Alpha Protocol GDC 2010 PreviewBy Eric Eckstein - Posted Mar 10, 2010
What we know: Alpha Protocol is an upcoming third-person action role-playing game developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Sega. In it, you will play as Michael Thorton, a rookie CIA field agent . The game has been delayed a few times as Obsidian worked on improvements and tweaks, and is eagerly awaits by fans of RPGs who want to break out of the elves-and-spells rut.
What we saw: Obsidian Entertainment's spy action RPG, Alpha Protocol has been long in the making, and we've been watching it evolve over the years. Since its unveiling, combat has continually been refined, character interaction optimized and overall, it's looking like a better improved game thanks to the delays.
Our most recent experience with Alpha Protocol showed off the divergent paths one can engage upon in the game. SEGA's associate producer, Matt Hickman, put it another way, “Where other games talk a lot about multiple endings, we're all about multiple middles.” As an example, the game was set up on two different stations, each playing out the same scene side-by-side. In one, our super spy Mike arrives back at his safehouse to find his lady friend resting. The scene is full of prompts, allowing the player to react in a variety of different ways. In this demo, he's appreciative, tender and the scene culminates in the two sharing a kiss. Clearly, he's earned this somehow. In the other, upon walking inside, Mike's beaten and eventually electrocuted into submission by the same woman, in reaction to some heinous acts he must have committed along the way. There's no opportunity to interact with the scene; it's merely a byproduct of a past sin.
Alpha Protocol is full of these types of interactive sequences and reaction segments based on prior deeds. Whether you interrogate or sympathize with a character is up to you, including exercising your license to kill by outright executing them. Choice is more than a dialog tree option though. Players can choose to specialize in a variety of ways, including stealth, weapon trees that open up key skills for your guns, martial arts and more. However, for those that simply want to grab a gun and run through the game as an action title, there's that option. For an RPG nerd like myself, I'll be mucking around in skill trees and inventory until the wee hours of the night. If you prefer a non-violent path, there's even an option to play the game with entirely non-lethal hand-to-hand combat moves...but no one said it would be easy!
Between playing Alpha Protocol and seeing new content, I'm definitely excited to give the full game a whirl when it finally graces store shelves. I have my reservations that I'm not sure will be resolved by its June 1st ship date, most of which revolve around the voice acting and storyline. As it stands today, our lead hero Mike is a bit of a mixed bag; at times an aggressive, stalwart Jason Bourne, and at others, it's as if he's channeling James Bond's creepier little brother. And as I don't know entirely what the storyline is, I just have to be hopeful that the intricate spy-fueled plotlines come together in the finished product. Considering the pedigree of Obsidian's RPG and story background, have faith here!
Alpha Protocol will be released on PlayStation 3, PC and Xbox 360 on June 1st, 2010.