Released in the United States on June 1, 2010, Alpha Protocol is a third person role playing game that gives players full control over the outcome of the game. Selling for $59.99 at Gamestop, the Espionage RPG by Obsidian Entertainment and Sega was set to be a monumental release. This game is playable on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 and is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.
I enjoy playing games simply for the game play and dialogue, as much as the plot. It was exciting to see the trailers for Alpha Protocol because they were reminiscent of the Mass Effect, but like all trailers or previews, it’s a 50/50 shot that whatever is being advertised will be a slam-dunk or a failure when released.
As far as graphics are concerned, the characters in Alpha Protocol look unfinished, so to speak. Shading and lighting are decent, but the texture behind the characters and environments are quite unattractive since everything seems to have a smooth surface. The people themselves are quite cookie-cutter in terms of looks, and there are only a few that resonate with me as memorable faces.
The character movements looked completely unnatural and engineered rather than lifelike- you can perform a crouched walk that looks like a cross between a charging gorilla and an old woman with a cane. The controls can be difficult if you don’t read the instruction manual, but even with the manual, I found it hard to grasp the aiming feature that allows focus on one specific target.
Speaking of aim, I found it difficult to get a decent shot on an enemy. There were a few times where the shot went right through the target and they didn’t seem fazed as they proceeded to shoot me. As an aside, I’d like to point out that if you can kill someone with a tranquilizer gun, the game isn’t worth it. I found myself being confused by where I was and I often got dizzy because the camera moved way too fast to catch what was happening. The point of view on the screen was thorny at best and I found myself looking at the character’s back more than what was in front of him.
The mini challenges were fun for a bit, but began to lose their appeal because they are so repetitive. Disabling alarms, hacking computers, and picking locks are great examples of what spies do, but I’m pretty sure it’s not an accurate or complete example of all they do when in the field.
One thing that bothered me was the dialogue and voice acting. At times, the acting was great, and the voices matched the characters 100%, but most of the dialogue was explanatory and seemed like filler to make the game longer. I found myself more bored than annoyed with character interactions, but it goes without saying that Obsidian did their best to find suitable actors to play the roles.
The single aspect of Alpha Protocol that I enjoyed was the ability to gain points based on your choice of dialogue. In response to a question or a statement, you’ll have the opportunity to choose between sarcastic, professional, suggested, etc., comments that can further your relationship with a character down different paths depending on your choice. Depending on what you say and choose to do can have detrimental repercussions on your gaming experience.
If I had time to play this game to the end, I wouldn’t. The plot doesn’t hold my attention, the characters are dreary at best, the dialogue is mind numbing, and the graphics remind me of an old Tomb Raider game. If you are an avid role player, I recommend reconsidering this purchase.