Ah, Alpha Protocol… When this was first released, critics tore it completely apart, partially handing out downright abysmal scores. Yet, some people seemed to like the game. That was enough for me to buy it while the price was heavily reduced during the Steam summer sales. Surprisingly enough, I actually liked it and I feel ready to share some thoughts on the game with you, dear Sega Addicts readers. Hit the jump to read about the Top 5 best and worst things about Alpha Protocol!
Top 5 Worst
The graphics of this game are just dated and nothing special at all. Partially, the game looks like a late original Xbox title and even on a good gaming PC, the framerate sometimes drops without any reason. Character models lack details, textures just pop in when they feel like it and the lackluster Art-style doesn’t help either. At best, the graphics are inoffensive, at worst they are insufferably blocky and muddy.
4. Enemy AI
Your enemies in this game are the biggest idiots I’ve witnessed in quite some time. They often fail to notice that one of their pals just died right next to them, stand around staring in the air and have no idea how to take cover. They also lack any survival instinct, since they just charge at you as soon as they see you. Yeah, never mind that Assault rifle I have, or my superior CQC skills…
3. Shooting mechanics
Alpha Protocol has the same problem that the original Mass Effect had: It’s a cover-based shooter with an RPG-combat system. What does that mean? It means that your pistol is goddamn useless, because you can’t do headshots with it! Even worse, when you actually hit somebody in the head, the imaginary dice-roll in the background just says: ‘Nope, not deadly’. For a game that tries to have a semi-realistic setting, that’s just unfitting and very unsatisfying.
2. Cover mechanics
Those cover mechanics… Sometimes, they work. Sometimes, they don’t. My guess is that it has something to do with the alignment of the planets, but I can’t really figure out which walls dear Mr. Thorton wants to take cover behind and which ones are just too offensive to his taste. Not that you’d really need the cover mechanics, because just standing behind a wall and popping off your enemies one by one seems to work well enough. Heck, you can just stand in the open and kill the enemies off. The terrible AI actually helps to look past this problem at least for a bit.
1. Some Characters (Protagonist)
The protagonist, Michael Thorton, is bland and uninteresting, even though he has a pretty decent voice-actor. Wait, before anyone says he has a character and it really depends on how you play him, let me tell you something: The way he is written, in any given choice, is just an accumulation of every secret Agent stereotype you can think off, which means he’s a bland character. That doesn’t mean he isn’t enjoyable at times or has some good lines. It’s just that given this setting, they could have done so much more with him.
Top 5 Best
5. Some Characters (Sis)
While the protagonist is bland and some side-characters do their best to steal his spot, there are also some characters that actually are interesting. No, I’m not talking about ‘SIE’ which is a retarded name for many reasons (one would be that it means ‘she’ in German. Does a character with the name ‘she’ really beg for your attention?). However, Sis (seriously, who comes up with those names?), is one of the more interesting characters, partially because she is mute. How many mute characters do you know in videogames? No, Gordon Freeman doesn’t count! At least her design is interesting, which can’t be said for most characters in this game.
4. Intel gathering
While being unsubstantial to the overall gameplay experience, having your own computer in the game where you can buy intel and reply to mails is pretty neat and adds a lot to the setting and overall feel of the game. Looking for intel during the missions is fun too and gives you some incentive to actually explore during the missions. It can also provide some interesting dialogue options, which gives it some meaning outside of pure completionism.
The spy setting is one of the most underused settings ever in the videogame industry. Even though stealth games had a really big popularity at the end of the 90s, nobody really tried to tap into the whole ‘Bourne’ aesthetics yet. Granted, Alpha Protocol doesn’t fully succeed in this and kind of doesn’t know which direction it’s design wants to take, but some elements, like the aforementioned intel gathering and the rogue agent aspect, which is underused, are definitely fun!
While not being too revolutionary, the story works fine together with the setting: A rogue agent, betrayal, counterbetrayal, some casual sex, lots of shooting, conspiracies, a lot of talking with mysterious sounding voices, traveling to places all over the world and a more or less open structure… All these factors make for a great, involving mixture that are quite worthwhile!
The buzzword of this generation’s videogames: Choice! Here, choices actually matter. You get to choose your dialogue options, which missions you wanna take, which intel to buy and where to fly to next. The great thing about this is, that your choices actually change how the story plays out and you feel like you actually do matter in this universe. Best of all, it gives you a reason to play the game over and over again, in order to see everything. Even as a one-time affair, the game will give you the impression that your experience actually is unique. This is the one point, where Alpha Protocol actually shines and is actually competitive when compared to other games of the genre.