Anyone who has ever played an RPG has likely come across an enemy that they wished they simply could have shot in the face rather than poked with a sword for the next five minutes. Eventually developers got wind of this and the RPG hybrid was born with its most recent success being the FPS-RPG Borderlands. The latest of the hybrids is Alpha Protocol, a Western-Style RPG with a modern flare and plenty of gun play for players to mess around with. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do much right compared to many of its predecessors.
To start, Alpha Protocol looks and feels like it was released 3-5 years ago. The environments are bland, the character models don’t look attractive at all and the sound effects are more irritating than suiting. RPG fans are no stranger to forgiving poor graphics but in the current generation there has to be a line. Looking over the characters now it gives a distinct reminder of the terrible textures in the old Syphon Filter cinematics.
Next up are the shooting elements. If you find yourself drawn to this type of RPG because you don’t have to deal with the whole idea of swords and sorcery take a step back and consider this: the gun play is awful. A good system doesn’t mean being able to access the iron sights or the bullets go exactly where you point the gun. It has to feel good. Most gamers haven’t held a gun in their life but a loose targeting system and ridiculous hit detection will piss anyone off. Unfortunately, Alpha Protocol misses here too. While being able to specialize in any particular weapon you want or game play style for that matter, the guns were just never very comfortable and combined with a vastly inferior AI for its generation and you have some pretty unsatisfying combat at the end of the day.
Though as mentioned before, the RPG elements infused with the gun play is something that does give it a bit of value, but for those looking for the cross-over to lure them in, it really just isn’t enough. Being able to become practically invisible and completely screw around with the already dimwitted AI does provide a few good laughs, though. The lockpicking mini-game among others are always a nice break-up for the game play and they’re even a bit original compared to most mini-games you run into.
Luckily, if you can look past some of many of the flaws that keep this came from becoming a must-have there is some major replay value to be found in the core RPG element. Like many RPGS nowadays, you have the power of choice in Alpha Protocol. However, unlike many games the choice isn’t an illusion: you can manipulate the story in a vast amount of ways simply by how you respond in conversation. Making friends or enemies lead to new things to do and you’ll find yourself quickly needing to dump your morals to get the most out of the experience.