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== Alpha Protocol ==
When I first heard about this game I was actually in two mind whether to buy it or not. Everywhere I looked I read bad things about it, whilst I also heard many good things about it. Alpha Protocol is quite different to many games I have played and it does offer quite a lot in terms of gameplay. Alpha Protocol is a third person shooter game, very similar to that of Gears Of War with most of the game played from over the right shoulder view. However Alpha Protocol isn't just a third person shooter because it does in fact offer role playing elements to the game as well. To be fair I actually did buy this because of the role playing elements. Another reason I opted to buy Alpha Protocol was the fact that SEGA had published it. The basic story to the game is absolutely fantastic in my eyes. Its the type of storyline that drags you in and makes you want to play more. The game starts with newest member of Alpha Protocol Mike Thorton. Mike receives his fair share of missions but his main mission is to find and kill the leader of Al-Samad who is better known as Shaheed. After finally capturing Shaheed he tells Mike that Halbech a defense contractor had sold him missiles and gave him information to carry out an attack. After dealing with Shaheed, Mike's position is attacked by a missile strike and Mike is presumed dead. However Mike receives a call from a member of Alpha Protocol about the attack and who is involved. This ultimately leads to Mike being told that Halbech want him dead. Now Mike must make new allies and find a way of bringing them down, whilst restoring peace to the land. Overall the story is a gripping one and if you like a good storyline to a game this is it!
=== Gameplay ===
Alpha Protocol offers quite a lot in terms of gameplay. One of the best parts about the gameplay is that some missions will require you to sneak around and get a few stealth kills and in some others you might actually be required to go in all guns blazing. When you start a new game your given the following options, Easy, Normal and Hard. When the game starts you meet the only character you play as in Mike Thorton. At first he looks rather plain and boring but after you've done the training mission you can change his appearance. You can change things such as hair styles, facial hair, eye colour and also skin tone. The in game screen consists of a health meter which is in orange and stands out a lot. There is also an endurance meter which basically acts as another health meter. Throughout playing Alpha Protocol you can find many items in your missions. Most of these items only contain money in them. Items such as duffel bags and briefcases can be found scattered throughout the levels. The money can be used to purchase new weapons and armor or even accessories. You can also find rare items scattered throughout the missions, these items are usually weapon upgrades and new weapons or armor. To buy weapons and other items you have to be at your safe house. Your safe house is a place you can kick back and relax in before your assigned new missions. There is a safe house in each city you visit. To purchase new weapons you have to use the computer in the safe houses.
Also throughout playing Alpha Protocol you'll receive new abilities. These abilities can become very useful later in the game. Some of the abilities you learn help in tricky situations and one of my personal favourites is the ability to slow down time and fire as many rounds off at once as possible. There are lots of different abilities to find and achieve throughout playing the game. Also in the game you have a PDA. Your PDA gives you tons of information such as intel on dossiers you've collected and it also give you the ability to revisit a mission you have already accomplished, just in case you've missed something. Also in the PDA it lists all the current skills you have and what AP (ability points) you have left to spend on certain things. AP is used to upgrade your ability on certain things. You can upgrade your weapons stats using AP and you can also learn skills and other bits. Whilst in the PDA you can also look at your inventory but you can also check your inventory whilst in game by pressing the back button. Alpha Protocol offers a wide range of action packed missions and a whole lot of stealth missions. A great thing is that the game is full of action, whether its full on shooting action or doing a little bit of martial arts, the game offers everything in terms of action. You also get little puzzle elements in the game such as pick locking and bypassing. Each one is met with a fairly simple puzzle but your on a time limit, if the time runs out then guards will be notified of your arrival and will hunt you down.
You might be thinking where do the role playing elements come into the game other than leveling up your skills?. Right the role playing elements to the game are really unique. The game does have its far share of talking, but its not like the normal talking that role playing games have. When Mike is in conversation with other characters, at the bottom of your screen you are given multiple options. They range from things like a professional approach, suave approach and even an angry approach. Each option leads to different outcomes. For example you meet many terrorists in the game and your given the choice of killing them, arresting them or doing other things. Each option has a different outcome and I feel no game has actually done something like this for a long time. If you know the game Fahrenheit its actually pretty similar in terms of picking your options. Its a really interesting game that offers lots of new and improved things in its gameplay, I was really impressed with it.
