Have You Played… Alpha Protocol?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

It’s nice and all that Obsidian are crowdfunding a trip back to the ’90s, but I wish they were able (and willing) to revisit something a little fresher. Alpha Protocol is my favourite game they’ve made, an RPG from 2010 which used timed conversations and silent branching to make the adventures of a super spy feel exciting and unpredictable. Yes, it’s jolly wonky in ways – Obsidian made it – but it feels like the fresh green bud of what could’ve been an exciting branch for RPGs.

You’re Secret Agent Manchap, out investigating something or other when something goes wrong and your own agency ends up hunting you. It’s fairly generic spy movie stuff on paper, but it feels exciting as it becomes a personal adventure. Choosing the order you go globetrotting in will silently send the game down different paths, and you might miss opportunities with other characters. This may only become clear on a second playthrough – or because you read some fool like me going on about it. It makes you want to think carefully about consequences to actions, but it rarely lets you.

Conversations run in real-time, requiring you to quickly select the attitude of your response before it’s your turn to talk – no pausing while you agonise over dialogue choices here. You roll with gut feelings then need to deal with the consequences, feeling like a secret agent in the field rather than someone staring at a blinking cursor in an IM window. This feeds into a nice system of relationships, where you get different bonuses from different handlers who’ll watch you on missions, which are of course affected by conversations and decisions. The Witcher (mostly) lets you hesitate over big decisions, but Alpha Protocol pushes you to act.

Combat’s a bit of a boring mess until you reach the higher ends of skill trees, but then sneaking around as an invisible man with superpistols is pretty fun. I never explored the other branches that much because they started out too dull.

It’s notoriously buggy, mind. And enemy AI is bad. And… I could grumble more, but Alpha Protocol’s bright ideas were enough to keep me happily playing. I’m sorry it’s unlikely anyone will ever give Obsidian enough money to have a second crack at it.

You could wear ridiculous shades and beards too.

101 Comments

  1. Oakreef says:

    Alpha Protocol’s dialogue system is so good. Is there any other game that actually has both dialogue options and naturally flowing conversations at the same time?

    • Javier says:

      Telltale Games (TWD S1 and 2, TWAU…)

      • Oakreef says:

        Some of the dialogue in those games works similarly to Alpha Protocol’s, but a lot of it is the stopping and starting with long pauses.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Its the worst “development” ever to put a dialogue choice on a timer. I have to rush through reading and deciding, I can’t take a drink, I can’t be on the phone, I can’t do anything on my own agency. I do not need the “adventure game” part of the game to be turned into a quicktime event, thank you very much.

      It was a shit decision to do and I hate to death that games like the Telltale series adapted it as well.
      One of the worst things of our time.
      Make it an option or don’t do it at all, but don’t force me to hasteread and quickclick dialogues.

      • toshiro says:

        HAHAHA! One of the worst things of our time. That made me LOL and that rarely happens reading comments about old games hahahaha my god man/woman, get yourself together and sit in the sun for a while. A good day to you sir/madame!

      • Ed Burst says:

        I really hate the way they made dialogue in real life real-time as well. Why can’t people just stand there patiently for five minutes while I weigh up my options?

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          Aerothorn says:

          Games are not real life. Nobody wants games to be real life. This is a terrible argument regardless about how you feel about dialog timers.

          • subedii says:

            Then pause the game?

            I mean this complaint sounds like a non-issue. ‘My life is so pressing how dare the game run in real-time whilst I’m desperate to grab a drink / talk on the phone / use the toilet?’

            Then hit esc. Or whatever the heck the button was that paused the game (it’s been a while).

            Seriously, the complaint makes as much sense to me if applied to singleplayer FPS’s or RTS’s. Making in-the-moment decisions is part of it (and also really helps to dialogue flow a lot better).

      • skyturnedred says:

        Alpha Protocol’s dialogue options are stuff like Flirty/Joke/Serious/Playful so it takes about one and a half seconds to figure out what your options are.

        • Deadly Habit says:

          And yet it’s more advanced writing than anything Bioware ever put out.

        • snv says:

          Yes and the game often did not what i wanted it to do / expected.

