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Alpha Protocol: The art of smooth talking

In the coming week we'll be going in deep with Alpha Protocol, Obsidian's new espionage RPG and revealing new and exclusive details. Each day we'll post info on a particular element of the game: today we're looking at the innovative way Alpha Protocol uses dialogue, and how it effects your progress through the story.


Above: Alpha Protocol wants to charm you, as well as shoot your nose off 

Guns and gadgets may get all the headlines in the espionage world, but they’re pretty blunt instruments. For the true master spy, it’s the more subtle skills of intelligence gathering, conversation, subterfuge, charm, seduction and of course downright aggression which are better employed to achieve his aims.

Alpha Protocol allows you to bring these conversational skills very much to the fore and dialogue and character interaction form an integral part of the game, affecting everything from how you’ll approach your missions, to the weapons and items you can acquire to carry them out. Unlocking people with your conversational skills is key to success, so whether you’re as hot headed as a chilli-chomping chinchilla or as silver tongued as a thermometer-licking aardvark, Alpha Protocol’s dialogue system has  something to offer you. 

Alpha Protocol uses a conversation scheme which Obsidian have dubbed the Dialogue Stance System. While comparisons with Mass Effect’s dialogue tree are perhaps natural, Alpha Protocol doesn’t ask you to wade through tons of conversational gambits or carefully consider and weigh every single response. This is a conversation system stripped down to the bones with the default options being Suave, Professional or Aggressive.


Above: Forget threatening this shady dude, draw the damn gun already!

Different characters will react differently towards you depending on which stance you take with them, but there’s also always a countdown timer in operation meaning you just have a few seconds to decide which way you want to play a situation. There’s no going back either once you’ve made your choice, although, occasionally, further context sensitive fourth options might appear, like Investigate, Apologetic or Friendly.

Are you suave and sophisticated? A misogynist or a ladies man? A chauvinist or a gentleman? Alpha Protocol allows you to explore all these personas and in extreme circumstances there’ll even be instant action options, allowing to drill your antagonist through the kneecap, head slam them against a table or give them a beating to force them into revealing further information.

The idea is to give your conversations a movie-like feel where dialogue is snappy and naturalistic and constantly flowing with witty repartee or cutting one-liners, just like you’d see from a Bond or a Bourne. On-screen pointers and of course the character’s body language and responses will give you further indications about how they feel about you and after that, it’s up to you how to play your conversational gambits, as any real master spy would.


Above: A run-down of how you dealt with various people and how it's affecting your game progress 

Be warned though. every conversation carries a consequence, whether it’s in the form of people taking an instant like or dislike to you. It’s not as simple as picking ‘good’ or ‘evil’ options either, sometimes you need to ramp up the aggression to get the information you need, or lie and sweet talk characters into revealing things they shouldn’t.

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9 comments

  • jocolosojones - January 27, 2011 3:26 a.m.

    i liked the action in the game but i hate the fact that they didnt give u the choice if u wanted to do hack the computer or it does it automaticly so i took that shit asap.........it a game it not that serious!!!!!!!!!!
  • Batman - May 6, 2010 2:15 a.m.

    @FreekinIdiot Couldn't agree more too many damn graphic whores nowadays.I to care more about how fun it is and the awesome replayability it seems to have.
  • philipshaw - May 1, 2010 11:28 a.m.

    When is this coming out? Looks like it could be great
  • SeriousSean - May 1, 2010 6:20 a.m.

    I really hope this game does well for itself. I'd like to see Obsidian have more chances for original IPs rather than KOTOR 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, etc. It's not that I don't like any of those game, it'd just be nice to see these guys be able to be constrained only by their own imaginations and not someone else's.
  • Cag93 - May 1, 2010 3:44 a.m.

    The guy in the first pic is soooooo Andrew Ryan XD
  • R_U_Guys_From_British - May 1, 2010 12:45 a.m.

    I'm getting more and more excited for this game the more I hear of it.
  • krabsich - April 30, 2010 11:20 p.m.

    This could be really great as long as the action feels visceral enough. I always become afraid when games try to do too much. I like dialogue and thoughtfulness in games, but that gun better have some weight to it when you pull it on someone.
  • IamNOTatalkingpony - April 30, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    I'm very curious about this game, and saying "super-spy" and "RPG" in the same sentance makes me very excited!
  • FreekinIdiot - April 30, 2010 9:36 a.m.

    Headslam for the win indeed. Everywhere I read about Alpha Protocol there are always graphics whores whining and bitching about how shit it looks. Personally I couldn't give a big floppy donkey dick what it looks like, as long as it's as enjoyable as it looks. Anyone else feel the same way or are graphics really key to the enjoyment of the experience.

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