Is Alpha Protocol any good?

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Alpha Protocol has caught my interest for a while now, I've heard the gameplay is like Deus Ex Human Revolution where you can play levels any way you want except boss fights, and the Walking Dead style dialog choices could make the story more engaging.

While the game got poor reviews, It has a bit of a cult following and Yahtzee praised it a bit in his review, so is the game actually any good or is it just another cult following for a mediocre game?

I've played it through twice (maybe three times) and I think it's brilliant; more going on than you'll see if you play it just once, and that's great. People react to your different options by becoming angry, sarcastic or deceitful, and you can focus your skills in different areas, and choose your allies such that different missions play out differently.

I give it a hearty recommendation.

Well, without going into a full blown review I'd say it kinda falls into both categories. Absolute brilliance shining through a quagmire of terrible design. Cult classics often go like that. Hell, my favourite game is Deadly Premonition, which I can honestly describe as an absolute mess of a game, but I love it more than any other out there. So it all depends on your personal tolerance level of dodgy design. But I'd say give it a shot, at any rate I can promise you it's not a boring, generic, run of the mill experience.

And Mike Thorton (the protagonist) is an absolute dude, no matter how many times yahtzee uses the word ponce.

It's a good game and very unique. Texture pops and invisible 'barriers' (You can't walk under that guard tower even though it looks like you should be able to) on models will probably be your main annoyances. The leveling system will eventually feel like a missed opportunity and/or the 'boss fights'. (They go hand in hand) However, the dialogue and characterization in the game is great. Story is decent to good for a spy saga. Some have called it cliche or overdone, but I seriously doubt they are fans of the spy genre if they hold that against it. Plus, it's interwoven so well that it can be downright complex at times and I can't bring myself to use the word cliche for that.

All in all, it is worth looking at just for the mechanics and dialogue system. Even out of curiosity it is worth a $20 bill or less. I am sure there will be one aspect about the game you like if you like WRPGs. Bioware products specifically.

It is my favourite RPG.
Ive never played a game where the consequences of your actions are covered so well.
that said it does have flaws.. hacking is a pain in the ass. thankfully you only have to do it once in the tutorial and then load up on EMP grenades to bypass all the rest and the pistol skill is broken and completely overpowered. You also occasionally get stuck on corners and one of the safe houses has bad optimisation.

Despite those issues, easily the best RPG I have played

It's a pretty good concept done poorly, and hey it's cheap as dirt at this point so you might as well give it a bash.

I don't think it really got 'poor' reviews overall; it got criticized a lot for how buggy it was on release and a large proportion of the commercial public didn't let anyone forget it. 7/10 isn't bad.

Though I guess it might've been received a bit worse on console?

On PC, at least, I thought it was pretty good. If it was buggy on release, it seems to have been mostly patched since then and all I experienced across ~twelve hours of gameplay were a few physics bugs when enemies died. And yeah, it's an RPG where your dialogue choices directly change what you experience in the following missions. They're not always terribly consistent, but it does a better job than most at really keeping track of what the player is like.

Word of warning, the actual shooting gameplay itself is far more OG Deus Ex than Human Revolution or anything, though. The longer you aim before firing a shot, the better your accuracy will be, and leveling up your specific weapons skills will increase your accuracy/damage. And, while I personally didn't mind this at all, playing as a stealthy pistol guy pretty much breaks the difficulty curve of the game over your knee.

shrekfan246:

Word of warning, the actual shooting gameplay itself is far more OG Deus Ex than Human Revolution or anything, though. The longer you aim before firing a shot, the better your accuracy will be, and leveling up your specific weapons skills will increase your accuracy/damage. And, while I personally didn't mind this at all, playing as a stealthy pistol guy pretty much breaks the difficulty curve of the game over your knee.

Playing a stealthy pistol guy can be ridonkadonk hard for the first few levels. Then you get your pistol active skill (essentially freeze time, place two-five shots where you want them to go an then activate time again) and pretty much every encounter can be breezed through. Even the "boss fights" turn into these ridiculous "take away half his health then hide and wait for cooldown"-affairs. After that you can just enjoy the story, knowing that combat is not an issue.