          Effectively this dialog system makes me reload quicksaves almost for every branch in the conversation. Hate it.

      • LexW1 says:

        It’s pretty clear that you’ve not actually played AP, or not played it for more than a couple of hours, with that sort of overblown arm-flapping reaction. To be fair, when I hadn’t played the game, and for about an hour after starting to play it, I was thinking similarly. By half-way through the game, I was thinking “Well this actually works much better than the stuff in other games”, which it does, as matter of fact.

        These are not ultra-detailed, lengthy options like, say, Baldur’s Gate or to some extent Fallout 1/2 or Pillars of Eternity.

        They’re not even the fairly detailed options of ME2.

        They’re short, clear responses that you simple do not need to “speed read”, unless you have, literally-literally, the reading age of a small child, which, it’s fair to say, you probably don’t.

        Furthermore, iirc, they’re reliably “Jason Bourne-type response” at the left, “James Bond-type response” at the top, and “Jack Bauer-type response” at the right, which speeds things up even further (I think the games them something like “Professional, Suave and Aggressive”.

        • ThomasHL says:

          That’s the trick which everyone who criticises this system seems to miss, it’s not about weighing up the specifics of exactly what you’re saying. You’ve got to read the mood and attitude of the person you’re talking with and adjust your mood and attitude on the fly to achieve your objectives. You’re relying on your characters natural talent to supply the specific words once you’ve made the broad strategic choice.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          I got past Lazo’s Yacht, which was I believe past the midpoint of the game. Then it all just meh’d out on me.

          And I think I made it clear why I disliked it. I didn’t have a choice over whether or not I wanted to be “forced” into a “natural” flow. The game just kept deciding for me, instead of letting me do so at my own pace.

          As for others bringing up twitch gaming or real life when I am talking about an adventure game dialgoue section being done wrong, how can anyone take you serious?

      • machineageproductions says:

        I can’t stand shooters that make me shoot in real-time. If I can’t freeze time indefinitely and line up my shot, it’s total garbage.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Boy, does SUPERHOT have a shooter for you!

          The shooters I liked all paused when I hit ESC and had quicksave/quickload on button press.

      • silentdan says:

        I’m just going to chime in to support your position, as it appears others don’t quite understand the frustration. See, real conversations can happen in real time, because we’re accustomed to constructing sentences that reflect our thoughts. In timed game conversations, I do the same thing, and then read four sentences, and have to decide which one is closest to what I wanted to say. Often, it’s none of them, or split evenly between two mutually exclusive options, and I have to engage in bargaining with myself over the most tolerable compromise. It takes a lot more cognition to work through all that, than simple conversation. If you’re trying to stay in character, it’s even harder, because you have to think about what your character would want, not just run with your own gut reactions.

        I don’t like the timer. It detracts from the experience. I do pause a lot, but I’m irritated by having to perform a workaround, all game long, for a mechanic that could be trivially disabled.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Consortium. It has a timer, but it’s a good long 30 seconds, and defaults to not saying anything if you don’t decide (or choose “say nothing”), and NPCs will react to that as a choice. You can also just walk away while they’re talking.

    • Emeraude says:

      I think Alpha Protocol might be the only game to justify the Bioware-like ring of choice in gameplay, and make it work too.

      That gets all sort of kudos from me.

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      I honestly loved this game, I really did. Even with the horrible AI. But the only other game that excited me like that in terms of dialogue was Mass Effect. A swath of other titles come to mind also, such as the Witcher or elder scrolls series but Bioware and Obsidian are great at dialogue.

    • Smashbox says:

      The implementation is interesting, but the character is the most unlikable shit I’ve ever seen in video game.

  2. thedosbox says:

    It’s notoriously buggy, mind. And enemy AI is bad.

    Oh so true. A particular favourite of mine was the stutter whenever AI enemies were about to pop in. Rather ruined the tension of any “surprise” attacks.

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      gritz says:

      The killer bug for me was when I spent an hour or so meticulously stealth-disabling every guard in a level, without using any of the ridiculous stealth powers. Then I saved my game, satisfied with my work. When I reloaded, they were all back, as if I had done nothing.

