You’re only half the spy Bond is under Alpha Protocol

Overview
An Espionage Rpg, done almost right. You have intelligent dialogue, a few women folk to help you in various “ways”, and some interesting geological locales from around the world. All the necessary things to make a spy rpg that was hyped up to all hell be one of the best of its kind. Unfortunately the one thing that was the most truthful about Alpha Protocol was the fact that choice was your strongest weapon.

They were right, because all of the other weapons kind of suck…

Ok maybe I’m being to picky. I mean the Assault Rifle wasn’t that bad…well not once you got a couple of points into its respective skill but I’ll get into that later. :D

As far as I know Alpha Protocol is the only game of its kind. Of course I mean that it’s the only Espionage RPG available right now. (If I’m wrong let me know!) Unfortunately for a lot of gamers who were told over and over again about how awesome the game was going to be I must say it was definitely over-hyped in some parts of its execution, and presentation. However… there are a lot of things that I myself found that I liked in the game. So of course I will point those things out along with the bad so you can get a general overview.

For those of you who didn’t know Alpha Protocol was originally supposed to be released in October 2009. When it was told to us gamers that it was getting pushed back yet again some gamers (according to the general word of the interwebz) thought that Obsidian was making the game better…. Who knows what the heck they were doing, but eventually the game was first released in Australia (May 27), Europe (May 28), and then the US (June 1st, 2010). Damn Obsidian… oh well so now that it’s here and I’ve been playing the game let me tell you what I think is important about it.

p.s. This review covers the Ps3 version, but I’m sure everything applies except maybe the buttons.

Story

Story

Taken directly from the manual:

The life you once knew no longer exists, and the life before you is nothing more than a fabrication. Forget the past and embrace your new life as an agent in the shadows.

What you know now is only a stepping-stone into the world of an operative. We will train you for the field, but the real world has a funny way of surprising you.

As an agent, you will traverse the globe and execute missions as we deem necessary. How you complete these missions is entirely up to you. Use force, stealth, or persuasion to get the job done; successful execution of the mission at hand is your only concern.

Big business, dirty politics, and international conspiracy – meet the people that shape the world and then bend them to your will. Just remember, actions have consequences, and your decisions will shape your future. Guns, gadgets, seduction, secrets – what you do shapes who you become. Choose your path wisely.

While that is about as generic as you can get for an introduction, the true story begins with a cutscene of an unfortunate US airliner getting shot out of the sky by some unknown assailants, skip to some more cutscenes, and only then do we get to meet our protagonist Michael Thorton.

The following video has beginning commentary by me, then the intro to the game:

The aircraft explosion is just one of a number of interesting events that will be thrown at you as you explore this game. I will tell you right now the best part about this game is the dialogue, at least in my opinion. So when you beat the game and play it more then once you will also get to see more different dialogue options. So without giving too much away, I will make this a very short section and move onto the part that has people antsy…the damn gameplay.

Gameplay

Gameplay

~Graphics and Sound~
The game itself is not the best graphically. In all honesty you can definitely look past the graphical presentation, but for a game that has releases on Ps3, Xbox 360, and the PC you would’ve thought that it would look slightly better. The one thing that might annoy some people is the loading of graphics as you come into certain rooms, or access the menus of the store. The textures just don’t seem to keep up with the game. :(

As far as the sound, I think I must be really easy to please cause there have been numerous people who have complained about the main character’s voice. Some gamers believe his emotional tone to events that transpire is not adequate enough for what was actually given. I lol at that, because I think he sounds fine, and I also believe all of the other voice actors did a very good job with the dialogue. Oh and guns sounds like guns, and karate chops to the neck sound good too. :D

~Let’s do battle!~
Once you get past the initial cutscenes when you first start up the game you will be given some short but fun tutorials on all of the basics of the game which include:

  • Cover Mechanics
  • Using Weapons
  • Hand to Hand Combat
  • Sneaking

Now this is where you will either say fudge this game or stick with it purely to see the storyline. While I was actually playing my version of Alpha Protocol on a Ps3, I must say some parts of the game seem slightly broken. Most notably the cover mechanics.

My best example of good cover mechanics is Uncharted 2 for the Playstation 3. If you’ve ever played that game or another third person shooter similar to it…(maybe even Gears of War for Xbox 360) then you know what good cover mechanics should be like in a game.

Things I’ve noticed when taking cover: sometimes buttons don’t respond when you try and get away from cover. You can’t jump over low cover, and even if you are taking cover you still get shot somehow. Wthell?

As far as weapons, they work. If you start specializing into that weapon. In the beginning of the game you will run into situations where you will be pointing right at an enemy an you will miss. The only thing I can think is responsible for this is rpg mechanics. I actually don’t mind that since I went into this game expecting such things. However some people will be put off by that. Like I said just start putting points into your favorite weapon category, and that weapon will become easier to use. Just keep in mind for your main weapon choices you can only choose between shotgun, sub-machine gun, pistol, and assault rifle. Sorry, no BFGs, Rocket Launchers, or even Swords to be found here! D:

Now Hand to Hand combat was actually one of my more favorite things to do in this game. Only because the AI wasn’t necessarily the brightest, but also because I liked kicking the crap out of some of the baddies. :) As long as you don’t try and run into a room full of 3 or more people Hand to Hand combat can be fun, and actually I suggest you specialize some points into the skill at least once to play around with it. Good times.

