(http://www.AlphaProtocol.com)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  Alpha Protocol is a highly anticipated title developed from Obsidian, and is touted as a decision based spy espionage game.   You play as Michael Thorton, an agent with the elite secret government organization known as Alpha Protocol.  As you progress through the game, you will be dropped into multiple real-world locations from Moscow to Taiwan to complete your missions, while at the same time you will also be introduced to a multitude of characters in each locale.

(http://www.AlphaProtocol.com)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  Alpha Protocol is a highly anticipated title developed from Obsidian, and is touted as a decision based spy espionage game.   You play as Michael Thorton, an agent with the elite secret government organization known as Alpha Protocol.  As you progress through the game, you will be dropped into multiple real-world locations from Moscow to Taiwan to complete your missions, while at the same time you will also be introduced to a multitude of characters in each locale.

**WARNING** The following video may contain content inappropriate for children**

The key feature to this game is its decision-based system, which will ultimately decide the course of the storyline.  For each character you are introduced to, you will be able to decide how you want to interact with them, whether it be to ally with them, execute them, or stay neutral.  The results of your choices may not be apparent immediately, but as you continue deeper into the story, you may find that it was a good idea that you allied with a certain faction, or regret that you did not execute another character.

Graphics:
The graphics for Alpha Protocol are pretty standard, although they seem a bit dated in comparison to other similar games currently available.  That being said, there is some nice background art in many of the levels, especially when looking from a high vantage point, however many of buildings you will come across felt repeated, and they often seemed to be the same building from a previous level, only with a fresh paintjob, or new door.  This also holds very true for the character models throughout the game, and I often felt Déjà vu when faced with a new enemy (didn’t I kill him twice in Taiwan?), it would have been nice to see a bit more variation in these areas.

       

Sounds:
As with any role-playing type game, the voice acting is very important, and we’ve come to expect a certain standard, especially with a game like Alpha Protocol, where much of the story is explained through interactive dialogue and cut-scenes.  However it seems the developers decided to play it safe, and in turn, the voice acting seemed to be mediocre at times.  One key area of improvement I would have liked to have seen would be in Thorton’s own voice dialogue, where there could have been a bit more emotion placed in, especially when choosing dialogue actions that strayed from the safe path, such as aggression.  With all that said, the voice acting is passable and pretty standard, so it does not detract too much from the overall experience.

Gameplay:
Alpha Protocol follows a role-playing style of game-play, and has a few key features. The first of these features being skills, which you will modify throughout the game as you progress your character’s skills in multiple areas, such as Assault Weapons, Stealth, Martial Arts, etc.  These changes will greatly influence how you fare in certain situation, and even dictate how you may move through a level, whether with stealth, or good ol’ “run and gun”.   These skills also unlock special skills that you can utilize throughout a mission, think of it as a “force” power.

You are also given the ability to purchase additional weapons and gear throughout the game, and again, like the skills, these will also influence how you proceed through each mission, and you will quickly find a combination that you favor the most, for me personally, it was the pistol and assault rifle.

       

Finally the last key feature is the special skill/weapon/gadget wheel, and it is just as it sounds, as you move through the mission, you can pull up any of these wheels and change your weapon/ammo load, select a new gadget (grenade, flashbang, mine, etc.), or even select a special skill (focused aiming, silent running, chain shot, etc.).  If you are familiar with Mass Effect, then this concept will be right at home with you.

Now all that sounds complicated, and I’ll admit it took me two or three missions before I was completely comfortable with the system, however once mastered, it flows quite well.

As I mentioned earlier, how you decide to distribute your skills, will ultimately influence how you play through each mission, however in the first few missions, your character will be very “base model”, so you’ll find yourself with little options in this area, and it actually proved quite frustrating for me, as I could never seem to maintain concealment, and just ended up blasting my way through.  That also proved to be challenging, as your initial weapon skills are next to none, so you’ll find yourself spraying bullets all over the place before you can take one enemy down.  This is one area that could have been improved upon, and perhaps even a scaled type difficulty may have proved useful, however once I played through a few missions and improved my character, I was finally able to move past this initial impression and really start enjoying the game.

       

Innovation:
There were high hopes for this game to be innovative, especially with it’s constantly changing storyline, however in reality, it feels more like the developers took key elements from Mass Effect and Splinter Cell, but did not fully polish either element.  

Now don’t me wrong, the game is fun, and by no means is it a simple game, however it may have benefitted from a bit more time in the testing and development phases.

Longevity:
When I first picked up this game, I was certain there would be little replay value in it, as we’ve all been spoiled by the open-world type games that are so popular now, and this was just a linear type game.

However, I quickly changed my mind on this, as I realized the story had multiple paths depending on your actions, and there was no way to find all these different paths unless you played through a few times.  What would happen if you did not execute that arms dealer?  What if you did not create an alliance with that secret faction?  All of these are questions that will undoubtedly make this game worth a few replays for many gamers.

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