Alpha Protocol Impressions

This espionage-based RPG has come on leaps and bounds since E3 09, and we got another fresh look at it at GamesCom 2009.

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The more we've seen Alpha Protocol over the past few months, the more we've been warming to its novel concept of spy-based role-playing. You can level up, build your character, and earn upgrades just like in most role-playing games, but here you're trying to build a perfect spy, rather than a space explorer or dragon slayer. We got to see more of the game in action at GamesCom in Cologne, and here's what we managed to sneak out.

The demo that we saw with developer Obsidian started out aboard a boat. The main character was equipped with a tech outfit, which is able to carry an arsenal of weapons and gadgets, but it's very noisy, so enemies can hear you coming. Luckily, though, the player who had been building up this character had heavily focused on upgrading the stealth tree, so he could wear the suit without making too much noise.

The game allows you to perform both lethal and nonlethal takedowns, and Obsidian says that it's possible to play the entire game without killing anyone. We also got to see some of the hacking minigames that allow you access to new areas--you basically have to look at line diagrams and try to figure out which lines match up. In our demo, the player intentionally messed up the hack to show a skill called Spy's Luck, which allows you one chance to get something wrong without setting off all the alarms.

We also got to see what the developer referred to as a "boss battle" against a young female character called Sis. She's a crazy young girl who wants nothing more than to kill you, but by tossing a few grenades her way, the player was able to finish her off. You then have the option of killing or sparing her, and the player decided to let her live. As we returned to our home, we got a video message from her employer asking us to meet, and we found out that not only was Sis his bodyguard, but she was also a mute. By not executing her, the player was given an "I don't hit girls" award, which in turn resulted in a 5 percent discount with all of Sis's factions.

There's plenty to think about in Alpha Protocol, and it looks like the game has plenty of scope for replayability. It's due for release on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 in October 2009.

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