Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

12 Reasons To Play Alpha Protocol

Posted by Ben Zeigler on June 30, 2010

I just finished my second complete playthrough of Alpha Protocol, and I thought it was an appropriate time to drop some knowledge: Alpha Protocol is a very good game. Sure the controls could use a bit of work, the central plot could be stronger, the bosses are frustrating, and it has a few bugs, but Alpha Protocol is a unique game that does stuff no game has done in years. I highly suggest you play the game on Novice Easy the first time through, and pick up either Pistol or Assault Rifle. If you do, you will avoid most of the awkward bits.

So why’s it so awesome and cool and stuff? Here’s an arbitrarily numbered list of cool things you can do in Alpha Protocol that I haven’t been able to do in video games for years!

  1. Instead of having a “morality” system, the game’s method of scoring individual character preferences allows you to selectively be a jackass to people. Taunting someone into a duel to the death is very satisfying when there’s an actual system behind it.
  2. The PC version features some very sharp textures and some attractive character models. The Saudi Arabia safehouse is particularly beautiful.
  3. The game has a few forced “save a baby or do your mission” choices. But, if you’re playing with the unlocked Veteran background you use your superior gruffness to subvert that annoying video game morality cliche and do both!
  4. You get an in-game perk for being an asshole and hanging your futuristic spy phone up on people. Always wanted to do that.
  5. You can directly ally with Islamic terrorists who want to destroy America. The game doesn’t seem particularly interested in making you feel bad about doing so. Or, you know, you can murder all of them.
  6. The in-game emails feature brilliantly hilarious writing. Whoever created them should write all things ever. Earth has 4 corner simultaneous day.
  7. The information you learn about characters from exploration or conversations with others directly affects your interactions with them. Uncovering their horrible secret will either make them like you more or cause them to try and murder you in your sleep.
  8. It’s got way better loot than either Mass Effect. A variety of basic items open up due to conversations or story choices and there’s a wide variety of weapon customization fiddly bits to play with. And like 10 types of grenades if you’re into that kind of thing.
  9. After spending the whole game patiently stealth killing hundreds guards the top level stealth ability is ridiculously fun. It gives you 30 seconds of invisible stabby power that confuses the hell out of the already brain-damaged AI.
  10. Nolan North plays a completely psychotic intelligence agent and manages to act nothing like Nathan Drake.
  11. You independently choose the order of tackling 90% of the missions in the game and it subtly affects both the plot and gameplay objectives. My second playthrough was pretty drastically different just from this.
  12. This spoiler-filled YouTube video of the various ways you can be a giant dick.

If you’re into this kind of thing go buy it. I recommend the PC version for Steam, as it’s been relatively bug-free compared to other branching narrative RPGs on the PC.

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