With recent murmurings regarding music rights in the game and who owns the IP, is it time for an Alpha Protocol remake or sequel? Obsidian Entertainment now under the wings of Microsoft could make it happen, the question is, do fans want it enough?
Obsidian Entertainment released its action stealth role playing game Alpha Protocol in May 2010 on consoles and PC under the watchful eye of SEGA. It received a bit of a cult following. Due in part to some wonky controls, dodgy gameplay mechanics resting on a foundation of solid story telling and role playing systems. Players made decisions during many conversations with NPCs which steered the intertwining relationships with the faction based characters. A unique structure at the time and cemented itself as fun-to-play despite the annoyances with the gameplay.
Alpha Protocol released around the same time Ubisoft were relishing in the success of their Splinter Cell series – with Conviction releasing in the same year. Although Conviction wasn’t as highly regarded as the series highlight (for many) Chaos Theory, it was the beginning of a new way to present Sam Fisher and the stealth/action gameplay.
Digressions aside, Alpha Protocol wasn’t just a straight-up stealth game though. Part of the game’s charm going beyond its peers were the options to mould lead-character Michael Thorton into a spy, operative, agent, commando or action hero. Either sarcastic, suave, professional or just direct to the point with his personality. Using a points and skill-tree system alongside perks gained from actions in the field in addition to the relationship bonuses with the mission handlers, gave the game some real diverse role playing options. Far deeper than what meets the eye at a first glance.
Sadly, as mentioned, some of the archaic and somewhat unpolished gameplay elements let-down these cool features which begs the question – should Obsidian (now under Microsoft’s wing) remake, remaster or commit to an Alpha Protocol sequel?
There’s potentially some merit in doing so because to be fair, not many games opt for such complexity of character development. Most games in the genre provide stealth or action options allowing the player choices in how to tackle each scenario. Consequences of actions are tossed out the window. Alpha Protocol on the other hand provides a level of depth rarely seen in these games. However, that might be to its detriment if the paying audience would rather shoot or stealth-it-up without the need for long dialogue scenes and character building.
A remaster with tweaked controls and gameplay elements could be the better option here though. The recorded dialogue wouldn’t need updating, the RPG systems work well in terms of story progression. With a better stealth system and combat mechanics this could be a pretty cool game for today’s audiences.
Going all in on Alpha Protocol 2 might mean a lot of additional work. A game built from the ground-up for modern systems is feasible though. Obsidian could rewrite the book, keeping the elements that were favourable from the first game and polish the bits that weren’t so desirable. If keeping the open-ended gameplay, the split decision making and the dialogue relationship choices could make for an awesome and fairly unique game.
Fingers crossed then that somewhere at Microsoft, there is a desire to resurrect one of Obsidian’s coolest games from their archives.