Alpha Protocol is the spy game that all James Bond fans secretly crave. Admittedly it is a bit of a mess technically – but that in no way should take away from the beauty of its branching story, in-depth conversation systems, and shear variety of choice.
Spy movie shlock
Taking the role of Agent Michael Thornton, you are cut off by your government and left to try and prevent catastrophe by yourself – a plot that will no doubt be familiar to anyone who has seen any spy movie made in the last 30 years. Where it sets itself apart, however, is how you go about doing this.
You have a huge depth of options available to you as you build your Michael, allowing you to create the perfect spy to suit your play style as you move through the game. You can choose to be a master spy, specializing in hand to hand combat and stealth, allowing you to silently take out or evade all in your path, fight like a commando with a full range of weapons, or use espionage to overcome locks and security to avoid obstacles in your path.
Talk your way out
But while all of these elements will affect how you face combat, it is really how you handle your interactions with people that truly sets Alpha Protocol apart. Every conversation is met by three or four options, and any one of them can ingratiate or sour them to you. It isn’t limited to the conversation though, as your acts in battle will also impact characters reactions – or if you will see them at all.
My favorite of these characters is Steven Heck, who claims to be a member of the CIA and knows everything that is going on in his locale of Taipei. What makes him work so well is that he seems just a little unhinged and - despite all of your various intelligence access – you seem unable to verify his claim of working for the US Government. If you gain reputation with him – for example by offering him a tube to help him get fluid down a suspects (?) throat during an interrogation – he can eventually become your handler, providing some interesting methods for getting through missions.
Cheap, and well worth a look
As I said at the start Alpha Protocol is a bit of a technical mess, with bad some character builds making completing the game almost impossible and a number of bugs. But it allows for such a rich tapestry of interactions I can’t help but love it.