Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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RPG Watch Names 2010 RPG of the Year Winners

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 29, 2011

RPG Watch did a poll of viewers (and their editors) for the favorite PC RPG of 2010, which I noted here:

RPG Watch’s 2010 Game of the Year Awards – Best RPGs

The winner of the reader’s choice and the editor’s choice is going to shock and surprise everybody!

Actually, no, it probably won’t.

Alpha Protocol made a pretty good showing in both lists, which was kind of surprising considering how it tended to get panned in reviews. But these are actual RPG fans we’re talking about here (both editors and readers), not jaded reviewers. Eschalon: Book 2 also did fairly well onvotes. But then we already knew RPG Watch has a pretty indie-friendly community. Congrats to the winners – they are all great games.

The worst RPG of 2010 is coming up next week. As well as the most anticipated RPG of 2011. My vote on the latter category was… well, obvious. 🙂

Filed Under: News - Comments: 10 Comments to Read

  • Calibrator said,

    I’m actually playing Alpha Protocol (PC version) right now and IMHO it is clearly better than most reviews (Metacritic says 72%).
    However, “clearly” depends on two things:
    a) You must be able to ignore some of control quirks. I have a “powerful enough” rig but bumping into something, especially in combat is something I can’t avoid completely (no game in recent history comes to mind that is as bad).
    b) You must have a certain liking to conspiracy theories and games based on it, like Deus Ex, which comes to ones mind first when playing AP. In fact there are some really obvious similarities and one could have marketed it as some kind of “early prequel”…
    What I mean to say is that it’s not “We, the blue ones, against the red ones!”. The plot is not as simple as that and occasionally you will have to make a decision to sacrifice something or somebody. This is also where the advertised “shades of gray” really work – you don’t know who is on your side and who isn’t.
    There are also more than half a dozen fractions to learn about – and to either work with or against (mostly the latter).
    If you are a completionist and like to crawl into every corner of the maps to get bonus items and defeat every enemy this game is for you. It’s fun to find a terminal, hack it and sometimes either read atmospheric or funny emails.

    While this isn’t a sandbox game (all story options are designed) it’s fun to be a bit incalculable and choose the options that are not the obvious ones and see how the game reacts. In the very first mission you are campaigning against a terrorist organization and the game offers you to execute the seemingly bad guy in each and every dialogue option. Let him live and he may be of help in the future! In later mission this tactic doesn’t work and the guy comes to an end anyway – this is where the game really shines.

    However, there are several things at this point (I estimate that I’m about halfway through, playing on medium difficulty) that I either dislike or that don’t work as advertised:
    – The RPG part is not really much better than in Deus Ex. If you distribute your points with a minimum amount of common sense you will have no problems. You can also hog points and distribute them later.
    – I haven’t analyzed weapon balancing in depth but I’m playing the whole game with the exact same pistole, assault rifle and body armour (with some modifications I found). No need to buy expensive gear – you will find enough in the streets (the only thing I’m buying is intel). For example sniper-rifles, that have comfortably been left where you would need them – even if the actual shooting distance is only a few dozen meters…
    – The non-linear plot is often only an illusion, the variations in the missions are small and sometimes you only get different cutscenes. Also what’s the point in gaining sympathy points from your enemy when he will try to shoot you anyway? (I’m looking at you, Marburg!)
    – The dialogue options are typically Obsidian (you either take the “right” choice, the humorous one (that nearly always turns out badly with women) or the obviously “wrong” one) but complicated by the fact that they are indicated by only one word which can sometime be ambiguous. It took me some time to get the word that was associated with the desired result as there also is a time limit. Nice experiment. Failed.
    – IIRC some critics praised the dialogue scenes (very similar to Mass Effect, I guess) but, really, most of them are bad TV. Horrible “acting”, freaky face textures, robotic eyes (except in one certain case in an ice cream parlor…). The full voice-over is of high quality though.
    – The levels are mostly fairly linear, simple explore every room and follow the goals – no Liberty Island here…
    – What’s worse: If you reach a checkpoint the game sometimes locks access to earlier parts. While this is fairly realistic it is also extremely annoying when you know that there is a medikit you didn’t need before on the wall behind that door that doesn’t open anymore!
    – I’m also not too fond about the game structure being a series of flashbacks. Perhaps I’ve already seen too many movies using this approach so this is only a very minor nitpick.
    – Personally, I definitely would’ve preferred a first-person game like Deus Ex, which would have been -IMHO- much more immersive than the third-person perspective. On the other hand the often inhomogeneous texture quality (some very good ones next to poor ones) wouldn’t have helped. Yes, it would have been even more similar to Deus Ex but now it’s more similar to Splinter Cell…
    – Finally, the tech is lacking:
    -> The game has good audio but won’t enable 5.1-sound on your PC on it’s own even if your hardware supports it! You will have to manually edit an INI-file to enable it and I recommend you do so after your first game save as it really enhances the atmosphere.
    -> Apropos saving: What a badly concocted saving scheme! The game not only uses checkpoints (console heritage…) and you have to remember to save manually & regularly if you want to correct some mistakes as automatic saves are being overwritten(!) all the time.

