Monday, June 14, 2010

Budgeting spy time

I have a new feature for games that I would like to put out there for consideration: the countdown timer. The countdown timer would let the player know approximately how much time was left until the game was completed, allowing him to work around things like having to go to bed or being away from his Xbox because he is at a casino in the middle of absolutely nowhere for the evening. There is, as far as I can tell, only one mission left in Alpha Protocol. I got to it literally right as I was about to close up for the evening and go to bed, but I was tempted to push through so that I could knock the game off and start clean tomorrow when I get back. The problem is that I have no idea how long the last level is, if it really is the last level, and if I am going to be afforded any save points between here and the point of no return. So there it is, the game countdown timer, keeping things easy for gamers who have to work in the morning.

I may have been a little to hard on Alpha Protocol. I am not going to say that it is good, but I will admit that the few things that it does that are different are actually very effective. I have gotten a real sense that choices I have made along the way have made a difference. I have made friends with and betrayed secret organizations a dozen times over, but alliances from the past help in the future, and vice versa. It is obvious, story wise, that things are happening when I am not around, that my singular douche bag agent is not the center of the world, on one person acting in one area. This is the one thing, the one and only thing, that Alpha Protocol has down better than the game it is obviously copying. Mass Effect 2 was better in every way that matters, but everything that happened plot wise centered around Shepherd; there was no universe past what I could see. Alpha Protocol creates a sense of political scale that I was not expecting, if only shooting people was as much as fun as double crossing triple secret organizations who put the stone cutters to shame.

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