      Pretty much called it quits on AP at that point.

      • Buggery says:

        I kept having the opposite problem – running around carefully sneaking my way into bases only to get caught, die, reload, find the map has loaded without any enemies on it[!]

        Would still highly recommend though. Just got to push through those first 2 hours until you’re hooked.

    • ShadyGuy says:

      After putting many hours into Metal Gear Solid V this month and now reading about Alpha Protocol I think that if AP had the gameplay mechanics and enemy AI of MGSV it would’ve been the perfect game. I salivate just thinking about that. :)

    • Emeraude says:

      It’s weird because, I’ve played AP a dozen times on several different machines, and I only suffered two bugs (granted was really mood killing, but still).

      I mean, given the number of comments I’ve read about it being a broken mess, I have to believe it has to be true the game had many bugs. But it really sounds weird given how it contrasts with my own experience

    • Nucas says:

      i’ve played alpha protocol twice (about 60 hours each) and never encountered any bugs that i can recall. if anyone is considering playing this but is put off by the thought it’s going to fall apart, i wouldn’t worry about it. it’s still a great game.

  3. slerbal says:

    I really enjoyed Alpha Protocol, far more than most ‘AAA’ games. Sure it was buggy, but it was ambitious and compelling. A great game even with the issues (which I personally ran into very few of!)

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      I had a similar experience. Pre-ordered the game, had a great time with it and faced very few bugs. Would love to see a sequel.

    • LexW1 says:

      When I first played it, having pre-ordered it, when it was ultra-buggy, I was absolutely enraged.

      I was enraged by the bugs, which hit me multiple times in the first two hours (including 2 CTDs).

      I was enraged by the complete un-shooter-ish non-skill-based-seeming combat (it’s a very RPG game, with magic shooting and magic stealth and so on – if you don’t put lots of points in your weapon, it’ll miss automatically, and if you do put in lots, a pistol will be better than an assault rifle – which is true-ish to the genre, I guess).

      I was enraged by the terrible mini-games. They remain the worst mini-games ever (on PC – they’re fine on console due to different controls).

      So I quit and if they’d has Steam refunds back then, I’d have gone for one.

      A year or so later, I was told by a friend that it was totally cool and I had to play it. I went back, 80% of the bugs had been fixed, and more importantly, I’d read a guide on how to build to avoid the mini-games, and realized I just had to roll with the low-skill high-stats combat/stealth.

      Then I found it was pretty amazing – one of the better CRPGs ever.

      • Deadly Habit says:

        The same could be said for Vampire Bloodlines, and that is a timeless classic.

      • Emeraude says:

        One weird issue I have with the design of the game is how investing points in a skill is making the related mini-games easier.

        It kinda makes sense in a RPG-way. But then it has that weird side effect that the more points you put in a skill – supposedly a sign a sign that you would be interested in playing the related portions of the game, the less engaged you are with its in-game abstraction.
        And it makes the mini-games feel like a punishment of sort, instead of something to play with.

        If I make sense.

      • Premium User Badge

        Andy_Panthro says:

        I knew that it would be more of an RPG than an action game, so I was prepared for that. Also I played it on PC with an Xbox360 pad which made the mini-games relatively easy and quick.

        I fully acknowledge I got so lucky with bugs though. I had far more bugs with Fallout 3 and New Vegas though.

    • jalf says:

      Yeah, same here. Didn’t encounter many bugs, and I really enjoyed the game.

  4. Creeping Death says:

    You almost had me reinstalling it. Then I remembered the reason I never finished it in the first place was a progress halting bug in an irritating boss fight.

    Oh well.

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      When did you play it? I played through in 13′ and beat it about 3 or 4 times, trying to do everything in every way and couldn’t break the game. Or anything like what you mentioned. Maybe you should just give in… and go try it… you might like it…

  5. Danda says:

    No. No. NO. Alpha Protocol is not brilliant “when”, it’s GREAT, period.

  6. vorador says:

    I remember laughing real hard at a recollection of some of the dialogue when being an asshole. You can tell the writers were having fun.

