Alpha Protocol is a action role-playing game developed by veteran game studio, Obsidian Entertainment, which I've recently managed to procure a copy of the game via Steam. I didn't pay full price for it, the game was on sale for 2 bucks (90% off) during the SEGA publisher weekend deal. Quite a steal, isn't it? Well, in actual fact, I didn't fork out any money at all. A Internet buddy of mine traded the game with me for two sets of virtual items from Team Fortress 2. It was well worth it and I finally got an opportunity to try out Steam's trade feature. Talk about throwing two birds with one stone. It's rare to see a game go on sale at such a low price for an AAA title but I guess the poor reception during its release played a major factor.
Built on the Unreal Engine 3, a game-engine that is widely perceived as optimized and highly versatile, Alpha Protocol looks mediocre at best. You could say that Obsidian Entertainment had not put any effort into creating a distinctive style for the game. The end result is bland and generic looking environments. The character models though, are noticeably of high quality so interacting with characters won't be an eyesore to look at. I'm not upset that it doesn't have first-class graphics because by then I probably won't be able to run it smoothly. Alpha Protocol looks fine as it is. I shan't be a graphics whore.
The protagonist of the game, voiced by Josh Gilman, is Michael Thorton, the newest member of Alpha Protocol. A top secret program/agency that isn't "officially" sanctioned by the United States government. They engage in covert operations around the world with their enormous pool of resources. On your very first mission to assassinate the leader of a terrorist organization, you're faced with a shocking revelation that prompts your own agency to screw you over. After expunging you from Alpha Protocol and declaring you a rogue agent, you spend the remaining of the game uncovering the truth of a global conspiracy that could lead to World War III. You've some limited customization options to change how Michael looks like his hair, eye colour, facial hair, skin tone and eyewear. You won't be able to alter his facial features nor body type. Don't worry about it though, Michael looks dashing as he already is. In some way, it does. Kudos to his voice actor as well.
You'll be taking on linear missions in places such as Rome, Taiwan and Moscow. In each city, there's a safe-house where you can prepare yourself to head out. Stuff like buying/sorting equipment, emailing your contacts, character customization can be done in the safety of your safe-house. There's also be a big-ass television screen where your contacts can interact with you. It does work like a regular TV as well but unfortunately, the only channel it has is news. However, news reports are based on your actions during your missions. Speaking of equipment, there's somewhat a substantial amount of gadgets/weapons at your arsenal. SMGs, pistols, shotguns, assault rifles and various different gadgets. I personally found most of the gadgets to be redundant. It all depends on how you want to play your character. While on missions, you're bound to encounter some intriguing characters. Like the game's slogan says, your weapon is choice. As well as Alpha Protocol's one-of-a-kind social system, there's no telling how your relationships might end up. For example, you're only given a couple of seconds to make a decision with the dialogue wheel. Depending on what you chose, it can either repulse or appeal to the character you're talking too. If you do gain enough positive repute, they may even become an ally of yours and provide assistance in your missions. Therefore, it's imperative to read their respective dossiers and get to know more of their background if you have no intentions to piss them off.
Earlier on, I spoke of the poor reception the game garnered. Does Obsidian Entertainment truly deserve the "This game sucks" attitude? I'm on the fence about that. I did had an fantastic time with the game and playing Michael Thorton definitely made me feel like a super-spy. Plus the fact that the dialogue system provided me the opportunity to craft his personality to my liking.
It's a fact that Alpha Protocol severely lacks polish. It suffers from game-breaking technical glitches to cumbersome controls. All of these issues could have been fixed if the game was given more development time.