Alpha Protocol (PS3) Review

Alpha Protocol (PS3) Review
Alpha Protocol (PS3) Review 2
Alpha Protocol
Editors Choice

Making choices is fun but, for this reviewer at least, making choices regarding dragons and mages (or aliens and robots) is not much fun. Alpha Protocol, the latest title from Obsidian Entertainment— and touted as the “first ever espionage RPG”— , is designed for people like myself — those that love to customize characters and get wrapped up in lengthy narratives but don’t care for the generic trappings of the sci-fi and fantasy genres that most often make up RPG setting

In Alpha Protocol, you play as Mike Thorton, a superspy deluxe that can be whatever variety of covert operative you desire. Obsidian gives you the ability to craft the game’s protagonist in a number of ways, allowing player control over his skill set, background and personality. Most of these choices are fleshed out well and it’s simple to make your Mike Thorton into a Rambo-esque bruiser, a tech-savvy engineer, a shadowy stealth infiltrator or any mixture of the three main classe The game does a fairly solid job of making every approach to the game viable but it should be noted that, unlike many other Western RPGs, concentrating on pure stealth and charisma will not allow you to bypass scripted boss fights and other confrontations that are integral to the plotline.

Alpha Protocol (Ps3) Review 3
Alpha Protocol (PS3)

From Obsidian with Love

Like an adorable, one-armed toddler asking you to play a game of Paddy-Cake, Alpha Protocol is endearing even when it’s incapable of following through on its attempts at engaging you. Its mini-games (computer hacking, lock-picking and alarm deactivating) lose their charm after the second or third occurrence. Its attempts at character customization (fluorescent sunglasses, standard handsome guy stubble, giant beard, standard handsome guy buzz cut, etc.) are shallower than an empty bathtub and are bound to alienate anyone that wants to create their own likeness but happens to be female— or any ethnicity other than white.

Alpha Protocol doesn’t deliver quite what it could have in many areas of the experience but the attention to detail that has gone into the game is still stunning. Obsidian Entertainment has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to make the international lore of Alpha Protocol’s various characters and factions as well-defined and immersive as possible. Unlockable dossiers, emails and multi-tiered conversations all come together to make for a deep and fully realized world. The fact that so many of the enormous cast of characters are memorable (enough so, perhaps, to star in their very own games) makes delving into auxiliary material well worth the trouble.

Perhaps most impressive of Alpha Protocol’s achievements is the beautiful balance the game creates between customization and narrative propulsion. The dividing line between Western and Japanese role-playing games is usually drawn deep into the sand but, in Alpha Protocol, narrative and personal choice create a striking harmony unlike any other RPG to date. This, more than anything else, is the game’s strongest contribution to its industry and is something that other developers would be wise to take notice of.

In the end, Alpha Protocol seems destined to become one of the year’s most polarizing title Those that are able to look past its flaws will find a charming game with a personal choice system that encourages multiple play throughs, a story that makes the time spent in its world worthwhile and plenty of good ideas of how a more polished sequel could revitalize the RPG genre.

Alpha Protocol is an underdog with a lot of heart. In an industry that demands the delivery of promises and return on producer investment — where trying and failing are not an option — it does its best and tries out some truly interesting idea Even though Alpha Protocol’s best won’t be enough for everyone, those drawn to a compelling story and the possibility of a new kind of RPG will find this mission worth signing on for.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE
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