Alpha Protocol Updated Look

Choices, consequences, and lots of action; we take a look at the latest build of Obsidian's upcoming role-playing action game.

Choices matter in Sega and Obsidian's upcoming Alpha Protocol--a modern-day spy game that splits the distance between traditional role-playing game and straight-up action shooter. The game's narrative poses a particular challenge for its designers: How do you make sure that the decisions a player makes--even relatively simple choices--have far-reaching consequences throughout the rest of the game's plot? It's an ambitious goal for a game that, according to developers, will have about 20 hours of gameplay, and earlier today, we got a taste of the range of consequences players may face.

You play as Michael Thornton, a rookie CIA operative who finds himself embroiled in a global conspiracy as the game's narrative threads unwind. Along the way, Thornton will interact with a large cast of non-player characters; how he interacts with these characters will determine how they treat him as we saw in detail during a demo given to us by Sega representatives. Approximately midway through the game, Thornton returns home to find a female character named Madison asleep in his bed. Up to this point, Sega reps told us, Thornton and Madison have had a close relationship, which the dialogue between the two confirms. As the two talk, dialogue options pop up periodically, which you can use to direct Thornton's responses--depending on the situation, you can choose to react in a variety of ways--from frustrated to tender and many points in between. You can even choose to skip the conversation altogether and move on to the next scene.

How you interact with the game's characters will build up a reputation, which is unique to each NPC. In the case of Madison, it was obvious that Thornton's reputation was in the positive, as the two shared an intimate moment that likely turned even more intimate offscreen. Once the Sega reps loaded up the game with a different save, however, we got a completely different take on the Thornton/Madison angle. This time, when Thornton entered the room, Madison was hiding in wait and managed to belt him in the head twice then shock him with one of his own spy gadgets. We weren't clear on the subtleties of the plot that led up to Madison's anger toward Thornton, but it was clear that, in this play-through, his reputation had suffered in her eyes.

Reputation and consequences are an important aspect of the role playing in Alpha Protocol, but it isn't the whole story. The game's many action sequences are also powered by an RPG system that has you buying weapons or equipment with money you pick up, upgrading weapons with new accessories or ammo, and a robust skill system that lets you build Thornton into the kind of spy you want to play. There are nine different skills you can train in--a good chunk of them are centered on the different kinds of weapons you use in the game, including pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, and so on. There are also specialized skills, such as stealth or breaking and entering, which you can upgrade as well.

As you upgrade skills, you'll gain additional proficiency with that particular weapon or ability; if you upgrade it enough, you'll earn entirely new active skills that you can use in the field. For example, if you put enough points into stealth, you'll eventually earn an active skill that will let you essentially move invisibly for a short amount of time. It can't be used at a full run, of course, but it seems as if it will be valuable tool for those who are looking to play Alpha Protocol in a stealthy manner.

Intrigue and action mix in Alpha Protocol.

While developers told us that you can play the entire game without killing a single enemy, it seems like combat will be plentiful. The game is played from a third-person perspective, and when aiming your weapon, you'll have a targeting reticle pop up--the longer you aim the reticle without firing, the more accurate your shot will be. If you use stealth wisely, you'll be able to sneak up on enemies and take them out without even firing a shot. This being a spy game, you can also use the game's plethora of gadgets to aid you in the action--things like electro-magnetic pulse grenades, radio mimics, incendiary grenades, and, of course, the ubiquitous first aid kits.

From what we've seen of it so far, Alpha Protocol looks to have something to offer thoughtful RPG fans, as well as guns-blazing loose cannons. The game's multilimbed plot looks to offer lots of intriguing choices to the player, not to mention the prospect of multiple play-throughs to see how things might shake out with a different style of play. Here's hoping the action sequences live up to the ambition of the game's narrative. Alpha Protocol is due for release on June 1.

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Discussion

141 comments
Irish-J
Irish-J

@Alex_09 If you don't like it don't play it and to my point, that there are other games other than online multiplayers and although I have a blast with those games, there are some sweet RPG's and single player games that are worthy of playing. Not sold on this one yet, but many others from Mass Effect to Demon Souls are. If you got offended at what I said then you must be a douche....just sayin!

Alex_09
Alex_09

@Irish-J Hahah we're douches? Eat your words you hyping fool. Enjoy your half game.

Conduras
Conduras

this game has all the right ingredients : bad graphics ,bad A.I. and ofc bad controls .

ryanchetty92
ryanchetty92

this game is gona be a fail.....can see it from a mile away

Irish-J
Irish-J

The whole plot looks cool, would like to see a little more on this before I pre order. Looks fun so far even though it will be a little short. Alternate endings are cool, gives a little more value. All the peeps that are complaining about it not being a 3rd peson or playing online...can you do anything by yourself? I like the 1st person shooters too and have MW2 and BBC2 and like playing them online, but sometimes I like to play something that will truly challenge me. Put the run and gunners away for a day or 2 kids and try something with some substance...bunch of douches!!

hursty7
hursty7

I have been keeping a close eye on this game and its reviews and i think it will be a good game, its about time they brought out some more of these type of games out without 1st person. Looking forward to the release date.

