Zero Lives Left – Alpha Protocol Review

Game: Alpha Protocol
Released: 2010
Available On:  Xbox 360 (Review), Playstation 3, PC
Genre: Action RPG

Action RPGs with guns have always been a slightly perplexing idea to me. It’s hard for me to role play into my character when it takes four shotgun blasts to an enemy’s head to kill them. Sure, you could argue that they’re wearing a really good helmet, but in actuality it’s due to your shotgun skill not being high enough. Now I’m going to argue that any competent secret agent with any skill with firearms can kill some dude by shooting him in the face with a shotgun. The fact that my character, an extreme badass, can’t kill some unarmoured police officer by shooting him, point-blank, with a shotgun in one hit. No less that he doesn’t even stagger. He just takes it and keeps firing at me. Am I the only one who finds that weird?

Take THAT hallway!!

Now with that out of the way Alpha Protocol was an enjoyable game for me, usually avoiding the aforementioned issue above. I’d shoot a dude in the head with a pistol and that guy would stay dead, I was satisfied… mostly. I’ll get to the negatives in a few, I’m going to start positive. The story was very compelling, as it should be for an espionage game, and it was amazing to see the level of complexity and detail that went into your decisions. So much attention to detail that dudes would even comment on the clothing your character was wearing. The story itself was what drove me to actually want to finish the game. The stealth mechanics in the game are also pretty well done, you can feel accomplished when sneaking around unseen in the game.

The game itself runs smooth, apart from a few moments of camera clipping through walls, and I didn’t run into any unforgivable glitches. There was one moment where I reloaded a checkpoint and all enemies in the room ahead of me were dead even though I never killed them; that was a pretty nice glitch. However, on the flip side, there were a few moments where the opposite happened: I loaded a checkpoint and suddenly there were two extra never before seen guards– I didn’t appreciate THAT one as much.

A delightful exchange between our hero and a terrorist.

What really dragged this game down was the repetition of the missions. I liked the story sections between each mission but getting there was a chore and a half. Each mission had you plopped down in some new location with some enemies in front of you, your handler would say ‘go there, get that’ and you’d listen. No wonder there’s so much betrayal in the game, your dude will do anything if someone asks him too. Also the boss battles were just frustrating, there wasn’t a single boss I enjoyed. I dreaded each of them when it came time to fighting them and there was no actual reward for winning, it was just an annoying fight with no reason for doing it. That’s probably where my issue in the start of this review stood most prominent in Alpha Protocol. Sure, it makes sense that a boss would have more health but it’s so un-flipping realistic to me to have a guy take fifty pistol shots to take him down. Furthermore with the boss battles all your stealth skill was pretty much out the window. Could there be no variety in the bosses? Like a way to sneak up behind the bosses, doing so avoids the fight all together?

Overall Alpha Protocol was a fun story bogged down by repetition. The oh-so common and dirty word of gaming these days. It saddens me too, because a game like Alpha Protocol has the chance of being so good. Every aspect of the game hit strong except the gameplay, which is THE most important part of gaming. A neat decision making system can only take a game so far. I’d recommend Alpha Protocol if you like story, it might even be more enjoyable if you played it with a friend. That way if you get bored of the monotonous gameplay you can switch it up and keep it interesting. The only problem with that is dealing with the awkwardness if your friend wants to let the bloodthirsty terrorist leader live…

Alpha Protocol: 6/10

Be very quiet, I’m hunting terrorists.

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