    In the end it’s a solid title that is fun to play but I really don’t see a top-five entry here – neither in RPGs, nor in action-games or shooters and especially not in the technical departments (graphics, sound etc.).

    Recommended for conspiracy nuts and people that like to do more than reload in a shooter.

  • sascha said,

    Wow! Those awards are a testament of fail for RPGWatch! Fallout NV is alright, but not so much as a RPG. Dragon Age … oh dear, I don’t want to say anything more about this dull graphics card benchmark application! Mass Effect 2, it’s not even an RPG! Alpha Protocol … I played it for over an hour and then realized that the game is 50% npc-to-npc dialog blather and 50% lame action game, agree with that most reviews panned that one. Can’t say much about the other titles though and haven’t played Divinity II yet.

  • skavenhorde said,

    @sascha What would be your favorite rpg of the 2010?

    I’m going to give Alpha Protocol another try. I really didn’t like the action portion of the game, but I also didn’t play it that long. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time.

    Fallout: New Vegas was the best RPG I’ve played all year. Deep characters and storyline are always a plus, imo. A huge world to explore that actually made some kind of sense.

    I understand that most people resented the bugs, but I was fortunate and the only bug I came across was a few scorpions stuck in the ground. Everything else ran fine.

  • trudodyr said,

    Thank you for your personal review of AP, I agree with most of your points – especially the perspective issue, I really dislike over-the-shoulder. The whole game feels very console-y (interface, save system), which wouldn’t be a problem when actually played on the PS3 or X360, but on the PC it’s an immersion inhibitor for me.
    Despite this (and the experience with Invisible Wars), I have high hopes for the upcoming Deus Ex game… :/

    The RPGWatch results are fairly predictable and boring. But in their defense, I feel 2010 wasn’t a very good year, CRPG-wise. And while Eschalon II and Nehrim were astounding Indie titles/mods in their own right, I don’t see any real competition for F:NV (haven’t played the Ultima VI remake).

    I can’t shake off the feeling that Mass Effect 2 and Alpha Protocl were only included because handing out GOTY awards would seem kind of silly with only a handful of commercial RPG titles to vote for. Let’s hope for a more productive 2011!

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,


    A wanted to respond to a few of your points on Alpha Protocol since you said you were only about half-way through.

    – Weapon balance isn’t really a thing. It is much more like in real life. You pick the right weapons or gear for the particular job at hand. Just like in real life, you don’t always pack a .50 caliber pistol or sawn-off shotgun because they are the most powerful. Also, what you wear can change the story in a few cases, so even wearing the best armor or protection isn’t always advised.

    -The non-linearity of the plot is NOT an illusion. This really only becomes apparent on multiple playthroughs though, when you do thinks differently, go to places in a different order, etc. Do you hit all the major beats in the plot each playthrough? Of course. But what happens in those beats can be radically different. And just because you haven’t seen someone change because you gained a lot of sympathy points with them doesn’t mean that won’t change the story. It may result in a critical change of heart or a hesitation at a key point on down the line. You don’t expect someone to change their attitude to you overnight do you?

    -I don’t think the dialogue is a failed experiment. I’m not sure you understand it. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” dialogue choice. The tones you can take can be right or wrong in gaining “points” with an NPC, but the right choice is not always to gain points with that NPC. Sometimes you can gain more by pissing off a character than getting them to respect you. Also, you can steer the story in wildly different directions by manipulating an NPC by finessing the dialogue choices back and forth, sometimes being aggressive, sometimes professional, etc. You need to read the dossiers of NPCs and gather intel about how you want to interact with them. It really is quite deep. Deeper than anything Mass Effect has done. Again, some of this will not be apparent until you re-play the game.