Which is sad, because no other weapon comes even near the pistols level of utility due to that skill.

I liked it. I really, really liked it. Oh and yes, playing a stealthy pistol guy totally breaks the game. Still, I had to go and play a stealthy shotgun guy. Yeah, don't ask me how those two even fit into the same sentence, but it was bloody fun.

Oh, and if you play your cards right, you can stage some truly epic endings. It won't stand on gameplay and combat though, that much is true. It's the depth it has that's its main appeal. Decisions indeed do matter.

Word of advice tho. Don't ever, ever call Heck "Steven".

Gethsemani:

shrekfan246:

Word of warning, the actual shooting gameplay itself is far more OG Deus Ex than Human Revolution or anything, though. The longer you aim before firing a shot, the better your accuracy will be, and leveling up your specific weapons skills will increase your accuracy/damage. And, while I personally didn't mind this at all, playing as a stealthy pistol guy pretty much breaks the difficulty curve of the game over your knee.

Playing a stealthy pistol guy can be ridonkadonk hard for the first few levels. Then you get your pistol active skill (essentially freeze time, place two-five shots where you want them to go an then activate time again) and pretty much every encounter can be breezed through. Even the "boss fights" turn into these ridiculous "take away half his health then hide and wait for cooldown"-affairs. After that you can just enjoy the story, knowing that combat is not an issue.

Which is sad, because no other weapon comes even near the pistols level of utility due to that skill.

I find in most shooters the pistol is the best weapon. Silent, deadly and tons of ammo.

OT: it's a great game. I played it twice back to back. It's a better deus ex game than deus ex:HR.

http://thenocturnalrambler.blogspot.co.at/2014/03/great-games-you-never-played-alpha.html

A good review. You will find a lot of critical thought on games on that website. Personally I have the game lying around, but I have first get through part of my backlog, before I can try it ;-) Anyway, I hope the review is helpful.

Ronald Nand:
Alpha Protocol has caught my interest for a while now, I've heard the gameplay is like Deus Ex Human Revolution where you can play levels any way you want except boss fights, and the Walking Dead style dialog choices could make the story more engaging.

While the game got poor reviews, It has a bit of a cult following and Yahtzee praised it a bit in his review, so is the game actually any good or is it just another cult following for a mediocre game?

It's a cult game specifically because it wasn't successful enough to enter the mainstream. That's the definition of any cult game I guess. VTMB is another example of a "flawed gem", like AP, a great game with some flaws that held it back.

AP is a very, very good game. In fact, it's a great game. It's just a very bad, great game. Some of the issues it has could've been fixed with more QA (odd bugs (which I've personally never encountered), texture pop in and rare holes in the maps...basically it needed another pass to give it a final coat of polish.

Other issues sadly were conscious design choices by (presumably) the game's creative director. The "hacking" minigame, the checkpoint system (many console games suffer this, not just AP), being unable to go backwards in a level, badly considered weapon categories (and associated skill trees), the OP stealth (invisibility) and "regenerating armour" in a game supposedly grounded in contemporary reality. Disappearing bodies and frankly quite stupid AI didn't help either. (for example, I could stealth kill a guard *next to* another guard who sees the body (but not me). He goes on alert, but I can disable the alarm and he goes back to his post as tho nothing happened.)

There were a lot of issues when taken individually. I think one in particular puts people off and I think was a *good* design choice. It sets Action RPGs (including Mass Effect 1 and Deus Ex) apart from action games with RPG elements. Without proper training/skill in a weapon, Michael Thorton, Shepard and JC Denton could miss with a weapon despite that we the player know the crosshair was aimed correctly. The whole point is that this highlights a lack of skill/training/investment in a weapon and I *like* this approach. It didn't help that there was really little point to use a shotgun or SMGs since they were largely incompatible with a stealth approach, making two of the four weapon types sub-par from the get-go.

---------

What it did well is easy. You could play it now and it would be a different playthru and story than any of the three or four I've played. On my last playthru for example, I must've done something different because a character I *know* for a fact is involved in one thing was never even an available option. I did something different and the story changed.

