Alpha Protocol is an action-roleplaying game that was developed by Obsidian Entertainment in 2010 and published by Sega. Alpha Protocol is called on the case “The Espionage RPG” which should give you an idea of what it is about without ruining the story as I am trying to stay away from any spoilers in this article. To be a bit more clear, your main character in the game is a spy. The game released to a very lukewarm reception mainly due to a lack of refinement of the gameplay mechanics. As such, a Sega employee, Mr. Mike Hayes, stated that Sega would not be publishing a sequel. However, as a fan of the game I believe that Alpha Protocol should most definitely receive a sequel.
I will admit that the game was highly unpolished and sometimes the gameplay was a slog to get through. The combat felt clunky and weird and the mini-games were an absolute pain in the butt to do when unlocking things such as doors or trying to shut off alarms. For example, the lock picking mini-game was especially frustrating at times because the R2 button was highly susceptible to the amount of pressure applied making it hard to align the middle of the pins with the line in such a short amount of time (well for me at least).
Another maddening point of contention for me was the fact whenever I would save the game in a certain spot, the game would not remember the spot I was in. Say I would be a good quarter of the way into a mission and then I would have to go. The game would not recognize the spot I left off in and would instead put me back at the beginning albeit with some of the guards gone or in different positions. I was never entirely sure if this was how the save system worked or if that was just a bug that was happening with the game but I guess it did not bother me enough to the point where I googled the problem.
Now despite all of Alpha Protocol’s numerous and glaring flaws, the game had a lot of charm that Obsidian developed games tend to have. Alpha Protocol blew me away on my first playthrough and quickly skyrocketed to the number 5 spot on my top ten favorite RPG list (the first three spots taken up by the Mass Effect trilogy and the fourth spot given to Trails in the Sky: Legends of Heroes FC). The story was told in an interesting fashion, the main character, Mike Thorton, is being interrogated back at the base where the prologue takes place and the story is told through flashbacks. After doing the story missions in Saudi Arabia, the player picks a city (Moscow, Rome, etc.) and does missions within that city to progress the story. The player has a main base in every city and within that base the player is allowed to customize their character and mission load-out as well as buy weapons, better armor, and Intel that will help with the story missions through the computer. The look of the player base is tailored to the style of the city you’re in which makes each city feel unique even if the game does not allow the player freedom to roam the city.
One of my favorite things about Alpha Protocol is the dialogue will and how it is done. Most games with dialogue options have about three choices and this remains true for Alpha Protocol. However, games such as Mass Effect give the player choices that allows their main character to either be good, evil, or neutral. Alpha Protocol is different in the sense that it allows the player to craft a personality for their characters that differs from the good or evil trope by giving the player options to be “suave, professional, or aggressive”. The three options were created around the three major spy personalities scene on TV and within the movies, Jason Bourne, James Bond, and Jack Bauer.
For me, this allowed me to give my main character a personality that wavered depending on the situation. If I was talking to the woman I wanted to romance I would be suave or if I was talking to my boss or handler I would have a more professional tone and this was further improved by the fact that three. Adding on to the choices, the player would sometimes be given other options like sarcastic or negotiate or investigate depending on the situation so there was always a mix. There was no clear cut good or evil but rather I felt freer to pick and choose how I wanted to react versus having to feel like I was being forced to stick to my good guy/girl persona. It was a rather refreshing change.
Both the dialogue and story for me was really different from anything I had ever played before and as such I fell in love with the game. Despite its more than lacking gameplay mechanics and combat system, the game was balanced with story mechanics that was a nice change of pace. And because of all of this, I think the Espionage RPG really needs a sequel. A second chance to become an ARPG that really stands out from other more modern ARPGs. That brings something fresh into the genre. One that brings in the well-done story mechanics and polishes up its mini-games and combat and save system. One that does not offer the player a giant, open-world and side quests galore like Dragon Age: Inquisition or something like the Witcher 3. Alpha Protocol the sequel could be the ARPG that offers a more linear and fast-paced experience that still makes the player feel like they are in control of their character and the story. I believe Alpha Protocol deserves another chance to give an accessible RPG experience to new players as well as to long-time gamers.
Alpha Protocol, in my book, was an underrated gem of the PS3 era and I would encourage anybody that has not played the game to pick it up for $3 or $4 dollars from Gamestop like I did or pick it up on Steam when it goes on sale as it is $14.99. To me the $14.99 is worth it but to others it might not be, so if you do decide to pick the game up on Steam at full price do so at your own discretion.
Have any of you guys/girls below played the game? What are your thoughts? Do you people think that the game should get a sequel? Why or why not? Let me know in the comment section below!