocol does not require a constant internet connection and potentially allows for infinite game installations.

Alpha Protocol

Diamonds take forever.

In the genre-bending world of modern videogames, things are not always what they seem. Alpha Protocol looks, walks and talks like a shooter, but it's not - under the hood it's a skills-based RPG. It's far more about character stats than firepower, and interactive cut-scenes form a substantial portion of the action.

SEGA keen on AVP, Bayonetta sequels

SEGA keen on AVP, Bayonetta sequels

Hints at Total War MMO, too.

SEGA's keen to turn Aliens vs. Predator, Alpha Protocol and Bayonetta into franchises, as well as take Total War in "another direction".

"People often ask if we'd take Total War in that [MMO] direction and we're constantly looking at it, but MMO is a very competitive market," SEGA West boss Mike Hayes told CVG. "It goes back to the start of the interview - we want to get the core games right before anything else.

"We've got our shooter with AVP and our RPG with Alpha Protocol - we really want to make that into a franchise. That's the area where we need some success, to sequel-ise that. If you think about it, we can sequel-ise Bayonetta, AVP, Alpha Protocol - if we can make a hit of something like Vanquish - then you add that to Football Manager and Virtua Tennis - we actually have a broad portfolio."

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Alpha Protocol dated

Late May release for spy RPG.

SEGA and Obsidian have announced that Alpha Protocol will be released on 28th May in Europe.

Alpha Protocol now down for summer?

Slight slip from spring suggested.

MTV Multiplayer (via Joystiq) reports that Obsidian's espionage RPG Alpha Protocol is now down for a "summer 2010" release.

SEGA confirms Alpha Protocol delay

SEGA confirms Alpha Protocol delay

Espionage RPG pushed to spring 2010.

SEGA and Obsidian have pushed the release of Alpha Protocol back to spring 2010, surprising nobody.

Not only does this move the spy RPG out of an intimidating Christmas period, it also offers developer Obsidian more time to polish or perhaps finish the game.

"We're very happy that SEGA has made the decision to hold back the shipment of the game in order to give it the best chance at becoming the publishing success that we at Obsidian and our partners at SEGA are striving for," Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart said in a statement.

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FeatureAlpha Protocol

Obsidian's Chris Avellone breaks cover.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That's how it sometimes looks for good old Obsidian Entertainment, famous followers-up of BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights games. But it's not exactly a bad deal. Who wouldn't want to work on Fallout: New Vegas, for example? Er, apart from Bethesda Softworks.

FeatureAlpha Protocol

License to skill-points.

A few minutes of footage is always unlikely to be representative of a role-playing game, because in a few minutes of videogame footage, in the face of lots of game-hungry industry folks, it's vital to show several things, those things being: guns, guns being fired at someone, someone falling over when fired at with guns. Given that RPGs are as much about dialogue and narrative as they are about action, this approach is rather like promoting an album by stitching together all the choruses. Sure, it's noisy and excited, but it's also confusing and peculiar. For the same reason, E3 didn't do Alpha Protocol many favours.

Alpha Protocol out in October

Would sir like a date with his trailer?

SEGA has put a rough date on its spy RPG, Alpha Protocol. It'll be out in October worldwide, according to the press release that accompanied this afternoon's trailer.

SEGA: Sonic Unleashed out in November

But Aliens and Total War fall into 2009.

SEGA has whipped out its calendar and put dates alongside its upcoming titles, including Sonic Unleashed, which will be out this November. However, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Empire: Total War both fall into 2009.

SEGA confirms Alpha Protocol

SEGA confirms Alpha Protocol

Secret agent RPG from KOTOR II developer.

SEGA has officially confirmed that Obsidian's new RPG is called Alpha Protocol and is about a secret agent called Michael Thorton.

That's "Thorton", not "Thornton", which only a massive idiot would ever assume and then make a rubbish joke about, obviously.

Anyway, Alpha Protocol is due out next year on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, and in it Michael Thorton is a secret agent cast out by his government, which seems a bit short-sighted of them given that he's the only one who can stop an impending international catastrophe.

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