=== Graphics & Sound ===
Alpha Protocol offers some scintillating graphics. The basic look and design of Mike Thorton (lead character) is actually boring at first but that look doesn't last long when your given the option to make him look better and after doing him up, he looks brilliant. I was very impressed with the basic design layout of each country and city you visit. You visit many countries such as Saudi Arabia, Italy, Russia and many more and each place look unique and completely different to their respected countries. Also each part of the cities you visit look amazingly designed. With places like Saudi Arabia looking beautifully designed with lots of deserts, the only problem is the terrorists but I am pretty sure you can sort them out. There is a couple of niggles in the graphics with the game having a few glitches in. Glitches are basically bits the game creators and testers didn't find. A few of these glitches I found when playing was certain things like Mike running through doors and also shooting straight through walls. These glitches don't really do too much damage to the graphics in my opinion and they don't appear a whole lot when playing. Overall I think the graphics are pretty good to Alpha Protocol and some things like the massive explosions you can cause look incredible.
The sound to the game isn't as effective as the graphics but in places they really do bring the game to life even more. All the characters are voice activated and they all sound very professional as well. The game doesn't have an awful lot of music to it and to be fair it works to the games advantage because I feel if there was music it would spoil the games sound effects. Now the actual in game sound effects are good in places but really bad in others. Some of the shooting sequences sound far too hollow and don't give you the full feel of the games potential. Also when your running with Mike on different surfaces it still sound the same. I was pleased with the sound effects of the explosions and the sound effects when you use things like zip lines and other bits. The game overall offers a mixture of sound effects but I feel this area could of been improved quite a lot.
=== Difficulty & Longevity ===
The difficulty to the game all depends on what difficult you choose at the beginning of the game. I found that having it on easy was far too easy and would suit the beginners really well. I also found that having it on normal was too easy but probably just right because when I put it on hard it is actually really hard. Its not so hard as to make the game impossible to complete, its more like its hard and takes a while to do every mission. Other aspects of the game are fairly simple. The stealth bits can become fairly tricky though as your not supposed to be seen. Also the puzzle bits where your on a time limit can become fairly tricky, you basically need a good steady hand and a great eye sight. If you have neither then your in big trouble. Overall the game could prove somewhat tricky to the more amateur gamer. Now the longevity of Alpha Protocol is actually pretty good in my opinion. This is because you pretty much have to at least go through the game twice and because there are so many different outcomes each time you play it. To complete the game with everything it takes about 23 hours per playthrough and I feel that is actually reasonable. There are only four different places you visit on the game Saudi Arabia, Rome, Moscow and Taipei. Whilst that doesn't sound an awful lot, they're are several missions to do at each one. So overall I feel the games longevity is average quality and by far not the worst I have seen.
=== Good Bits ===
*The game has a mix of action/stealth and role playing elements in it.
*Alpha Protocol has one of the best featured storyline's I have seen to a game.
*There is a wide range of variety in the gameplay to the game from full on action with guns to some nice martial arts scenes.
*Some really nice looking graphics and special effects in the game.
*Lots of items and weapons to find which can be upgraded.
=== Bad Bits ===
*Whilst playing through the game you will notice a few glitches.
*Some of the sound effects sound to hollow and a little wooden at times.
*The game can become fairly hard in places and it can also become frustrating.
*The game isn't really massive, its not small but could do with a bit more adding to it.
*Again no multiplayer options let this down.
=== Final Thought ===
Alpha Protocol has had a quite bit of stick from reviewers but for me its a brilliant game. I love a quality game that has a very addictive story to it and Alpha Protocol offers that. The story is intense and it actually does make a whole lot of sense. It also offers surprises, betrayals and even sadness with a bit of happiness on top. The games characters are interesting ones and Mike is a brilliant character to play, hes attractive and very skilled which does make the game seem more like a movie. The instruction manual that comes with the game is far to plain for my liking. Don't get me wrong the cover looks brilliant but the content of the book itself is poor and it offers very little information. Whilst the game doesn't take long to complete you will most definitely find yourself going through it more than once because there are a total of 50 achievements to get and some of them you cant acquire on just one playthrough.
Also there are a lot of missions on the game and most of them are pretty much the same. They usually involve sneaking in some where or taking something or someone out. Alpha Protocol has a rating of 15+ due to all the action, guns, fighting, strong language, killing and fair share of blood. However I do feel a 15+ is about right and I wouldn't recommend anyone younger playing the game. I would recommend the game however to fans of action games or to fans that want to try something new. There seems to be way too many FPS games out there now so it makes a change to find one such as this with a lot of potential. I bought the game from Amazon for £7.01 which I feel is brilliant value for money and I think for what you get its worth every penny. Overall I love the game and the main reason I love the game is the story to it. I would give Alpha Protocol a very solid 7/10!
Review also on Ciao under the username: MrBrightside1987!
