Alpha Protocol Review
- Posted June 2nd, 2010 at 20:48 EDT by Adam Dolge
- 22 Comments
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Alpha Protocol is all ambition with little follow through. This espionage-RPG attempts to draw players into a world of lock picking, Saudi terrorists, and secret government conspiracies, but does it so ineffectively it is hard to maintain interest past the first mission.
- The control players have on how the story plays out
- An overall interesting concept
- The dialogue system
- The wretched cover mechanics
- The enormous amount of visual and animation glitches
- The poor camera perspectives
Last September we compiled a list of our most anticipated games for the remainder of that year. Coming in at 8 was Obsidian Entertainment’s espionage-RPG game, Alpha Protocol, which to our dismay was put on SEGA’s backburner for about six months. It’s unclear if the delay was strictly to distance itself from Modern Warfare 2’s chart dominance, or if Alpha Protocol needed some more refinement. Now, after playing through the game, we have to believe (and hope) the delay was simply a matter of time because instead of an interesting and unique take on the classic RPG formula that we were promised, SEGA has released a game that is severely flawed, and not in a way that is easily ignored.
Alpha Protocol is dubbed as “The Espionage RPG,” largely because it takes ideas from both genres and attempts to combine them into one solid concept. Released by publisher SEGA and developed by Obsidian, the game puts players in the shoes of Michael Thorton. As a new recruit of Alpha Protocol, an agency which runs different espionage contracts for the government, Thorton is not only on set out on a task given by his new employer, he is also seeking more information about Alpha Protocol, and why he was mysteriously recruited.
Right off the bat you are thrown into the best and worst Alpha Protocol has to offer. The opening sequence, after the initial cut scene, has you essentially auditioning to be an elite member of the espionage team. You’ll learn all about the dreadful duck and cover system, how to fire your weapons (which sadly underperform your martial arts abilities), and you’ll learn about the game’s several spy-style mini-games. There may be some people out there who enjoy these mini games, one of which has you staring at a screen of changing numbers, attempting to find a series that are not actually changing – painful to the eyes, but required. But for the most part, the spy mini-games hold a nugget of the general theme of the game, namely so many great ideas, yet so poorly executed.
The story in Alpha Protocol is pretty good on the surface. It hits all the hot buttons in today’s heated political climate, but fails to make the player care about the protagonist. As the game opens, you see a highly technical missile destroy a commercial airplane. Without uncovering too much of the story, your first mission is to travel to Saudi Arabia and eliminate whoever was responsible for the terrorist attack. Since you are such a good spy, you deal with the problem – or so you think. Everyone proceeds to betray everyone else, and Thorton decides to do a bit of globe trekking, hopping from Moscow, Taipei, and Rome in which ever order you decide. In each city, you have access to a safe house, complete with a TV that broadcasts nothing but relevant news, a computer with email access, and mini weapon stockpile. Alpha Protocol rides in style, and Thorton, while he may have gone rogue along his mission, gets to live the good life while he’s in his safe house.
That concept, progressing through the game as you decide, is easily Alpha Protocol’s biggest attraction. As this is an RPG, you get to call the shots in just about every situation. If you want to go do missions in Moscow first, go ahead. If you want to level up your pistol abilities before your SMG, go ahead. If you want Michael to focus more on martial arts and his technical aptitude, that’s your choice. If you want to disarm all the cameras in a level, you can try, or you can simply sneak around them hoping to hide in the shadows. As the player, you call the shots.
One way the game does a great job of drawing the player into decision making is through the dialogue system. We say system, because it really isn’t as simple as ‘click Triangle to say this.’ During conversations, you are given a few seconds to decide how you will respond. There are three choices (occasionally there is a fourth, but the fourth option is an action, not necessarily a response). You can choose to be suave (Square), aggressive (Triangle), or professional (circle). Your attitude will guide ... (continued on next page)
- 12:21pm EDT - June 1st, 2010
- 12:23pm EDT - June 1st, 2010
They gave it a 6.
Others have been giving it about the same I believe.. I'm still going to try it out >_>
- 3:52pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
Ouch! That delay didn't make a difference, it seems (i guess they saved it from becoming a 4 or 5).
- 3:55pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
Day 1 for me, can't wait for this, the other 5 were awesome!
- 4:03pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
^^ is that a joke or..?
- 4:42pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
Might not be a joke. Maybe the poster doesn't take what reviewers say fully into account.
- 5:05pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
@2: There was no score when I clicked on the review two days ago. They took it down (probably for that reason) but didn't erase my comment and rather adjusted the time (5:21pm, June 1st) to make it look like I posted today.
I'm not crazy!
- 5:32pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
@FonFahbre (and others): yes, we had some technical problems with posting the review. Everything is all set. We just changed the date to today so it would be at the top of the ticker for all to read.
- 5:34pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
I kind of expected this. Sometimes when a game gets delayed for so long it's because they lack direction or just can't seem to tighten up the experience. The quiet launch and very little info on the title since the delay kind of solidified my poor expectations. It's a shame, this game could've been awesome.
- 5:43pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
Sure... your not crazy....... <.<
- 6:09pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
MAJOR let down. was looking for a good stealth game to play. As BFBC 2 would say EPIC FAIL.
- 6:58pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
@10: Eat my shorts, tough guy. I'm telling the truth!
- 9:52pm EDT - June 2nd, 2010
Had a feeling it would be terribad when I saw it in the store yesterday without knowing it had been released.
- 3:36am EDT - June 3rd, 2010
kokatu gave this a 2.5, im strugling to believe it really deserves these low scores, many people are bashing it for outdated graphics however these are the same people that are giving Mario Galaxy 2 10/10 for the graphics ect which really I think is unfair, all videogames should be compared on the same scale, not ps3 and 360 harsh and wii etc not so harsh because I enjoy the gameplay...
- 5:46am EDT - June 3rd, 2010
Seems like a lot of broken gameplay here, sad things as the ideas seemed good, but the implementation didn't work. Read some interviews about the "boss" having very stupid ideas and giving orders about technical things he doesn't have any idea about. He should have stayed out of the game production watching TV and let the guys who know their work do it.
- 12:52pm EDT - June 3rd, 2010
Whoa. I mean...whoa.
- 9:31pm EDT - June 3rd, 2010
nice written review im not sure if i want to buy this game anymore..
- 5:43pm EDT - June 4th, 2010
Definitely will steer clear of this - What a let down, about 12 months ago this was looking tasty!
Shame on you Sega, I am more and more disappointed by their games as the years go on.
- 11:59pm EDT - June 4th, 2010
@14 I completly agree with you. But put it this way, since ps3 and 360 are more powerful than wii, they are expected to have games with amazing graphics. Or when a psp game has good graphics. The graphics are good on psp but we would expect it to be better on a console.
- 9:30am EDT - June 5th, 2010
such a dissaponitment waited for two years for this
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