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Alpha Protocol Review

We first got a glimpse of Alpha Protocol last year at GamesCom in Cologne. With a healthy mix of spy thriller, RPG and action combat; things were looking good for Obsidian and Sega. However the finished article fails to deliver the same magic we saw a year ago.

Choices

The game puts you into the persona of Michael Thornton, a CIA agent picked by the Alpha Protocol to undertake a very secretive and sensitive mission. Now the fact you're given a specific character to use in this game has limited the customisation options which are usually open for RPG players. Usually you would get to select what gender, body styles and facial features your character would display within the game world, but the lack of customisation within Alpha Protocol may upset RPG purists as all you get to change is skin tone, hair style and some eye accessories.

Smooooooooooooooooooooothe

Before you kick off the proceedings of the game you are given a choice of four different professions which mould your character with boosts in certain skill disciplines. These would boost attributes like weapon proficiencies, stealth level, electronics competency etc. These also form the basis of Thornton's back story and how other NPC characters react to Thornton, however there is a fifth option for those yearning for a greater challenge from the game.

The rookie option essentially gives you a blank slate in terms of attributes so you may guide Thornton as you see fit, this also opens up an extra conversational option while conversing with NPC's. Like Mass Effect, you get to choose the outcome of conversations with other characters based upon one of four emotional responses, these responses will determine how your own character and the impression other characters have of you. For example if you act like a complete arse with someone then they will be less likely to offer help, support or monetary discounts on equipment. Inversely, if you come across professionally or appeal to the personality traits of the NPC then they will be more likely to offer assistance in your quest.

Blah, I bet no one reads this.

Each mission hub will have a number of missions to complete in any order you see fit, you'll have the choice to either go in blind or pay for intelligence via the black market which is some how conveniently available via your safe house computer. In addition to this intel you may purchase weapons, upgrades, ammunition, armour and other various goodies, bearing in mind that the only cash available is what you're able to acquire yourself via drops in missions or hacking. As this is all mission based, it will feel very restrictive compared to the open world structure RPG gamers are accustomed to, however this does emphasise the more action orientated goal of this story driven RPG.

With each mission comes its own mission handler. These handlers will guide you and offer assistance wherever possible, additionally they will give Thornton a buff in a specific area associated with that handler which in theory should make the mission easier, but as I just waded through enemies Rambo style and totally disregarded the stealth element I actually lost respect with my mission handler who then gave me a stern talking down to, but on the flip side it may appeal to another handler.

tiddles

The storyline of Alpha Protocol is where this game shines, globe trotting from exotic location to exotic location unravelling the mystery which plays out before your eyes. To bolster your involvement in the story line, each character has some cracking voice acting, making each character alive and believable, producing a very engaging experience in this respect. Unfortunately the actual controls for Thornton feel like they've been clogged down with a brick of lard whilst wading through a vat of treacle. They are slow, fairly unresponsive, not very accurate while aiming a weapon and quite clunky. Thornton's movement while sneaking around an area remind me of someone who has soiled their trousers and are trying to find a bathroom to dispose of the accident without anyone noticing.

Graphically the game feels a little dated, if the game was released a few years earlier, say around 2006 I would have been more lenient on the graphical side of things but they are functional. Its as if the team spent 90% of the development time on the storyline only to realise that they had to rush out the engine, graphics and other finishing touches about a month before the launch deadline. Overall a cracking story is hampered by technical issues of a game which could have been great but clumsily falls short of the mark.

6.00/10 6

Alpha Protocol (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

We first got a glimpse of Alpha Protocol last year at GamesCom in Cologne. With a healthy mix of spy thriller, RPG and action combat; things were looking good for Obsidian and Sega. However the finished article fails to deliver the same magic we saw a year ago.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Staff Writer

A purveyor of strange alcoholic mixes and a penchant for blowing shit up in games. Proud member of the glorious PC master race.

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