    -I would have also preferred the game to be in first-person, but I thought it was okay in third.

    -How you complete missions and act towards enemies in each level can effect the story, attitudes, and cutscenes that you get. You can be seen as a scarily professional ghost who earns respect and wariness from NPCs, or as a gun happy action junky who is a liability.

    -Alpha Protocol is much more an RPG than Mass Effect. I agree with Calibrator that it is highly reminiscent of Deus Ex.

    -Alpha Protocol is a game that seems highly linear when you first play it, and you only discover how wide and deep it is when you replay it and see just how subtle changes and actions can steer the story in a different direction.

    – Boss fights are a little annoying, and don’t get much better towards the end, but the story is more than sufficient to make up for it.

    Alpha Protocol is my personal 2010 Game of the Year. And I almost didn’t buy it because of the reviews and then after I played it, I got pissed off at the reviewers for almost making me miss one of my favorite games in the past few years.

    I have to say though, that Obsidian has a serious problem with releasing buggy games. KOTOR 2, NWN 2, Alpha Protocol, Fallout: NV (My God, Fallout: NV in spades.). I don’t really know enough about programming and bug checking to know why the hell they can’t seem to get it right. Are their games so buggy because they innovate and do so much? So much content that they can’t check it all? Time constraints? QA testers that suck? It has gotten to the point where even though Obsidian makes my favorite games, I would never buy a game from them now until six-months to a year after release.

    Fallout: NV bugs that you had to encounter to beat the game. It even had a drastic framerate bug that destroyed performance around NPCs that occurred for every PC player playing on Windows 7 with a quad-core processor. Did they really not test on that configuration?

    Thoughts on possible reasons, Jay? After all, if may have been a while ago, but you have personal experience in the professional side of the industry. I’m curious to hear possible reasons why Obsidian continuously flubbs up in this department that isn’t accompanied by PR speak.

  • Xian said,

    After reading these comments I am going to have to add Alpha Protocol to my “to do” list. I cast my vote for Mass Effect 2, mainly because that was one of the only RPGs on the list that I had played in 2010, the other being King’s Bounty Crossworlds. Every other RPG that I played last year was pre-2010 except for both of the Deathspanks that were not listed, and while fun, wouldn’t have got my vote for RPGOTY.

    I tend to stay behind the curve. I am currently playing Risen which I bought during a holiday sale, along with the Dragon Knight Saga which I will play next. I imagine at some point in time I will get some of the others on that list, but my biggest problem these days is finding the time to play these epic adventures between the demands of family and work.

  • Dhruin said,

    I’m really curious what your selections would be, Sascha. And while I don’t agree that ME2 can’t be classified as an RPG, the public voted for it, which is hardly a failing of RPGWatch. 😉

  • MalcolmM said,

    The choices are so predictable. I’ve given up on modern RPGs, they mostly consist of boring dialogue and fetch quests.
    I disliked Dragon Age. I bought both Mass Effects, the first one is really bad. I’m having a hard time motivating myself to try the second one.
    The only game that I played and enjoyed was King’s Bounty Crossworlds, a game that apparently wasn’t very popular.
    I would like to try Eschalon: Book II when I get through my current games backlog.

  • McTeddy said,

    Wow… people actually showing love for Alpha Protocol that it deserves… I never thought I’d see the day. You people are amazing.

    The game was indeed flawed, but I loved the character interactions. It was a strange feeling to have someone ask me to abort a mission because she didn’t want to risk my life… and it happened because of dozens of choices I had made instead of the cheesy love triangle that they wrote in.

    Besides, I was a nonlethal soldier. Any game that lets me choose to avoid killing gets credit in my book.

    As for modern RPG’s, I could go either way. I’m not a fan of the current trend of “Pansy/Badass” choices that have no actual influence on story or real time combat replacing my tactical turn based… but I don’t mind them existing.

  • sascha said,

    Can’t say that there is any RPG among the recent ones of which I played/know would deserve the title favorite of the year. The last good RPG I’ve played was Oblivion. But then you might argue that Oblivion falls short too in serveral RPG departments. So yeah, just my two cents. 😉