by Brendan Griffiths
previewed on PC
Pick your spy
James Bond, The Bourne Trilogy, and 24: all great viewing, brimming with gaming potential but they have never quite replicated the same excitement and intensity in gaming form. None of them really made you feel like one of the starring JBs. Bond’s Quantum of Solace was a decent shooter with some nice cover-based gunplay but never completely felt like a Bond movie. Bourne’s effort was basically a long line of QTEs with some ropey gunplay and 24 tried to do too much and resulted in an average Jack (Bauer) of all trades and master of none.
Enter Alpha Protocol and CIA agent Michael Thornton. This time you will be able to decide what sort of spy you want to be as well as deciding how you want to play the game. As developers Obsidian keep saying, “Your weapon is choice.” Elements of stealth, action and character interaction will all be available and have an impact on what sort of game Alpha Protocol will be for you.
The game utilises a third-person viewpoint with the camera going over your shoulder when you get involved in shootouts like in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Gears of War. This should work better than a first-person view as it will help to keep you more aware of your surroundings when you are hiding or aiming from behind cover, which we imagine you will be doing a lot of.
Customisation of your spy ensures that you can play the game in different styles, instantly adding to its replayability value. If you want to be a sneaky devil you can try and be as covert as possible. Or you can take the silencers off and go in loud and proud with automatic weapons and shotguns and make sure they know damn well you have arrived. Or you can get all Jason Bourne on them wearing an unassuming ‘walking in the park on a Sunday jumper’ and take them on with unmatchable martial arts. One question remains though. Will you be able to mix and match these styles later in the game or will you have to pick one and stick with it? Hopefully the former.
A lot of the customisation can be bought with Action Points that you can earn throughout the game. You will be able to upgrade stats for stealth, pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, sabotage, technical aptitude, toughness and marital arts.
While unlocking various tiers of the above you will occasionally unlock Fallout 3 style perks. These include helpers like quicker aiming for critical hits or the time on your multiplier meter decreasing at a slower rate, improving your chances on keeping your combo going. We presume that last one isn’t really something for you budding stealth types. There are also unlockable skills such as a time-freezing option that lets you line up a few free shots. If you want a more hands-on attack there is a sort of ‘fury’ option where Thornton howls at the sky (very Wolverine) and smacks the hell out of everyone in a seemingly temporarily invulnerable, hyper-strengthened state. Hopefully both quiet and loud playing styles will be catered for with the same levels of depth and customisation choice.