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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alpha Protocol - Top Secret Review

After finishing up New Vegas and actually enjoying an Obsidian game I thought it might be a good idea to play Alpha Protocol. Released in 2010 by Obsidian and Sega Alpha Protocol was panned by most critics and Sega very quickly killed the franchise by saying there will not be a sequel. Even with the negative press I for some reason just had to play it and I was pleasantly surprised.

In Alpha Protocol: The Espionage RPG you play as super spy Michael Thorton. You're the newest member of the super secret Alpha Protocol. It's a group that does the governments dirty work so they can deny being involved with shady dealings. Some stuff goes down and next thing you know you're disavowed and on the run. It's the basic cliche spy story but it's handled in some interesting ways.

You control Mike in a 3rd person perspective not unlike Gears of War or Uncharted. Sneaking around going from cover to cover either avoiding or killing your foes. The thing this does that isn't like Gears or Uncharted is the shooting mechanics. All the combat is stat based hence the RPG of the game. As you kill guys and do spy things you get experience which in turn lets you level up. With each level you get AP points to put into skills. You can improve various guns, stealth, hacking, hand to hand and a few other skills. You're free to make your own Mike anyway you want and the gameplay experience will be different depending on which way you take his development. I liked the leveling and stuff but at the beginning Mike's aim is horrible and you will waste a bunch of bullets getting use to the shooting.

As you go from place to place trying to clear your name you meet up with many interesting people. Talking is handled a lot like Mass Effect with the little dialogue wheel at the bottom on the screen and the various answers you can give all around it. The way you handle people and situations can change how people think about you and how they in turn will interact with you. In the end it works but it's not always clear on what you should say to certain people to get them on your side. They all tend to like one type of response but you can end up losing some rep with them trying to figure this out. I think this would be how it would be in real life so that's a plus. Also trying to see all the crazy situations you can get yourself into warrants multiple playthroughs.

The one thing I really liked about this game was it made you feel like a spy. It wasn't like other spy games where they play like a typical shooter but the game just says you're a spy. Alpha Protocol has missions where you just go talk to someone for info or you need to talk your way into a place to plant a bug with no combat at all and it's actually pretty cool to do this. It just gets you into the characters and the story in a fantastic way.

As with any game I have some complaints. One is the weapon selection, you don't really have a whole lot. You can choose from, pistols, shotguns, SMGs, and assault rifles and you carry two of those into your missions. But in each category there isn't a whole lot to choose from in the way of upgrading. I mained pistols through out the whole game and I only ever upgraded my gun twice. After the initial upgrade most of the rest were way worse than the upgrade. Eventually I ended up with a better gun but if I had saved a little more money and just bought the second one I would only bought one gun in the whole game. I would of liked to see more weapon upgrade options but seeing as the game isn't all about combat I can why they did this but it still bothered me as I played.

Stealth doesn't really work in this either. You can be hidden behind a wall just standing there and the enemies will still not only see you but shoot and hit you no problem. Putting points into stealth is important as it gets you a nice evasion skill but trying to sneak isn't always worth it.

In other reviews I read about all the bugs and glitches in this game but I didn't see any. I had a few crashes when I exited the game but those were the only crashes and it happened less than 10 times. The only other weird thing I saw was the AI being crazy. They'd group up and just get hung up on the environment on occasion. Besides those it was a pretty clean bug free play through.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say most people who where crapping on this game were expecting another Mass Effect (Over rated) but they didn't get that. This caused some bitterness and a backlash on this pretty good game. While not a "classic" game in any way it's a pretty good very fun spy game.

Alpha Protocol - 7 out of 10

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