E3 2008: Alpha Protocol Impressions
Alpha Protocol is the newest in multipath Action-RPG games, and it's being developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the same group of people that brought you Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2. These guys aren't new to this segment of RPG games, and judging by what we've seen so far out of Alpha Protocol, they're only getting better at it.
Alpha Protocol is a game focused on espionage, which is a stark contrast to games like KOTOR and Neverwinter Nights. Think of Alpha Protocol as Mass Effect meets Splinter Cell. We've previewed the game hands-off months back, so take a look at that bit of content to find out about the game's features.
Here, we'll discuss the hands-on experience we had with the game two weeks back at E3. First, we were shown Michael's pad, which acts as a sort-of hub in the game. He has numerous apartments all around the world acting as his HUB to the missions, all depending on where the mission takes place. The mission we played took place in bitter-cold Moscow, outside of the American embassy.
We were presented with a number of options on infiltrating the base, go straight through and try to sweet-talk your way past the guards, sneak around and find an entrance quietly, or whip your guns out and wreck-out.
Our co-pilots, the developers of the game, told us things will get hectic shortly, so we tried our luck at talking to the guards outside. Sweet-talking isn't exactly what you do, as we chose the more ballsy replies as a way of scaring the guards with authoritarian-like commands. The confident approach worked, and we were able to enter.
We had an objective to meet up with an important official in the building, before he was kidnapped or killed. Here's where things got hairy, the building would soon be attacked with troops swinging and crashing through windows, and so the race to save your target begins. Despite being an RPG game, the action elements of Alpha Protocol come through very well when you take your weapons out and start firing.
Artificial intelligence demonstrated some pretty good features, and firing the weapons felt extremely solid, with just a perfect amount of recoil and punch per shot. The weapons are fully customizable, so Alpha Protocol boasts a wide variety of firepower you can carry with you. Additionally, the game implements the usage of costumes which aren't just there for aesthetic purposes, but also serve as a way of affecting gameplay. Costumes are another example of how the multi-path gameplay in Alpha Protocol works -- you can either dress-up and calmly infiltrate an area, or choose not to you and pour bullets.
As far as presentation goes, the game seamed all of the dialogue choices flawlessly with no hiccups or jerky transitions. You'll be often given three choices of dialogue to respond with all throughout the game, which means you can take the game's story into hundreds of different paths with each playthrough. Finally, the voice acting was well done, and the soundtrack complemented it all superbly well.
Alpha Protocol isn't set to launch until Spring 2009, but even at this early stage the build we played was chock full of awesome.
7/29/2008 Arnold Katayev