Everyone wants to be a spy. It would be such a cool job – speak several languages, bed loads of pretty women, smack the odd belligerent dictator or super-villain about a bit with your bare hands... It's the life every bloke wants, let's face it.
But there are several codes of honour that spies must live to. Loyalty is one of them, and to uphold these values is to pay whatever price is required. Spare a thought for secret agent Michael Thorton then, who's stuck between a rock and a hard place.
He's the only person alive with knowledge on how to stop an incoming international disaster, but he can't do anything about it in his current position – because he has no position. The government cast him out before he had the chance to state his case. Now realising that the only way to complete his personal mission is to cut all ties with those he has sworn to protect, Thorton must choose where his loyalties lie.
Labelled as an Espionage RPG, Alpha Protocol offers the usual third-person mission-based action that would expect from other covert games, but with the added bonus of building Thorton up as you progress through the game. With multiple ways of accomplishing a mission, and various areas to improve your spy skills, your gameplay style will ultimately affect how Thorton evolves as an agent. The decisions you make will have consequences on the fate of the world.
Obsidian's Alpha Protocol offers an original setting and the power of choice. It's a game where you decide the fate of a majority of the cast, giving you the sense that the story is guided as much by you as it is by the designers.
With a number of ways to customize the experience – you can play as a stealth agent with a silenced pistol or bullet-spraying berserker – it initially seems like everything should be in place for an entertaining role-playing experience. But Obsidian fumbled this one, badly in spots.
A more rounded cast of characters could have helped out immensely because it's difficult to build up any emotional investment with the stereotypical personalities wrapped up in this twisting tale of conspiracy and global domination.
Imbalanced skills, glitches, dim-witted enemies, and repetitive encounters further undercut the entertainment, making Alpha Protocol a game you can safely pass by.
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