Alpha Protocol is the type of game that could have a huge amount of potential. Instead, that potential is wasted and the result is one of the worst games to come out in 2010. Alpha Protocol is an action RPG, you play a spy and can customise that said spy to your style of play; e.g. you can be all out action or stealthy. The game also features a Mass Effect conversation feature meaning you can decide what action to take when speaking to another character. However while the gameplay sounds good, the overall game is poor. The graphics look out of date, the game features many noticeable bugs and the AI isn't great either. The game was created by Obsidian Entertainment, creators of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 which are RPGs that have scored good review scores, you would expect an RPG designed with top quality. Instead we end up with an spy action RPG that fails to live up to expectations. Let's hope that Fallout: New Vegas, which is been developed by the same developers lives up to better expectations.
Ok where to start, ok Alpha Protocol is basically a very ugly, fantastically good RPG game.
The story starts of with you waking up in a hospital/research room, drugged and unarmed. After you have done the prologue and training you are sent of on a secret mission to kill a man named Al Samad. The project is called project desert spear. After you have completed the mission you are out to get payback (I wont say why or against who because of spoilers). At the end of the game you are amazed by the plot twists and the fantastic story.
Now for the gameplay. If you like third person shooters you would love the shooting, it is very well done, the weapons are accurate, for example the assault rifle can reach further then all the portable weapons the SMGs can clear out a room quickly due to its rapid shots. The RPG elements are good to, you can alter your characters face and clothing and states. You level up with XP just like about every other RPG, you have a meaty set of options to chose from, from various guns to how much damage you can take to how much time you have to hack computers and lock pick and much more. Depending on your choices in the world and how you talk to people you gain individual perks (you also gain them by completing achievements or trophies). You also talk to lots of people during the game as well, you do this by selecting three options the option on the left is usually a cocky option the upper option is mostly a more aggressive option and the option on the right is a more professional reply, you chose these option by x, b and y or x, triangle and square. However its not like mass effect where you have a infinite amount of time to reply you only have until the other person has finished there sentence to make your choice. Each character in the world has there own personality (literaly) some people like you to be more professional and some like you to aggressive and murderous.
You can play how ever you want and no matter how you play or what choices you chose the game really works if you want to go in aggressive and shoot everyone that moves you can, like wise if you want to go in stealthy you can, and the stealth sections really work well to you don't have as much stealth options like splinter cell where you can climb up pipes but it is right up there with hitman. Now to the missions depending on how you play your missions you can alter the way other missions play out which makes repercussions later in the game for example if you kill a certain arms dealer enemies later in the game will have worse equipment and if you intimidate or visit someone they can alert there bosses and allies which would give your enemies better equipment on certain missions. don't worry you can make your own allies as well for example in Russia there are two mercenary companies one of them is the G22 and the other is the VCI, each company can be you allies and help you in missions ( however be careful on who you trust). If that is not enough you also can buy and sell weapons, upgrades and intel to help you on missions for example you can fit you gun with a silencer and buy a map or get the location of a secret stash of money or even hire a PMC to divert the most well armed enemies away from the mission area.
This may be a massive RPG with great ideas for environments and ideas but this is NOT a free roam, do what ever you want game. So I really recommend you get this game soon and buy it brand new to encourage the developers to create a sequel of a truly EPIC game.
If I am quite honestly I must say that I was not really jumping at the review of Alpha Protocol at me to take. The trailers of the game did not convince me in advance and the overall image of the game did not help. Now that I've played out the game is only my opinion but very different.
I'm glad I've played Alpha Protocol, for the story and their implementation, has me very intrigued. You play with Michael Thorton, a new agent with the U.S. secret government agency, Alpha Protocol. Michael gets an important mission but this mission runs differently than he expected. After some dramatic events, Alpha Protocol is no longer behind him and the government considers the new agent is also not so nice. Michael goes undercover still continue with its mission and will thus end up in a battle for arms. Meanwhile, he also ensure that the organization Alpha Protocol will not find him and his life is at stake. Michael has plenty to ensure an exciting game to fill them.
Friends with a rogue arms dealer?
This story is emphasized in the paint by the choices you can make. Through a system à la Mass Effect, you can determine how the story during discussions runs. I am friends with a rogue arms dealer to my mission to help or I'll kill it just to make the world a better place to be? I save the woman whom I have the full game along with the flirting or am I ensure that hundreds of innocent lives be saved? Here are some examples of choices you should make the game really influence, because a choice can quickly provide a very different story. One small criticism of this system is the limited time you have to choose one answer. Choose not fast enough that the game does this for you. This is probably realistic, but also most frustrating.
