The highly anticipated game by SEGA has
finally arrived on Australian shores with Alpha Protocol, a third person
RPG action game. Gamers control a secret agent by the name of Michael
Thorton who has been unceremoniously discarded by his government and to
compound the situation, only he can stop an international threat that he
Like Biowareís Mass Effect 1 & 2, players are a given a
choice of what direction to take, thanks to timed conversation choices
that does make the game more dynamic. However the anticipation of Alpha
Protocol may have hampered this games release because after finally
getting Thorton to the end, the game feels a little dated and quite
stagnant in some places.
From the very first moments,
the game throws you into the story early on as you investigate a
terrorist group in Saudi Arabia and without spoiling the story any
further, something unfortunately goes wrong and thatís where you have to
pick up the peaces as you fly around the globe from Russia to Taiwan. As
you progress through the game, you can level up your character and use
points on the various classes that you have chosen with in turn opens up
new abilities for Thorton. The RPG aspect of the game actually works
well when it comes to specialising your character.
Although reminiscent of Mass Effect, the game feels a little too stiff,
especially with the gameplay but fortunately the story which is quite
James Bond & Bourne Indentity-esq which works and if you can put the
sometimes problematic gameplay aside, Alpha Protocol may just hold you
to the end.
However, the way Thorton interacts with the environment feels dated,
especially his stances that look like he needs to see a chiropractor or
occupational therapist. That is the most noticeable issue with the game,
the graphical engine as Thorton is quite jerky to move and
it looks like a game from several years ago. To make matters worse, if
you have played Red Dead Redemption or Mass Effect 2, youíll be sorely
disappointment in this department. Then you have issues with the camera
which it seems to have a mind of its own and more often than not gets in the way.
At itís heart, Alpha Protocol is reminiscent of the Tom Clancy Splinter
Cell games that has the player using subterfuge or an all attack to
complete a variety of set goals in each level that you play. The game allows you to specialise as either a soldier, tech specialists
or freelancer and it often feels like the developers are balancing the
game as either a stealth game like Tom Clancy or a third person shooter
like Army of Two which neither works too well.
The game does contain quite a few different types of
weaponry and gadgets to help you along the way such as using
tranquilizer to stun your enemies or my favourite, sneaking up behind
someone to take them out. You should also be wary with combat when your
sneaking around because even if you aim for an enemies head, you need to
ensure that you have the correct specialisation to take out your victim.
Apart from completing objectives, tweaking your character and engaging
with enemies, you need to complete various mini-games in the title
such as hacking computers or lock picking for example. Although a little
fiddly, I actually didnít mind these stealth mini-games and personally I
found them better than some in the Splinter Cell series. But just be
warned that some of these tasks can be quite frustrating. In terms of
interactivity with the environment, the cover system works well as you
hide behind a box or wall but more often than not, these cover places
are limited and do not work on all objects which is a little strange.
I do commend the developers with incorporating a Mass Effect 2 style of
communication choice and as your choices are timed and mapped to the
controller, you really need to be quick on your feet and thereís some
really bad voice acting when try to play the cool spy dude, especially
when it comes to the opposite sex. With the choices, some do affect the
storyline and some donít but itís generally the more condescending
choices that will cause repercussions. Personally, I wish I had a little
more time because the timer does make things a tad annoying. The romance scenes were quite amusing after you have
selected the right James Bond style of choices but next time, we tried
something different and lets just say it didnít end with a happy ending.
Weíve touched on the graphics earlier but fortunately the voice acting
has been quite professionally done which makes the game more playable.
It's like the characters appeared to have walked out of a serious
Hollywood spy movie. The musical score suits the game perfectly with its
covert tunes and themes that do assist in improving the overall aspect
of Alpha Protocol.
At the end of the day, I dearly wanted to like Alpha Protocol,
especially after some of the cool trailers and hype over the year. The
game definitely needed more refining to smooth out the gameplay and how
Thorton interacts with his environment, including some of the graphical issues.
This review may sound a touch negative but itís not all bad as the
storyline is quite good and there are some great boss battles along the
way and their choice system is pretty damn impressive.