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Alpha Protocol Review

This is a discussion on Alpha Protocol Review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; Alpha Protocol: Official Review by Gauss Basic Information: Developer: Obsidian Publisher: SEGA North American Release Date: June 1, 2010 European ...

  1. #1
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    Gauss's Avatar

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    Alpha Protocol Review

    Alpha Protocol: Official Review
    by Gauss

    Basic Information:
    Developer: Obsidian
    Publisher: SEGA
    North American Release Date: June 1, 2010
    European Release Date: May 28, 2010
    Trophies: Yes

    Alpha Protocol follows the story of Michael Thorton as he attempts to uncover a conspiracy with implications all over the globe after being cut off from his superiors following a failed mission. The general style of Alpha Protocol is a James Bond-meets-24-meets-Mass Effect type game, borrowing heavily from all 3 places in terms of story, action, and gameplay. You are able to do everything you'd expect a ultra-high-tech covert operative to do from Karate to high-tech gadgetry... not to mention sleep with some hot women. On the surface this seems like a great idea, however nothing in this game is properly executed and corners are cut left and right. The end result is another shit-storm published by SEGA.

    This game is full of heresy! In my time as apart of this review team, heck in my time owning a PS3 I can honestly say I have never played a game as bad and as broken as Alpha Protocol. The primary influence for the game, gameplay wise, is very clearly Mass Effect. It will be obvious to anyone who has played that game. It adds a dash of Gears of War here and there, but it is taking what Mass Effect built and adapting it to its universe. This is the first area where the game feels like it wasn't quite finished. In a game that relys as heavily on shooting mechanics as this game does, its somewhat disconserting that the shooting mechanics are as poor as they are.

    The typical formula for a game like this is your gun's power is determined by the gun itself, and your accuracy and "critical" chance are determined by your skill with said weapon type. It works essentially the same here, except the accuracy component is tuned WAY down, particularly early on in the game. Again, this is expected, but this portion is so low in the beginning that the guns never really get as effective as they should be, and most certainly nowhere near the calibur of ME's shooting mechanics. A sharp contrast to how potent your melee skills are, the reason is you practically can't miss a kick. Here you are missing with a shotgun from 10 feet away, meanwhile a roundhouse to the guy's face drops him without you wasting a single bullet.

    Its one of those things too that if the accuracy portion of that stat was tweaked, this would be a whole different story. When the bullets land, it is alot of fun shooting. The game is full of cool weapons and interesting gadgets, I just don't like dumping a whole clip in a guy's direction to have 3 bullets connect. Thank god though the bad guys in this game are idiots, while I spent the last two paragraphs explaining the poor shooting mechanics you'd think this game is hard. Its not. The average encounter is a joke, you can actually run through a room and just kick every guy in the face without dying. They are that dense. The only challenge to this game is the boss fights, which are just frustratingly stupid and you will get through mostly on luck with a side helping of glitch and a sprinkling of skill.

    Other than your shooting mechanics the rest of the game functions exactly like Mass Effect, it focuses heavily on dialog. There are some very cool skills available to you as your character levels up, but the one thing this game does really well is the dialog trees, you don't really have a set "karma" system like Fallout 3 or Mass Effect. Instead you determine how you behave with individual characters based on how you want the interaction to go, it takes it more than good vs. bad. You can flirt your ass off with a handler or a character to the point where she jumps in bed with you the moment the convo is over, you can make enemies or make allies based on how you handle situations and it takes more cunning and coniving than just picking whether to be friendly or aggressive, you have to know when to be decitful, when to be honest, when to be non-chalant, etc, etc. At the end of the day though, you know the gameplay is bad when the dialog mechanics are the best thing the game has to offer.

    The singleplayer is a shining example of a great idea ruined by a lack of talent/time/thought. The premise is rock-sold, epic, 24-style spy thriller. At the start of the game you are on a mission which goes terribly wrong and you exercise an "Alpha Protocol" to go under-cover to expose a conspiracy that goes into the deepest levels of the government. Its like Deus Ex, except without any real intelligence and with alot more action. My problem with the singleplayer is two-fold: The plot-twists get ridiculous, and the characters are all one-note.

    The plot-twists are what really kill this game. There are just too fucking many of them, you can play through this game and be betrayed every mission it seems, and at a certain point it stops being dramatic, entertaining, and surprising and starts being annoying, predicatable, and boring. Whats more is it happens to fast, and this feeds into my second complaint, too frequently the characters just don't develop and you just don't care because you are practically expecting to be back-stabbed the next scene, problem is half the time you are right.

    Extending from that this game is full of one-note characters, basically the only digital construct in this game I would allow to be classified as a character is Micheal Thorton, your character. Pretty much everybody else are archetypes that never develop into individual characters on their own, there is nothing that makes them unique. They all feel like they are ripped out of Bond movies and made as bland as possible, all functioning on one-dimensional motivations, and most of the time their characterization never expands over the course of the story. They are either hungry for power, chaos, money, or your cock and do whatever one thing they are trying to do to get it throughout the whole game.

    The one thing that is good about the singleplayer and one of the two shining gems in the sea of shit this game has is the depth of personalization the story has for you. The dialog trees in this game, as I mentioned in the section above, are just ridiculous. The thing is though your choices have potentially real consequences with every desicion. The end result is you really feel like you are driving the story, stupid as it may be. This may be a blessing in disguise because the depth of the tree likely influenced the poor characters overall in the story, and at the end of the day I'll take a linear story thats truly well told rather than an open "choose your own adventure" that has no real substance... But its nice to see that Obsidian really went for the gusto in terms of story paths. This isn't a 2 or 3 path game like everything else out there.