Alpha Protocol puts itself in the market as a spy RPG with gameplay and the developer has also complied with. As you can read the part with a spy story of this caliber and well done on the RPG elements I also have no complaints. On the equipment is enough to tinker with Michael and a points system which skills can be unlocked is also available. For example, you choose yourself to focus primarily on the shotgun. If you have this weapon completely adjusted to it as much as possible and also have special skills for the shotgun Fri plays with this weapon you'll enjoy the animal can go hang out.
Not so state-of-the-art
How well the story of Alpha Protocol is developed also makes little difference because the game still some strong disadvantages. For example, the developer is not proud of the delivered graphics. Animated characters look strange, textures load slowly and there is little detail in the world. A certain group of gamers will immediately result in a miserable feeling this game will. The sound of the game is also not bad, but does not allow a good impression. The technical part of the game is not as state-of-the-art when we used to.
Fortunately there are gamers who are not only for graphics. Alpha Protocol for these players will also not immediately turn out positive. Thus the shooting mechanics are very weak. The shooting is not so much bad, but more awkward to mention. To good to hit an enemy you must remain focused on long and thus you can choose to simply pop in the round or on a painfully slow way the enemies one by one to make. Furthermore, the design of the levels is not strong. Returning locations and environments make this little originality. Consider the standard airplane hangars or aircraft graveyard where we have to walk through. We have that's not seen often enough?
Alpha Protocol thus appears better than expected, but has some major drawbacks which game to the mediocre side suits. The story is top notch and the RPG elements are fun, but the graphics and the shooting mechanics are performing, however inadequate. For the gamer looking for an exciting RPG with a fun new twist Alpha Protocol is surely a must, but do not expect superior graphics and gameplay. Consider so good if you are able to look through bad graphics, but if you can Alpha Protocol is an entertaining game.
Usually following in the shadows of BioWare, their buddy developer who can't always make the sequels, Obsidian finally get their own original IP with Alpha Protocol. Suffering from delays and setbacks, Alpha Protocol's promising features of Espionage combined with Role-Playing decision making have kept people anxious for this interesting RPG. Does it live up to its promise or will it be an agent that needs to be terminated?
You'll play as Agent Micheal Thorton, a new recruit in a hidden agency called Alpha Protocol. It's one of those groups that deal with things on the down-low and make sure their prescence is always hidden, even by high up goverment officials. When new recruit Micheal enters the scene, after an outlandish tutorial, he is immediately sent to Saudi Arabia where you complete your first mission. All seems well until a missle strike nearly kills Thornton and he is suddenly declared rouge by Alpha. With very little help and no where to go but around the world, Thorton must discover why this is happening and punish those who caused him harm.
The story is one of Alpha Protocol's high points, with a strong cast of characters you'll care to love as you progress the story. But what makes AP special is just how much you can mould the story. Where you go, how you complete missions, and the way you interact with people will change events in the story and each twist will genuinely shock you when you realise what you've done. This warrants multiple playthroughs obviously, with different endings and achievements encouraging you to see how different one event can happen.
This is largely effected by how you talk to people in AP. Rather than giving you choices on what you say, you can pick from three different attitudes-professional is the serious, working man tone, while suave is the either joking or sarcastic side and aggressive is more violent or hateful. You always have to be on your toes because not everyonewill have a liking to a certain attitude. Some may want you to be snappy and quick in what you say, others may be charmed by your jokes, while some will take aggression on the shoulder. The only way to know how people will respond to you is either by guessing which stance they like or finding out more information somehow. Either way, it's a interesting way to make you think about what you say.
Like most RPGs, you'll have to pick a class. These range from the stealthy class to the shooting-heavy soldier class. Picking a class will affect the game because you'll have to change how you approach missions. Obviously, a soldier isn't going to be great at stealth, but as you progress through the game you can unlock helpful abilities from each class to create more of a supersoldier than a washed-out Jack Bauer. If you want a real challenge, you can use the Recruit background, which starts with absolutely no skills whatsoever, however the reward is the Veteran class, which is full on every skill.
Alpha Protocol is a mixture of many genres. It could be considered a mix of stealth and shooter, but you are never punished for being caught, unless death counts because of how many guards there will be. Each mission usually requires you to enter, complete an objective like download information or place a bug, then escape. Obviously the guards make it harder than it sound, and deaths will be unavoidable because bullets from other guards are painfully overpowered. It's a great encouragement to keep hidden, but a fully upgraded soldier could fight the guards off. This open freedom means each mission could be different from one person to the next.
