Reader Review: Alpha Protocol

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This review was submitted by James McKenna. If you’ve played Alpha Protocol, or just want to ask James more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Alpha Protocol (360, PS3, PC)

Alpha Protocol is the long-in-development espionage RPG from Obsidian Entertainment. You are Michael Thorton, a rogue agent, cut off from your friends and country, searching for answers and maybe even vengeance.

Loved

International Man Of Mystery: With missions spread around the world, you really do feel like an international super spy. The locations were well realised and interesting to play through.

A Vew To A Kill: The safe houses are excellently done, full of mementos from missions, sweeping vistas out the windows, and each matched the atmosphere of the supposed city. Although, let down by the last mission when you’re back in the Greek safe house for some reason.

Live And Let Die: There's no wrong path to conversations, choices are rewarded with different bonuses and your actions with one person can affect your relationship with others. Having someone as an ally can get you rewards, whilst having them as an enemy can get you different rewards.

The Spy Who Loved Me: The romance options are many with each requiring a slightly different approach. They pay off, too... I’m looking at you, Yeoman Chalmers.

The Living Daylights: Close quarters combat is a blast; it’s approaching Arkham Asylum levels of badassery.

From Russia With Love: The supporting cast is generally excellent, even if the voice acting isn’t stellar, the characters are.

Hated

Quantum of Solace: The conversation system is similar to Mass Effect, except that it’s timed, sometimes requiring you to choose a response before the NPC has finished speaking. Don't choose and it defaults to the last one you used.

You Only Live Twice: Checkpoint saving, hasn’t game design moved past this yet?

Diamonds Are Forever: The PC doesn’t have a lot of options for adjusting Thorton's appearance, and even if you do change him it isn’t reflected in some of the cutscenes. The visuals are let down by the Unreal engines texture pop, which seems worse in this game than others. Also some of the graphical glitches are vexing, falling through the world and getting stuck in scenery.

Casino Royale: The skill points system is a bit meh, and I’m an RPG fan. I don’t think it’s bad, I just don’t believe the skill trees are explained properly.

The Man With The Golden Gun: Weapons are flawed, even if they do get better the more points you add to them. On a stealth run, a pistol took nine headshots to kill someone. Yeah… nine. There’s a problem when it is faster to charge in at full speed and pummel an enemy than it is to shoot them.

The World Is Not Enough: The story (which I won’t spoil) is a bit cliché, you’ll have seen it in Alias, Bond films, and maybe even Spies Like Us.

Moonraker: How come we can’t climb over cover? I’ve seen Bond, Bourne and Bauer do it, but Thorton can’t?

Bond 23: The ending was a bit of a let down and left the game feeling unresolved.

In the end, it’s a good game, let down by a number of issues. Frankly, if a game is in development this long it should be better. It’s still a lot of fun and I would recommend it, but perhaps not as highly as it could have been.

Reviewed by: James McKenna

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words - yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


Comments

    For Your Eyes Only: great review, loved the section titles!

    Good Game mentioned there are something like 32 different endings. Maybe is like a choose your own adventure where all but one kind of sucks ;-)

    Clever use of Bond movie titles for this review :P

    It's Yeoman Chambers dude.

      Perhaps that's why it didn't pay off for him? He failed to charm her...

        Darn it. I must have checked the spelling on that review at least four times. Darn.

        Also, I see you've revealed to the world my true identity... well, you haven't beaten me yet Mr. Wild Goose.
        Odd Job, dispose of this man... Odd Job..? Odd Job..?

        Curse you Mr. Goose, but I still have my fake beards... and with those you'll never find me. mwuhahaha. So I give you a choice Mr. Goose.

        In the room to your left is a vat of tepid water, yes... tepid water. Suspended above that is a copy of the manual from Super Mario Brothers for NES...

        You can either save it... or catch me Mr. Goose, but there's only time to do one. Which will it be Mr. Goose..? Which will it be?

    What is your complaint with the checkpoint saves/lack thereof?
    I haven't played the game yet, would like to know how they're implemented.

      basically after you achieve each point of a mission theres a checkpoint

      im not quite sure what his issue is here

      since checkpoints arent spaced that far apart and its not like theres anything where you spend 20 minutes to get somewhere and then get killed so you have to go all the way back to the start(well not on my playthrough anyways

      and since you can manual save whenever you want its not like theres any real issue with not being able to explore different paths

      I think games have moved past them.

      In Alpha Protocol the saves are fairly often, and whilst they do kind of freeze the game whilst it saves, I wouldn't say it was overly obtrusive.

      I'm in my late twenties, the average age of gamers is in their thirties now. They have families and commitments outside of games.
      Checkpoint saving may once have necessary because of limited memory... but we're not playing Donkey Kong anymore. Consoles, PC's and even handhelds have memory now. Checkpoint saving has become a means of ensuring people keep playing, I feel it's a punishment for needing to walk away.

      I guess what he was referring to there was the save system. You have your checkpoints, one which gets saved over as you progress through missions, and one which saves in between each mission. The only manual saving you can do is make a backup of such a checkpoint.

      There's a far more glaring problem with the checkpoints, though. The game has a bad habit of saving a checkpoint when you go through a door, and then locking it behind you. If you accidentally went the wrong way, there's no way back without restarting the entire mission, so there's a lot of frustration when you miss things because of that.
      I won't spoil the details, but there's a particularly horrible instance of it in the final mission.

    the conversation system im not sure with your issue in it its much much better than ME2's

    for the fact that the conversations move forward and you cant just sit there going through the same 3 lots of convo to get to the other choice option

    and theres no inherently positive answer to everything which makes morals a bit different as the way someone responds to you is through your conversation and to some being a jerk is a positive

    im not sure what your issue with the weapons are but in my entire playthtough i never had anything that took more than 3-5 pistol shots to put down(thats including misses and not aiming for the head) aside from a boss which then its understandable

    and i was doing stealth as well

    the changes are reflected in the cutscenes just not in the ones with leland

    The game basically checkpoints every like few minutes (at all major intervals within a level, and after) and you can only save a game when it checkpoints... personally, I never had a problem with it at all.

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