I’m picking apart all the little flaws of Alpha Protocol, but there’s really only one that’s really daunting me: Instead of having long loading screens, the game loads levels a few rooms at a time and brings in more as you progress. You’ll hit a trigger in the middle of hallway and the game will cache the room you’re about to enter and unload the room you were just in.
The problem is that this mini-load takes about a quarter second, and the input logic doesn’t account for it. If you’re moving the camera slightly (which is very likely if you’re using the mouse) then it will take that movement and repeat it over the entire quarter-second lurch. The upshot is that you’ll end up spun around in a single frame. If you’re still holding down the forward key, then you’re likely to blunder into the trigger again going the other way, which will cause it to dump the room it just loaded and load the room it just dumped, and also toss you through another quarter-second lurch where your camera ends up aimed someplace random.
This can happen in the middle of combat. I can’t properly express how much rage I feel when I line up my shot on some dude’s noggin and suddenly I’m facing the other way and staring at the floor and desperately looking for cover so I can get my bearings again before I get shot to death.
This bug is infuriating because it’s so pervasive and so easily fixed. Assuming I’m right about the cause, then this is a simple input bug that is 100% reproducible on the PC. (I know I’ve seen other people complaining about it as well.)
A more esoteric bug is the one I ran into last night, which I suspect is related to the same room-caching system. I ran into a huge ballroom but then decided to double-back and check some other corridors before proceeding through. I hit another lurch in the process, and then returned to the ballroom to find it was gone:
All of the room geometry was missing. There were dudes and furniture floating in thin air. I figured I’d try to just dash through the room to the next and hope the problem would sort itself out at the next lurch. Even though I couldn’t see it any more, the staircase was solid enough and I remembered where it was. And I could see the door on the far side.
But while the staircase was solid, the floor was not. I got to the bottom of the steps and fell out of the level entirely, skydiving (in a standing position) out of the level and into the abyss. Had to re-load the game.
Contrary to previous Obsidian games, the plot keeps getting better as I go. And there are a lot less bugs than in either KOTOR 2 or NWN 2. But there are bugs, and they are an annoying killjoy.
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