Thursday, March 1, 2012

Alpha Protocol Review

So here's the deal...  This game is stellar.

Alright, let me expand on this, when I say 'stellar' I don't mean "perfect".  I mean "What I like it does pretty well".

We'll do a part-by-part breakdown here of what the game offers.

Overview: This is an espionage RPG.  You are a spy.  You are well trained.  This means, that even with 0 skill points in an ability, you can still be successful at something.  If you have 0 points in say, Shotguns, it just means you're not Blasty: The Shotgun God.  You're just Michael Thorton, Shotgun User.  This is a game that mixes research, reading characters in conversation, and gunplay.

Dialogue - There's a LOT of it.  Each thing you say has a chance to sway someone's perception of you.  You may get them to like, and hate you, all in the same conversation.  Having allies is good, but having someone fear you could be just as effective in this game.  The way the game handles conversation is not with the traditional "Pick a specific line to say", you actually pick the tone and attitude with which you say things.  Also, your choices are on a timer, meaning you have to pay attention to the conversation.  The timer pops up usually when someone else is talking, so your response feels more organic than the unnatural pause you'd find in other RPGs.  This makes conversation more engaging to me.

Characters - So far, the characters are diverse, yet believable.  Each person seems like they could actually be a real person in their own way.  Voice acting is pretty solid as well.

Gunplay - Third-person, over the shoulder gunplay.  Pretty standard.  Up on the d-pad brings up your weapon menu (2 guns you bring in with you, with 3 different types of ammo for each). Right pulls up your gadget menu, where you'll find your grenades, healing kits, etc.  The amount you can carry is limited by your perks, and your armor.  Left pulls up your active skills (like Chain-Shot: A pistol only ability that slows down time so that you can line up 2-3 shots in rapid succession, 2 minute cooldown at first).  Down switches the shoulder which your shooting over, something pretty handy in a firefight from cover.

Personally, what I've been trying to do is stealth takedowns.  Or if the takedown fails, melee combat.  I also carry a silenced pistol and an Assault Rifle.  I try to focus on stealth, but can shoot my way out if need be.

Story - The story is straight out of a Hollywood movie.  It's full of revenge, backstabbing, government cover-ups, special agents, and Paramilitary Organizations.  You get yourself involved with the Chinese Secret Police, the Triads, the Mob, CIA, and more.

Odds and Ends - One of the things I like about the game is simple.  Replying to emails.  When you find some dirt on a company on a mission, you email it to yourself, and you can view it from your safehouse.  From there, you have 3 options.  You can send the info to your friend in the media, for a reputation bump and a small monetary compensation, you can blackmail the company for a good chunk of change, or you can forgo that and sell the intel on the black market to the highest bidder.

This game makes you either regret, or embrace your decisions.  Spare an arms dealers life?  Well you can either arrest him, or take his bribe of weapons, money, and black market dealer contacts.  But he may come back to haunt you in the future.  Or you could just kill him to remove a potential threat.  If you go all gung-ho on a mission, you may end up pissing off the CIA and they may send more reinforcements for your next mission.  this game is very ambitious when it comes to consequence.

I love playing the spy role.  I read the dossiers on everyone.  I gather intel from the black market, from missions.  I like knowing about these people.  Reading can give you a leg up in a conversation, you can find out what they like, or dislike, and turn it against them. A good piece of information can sway a conversation.

Downsides - Some of the character models can look a little weird at times.  Not quite uncanny valley weird, but not top-shelf graphics either.  A few bugs like bullets occasionally passing through a wall, or the rare freeze are all that's plagued me thus far.  If I can play through this game, and encounter only these bugs, I'll chalk this up as a good purchase that's not broken.

Recommendation - If you're looking for a pretty smart, third person RPG, you could do much worse than Alpha Protocol.  Gunplay is average, but you're here for the story and role-playing.  You can make your Thorton behave just how you picture a spy to act.  He can be the Suave Bond, the Hot Headed Bauer, or the sneaky Bourne.  Or a mix of all 3.

1 comment:

  1. Even on a quick game review, you do well. This is probably one of the more interesting games of its kind that I've seen.