Developed by Obsidian Software using the Unreal 3 Engine for Sega. Alpha Protocol is the espionage RPG that sets the player down in a world of intrigue and underhand dealings, where nothing and no-oone are quite what they seem, and danger lurks behind even the most beautiful of smiles. We take up the role of Agent Michael Thornton as we set off on a dangerous mission to Saudi Arabia, during which you will be unsure if you have accidentally loaded up Ghost Recon by mistake, such is the standard of combat action that awaits you in Alpha Protocol.
It is from here that we can make a nice diversion into discussing what you may, or may not, have already learned about this excellent RPG thriller from the various reviews and gameplay trailers already blanket-bombing the internet. To set itself as an RPG is, in our opinion, limiting it to the type of player who favour’s this genre over, say, the FPS style shooter that includes titles such as the aforementioned Ghost Recon, and also games such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honour. For it is our experience of this title that it should have been billed more as a genre-free game, as it takes quite the best sections from most genres of gaming and slots them all into place in the one title, in a gamer’s delight of a jigsaw, to make things sound even better for Alpha Protocol than we hope we actually have? it actually manages to pull off this gaming act of magical talent, where so many others before it have failed.
And so we return once more to Agent Thornton. Following first impressions that will leave you unsure of genre, the game will then settle into the more familiar patterns and formula of the normal RPG fare. This is not not say, however, that this is the point for all those action fans to leave and go play some Modern Warfare 2, you guys can just stay in your seats as Alpha Protocol will have plenty of action to keep you guys interested in the vast array of mission’s and modes that are on offer to you in the game.
Everything is on display in Alpha Protocol. From Recon missions, where you will not only need your trigger finger to complete the objectives, but also you will have to remember to pack your thinking cap before you jet off on one of the many tasks set you, as there will be the lock-picking ‘mini-games’ that are reminiscent of such titles as the original Bioshock. But to make things easier on your man, do not forget to upgrade as this will make light work of those pesky lock picking sessions.
Other missions will then see you in full on firefights as you tear it up with the best of them and let the lead fly. One thing we can tell you though is that you must keep your wit’s about you at all times in Alpha Protocol, as just charging through the levels like a man possessed will result in hardships further down the line, due to missed opportunities to acquire important intel along the way in previous missions. Clues to future objectives litter the environment like, well, littery-type things. So you must always be aware of your surroundings if you want to take full advantage of the secrets that each mission area holds?
Another important factor to take into account when playing through Alpha Protocol, is that decisions that you make along the way, and we don’t just mean the option you select in the dialogue tree’s, all have consequences in Michael Thornton’s world. So be aware that just rushing from objective to objective, or simply spraying every living thing with 9mm fire, may have dire results for your character at a later point in the game? Another thing to be on the look-out for, is that in Alpha Protocol all your conversations with other characters throughout the game will take place in ‘real time.’ What we mean by this is that once a question is put to you, or if you yourself ask a question? There is a time limit for the reply to occur, so just bear it in mind and always have your finger hovering over the pause button if you are not the fastest fingered player in the World? Also, given the fact that Alpha Protocol has a replay value not seen to often these days, which is in part thanks to features such as the one time answering dialogue tree’s, if you do want to experience how things might have turned out for your man, had he given an alternative answer, or made a different choice along the games time frame? Then more than a couple of quick playthrough’s will be required to see the games full quota of around twelve hours of cinematics.
And so we move to game’s plot. You are, as we have mentioned, Agent Michael Thornton, and following a failed mission in the Middle East you find yourself on the wrong end of a US lead Government manhunt following your betrayal by your superiors. Unable to reach allies and former Agency network contacts, Thornton decides there is no other option left for him other than to go “Alpha Protocol”, a protocol that is highly secret, and normally restricted to the most authorised senior Government agent’s only. Michael must go deep undercover and use all his skills, expertise and street wise moves to form new alliances and partnership’s if he is to get to the heart of the conspiracy that has seen him placed firmly at the centre of the crosshairs in the United States Government’s sights.
So there you have it folks, and from your safehouses where you will customize and upgrade everything you need, including your appearance, to fulfil your objectives. You will find at your disposal a pleasing arsenal of weapons for Mr Thornton to ‘off’ his adversaries, as well as a whole host of upgrades to make the kills and the missions go smoother.
‘And so to the scores on the doors Miss Ford’, as the legendary Bruce Forsyth used to say. Well, all things considered, and taking into account a couple of glitches along the way, (that did not deserve the ratings that one site gave it), which in no way impacted upon our enjoyment of this game. We kind of liked this title. Its blend of action, stealth, combat and all the other great features that are included in this game made it a winner for us. If you do buy a copy of Alpha Protocol,(and we did!), then we can genuinely inform you that you are in for a good time playing this game, and will go so far as to say that you will play it a couple more times too to see the varying outcomes, that are possible due to the system of consequences that build throughout the game. It is with the theme to James Bond still echoing in our ears that we give Alpha Protocol a very sunny 8 out of 10
Platforms: PS3 Xbox360 Windows-PC
Release Date: May 28th,2010
Genre: Action RPG
Rating: Pegi 18+ (mature)