I will never be Bond. James Bond. That’s a certain fact and, as lame as it might sound, it saddens me to tears: no knocking at Halle Berry’s door, no super-cars, no gadgets, no six packs to impress the ladies… nothing! I won’t be able to sneak around bad guys and silence them with a needle, I won’t prove my skills at shooting five different people right between the eyes with a single bullet, I won’t get to be Suave with a girl that has a gun pointed at me.
But isn’t it a waste – I (and I am completely sure that this statement includes you as well) have so much theoretical knowledge and nothing to do with it? Well… it’s not completely true, because there is Alpha Protocol in the building, ready to make my dream come true. Let the spy game begin!
You are Micheal Thorton, a James Bond Meets Bourne-type of guy who prefers to work alone but is contracted (in a really straightforward way) by a secret organization called Alpha Protocol and invited to solve the world’s problems: and words like war, terror, corruption and betrayal will be no strangers to your vocabulary.
When you start the game you have the option to select your past career, basically choosing the difficulty level: for the sake of the game’s story and in order to fully experience the goodies, you should go for the Recruit role which gives you no skill points to start with, but offers extra dialogue options and therefore game content.
And dialogs are very important in the game, following the trend of the modern times: your answers or questions and they way you say them influences the game up to a point that you can lose or earn extra missions or even completely change the way the story is told. This is very cool, especially since it gives you a “very real time” feeling: you can usually be Professional, Suave or Aggresive but you can’t spend ages thinking about the best way to answer. Usually it will be your gut telling you how to behave – you can make mistakes and you’ll have to pay for them or you can strike lucky and be loved by the people around. And usually it doesn’t hurt to have at least a few allies in Alpha Protocol…
If half of the game is talking with different characters and realizing that your actions have an impact on the story, the other half is your classic third person shooter with a bit of RPG in it. Unfortunately, the game does not excel at this and unfortunately confirms that Obsidian (Alpha Protocol’s developers) tends to release products that don’t have enough polish: the AI of the enemies is far from impressive and usually the enemies will prove to have suicidal tendencies and extremely poor movement decisions and the cover system is disappointing but fortunately you can play the game without using it. However, the shooter part is not completely broken and Alpha Protocol still manages to be quite fun and keep you playing.
You can chose to complete your missions either by blasting in and blowing everything and everybody up or try to use the stealth to your advantage and be a real spy. Usually, the first part is faster, more fun and even more rewarding, I’d dare to say, but you have a choice and that’s a good thing!
The visuals are nice as well, but they won’t blow you off your socks and the sound is good enough to keep the speakers or headphones on and not to lose your mind. We’ve seen worse, but we’ve definitely seen better.
All in all, Alpha Protocol is a fun and solid game. It is not perfect as there are bugs and glitches as well as problems with the AI, but at the end of the day you’ll agree that you had fun and you might even start it all over again and try to play the complete opposite, just to see what it happens. Therefore, we can agree that the game offers value for the money and it’s one of the better games of the year, even if it won’t win any major award.