Alpha Protocol’s creators Obsidian Entertainment, have been involved in some of the best moments in role play games design. Going back to the days when Feargus Urquhart and his crew were Black Isle Studio you can trace their DNA through Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights 2 to Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II. It really would be hard to come up with a developer whose influence is more embedded into the world of the RPG.
In the genre-bending world of modern videogames, things are not always what they seem. Alpha Protocol looks, walks and talks like a shooter, but it's not - under the hood it's a skills-based RPG. It's far more about character stats than firepower, and interactive cut-scenes form a substantial portion of the action.
Like a shooter, Alpha Protocol is a game about a man with a gun solving political unrest with bullets. Unlike a shooter, your health doesn't recharge with time (although your shields do, to an extent). Unlike a shooter, you have to decide whether you want to prioritise hit points or offensive power or tech skills.
You have to manage your inventory, and spend a lot of time in menu screens, customising equipment or reading emails or dossiers that flesh out the characters and political conspiracies at the heart of the story. You also spend a lot of time talking, forming relationships with key characters in interactive cut-scenes by choosing from a selection of conversational responses.
You play as the main character, Michael Thorton, an American agent for an agency secret enough for the government to deny its existence. You can tweak his appearance, but like Mass Effect's Commander Shepard, he is his own man. Your influence upon him extends to which skills you give him, and how you choose to make him respond in conversations.
In Alpha Protocol, your choices impact on the consequences that play out throughout the game. Obsidian Entertainment don't stand still and Alpha Protocol is a damned intriguing game.