Sep 30, 2010
Alpha Protocol centers around a man named Michael Thorton. You know he’s important because he’s centered on the box art with a gun. He’s also the player character so clearly he is YOU. His life style is modeled around the iconic “Three B’s” of government work: Bauer, Bond, and Bourne. You can torture, seduce, and uncover layers of deception but in the end I believe I completely screwed everything up even though my gamerscore said I didn’t.
The game bills itself as “The Espionage RPG” and it’s extraordinarily similar to Mass Effect. Replace space with modern day and squad with solo and your set to go.
Now that everybody knows what they are getting into here.
For reasons I’ll never understand I tried so hard to have everybody like Thorton. Sure he’s a handsome man (my Thorton had a nice five o’clock shadow, Ray Ban sunglasses, and I completed all the missions in my civilian attire) but I thought the best way to avenge the wrong doings thrusted upon me was making friends or impressing every NPC I encountered regarldess of their obvious connotations.
“Always forgive your enemies nothing annoys them so much.” Or so I thought….
In the narrative there were times when I tried to come off as a hardass but everybody read right thought that. You would think my enemies would fear me as I stealth killed over 200 of their henchmen with a knife to the skull while being completely invisible but there will always be things I’ll never understand.
Choice is both solution and problem for the Architect and the keepers of the Matrix; Mike. For anything crucial to the story the player to a degree has control but trying to focus where you want to end up can prove troublesome. Being quite familiar with Alpha Protocol’s inspirations I fully understood there is no way the women you encounter to have virtual sex with could be trusted. Sure I wanted to be friendly with all of them on the hopes they would give me stat building perks or a new three star assault rifle, but I DIDN’T want to be known as that guy who banged the traitor and EVERYBODY knew about it. The game rewarded me with this line of thinking with the No Time for Love achievement for “Completing the game without being seduced”. Kabloop! to say the absolutely least.
The one woman that helped me throughout the game as my “Chloe“, her fate was much worse then having relations with Thorton. During the last mission you have a chance to save her from death but I found the in-game map to be momentarily confusing and traversed the wrong door, triggering a checkpoint, and I’m sure for some technical reason the game at times doesn’t let you backtrack though a door you just went though. That thread died, I let my helper bitch perish. I could replay the final mission but that is insipid and against the spirit of the game.
In the end nobody shared my bed, I didn’t save the only person I should have, and none of the men I should have killed got killed by me. In the blackest tunnels of my soul I have no idea how things ended up so bad.
The game ultimately is regulated to the category of a flawed masterpiece I’ll look back on when I’m older and not playing games like I do now and reminisce “I liked how Alpha Protocol’s conversation options worked”. What I’m thinking about now is how utterly implausible failing a lock picking mini-game (on a padlock closing a chain fence door no doubt) in the slumbs of Taipei can set off a city wide alarm notifying the world to my presence. So frustrating.