Written by Troy Benedict Sunday, 04 September 2011 05:00
Alpha Protocol was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Sega -- which I still have the urge to shout “SEGA!” from the old television ads, but that’s for another story.
Obsidian Entertainment is no amateur when it comes to video games, especially featuring role-playing elements. Most PC gamers will know them from the Neverwinter Nights 2 and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, but their most recent action-RPG titles include Fallout: New Vegas and Dungeon Siege III.
The easiest and most obvious comparison to Alpha Protocol is the Mass Effect series, and unfortunately that’s not the most fair comparison as the two games are unique enough.
Instead of taking place in the far-flung future in depths of outer space, or in a fantasy world filled with monsters and dragons, or the irradiated Nevada desert, Alpha Protocol takes place in a much more modern setting with spies.
Like most role-playing games, when crafting your character you can choose from a variety of different skills, as well as unlock new ones as you progress through the game.
One of the most notable features is the way your decisions are handled during conversations. Like most games that were influenced by Mass Effect, each answer has a certain tone and attitude behind it. For the most part, you’ll have your aggressive, neutral, and passive style responses. But unlike other games, where you can sit and contemplate which response is needed, Alpha Protocol gives you a short time to act, or will have you answer with a defaulted, pre-chosen response.
I really liked having a time limit, because it really made the game feel more natural and free-flowing. Instead of playing the game one-sided, as a boy scout or an aggressive jerk, I instead chose my quick responses based on the situation. If somebody needed a swift smackdown, I’d give it to them, and if the situation started getting heated, I sometimes chose to step back and cool it down.
Based on your responses and the actions that you do, how you choose to resolve the mission alter the events of the rest of the game.
There are some quirks that I did find annoying during the game. For example the AI seemed to be a bit unresponsive, but only in select situations. During a gun fight, I was immediately spotted entering the area by a group of very alert soldiers, but after clearing the area, there was one gunman at a very high-up point, with a clear shot of the battlefield, that for some reason didn’t see me. I easily flanked him, and put a bullet in his head.
I also thought the customization of the character was a bit ridiculous. For a game that somewhat resides in a semi-serious world of terrorism and super-spies, the ability to style my agent in a ridiculous cap, with really awful facial hair sculpting, and Hollywood style glasses, made him look like some self-absorbed actor or musician and not somebody like Jack Bauer who was there to kick ass and take names.
I acquired Alpha Protocol from Goozex for a very low point value. Currently it is available on the PC for 200 points, the PS3 for 300, and the Xbox 360 for 350.
While others may have felt that Alpha Protocol wasn’t worthy of your attention when it was priced at $60, I definitely recommend giving it a shot now that it’s available at sub-budget pricing!