There is a good cast of NPCs and Mike has relationships with each of them (from -10 to +10). Depending on actions in missions and choices in conversation, these relationships change (particularly since some of the NPCs also have relationships with *each other*). In one playthrough, you could side with A, B and C and be loathed by X, Y, and Z, while in another it could be reversed. And it actively changes parameters within missions too; for example, letting one person live makes a future mission much easier since they tell their comrades to leave you unmolested. If you had killed them, you'd have an extra fight on your hands. These choices shape mission to mission, what bonuses and friends Mike has, what equipment is available to him and so on.

I enjoyed the missions for the most part, the gunplay was *okay* and I hated the minigames enough that I ensured I had between 6-9 EMPs for every mission (they let you bypass computers, electronic locks and also temporarily disable cameras). Being able to do them in any order, and different results when you do make each playthrough a very interesting story, especially when I *know* this or that character had a secret (from a previous playthru) but which I had failed to uncover (in this one).

It has a great story, choices that have tangible effects on story and gameplay, cool skills, a fantastic setting (who doesn't love a bit of espionage?) and brilliant characters. As an RPG, it's great! Gameplay is okay, not great, not bad. Let down by some poor design choices, a lack of polish and some questionable mechanics. Recommend it at least so you can make up your own mind.

Its good, very good but it also has its flaws. Dont think of it as MGs, think of it as Headhunter.

Ronald Nand:
Alpha Protocol has caught my interest for a while now, I've heard the gameplay is like Deus Ex Human Revolution where you can play levels any way you want except boss fights, and the Walking Dead style dialog choices could make the story more engaging.

While the game got poor reviews, It has a bit of a cult following and Yahtzee praised it a bit in his review, so is the game actually any good or is it just another cult following for a mediocre game?

I'm sort of a mixed bag about that game. There are some elements of it that I absolutely love

Like how your choices do have direct impact on the game, and your interaction with various characters in it. One particular example, and I won't spoil unless you wish to click below:

Also, the order in which you do certain missions in certain areas has an impact on what goes on.

And the achievement system in the game is probably my favorite. As you accomplish certain tasks (hacking security panels, taking out enemies silently/non-lethal/etc) you will get minor perks related to those. Like taking out 100 guys silently, and non-lethally, will get you a perk to reduce your noise radius while sneaking. Others will give you more time to hack terminals, etc etc. I absolutely love that, and wish more games would use it in their mechanics.

However, I got sort of bored with the story, and the plans within plans within plans shite. I got to the final mission, and just didn't care to finish it. I turned it off and didn't pick it up again.

Personally, I give it a 6/10, maybe a 7/10 for the awesome achievement and dynamic interaction system, that truly does take into account what you do. But it loses points on the muddled plot, confusing motivations of the villains, and an overall lack of excitement about what was happening.

With a few tweaks here and there, the game could've been awesome, probably one of my favorites, but bad writing really weighed it down in my mind. Still, if you can overlook bad writing, it's a pretty fun game. Others have complained about the mechanics and combat system being horrible, but I didn't experience that personally, so I can't comment there.

Oh, and if you want a really fun scene, when you get to the asian city in the game...I think it's Hong Kong? Go talk to the lone agent guy operating in town. See him first if only to see the introduction scene for him, because it's hilarious.

Nah its not that great. Its basically a shitty console shooter with a janky branching story hub.

It is decent at best though it often feels like the poor man's version of Mass Effect at times. If you plan to get it though, AVOID the PC version because the mouse movement is just straight up broken or just use a 360 gamepad (but if you get it on PC, why should you be forced to use a gamepad). So overall if you can get it cheap on 360 or PS3, go ahead.

I only picked it up because it was cheap on Steam, but I thought it was actually pretty good. I was unsure about getting it at all, because I'd heard 'bad things' without really hearing anything specific, but I'm happy with it and I haven't really experienced any aweful buginess (buggy-ness?).

It was, until Human Revolution, the best Deus Ex game since the original, maybe even better than that.

As to the people saying stealth pistol characters are OP, they are right, with one possible exception... one particular mission in Moscow, trying to defend someone from a wave of grenade tossing, hyper-aggressive, shotgun and assault weapon toting mercs. Holy hell, that is tough, especially on the Hard difficulty.