Sneaking however is something totally different. I originally was going to put points into the Stealth skill to become like a throat punching sneaky bastard, but not only is the Stealth skill too damn expensive, but it seems as though you don’t really even need it. If you save up the right amount of money you can actually buy armor that makes you very, very quiet. All you have to do is crouch a lot when you are walking around.

Now if you don’t have patience then by all means you can either run and gun into a room, or go ahead and spec into the Stealth skill. Eventually you will get a skill that allows Silent Running (yay!), and there is a skill that gives you temporary invisibility. I however never had to use it. Speaking of skills…

~What kind of Spy do you want to be?~
The second best thing about this game? The ability to level up your spy how you want to him to be :). Customization is the spice of life and Alpha Protocol actually doesn’t hold back on this front.

The first 3 classes that you can choose from are your regular premade classes. If you read the descriptions for them they will give you an idea of what to expect if you do not want to fiddle around with designing your own class.

Freelancer gives you 31 Advancement points to put points into whatever skills you would like. The Recruit option though as you can see from the picture above is where the real fun comes in. It allows you to receive more dialogue options to certain events in the game, and if you beat the game as a Recruit you can unlock the only class that isn’t available to you the very first time playing: Veteran.

When you first have access to your skills just make sure you thoroughly read them in your favorite categories. Some are really overpowered:

While others are just really, really fun to see in action!

When you initially have access to your skills you can only pick 10 ranks in one skill. After you pass a certain point in the game you will unlock Specializations :).

In all honesty Specializations are just a fancy way of saying now you can choose 3 skills and go up to 15 ranks (Woohooo…) -_-;

The pictures above explain that in glorious detail :d, but no matter what class you pick in the beginning I highly suggest that when you are able to specialize just pick Operative.

Noteworthy
So here are my quick Pros and Cons on Alpha Protocol:
Pros:

  • I’ve said it a bunch of times already, but the dialogue is top notch.
  • Some of the character interactions are just really funny to watch.
  • Customizing your very own spy is hella cool.
  • Dumb AI will make you feel like a badass…sometimes.
  • The Veteran Class.

Cons:

  • Boss AI/mechanics are disgustingly one sided. Most of the time you will have to rely on cheap tactics to beat them.
  • This game overall is too easy for the average gamer.
  • Cover mechanics are broken.
  • The minigames (computer hacking, bypass circuit, and lockpicking) are fun in the beginning of the game. However by the end, if you haven’t specialized in the Sabotage skill, or have very good addons to armor, they are stupid hard.
  • Some of the “romance” scenes/options are laughable at best.

~Misc~

  • When talking about myself I must say that I’m an Information gathering mofo. If I’m really interested in something, there is no amount of information that will sate my appetite for a particular topic. With that being said, if you want to enjoy all of Alpha Protocol in its current form you need to gather information. This game is all about it. You have information on people, factions, and its all available in conversations, your store, email, and around areas in your missions. There is just one problem…the more information you gather the easier the game becomes. So if you want a challenge, just go to each mission blind, and/or set the game to hard.
  • This game like past Obsidian titles gives you the option to romance certain females. The catch is they pulled a “Bond”, and you can actually sex them all up in one gameplay. That is if you say the right things, mister I wanna be suave all the time… Lol
  • There is no minimap for this game. There is only one main map available in your Intel menu, and it’s a crappy map at that.
  • If you actually unlock the Veteran class, Mike starts with three ranks in every skill, and since you’re such a badass when you see certain events in the game now you will be able to do “more”.
  • While the AI isn’t the smartest some of you my friends will be tossing your keyboard, or controller on these boss fights. :(

Perks unlock just from doing what you enjoy in the game. :)

Some of the art that I have for specific characters in the Alpha Protocol Image Gallery was done by none other than Brenze. Feel free to check out his DeviantArt page here.

If you’re looking for this game feel free to check out my sponsor: Amazon

And my true recommendation on which platform to get this for…if you have a nice computer, please do yourself a favor and get it for PC. Our community of gamers will most definitely, one day, release addons/modules for this game, and I guarantee you Obsidian will release patches for it as well, cause if they don’t I’m going to be a sad panda.

Image Gallery
This image gallery contains photos, game art, & screenshots for Alpha Protocol. Enjoy :D

Videos
The video below explains in brief detail the options available to you in the Clearinghouse Store (its the only store in the whole game). And your weapon customization options. Just keep in mind these options apply to armor, and gadgets :D.

Weapon Customization Options

Lol. In the video above I found out how to change the bullets after the fact. It’s inside of your menu that you access to use your skills.

Sniper Rifle Fun!
Marburg is Srs Buisness

Words from Z
In closing, do I think you should get this game? Well it depends on three things: Your patience, whether you get it for PC or not, and what you’re expecting. If you’ve read my whole review then you should have an idea of what to expect. They really need to release some patches for this game so it can have more people come to it, as of this writing.

If anything I believe you should get it if you thoroughly enjoy a good storyline. That’s why I play Rpgs.
So now my question is when are you going to play it?

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