|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Obsidian Ent.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
July 22, 2009 - The world of spies has been visited many times by Hollywood. From James Bond to Jason Bourne, the covert world of espionage seems to be a bankable one. Spies have also had quite a presence in games, and numerous stealth titles have been created over the years to try and emulate the action, danger, and intrigue associated with the spy world.
The latest game to employ the spy motif is Alpha Protocol, a new IP from the folks at Obsidian Entertainment. The premise of the game is simple. You play as Michael Thornton, a new spy who has been forced to go rogue after a normal mission ends up going terribly awry. After the mission, he must employ the "Alpha Protocol" and go undercover after the fallout from the failed mission has made him a target not only for other covert operatives, but the US government as well. The storyline seems interesting enough and resembles a hybrid between Burn Notice and James Bond, which seems about right.
However, the interesting thing about the story will be that it, like many other RPGs, will have a branching storyline. Your reaction to situations will largely define not only the plot but your own character's development and how others react to you. We were able to watch a live demo where two screens were shown going through the same situation - talking to a female Russian operative. When our character issued an aggressive response to her queries, she joined up with the character and decided to help him complete his mission. However, if you choose a more passive response for your character, then she gets angry and you will trigger a mini-boss fight.
Another highly-customizable aspect of Alpha Protocol will be the combat. There are plenty of different kinds of spies out there, and the game really lets you take control of your character's development. For instance, during the demo we saw two completely different versions of Michael Thornton. One was a black-clad, bearded fellow that looked a lot like the 1.0 version of Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell: Conviction. This version of the main character had plenty of stealth moves, and he was able to sneak around different areas undetected and could even use a very temporary invisibility gadget to run behind foes.
On the other screen, there was a clean-shaven, James Bond-esque main character, who relied on shooting to blast his way past enemies. Not only was the look of each character completely different, but the combat style was so distinct it was hard to believe that we were looking at two demos of the exact same game. In addition to stealth combat and gunplay, we were also told that you can focus on hand to hand combat as well.
But of course, knowing your way in and out of a fight is only a piece of the ultra-spy puzzle. The team behind the game let us know that there would be plenty of side missions, chances to schmooze with the enemy, and even some juicy possibilities where Michael Thorton's love life is concerned.
Alpha Protocol definitely looks like it will stick to RPG conventions with its branching storyline and leveled combat, and it will even stay true to basically all conventions of the spy genre. However, what looks to set this title apart will be the scope of these elements. The story will take wildly different turns based on your actions in the game, and as we were able to see in the demo, the way you play the game can also be greatly affected by your choices. The story even looks like it will be over the top. Spy enthusiasts should definitely check this one out, and it should be a safe bet for RPG fans when it releases this fall.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor