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Alpha Protocol
PC, XBox 360, Playstation 3

Reviewed on: PC

Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Sega
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

I know this may be hard to stomach for some gamers, but delays can be a very good thing. Sure, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get your hands on the title, but it gives the developers more time to fine tune and tweak their product; ensuring a better product.

This is not the case for Sega and Obsidian’s often delayed Alpha Protocol. Every time you begin enjoying yourself even slightly, another miscue brings the game to a grinding halt. Even after being pushed back multiple times the game is a certifiable disappointment of epic proportions.

The most disappointing thing about Alpha Protocol is that from time to time you get glimpses of just how impressive the game could have been. The idea behind the game itself is a rather daring one; a fully evolving espionage action title where the players’ actions and decisions shape not only the world, but the outcome as well.  You play as special agent Michael Thorton who after a failed mission is abandoned by his own government. Thorton begins to operate undercover to not only finish the mission, but uncover one hell of a government conspiracy in the process. Throughout the game you’ll use literally every trick in the spy’s handbook; from interrogation, to silly costumes.

"...Alpha Protocol often gets crushed under the weight of its own lofty aspirations."


When they work, the mechanics are truly impressive, but unfortunately these moments are few and far between as Alpha Protocol often gets crushed under the weight of its own lofty aspirations. What was supposed to be Mass Effect without the space theme comes off as Mass Effect without the depth and fundamentals. My main issue with the game is that once you get into a good portion of the game, you’re bound to have multiple story threads open, but you never get the chance to fully develop any of them.  For instance, throughout much of the game’s first and second act, it was obvious that the game was building towards a certain confrontation – but it never happened. Connections you make are often dropped quickly and never heard from until the most awkward point in the game’s third act. In a game where so much is based upon your relationship with other characters, giving the player so little chance to do so is quite a perplexing choice.

Also much like Mass Effect, Alpha Protocol works as a pseudo-action RPG title. At the beginning of the game, you’ll choose a specialty for agent Thorton, much like picking a class in games like Mass Effect. Your choice of course, will decide how your skill tree will develop and in theory, it will also determine how you’re best to handle certain situations. Really though, I never felt like my skill tree truly mattered as I was able to handle each mission with ease whether I was using stealth or going in guns blazing.  I could definitely tell the change when upgrading my weapon skills, but other than that, it was pretty lackluster.

While playing Alpha Protocol, you’re sure to scratch your head at some of the mechanical choices the team made in development. Chief among them is that you never feel completely comfortable controlling Thorton thanks to a camera that’s zoomed in way too close.  While it may seem like a small complaint, it gets very hard to deal with when you have to navigate one of the game’s areas with tight quarters. The camera makes some interesting choices later in the game as well, like swinging around wildly during actions or even somehow positioning itself so your actual body itself is in the way. Talk about your interesting obstacles.

"The best way to describe much of Alpha Protocol’s gameplay is inconsistent."


The best way to describe much of Alpha Protocol’s gameplay is inconsistent. If you take the “shoot first, ask questions later” route, you’re going to find little reliability in your arsenal. Sure, weapons like assault rifles and grenades are powerful enough but pistols and smaller firearms are absurdly weak, leading to frustratingly long gun battles.  The game’s cover system is just as inconsistent; acting similar to that of Gears of War – the aim is to simply run up to an object, hit a button and BAM – you’re in cover. This works, sometimes. All too often though, I found myself taking cover on the wrong side of objects or worse, not even being able to stick to certain walls for no particular reason.

The game’s stealth track proves to be a bit more dependable, but it too has its fair share of issues, the first being the game’s horrid AI. Your enemies seem to like being shot and killed as they’ll run around at the most in opportune times and love to jump in front of bullets. There was one time where I sat and watched an enemy take cover against the side of a wall I was facing and shoot the other way. Really? Haven’t most developers been able to fix these problems?

Every time Alpha Protocol begins to gain any momentum it shoots itself in the foot with another weird glitch or gameplay shortcut. With all of its aspirations, Sega and Obsidian’s espionage adventure title could have been something special, but instead it’s a broken and frustrating experience that feels like a broken promise. 



CHEATS USED: God Mode, Super Speed, Add XP, Freeze Timers

Any trainer with a God mode is worth checking out, and the Cheat Happens Alpha Protocol trainer features it plus a ton of cool and helpful features that may help you enjoy the disappointing game a bit more.

I found a lot of fun using the super speed, add XP and freeze alarm timer modes together as it made some of the game’s more frustrating sections a bit easier. Really, the trainer features everything you could possibly want to make the game that much more enjoyable but not even the trainer can fix the camera or AI sadly.



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