Ronald Nand:
Alpha Protocol has caught my interest for a while now, I've heard the gameplay is like Deus Ex Human Revolution where you can play levels any way you want except boss fights, and the Walking Dead style dialog choices could make the story more engaging.

While the game got poor reviews, It has a bit of a cult following and Yahtzee praised it a bit in his review, so is the game actually any good or is it just another cult following for a mediocre game?

I've played through 4 times, and started a few other times. I quite loved it, as it is one of the few modern games that I thought did stealth well. It was pretty hit or miss with my friends though, so you might want to try borrowing or renting it for a couple days to be sure. If you can't I suggest going for it.

I think it's absolutely brilliant. Just don't expect it to be like Deus Ex, and especially don't expect it to be a stealth game because if you try to be stealthy, you'll fail. It's a weird combination of a modern-setting military RPG, flawed shooter and anime boss fights. It doesn't really work as a combination of all of these, but as a story game it's great. You just need to suffer the rest of the game to get to the story.

Also a lot of the bug which caused the game to be received poorly have been patched out

Sgt. Sykes:
Just don't expect it to be like Deus Ex, and especially don't expect it to be a stealth game because if you try to be stealthy, you'll fail.

This is both fallacious and untrue, stealth gets way OP. I forget the duration of the invisibility ability, but it ends up >10 seconds, combined with being able to stealth kill enemies from the front without breaking cloak.

Its one of those odd games that has a really good concept but fucked up in the implementation. It has one of the best dialogue systems that I've ever experienced, yet has some of the worst shooting mechanics I've ever played (and I've played some bad shooters in my time).

If you can get it cheap enough, its something that you should experience for yourself, but I wouldn't pay more than 15-20 bucks for it (and that's pushing it).

It's... Okay...

Honestly, I'll the game praise in the story and writing department, and the gameplay is pretty good too, there's just a HUGE balancing problem. Not even halfway through the game I unlocked a skill that let me stop time, select 3 places where I'd like to fire 3 bullets, and then unpause time and have all 3 bullets get shot instantly, which means 3 instant headshots on 3 different enemies. After I got that skill, the game was an absolute breeze. You'll probably remember Yahtzee having the same problem in the game where he too got way overpowered in the game.

However, it is a fun game none-the-less. I'd say see if it goes on a Steam sale and grab it up. That's how I got mine.

Benpasko:
This is both fallacious and untrue, stealth gets way OP. I forget the duration of the invisibility ability, but it ends up >10 seconds, combined with being able to stealth kill enemies from the front without breaking cloak.

Oh christ, fallacious? Seriously? We're talking about a game here, not the holocaust.

Okay, I read the other responses. I didn't use the invisibility ability. If I want a military stealth game, I want to be hidden, not invisible. Either way stealth in the game is crappy mechanics, either because it doesn't work or it breaks your game.

Sgt. Sykes:

Benpasko:
This is both fallacious and untrue

Oh christ, fallacious? Seriously? We're talking about a game here, not the holocaust.

I figured the phrasing would be evidence enough that it's a joke, no srsness here friendo.

Yes.

Now it is. It's release was marred with the usual Obsidian Entertainment release amount of glitches. Like makes a release day Elder Scrolls game look glitch free amounts. Those issues have been patched over the years.

Vegosiux:

Word of advice tho. Don't ever, ever call Heck "Steven".

It was a long time since I last played it but I'm pretty sure it's "Steve" that you shouldn't call him.

Anywho, yes it is Alpha Protocol is a good game even though it has many problems. There should be more modern day (spy) rpgs.

HannesPascal:

Vegosiux:

Word of advice tho. Don't ever, ever call Heck "Steven".

It was a long time since I last played it but I'm pretty sure it's "Steve" that you shouldn't call him.

Anywho, yes it is Alpha Protocol is a good game even though it has many problems. There should be more modern day (spy) rpgs.

True, typo on my part. Thinking one thing, writing another. Hate it when that happens.