    Yep, this is the one. Spoilery, though: youtube.com/watch?v=VUydx57te9s

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      basilisk says:

      Oh, yes. Everyone who played AP at least once absolutely should try a “Michael Thornton, insane hobo” run. While the plot remains a lot of po-faced nonsense either way, the dialogue for the reckless lunatic path is hilarious.

      (And don’t forget to turn the difficulty to easy while you’re doing it, because it makes the whole thing a lot more enjoyable. The miserable combat drags everything down.)

      I love this game so much.

  7. Zallgrin says:

    ~TURN UP THE RADIO~

    I love this game so damn much, that I barely noticed any flaws that most reviews mentioned. To me, it was almost perfect. I will always keep hoping for Alpha Protocol 2

  8. melancholicthug says:

    Yes, and it was effing brilliant. And SEGA was awesome giving me Steam codes after I sent photos of my retail copy.

  9. malkav11 says:

    Loved it. Actually went back and replayed it a bit, which I don’t often do. Like most of Obsidian’s “notoriously buggy” games I’ve had far less technical issues with it than games from companies like Bioware and Bethesda that have no such reputation (well, Bethesda a bit, but you can have articles about their games that don’t feel compelled to mention bugs every time). In this case, if I reloaded too often from the same save in a row, it would hang. That was the only bug I ever encountered, and it turned out the game’s better if you roll with your mistakes, anyway.

    The combat wasn’t super exciting, but then it’s real world spy stuff with a few minor exceptions (gadgets, the slightly magical stealth/slomo powers) and that’s not really my bag. I like crazy science fictional tech and/or magic. Still, I do like shooting mans in the head and/or creeping up to them and taking them out manually, as I’ve proven in many a stealth game, so it worked well enough. The conversations and branching are the real stars.

    • zontax says:

      This is so true, I remember when I got fallout 3 on lauchday it would crash every 30 minutes, had crazy physics glitches and buggy quests, but somehow they never got the reputation that obsidian had.

  10. Sin Vega says:

    Played it on the funsquare (where by all accounts it’s a better game), and yeah, it’s one of those that more games should learn from. Does interesting things with conversations, NPC reactions to your actions in the long term, and with scores of little involuntary perks and bonuses applied to your character based not on gaming and second-guessing some tedious unlocking system, but on how you’ve played.

    Only Deus Ex Orange Revolution and Consortium did anywhere near as novel and impressive things with conversations. It’s a real shame AP didn’t inspire more games.

    Also, Agent Massivebeard is the only way to play. Bonus for doing every level in civilian clothes, no matter how impractical it is.

    • subedii says:

      IIRC Omen Deng even comments on this when he encounters you in-mission.

  11. Aquablad says:

    I played Alpha Protocol for the first time this year. I really enjoyed it. The combat felt quite clunky at first (like a worse version of Mass Effect 2) but once I got some levels I started to enjoy it more. I want to do another playthrough in the future with a stealth/melee build. Ninja secret agent :P

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Yes, melee/stealth in AP is pretty fun, but always make sure to invest at least a couple of skill points in pistols. Some of the boss fights are nearly impossible in melee, and handguns can save you a lot of frustration.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Sadly, I don’t think they could crowdfund this; not just because Sega owns the IP, but because a sequel would require a much bigger budget than they could get through Kickstarter.

    • Silent_Thunder says:

      I’ll agree on the second point, but not on the first. A kickstarted Alpha Protocol could easily be AP in all but name. There’s really not anything IP wise you’d need from the first AP to make a spiritual successor feel right.

      Except maybe Brayko’s jacket. That jacket man.

      • subedii says:

        link to youtube.com

        Although personally I was more a fan of Stephen Heck. Any sequel would have to have him running around somewhere. That bit with the subway car was classic.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Protocol Alpha, Beta Protocol or Omega Protocol. Problem solved. ;)

  13. Imbecile says:

    I really liked Alpha Protocol, though I’ll concede its one of those games I love in spite of all its flaws. It felt in some ways like a spiritual sequel to Deus Ex. And talking of sequels – I’d love one.

  14. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    I think that Alpha Protocol is the one game that came closest to giving us what Deus Ex seemed to promise all those years ago. The game responds to so many triggers, many of them small and irrelevant, that it really feels like everything you do matters.

