Alpha Protocol – Review

In Alpha Protocol you are a spy and your weapon is choice. Throughout your adventure you will encounter a variety of decisions that you need to make. These will range from what mission you want to undertake next, how you want to interact with various factions, how to treat your assets and more. Each choice in Alpha Protocol has a legitimate consequence. If the leader of GR-22 doesn’t like you then he can, and most likely will, make your job more difficult the next time you have a mission involving that group. On the other hand, if you are allies, then he will do what he can to help you. Selecting the location to go to first will also have its own share of consequences. There is one particular boss in the game where if you try to fight him without being leveled up properly you are going to be in for one frustrating fight. If you go in properly equipped though then he shouldn’t pose much of a threat. The story in Alpha Protocol is fun however it isn’t anything new. Chances are you have seen similar stories in other games or movies. You don’t get to pick what happens in a movie though and that is one of the most enjoyable aspects about this title

While the story is enjoyable the game play is the exact opposite. Alpha Protocol had been perpetually delayed and after you play this game you will wish they delayed it even further to iron out all of the bugs. The controls are far too clunky and the shooting mechanic is a bit broken. Even walking in the game is broken. This is a game about espionage and stealth and for those type of titles you need to have precise controls. There were many times where after I took my finger off of the analog stick my character would continue walking. I had to pull back on the stick many times to get him to stop. The problem with that is that he would turn back if I did that. If I was climbing a ladder and he kept climbing up when I didn’t want him to I would have to hold back on the analog stick which could cause him to start climbing back down. It made it really hard to get a good view on what was going on. With the shooting mechanic if you wanted to get a really good shot at someone you need to have your reticule on them for five to ten seconds. That is, of course, if you can successfully find cover. There are some walls in the game where you can take cover and some where it is not allowed. There is no way to tell the difference and it will result in unnecessary deaths in the game.

Alpha Protocol (2)

In this game you are a spy and should be able to take cover behind anything. It’s a really bad design decision to limit someone to static cover points. There also tends to be a slight delay once you have successfully found cover. Unfortunately you can’t just pop out quickly and get off a good shot. If you attempt to do that you will only succeed in giving away your position to the patrolling guards and they will begin swarming your position. If you only had to fight one guard at a time this archaic mechanic might work. The fact remains though that you will find yourself in some big firefights and having to train your reticule on someone for that long before you can get an effective shot simply doesn’t work. You either won’t survive long enough to get the shot off or the enemy will run away and you will have to start all over again. Fortunately you do have the ability to melee attack people in this game and that was my main source of offense whenever possible. I would frequently sneak up on someone without them realizing I was there and dispose of them quickly and quietly before they could signal for help. The inventory in the game is not very intuitive and for some reason I couldn’t bring everything that I owned. I could buy ten medical kits from a dealer and yet my character would only bring three into battle. If for whatever reason I used all three and needed more then I was out of luck, even though I still owned seven med kits.

Along with the control issues is the artificial intelligence, or rather, lack thereof. There are times in this game where the A.I. can be really stupid. There was one specific instance where I came across two characters talking who were completely oblivious to my presence. I took one of them out quickly with a melee attack and the other one just stood there and didn’t do anything. He was literally a couple of feet from me and I probably could have stayed there for five or ten minutes and I never would have been detected. Graphically speaking Alpha Protocol is a decent looking game but it is nothing spectacular or awe inspiring. Unfortunately, like every other facet of the game, there are a number of bugs here too. Graphical glitches abound no matter where you are. My character in the game was wearing sunglasses and there were cut scenes in the game where part of my glasses wouldn’t show up properly. It would kind of fade in and out as if the game couldn’t make up its mind about whether it should be processing that image. There is some really bad graphical pop in at times too which can take you out of the experience. The loading times for this game aren’t too bad, however, there are times when it will load something in the middle of a mission which can get very annoying.

There is a lot to like in Alpha Protocol as it relates to the story and the way that there are legitimate consequences to your actions. If you visit a city but don’t bother to “check in” with some people then it might make life more difficult for you. If you do decide to make contacts before you starting wreaking havoc though, you might get a very useful ally. One person in particular thanked me for coming to see him first because otherwise he would have tried to take me out. For this reason alone you might want to go through the game a couple of times to try and find all of the story arcs that you missed the first time. It is a shame that most people won’t do that because the gameplay is so screwed up. As I progressed throughout the game I started to get better with the control scheme and I was able to compensate somewhat. The fact that I had to do that though is a huge failure on the part of Obsidian and Sega. I hope we get to see Alpha Protocol 2 because, hopefully, they will have all of the bugs ironed out for it. This could turn out to be a great series if it was given the proper attention and care by both publisher and developer. As it stands right now though I can’t really recommend that anyone buy this game. Wait a couple of months until the price drops and then try it out if you are still curious. If you don’t want to wait that long you could always rent it to see what you think about Alpha Protocol. There are some really good things about this game. Unfortunately they are marred by other aspects of the game which are a technical mess.

Score: 6/10

Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network

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