    I am making no exaggeration when I say this game, from a technical standpoint, is the worst I've played this generation on the PS3/360. The whole package feels like it was un-finished, and I honestly am blaming this on SEGA. Even though it was delayed 6 months, something about this construction and how the whole game operates at a technical level still feels like the game is in an early release, like Obsidian wasn't able to finish anything.

    The reason I say this is the graphical glitches and issues are unmistakeable and make the game visually unplayable. This is the first game I have ever played where I actually saw texture pop-out. Yes, thats right, a texture loaded then de-loaded as I got closer. This coupled with the texture pop-in that is very prevalent in this game (even more than Prototype, which was my previous worse) makes the whole game feel incomplete, like Obsidian built this as a beta to work on gameplay and physics and SEGA said "thats good enough for store shelves, don't work on it anymore." I refuse to believe these glitches were just missed, this isnt' you stand in one place and look in one way and the sky flashes for a second. This is I am walking through a room and the desk is flashing with each step as the texture pops in and out.

    Even then alot of the texture work is very sub-par, the loading process sometimes blurs the texture so that a whole surface will be one bland mixture of colors which completely eliminates any semblence of immersion you ever had. Nothing looks real when this happens, your gun looks like a gun-metal blob or that pillar that was marble looks like someone just threw some light gray paint on it. Even if we ignore that, trying to immerse yourself in the environment is a tough call. None of the locales feel real, which is the goal of immersion. Whats mind-boggling is that this isn't even a sci-fi story, this is modelling real locales. You couldn't spend a weekend in Moscow, Obsidian? It makes you appreciate the accomplishment of Dead Space so much more, seriously Visceral take 1000 more shares of respect from me.

    Alpha Protocol even violates something I usually don't even bother to consider: Framerate and control mechanics. 99% of games nowadays, even on consoles, don't ever dip below 30 fps, or if they do you barely notice. I can't tell you how many times these texture issues caused a gigantic dip in fps that had an enemy seemingly jump in time. The control mechanics are awful too, and this is another issue I would suspect is caused by the above issue (see, it seems like one gigantic issue opened up Pandora's fucking box). There is this lag that drifts in and out where sometimes your gun just won't fire or shift aim or that kick goes the wrong direction because the game held when you tapped your character to the side. Whats more is it comes and goes, as if the game gets distracted occasionally by a pair of tits or its own stupidity.

    Alpha Protocol is not a difficult Platinum if you can deal with the game's issues, it is just time-consuming. It will require several playthroughs even with a guide and in typical "choice-driven-RPG" fashion there is alot of trophy for X choice and trophy for Y choice. That being said this plat is easily attainable in a weekend rent to the average trophy whore.

    Gameplay: 4/10
    - The shooting mechanics flat out don't work until you get very late in the game, you will spend most of your time melee-ing because it can't miss. The one shining thing in the gameplay is the dialog tree, which is among the best to date.

    Singleplayer: 4/10
    - The story has a very interesting premise and the potential for a real epic feel, problem is it never really develops and the plot twists become way too frequent and predictable.

    Technical: 1/10
    - The visuals are bland and boring, none of the locales have any real signature to them. The graphics are awful with texture pop-out being a rapant problem. Controls in terms of responsiveness are just horrific.

    Overall: 3/10 Tragic
    - This game is barely functional, and while its nice to see such a great dialog structure that really drives the story and its really entertaining to see just how much of a man-whore you can make Michael Thorton, this game doesn't have enough redeeming qualities to really warrant anything more from me than a "stay away".

  2. #2
    Legalize it...
    JDizzle0420's Avatar

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    Sep 2011

    Glad I didnt buy this. I saw it pretty cheap a while back but didnt want to buy it with out looking into it, then I forgot to look it up...

  3. #3
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    Sep 2011

    Harsh review - I actually enjoyed it

  4. #4
    Regional Manager of War
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    Sep 2011
    Empire City

    Great review gauss , worst technical game you played on the ps3
    Last edited by Admiral_Awesome91; 04-05-2012 at 07:34 AM.

  5. #5
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    Sep 2011

    Yes, this game was tragically bad... 3/10 is what it deserves
    Gauss's Piracy Uncertainty Principle: When you pirate a game, that act inherently changes the results of what is to come after your pirating. You can't make any statement with any certainty regarding what would have happened had you not pirated the game.

    Gauss's Rating Rationale:
    0-1: A game whose very existence is abhorrent to all things creative and intelligent.
    2-4: A just plain bad game.
    5-6: A game that has alot of mistakes, but is atleast playable and has some enjoyable sections. Good for a rent.
    7: An average game, should be played at some point
    8: A good game, should buy at some point
    9: A great game, day-one purchase
    10: A game that goes above and beyond the generation, its transcendent.

  6. #6
    kidson2004's Avatar

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    Sep 2011
    All Around The World

    Wow, that's bad indeed. Looks like it's overdue to be taken to the wood shed then.

  7. #7
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    brAvEhEaRtDC's Avatar

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    Feb 2012

    It is not that bad gauss.The storyline was really fun and made you think like you are a real agent.Also, the "romance" scences (it isnt much romance trough ) are awesome.Also,the ability for you to have safehouses and speak with people,is just epic.Obsidian isnt very good at the technical part because it is a really small team.However,Awesome review gauss!
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