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Alpha Protocol – hands-on

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The term reactivity crops up a lot as we sit down to play Alpha Protocol: the rep from developer Obsidian is obsessed with the word and all it means. This is because beneath the third-person gunplay everything you do in the game affects the overall outcome, as well as how your character develops.

Early on, as we played through the ‘Greybox’ training mission this reactivity was evident. After we’d taken part in some skill challenges to master the basic controls - a gun range and obstacle course - which felt a little clunky compared to an out and out shooter, our character Michael Thorton entered into conversation with intel expert Parker. This fellow was full of himself, and so dialogue lines that played on his ego pushed up our friendship with him. Another central character, Mina, is the main link between the Alpha Protocol organization and the missions and intel you’ll be playing with. She likes the suave type whose first weapon is blatant innuendo backed up by charm.

There’s a reason for these dialogue routes: they can earn you Perks and Experience Points. Perks are minor gameplay enhancers that are awarded for meeting certain challenges or hidden criteria. There are a lot of useful Perks to gain from picking the right dialogue paths that lead to important story waypoints. There’s another way to earn Perks – collect them in-mission by hitting hidden goals such as three critical hits in a row – not quite as tricky as it might sound.

Experience Points are a little more traditional. Like Perks you are awarded XP for achieving hidden goals. The points can then be spent in your Safe House on upgrading your character’s skills. There are around 10 skill paths to level up and they range from simple things like Pistols to Tech Aptitude and Sabotage. They generally govern your skill with weapons, explosives and gizmos, but you can also unlock Feats when you pay enough XP into a Skill path. Boosting Toughness earns the Hard to Kill Feat that means you get three seconds of life when your health is exhausted to perform a last-minute kill or to use a health pack.

These Feats can be accessed in-mission with the tap of a button. Using the Focus Aim Feat zooms down the sights and automatically locks onto an enemy – it only lasts for a few seconds but can turn a fight. There are stealth Feats too, such as Awareness, which briefly highlights all the enemies in a map and shows what level of alertness they’re at. Again, it only lasts for a short while unless you play as a Field class, in which case this becomes a passive skill and is activated automatically every time you enter stealth mode.

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17 comments

  • ayreon - May 28, 2010 1:08 p.m.

    What's the score, eh, GameSpot? Alpha protocol score at Gamespot LOOOL :) http://bit.ly/c3JcJR
  • ayreon - May 28, 2010 7:58 a.m.

    First video review has been out! (7.5/10) LOL, should be 9/10 at least! Fantastic story! http://bit.ly/bIhUQJ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yDhZYoWk2E
  • ayreon - May 27, 2010 7:28 p.m.

    Offical Alpha Protocol review from Gladriel.com has been out! Video review is also coming in 24 hours! http://www.gladriel.com/reviewFull/content/1581/Alpha-Protocol-review/
  • DoUgHbOy0187 - October 23, 2009 4:13 a.m.

    this game got pushed back tell next YEAR
  • leaderdude - October 1, 2009 1:26 a.m.

    i have been hearing alot of rumors that alpha protocol has been pushed back but on the officail website it says comming out october but on gamestop my preorder says it isnt comming out till 2010 does any one know whats really happening?
  • effrijim - September 14, 2009 5:26 a.m.

    Bad news, the release date has been pushed back to 10/27/09.
  • Batman - September 2, 2009 midnight

    I have this pre ordered so I'm putting my faith in Obsidian .I really hope it turns out good.
  • Batman - September 1, 2009 1:20 a.m.

    @Mittenz: LOL It's so true.
  • Mittenz - August 31, 2009 9:46 p.m.

    @Liquidocelot32: Notice how nobody can NOT say first without mentioning how they're not going to say first. WHAT'S THE POINT? JUST DONT MENTION IT!
  • Selectedpayload - August 29, 2009 1:43 a.m.

    Totally gonna get my Bond-on. With everyone.
  • Liquidocleot32 - August 29, 2009 12:25 a.m.

    Notice how u can post a comment first without saying first
  • Batman - September 2, 2009 12:03 a.m.

    Now its fixed..but to not seem like I'm spamming which i am anyway sorry i better say something about the game, I love the fact that this game is gonna be pretty long and it should have great replay value
  • Batman - September 2, 2009 12:01 a.m.

    LOL wtf my above comment says i posted it 11 months ago when i just posted it like a minute ago.
  • FreekinIdiot - September 1, 2009 1:55 p.m.

    I must say i'm quite intrigued by this. i'm all for rpg's and the experience the games bring so a spy version seems like a breath of fresh air. I suppose it's still a little early to tell though, what does anyone else think? Excited by spy rpgs?
  • crumbdunky - August 31, 2009 2:39 a.m.

    Not sold on this one yet. Playing through Mass Effect again now to get a decent character to save(last one was trapped in a dead 360!)and don't see what AP will offer that ME doesn't already do either as well or better and with ME2 looking so good IDK if I'll end up getting this.
  • dweller - August 30, 2009 6 p.m.

    I'm interested in this but I'll wait for a review or a demo to persuade me. Obsidian have made some great games and some great games delving in mediocrity.
  • Liquidocleot32 - August 29, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    I'm unsure about this, I think it sounds like mass effect, but not in space, ill have to read the review before I buy it

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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