DaGamer444
DaGamer444

everyone should stop complaining about everything! @tonyd1970 are you serious? not buying a game just because its not 1st person? you must have missed out on alot of good games with that kind of opinion... and everyone stop complaining about graphics because im sure theyll fix it. anyways, i have been waiting for this game for a year and i cant wait for it to come out! :D like mass effect, except james bondy!

tonyd1970
tonyd1970

no first person, no purchase.

zymbo
zymbo

Hmmm....looks interesting. 20 hours is kind of short for an RPG but I'm still going to give it a shot.

lozvil
lozvil

we'll yet to see....

thestrateger
thestrateger

It looks nice, however, it doesn't seem special at all.

lawLiet18
lawLiet18

i don't know if i'm going to buy it i'm looking forward to it to be a good game.

Gamma_Fit
Gamma_Fit

rental....maybe a buy later on

ompongjj
ompongjj

the game looks good but its short 20 hours of gameplay sucks and youre goin to play the game again if you want to see the other endings of the game..this would be a great game if it was online or something like many of are agents and having ranks of agent or something like that

stinkiicatQ
stinkiicatQ

i dont think its goin to be a good game, i don know maybe im wrong

KoolzKatz
KoolzKatz

I want this game to be great and I hope A.I has been fixed because it has looked pretty dumb in some videos. They have certainly had a lot of time to fix any problems they ran into, there should be no excuses and it needs to be a great game.

asdar
asdar

This will be a rental for me. It looks good, but 20 hours is weak, no multiplayer is weak and I can't see it being worth paying full price for.

sleepychicken
sleepychicken

Strigidae, your right. It's not open world at all. It's more like Mass Effect with an apartment serving as a hub like the Normandy. Depending on what's going on your shipped out to instanced areas of varying sizes.

Strigidae
Strigidae

I'm getting a feeling it's not open world like Fallout 3. If only a game like this one or Mass Effect did this... I somehow believe we would end up with a ridiculously endless and entertaining game.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I've been waiting on AP for a long time. I really hope it doesn't disappoint.

LokiHero
LokiHero

I feel like I should feel bad that my first thought is "Obsidian's version of Mass Effect". But. It is. And for obvious reasons. It may well distinguish itself from the rest of the field and particularly Mass Effect, but somehow, I just don't see that happening.

Notebook_holder
Notebook_holder

I can't belive they are happy for 20 hrs of gameplay.... that is the average now and days and it is really depressing... Old games used to have like 40 or 50 and seeing that it is RPG like. should be more like 70 hours... example L.o.Z.O.C Other than that it looks fun to play I like stealth most of the time takes you away from all the shooters out there.

ven0m285
ven0m285

the game looks pretty good but i dont know about the graphics

termadoyle
termadoyle

looks really good. let's hope they kill all the little bugs and whatnot before release.

-Origin-
-Origin-

I am extremely excited for this game!

Fancelot
Fancelot

20 hours isn't too bad depending on how replayable it is. If it is really replayable, then that's actually pretty damn good.

Jackc8
Jackc8

Looks kind of interesting. I wonder if they'll release it this time, or just let the release date come and go and leave everyone wondering why their pre-order never arrived - like they did last time.

adabter
adabter

I Was Joking About My Comment Down There,I Even Gave My Self A Thump Down xD,This Game Looks Fine But I'm Not Buying Though

FallenAngel
FallenAngel

@desert_eagle_8 good point, but Nier's being marketed as an Action RPG. Alpha Protocol is apparently supposed to be like DA/Mass Effect/KOTOR as in with choices/consequences and all that shabang...ie, more like a true RPG. An action rpg I think can get away with 15-20 hours of gameplay (think Vagrant Story for PS1...one of the best action RPGs ever and it only had like 20 hours of gameplay)...but a game that wants to be a true RPG like Obsidian says Alpha Protocol will be...that's a really disappointing run time.

QtrArt
QtrArt

wow is good gameplay

desert_eagle_8
desert_eagle_8

@FallenAngel well atleast its not NIERs 15 hours, which is even more disappointing

myungish
myungish

im skeptical to say the least. bioware was flaunting mass effect (1&2) 's 'choices' but in the end it turned out to alter some dialogues. i wouldnt be surprised if this game did the same.

unc386
unc386

@adamwriter i'm feeling the same way. ive been watching this game for what seems like forever and the more i see the more i get the feeling "been there done that". gameplaywise at least. maybe im just getting old and jaded. lol.

stevenrkorea
stevenrkorea

If you aren't interested in this game, then you're dead on the inside.

AdamWriter
AdamWriter

I don't know. I was looking forward to this, but the shooting seems rather bland and the main character looks like some average person. He shouldn't seem that way. He is a spy!

Ambient_Chicken
Ambient_Chicken

This game has a lot of potential, hopefully it will deliver.

FallenAngel
FallenAngel

20 hours of gameplay? Only? In an RPG??? WTF???

rob_42
rob_42

i really don't know how this game is going to rate, its looking good so far, but could be really quite bad if the gameplay doesn't come together.

Gebatron
Gebatron

Aloe, I like 3rd person games because they give me a better sense of presence and awareness. Not to mention they give games a better cinematic feel. If you were to live your life like a fps...you would have to put blinders on the side of your head, stare at your hands and have fused vertebra in your neck.

helljumper51
helljumper51

@famguyfan2685 well would you rather have an unfinished game but have it released faster, like kotor 2, or a well polished game but delayed for a short while. Personally I cant wait :D

AloeVera4
AloeVera4

Grrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeat!! Another mother f-ing 3rd person video game!! Yeah....because I live my life in 3rd person!!!

AloeVera4
AloeVera4

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