Saturday, June 05, 2010

Video game number one hundred and fifty two: Alpha Protcol

Video game review number one hundred and fifty two in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is"Alpha Protocol".

If a Role Playing Game got an Action game pregnant...and then that Action game drank and smoked all through the pregnancy....Alpha Protocol is the baby they might have.

If I'd never played Mass Effect (or any other game with a "conversation wheel" before), the concept of controlling the dialog in a game might seem new and interesting to me. The bulk of Alpha Protocol's story focuses on you choosing one of several canned responses based on a button press when a conversation wheel comes up. In the middle of chatting with some random person, you'll be given the option to respond with answers that are "Professional", "hostile", "Suave" or some other random choice. Unfortunately, no matter which option you pick...the conversation is silly and stupid. I also found that the character would sometimes respond harshly when I tried to say something "Funny", leading me to believe that the conversations weren't as "custom" as I might have liked. I played this game for an hour and all I could think about was how I should have been spending all of this time in Mass Effect. Same basic concept, MUCH better execution.

The conversations you have are supposed to affect how the other characters view you and how they'll respond to you when they meet you. You see little "+1 respect" notifications come up when you say something someone likes, or little "-1 dislike" notifications come up if you piss the computer off with your response. Again...the way they do this in Mass Effect is awesome, and this game just didn't compare for me.

As the game begins, you find yourself shooting your way through a bunch of guards at an enemy base (I think it's a hospital) until you're eventually captured. You have some REALLY stupid conversations (where you can select your tone)...and then you'll be recruited for a super top secret mission. This whole experience takes quite awhile...and you have to get through it before they offer you the opportunity to customize your character and take some training. I'm not sure why this is in the backwards order....but I took the training after my first battle and got my dumb achievement for completing it.

I was introduced to several characters in this first level. The graphics aren't great here, but you can clearly tell that one is supposed to be the "hot chick" ally, another one is supposed to be your rival for her affection...and then you've got your no-nonsense boss. None of them are very compelling. Somewhere, there is a book of video game cliches and this game is clearly taking plenty of notes from it.

For the second level, I was tasked with tracking down some terrorists in the desert or some such nonsense. After another lame conversation, I realized I just didn't care what happened next. The story wasn't interesting enough to make me want to play through any more of I didn't.

Overall Score? 5/10. Purely average. There's nothing special here, and I predict this will be a bargain bin game within a month or two.

Achievements? I got one. There are plenty, and get them for beating each level, but I didn't care to keep playing this one.

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