My Name Is Michael Thornton, I used to be a spy until…

Posted: June 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

My name is Michael Thornton, I used to be a spy until…

If you are a fan of the TV show Burn Notice (and if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it, it is one of the best shows on TV at the moment), you will recognise that opening blurb, except I changed the name. The reason behind the name change is because the premise of Burn Notice is also the premise of Obsidian Entertainment’s Spy RPG Alpha Protocol. A spy for the US Government is cut loose “burned” by his government and has to go his own way. Burn Notice does this in an intelligent manner, and creates a great story that keeps you watching, it has likeable characters and the lead star of the show is charismatic and likeable.
It seems like the makers of Alpha Protocol heard the premise of Burn Notice and took the concept and made a game. Michael Thornton gets recruited into a new agency, but on his first mission he is betrayed and he goes rogue, or Alpha Protocol. (or is that the agency he works for? it is never made very clear)
So now you have to find out who betrayed you and unravel a web of corruption that could lead to getting you killed or getting your life back.

The game begins with a small tutorial, then your off on the first mission which leads to the betrayal and from there you have 3 locations to visit, in these locations you can complete a lot of different missions in any particular order, choosing to skip over some of the side missions.

Enough about the story, how does it play?
Okay, I wanted to love this game, I really really did, the concept is brilliant and in one interview the game producers said that you can play in three different styles based on famous spies, the three B’s: Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer and James Bond. It sounds awesome and you can mix and match these styles to suit how you want to play the game. Also depending on what you did the game would turn out different. Replay value up the whazoo!
However, from the moment this game puts the controls in your hands, it feels wrong and it looks wrong. Maybe I have been spoiled by Mass Effect 2, but this game didn’t feel right. Also the graphics reminded me of the first batch of Xbox 360 games, they looked good at the time but now feel dated, very dated.
Its hard to explain why it feels wrong, but as you play it you will understand. Now it has a levelling mechanic and its all about putting points into skills to make things easier on yourself. The thing is, the moment you fire a gun you realise this game isn’t what it sets out to be. At least in Mass Effect, the gun combat was soley relying on dice rolls, your aim was precise and as you levelled up the gun use, your shots were more accurate and dealt more damage, in Alpha Protocol you might line up a perfect headshot and pull the trigger and the game will decide that you missed. By making the gun combat Gears of War in all but name, they really screwed up the RPG element, because your guns needed to be levelled up. If you want to be a silent master of death, you could level up your pistol however, when you get caught and you will constantly, the best weapon to have is the assualt rifle.

I wont go on about the game too much, what I will say is that the story is interesting, the non-combat parts are really well done and some of the characters are pretty cool, but the game forces you into long bouts of combat and it’s not fun, you need to invest all your points into stealth and assualt rifles just to make the game passable. Like I said, I really wanted to like this game but it’s buggy, it’s combat system is a mess and you struggle with the game the entire time you play it. Alpha Protocol could have been good, and you can see the game it wants be struggling underneath the mess and jankyness of it.
My recommendation is this: If you have a 360 and you want a good rpg and you see this game going REALLY cheap, pick it up, otherwise invest your money in some good RPGs like Mass Effect 1 & 2 or Dragon’s Age.

  1. skyclad monkey says:

    Actually I really like this one. There is a few issues with it control wise but if you get used to that then its remarkably playable. (PC version Im talking about here!)

    Its more akin to Project IGI than I would like but the makers Obsidian have a few guys from the old Fallout games working for them and it does show in the dialogue. Since they are doing Fallout New Vegas I am quite interested to see if the perks and the dialogue system makes it in.

    • I just felt there was something wrong with the game. All the way through it’s like this brilliant game is fighting to make it’s presence known but it’s let down by really poor game mechanics.

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