Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Saving the world, one decision at a time
Choice is the watchword in Alpha Protocol; as undercover spy Michael Thorton, you can carry out missions in whatever style you’d like. You can flirt with that girl on the airplane or just brood and ignore her. You can barrel headfirst into a slum full of mobsters or silently sneak through the shadows, eliminating guards one headshot at a time. You can even tailor Thorton’s facial hair—shooting terrorists is especially fun when you look like Grizzly Adams.
Unlike other games that offer expansive decision-making, choices in Alpha Protocol have long-term consequences. Let that terrorist leader live and he’ll email you intelligence reports, but speak too flippantly to an ally and she might not have your back anymore. Palpable consequences lead to a totally interactive experience that you’ll have to play through multiple times to fully appreciate.
Alpha Protocol can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be an FPS or RPG, and toeing the line here doesn’t feel as smooth as it did in Mass Effect. The shooting mechanics can be rather frustrating, and it’s hard to ignore the five-year-old graphics and dim-witted AI. The story is gripping enough to be worth playing through, but we can’t help but wish there had been more polish.