However, what anyone who plays Alpha Protocol will face is a clunky shooting engine. Most shooters usually ask you to aim and shoot, and when you do so, enemies die because you're aiming at them. Alpha Protocol throws a spanner in this by being an RPG, where attacks are judged by a dice. So even if you have the perfect shot lined up, if the dice doesn't agree with you, then you'll miss. When you're trying to be stealthy, and you miss a shot because the engine doesn't let you, it doesn't exactly make things easier on you. It's even more of an issue when you happen to be forced into head-on combat and most of your shots miss.
Another stumbling block of Alpha Protocol is its lack of polish. Enemy A.I. is god awful, walking into walls, not seeing you when you're right next to you and sometimes magically detecting your presence when you are behind cover. The game also crashed on me a couple of times, most notably during a save point, which sadly corrupted my save, though thankfully it was barely into the first mission. Other bugs like you being inable to shoot until you leave cover, which in the middle of a firefight isn't ideal, or objectives not triggering, make the game feel rushed despite being delayed for a whole year to be polished.
There are also a couple of other elements to Alpha Protocol. In between missions, you hide low in an agency safehouse. From here, you can look at emails, which sometimes bring nice bonuses like money, and buy upgrades for your armor and weapons. It's a neat system, with lots of freedom to what you can change, but the decent upgrades and weapons literally cost an arm and a leg, meaning you have to put up with crappy equipment until you can afford the best. During missions you also come across hacking mini-games, where you either match the numbers up to the screen with lots of other moving numbers, or find the right circuit. Each has a time limit, and if not done will set off alarms, meaning these mini-games can be frustrating.
Alpha Protocol doesn't look so hot. Main characters are nicely detailed, and environements look good at a distance, but everything else is downhill. Enemies look like they jumped out of a PS2 game with mouldy faces and dreadful animation, textures break up when you look closely at them, and there are many cases of texture pop-in during the game. The sound is much better than the graphics though, with good voice work giving emotion and depth to the characters, weapons sound powerful and punches sound vicious, while music from BT giving a nice techno bump to the game and it fits perfectly in the action.
Is Alpha Protocol good, bad or ugly?
Despite its long development and delays, Alpha Protocol feels rushed. A bit more time to fix the shooting and bugs, and this could have been a great RPG. The potential is there-the great story mixed with a heavy amount of freedom during missions and choices mean the RPG elements are nailed here. But most will be turned off by its clunky shooting and unpolished production values. If you can bare these flaws, you may get enjoyment out of Alpha Protocol but if you grind your teeth at shooting mechanics which don't work and bugs, you won't need to spend £40 on Alpha Protocol.
Alpha Protocol was released on May 28th, 2010 for Xbox 360, PC and Playstation 3. It is rated 15+ for strong language and violence and can be bought for £29.99 on Amazon.co.uk (360 version)
I make it something of a policy never to review a game until I've finished it, but for Alpha Protocol I feel that I need to make an exception. You see, I was a bit wary of the game in the first place because of the wave of negativity surrounding its release. However, the redeeming qualities seemed enough to balance out the bad points, so I rented it anyway. And I was impressed.
For the first hour or so, I fell in love - Alpha protocol is exactly the sort of game I love - strong RPG qualities like good character interaction, levelling up armour and weapons and improving your skills. It's a lot like Mass Effect in many respects - the different conversation options, the gunplay and the puzzles during levels are all very similar to Mass Effect, and mixed in with the excellent stealth-based Thief style gameplay of the tutorial all but sold the game to me during that initial first hour.
After that first hour though, is where the game completely and utterly falls apart. During the tutorial, as I mentioned, the game focuses on idea of stealth, and so you're trained in sneaking about and silent kills, and although I was given a weapon, I didn't fire it because I was trying to play the stealth role as well as I could.
During the game though, the stealth is a bit more difficult to maintain, and you're forced to fire your gun to eliminate far off snipers, for example. However, the game appears to calculate the chances of you hitting your enemy based on the skill level of your character. What this means, at least at the very start of the game, is that your odds of hitting are very, very low, which will result in a lot of missed shots even if your crosshairs are lined up perfectly over your foe. On more than one occasion it took me more than a dozen shots to land a the requisite two hits to take down the enemy. With fantasy themed RPGs like Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate, where your character keeps attacking until the enemy is defeated, and your character is locked in combat, and indeed you have a party, this works well, but during a stealth FPS when a single miss results in alarms going off all over the place and enemies swamping you, it's completely unacceptable and totally game-breaking.
In closing, stay far, far away from Alpha Protocol. The game is broken to the point of being unplayable, and is just no fun. The many redeeming features of the game cannot outweigh how this terrible design decision completely spoils the game. That said, if that one feature were patched out in future, I would run out and buy the game immediately, because everything else about the game is great, and it's the sort of game I could easily award 4 stars to. Here's hoping...