Benpasko:

Sgt. Sykes:
Just don't expect it to be like Deus Ex, and especially don't expect it to be a stealth game because if you try to be stealthy, you'll fail.

This is both fallacious and untrue, stealth gets way OP. I forget the duration of the invisibility ability, but it ends up >10 seconds, combined with being able to stealth kill enemies from the front without breaking cloak.

Agreed, I played it stealth style, and it was very easy to do. Actually playing stealth was how I encountered my favorite bit of in-game achievement. Was sneaking about, took a guy out silently, and had a thing pop up saying basically "Congratulations! You've knocked out 100 enemies silently, so we're going to give you a slight boost to your sneakiness! Enjoy!" and I was like "...wait...they just rewarded me for my style of gameplay? Holy shit that's awesome! " xD

I liked it a lot. It did remind me of Deus Ex, particularly in that the characters are pretty well-written and the wonky game mechanics are wonky, but dealable.

The moment that stuck in my mind the most was when you get the opportunity to deal with sheik watsisname late in the game. I was playing a maximum-puppykicker, so I went to the meeting with every intention of shooting him. I ended up respectfully disagreeing with him, shaking his hand, and leaving on good terms. It's a great rpg. It's just not up to the same standards as an action/stealth game.

I loved it, just because it's refreshing to have played a game where what I choose to say to people has an impact on the world. It's fun to pay a game where you can be James Bond or Jason Bourn depending on how you want to play it and have the story react to that.

It's not without it's flaws though, as meany have said stealth is way OP to the point where it can get quite game breaking. And the guns are all wonky, don't even bother trying to use a weapon if you haven't invested any points in it because a peashooter would do more damage...and that's even if you manage to hit anything at all. Texture pop in can be a bit jarring at times and the boss fights can be an exercise in frustration if you aren't prepared and leveled correctly (I'm looking at YOU Brayko you coked up asshat).

Oh and while most people hated the hacking minigame (and the bypass and lockpicking ones too) I really liked it because it can be hard as balls sometimes and makes you actually feel like you're hacking something. Not just connecting pipes or playing match the shape.

It's a hard one. It wasn't the most polished game when it came out, so if your gaming standards are pretty high,you might not enjoy it. In saying that, while I enjoyed it a fair bit when it came out, it hasn't aged very well.

Its a game Ive played through many times and its a great game IMO. The reviews, as I recall them, focused on bugs and having played the game probably 20+ times the only bugs Ive noticed are graphical ones. I think way to many reviewers didnt do their research and thought it was a 3rd person shooter with RPG elements when its more an RPG with 3rd person shooter elements. Almost every review I remember didnt do their research and even one of AngryJoe's videos failed to show proper mechanics assuming it was just another 3rd person shooter game (thats when I stopped watching him if you cant do basic research and represent the game as is you're not a good reviewer)

That said, there are a lot of different ways to approach levels and all of them are viable. If you want to gun people down with a pistol never going stealth then you can do that. You can be a sneaky guy doing lethal or nonlethal takedowns as you please. You can go full force with a shotgun or pair of SMGs and never take cover. Every playstyle is viable which is really an amazing feat in and of itself.

The boss fights for the most part can be hit or miss. I never really cared for the tank fight but it was fun as a spectacle. Brayko is probably the most crazy/comedic fight in the game.

Anyway, its well worth your money if you like spy stories. I dont think theres a better game out there for that particular genre

It has an awesome story, great voice acting and characterization...

Stealth is okay...

and combat is an iffy proposition no matter what approach you take.

Also, every boss fight only has a handful of ways to beat them... they have magically perfect defenses against some things... and magical weaknesses to others.

Like one guy that can only be killed quickly with SMGs... and he's not even wearing a vest. WTF?!?!?

And its buggy as hell.

Its... probably the buggiest game that Obsidian/Troika/Black Isle have ever made.

It's extremely sexist, and I'd give it a pass on that count alone. It tried to do some interesting things with the story and the allies, but a lot of it feels shallow, and the gameplay is horrid.

It's still a lot more enjoyable than most of the dreg put out these days because while it's trying and failing, it is at least trying. Except for the sexism part. It's not even trying to do any good there, almost the opposite.

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