    I still remember my first playthrough in which a sequence of my actions in Moscow and then Taipei triggered an absurdly specific response from one character, and I was just floored that the game not only kept track of what I did, but had a prepared response, all written and fully voiced. The complexity of the script is absolutely staggering, and in my eyes completely redeems the clumsy gameplay.

    Pillars of Eternity might be fun and all, but I honestly wish Obsidian would do a spiritual sequel to AP instead. There’s so much potential in this concept, even though I imagine it must be hell to write.

    • Aquablad says:

      I agree, I’d love to see another AP style game. Spy RPG works surprisingly well and I’m sure they could take inspiration from modern Bond films, Bourne, 24, Archer.

  15. Ml33tninja says:

    To this day it’s still in my top 50 games of all-times. Had it for my 360 and after beating it 4 times it saddens me that we never saw a sequel. As a story gamer it grabbed me is so many ways. the only spy RPG IMO

    • Scurra says:

      No One Lives Forever is the only real rival in my book – they were both (well, all 3 really) so well written (and, largely, performed) that any flaws in the engines were easy to overlook. Or maybe I’m just a lot more forgiving than some people.

  16. Freud says:

    I played it twice, just to try different approaches. I even got an extra level the second time I didn’t see the first time.

    Great game with some warts to it.

  17. Lobotomist says:

    Probably most under rated game of all time

  18. montorsi says:

    Probably the worst game I’ve ever installed on my PC. It is simply painful to play in ways that have only ever been duplicated by From with the keyboard controls of their port of Dark Souls.

  19. L3TUC3 says:

    I went with a full charisma stealth spy build and got stuck in the boss-fight with ex-colleague ManBro McMachinegun who camped out in a bunker or something.

    I think the FAQ mentioned something like “shoot with a big gun or use grenades to beat this boss”.

    I didn’t have either so I just ended up not playing the game to the end.

  20. Scurra says:

    I’ve probably played AP to completion four or five times now and the thing that amazes me is that I seem to get wildly different endings each time, and all of them fairly convincingly based on my choices within the game. Even Deus Ex struggled with that part.

  21. Oooch says:

    I wish you guys would’ve reviewed it when it first came out but you only said you’d get round to it later and never did

  22. 2late2die says:

    Loved that game! Played it twice actually – that’s not something I do often. I was so hoping for a sequel, but of course that never happened :/

    I can’t even say the bugs ever bothered me all that much. I mean I’m sure they made themselves known, but looking back at it I can’t remember a single one. I do remember the training sequence that I redid a couple of times to achieve better scores. I remember the awesome conversation mechanic that sometimes gave you some time to ponder, but other times you were really under the clock. I remember the brunette that was seemingly helping me only to betray me at the last minute. I honestly can’t remember the details of the story, but while it started fairly generic, I do remembering ending up enjoying it immensely because of how personal it started to feel since your choices actually made a difference.

    Who knows, maybe in a decade or so, we’ll get a kickstarter campaign to do a spiritual sequel to AP :)

  23. Big Murray says:

    The most damning indictment of AP for me is that even having played through the entire game to its finish, I couldn’t tell you a goddamn thing about the story. Not a thing. Bless Obsidian, they try very hard … but they never quite get there.

    • ThomasHL says:

      Given their fanatic and widespread fanbase, I’d say they do get there. Everytime I’ve ever seen a KOTOR1 vs KOTOR 2 or Fo3 vs F:NV poll, it always went 60-40 in favour of Obsidian.

      Plus Alpha Protocol isn’t a game about its story, it’s a game about its journey. Like a lot of classic Bond films, the plot is just spy nonsense. What they want you to take away is the time you sit down with an enemy agent in a cafe and he reads you (and that’s You The Player, not You The Protagonist), and then you read him back and get him to spill much more than he intended to let on.

  24. kud13 says:

    GOTY of whatever year I got this on a Steam sale.

    Played it probably 6 times, back to back, trying diff. things. best narrative-driven RPG since Planescape, imho.

    bugs were bad (esp in Taipei, for some reason). But I loved the convos, loved how reputation meant different answers and permutations, loved the way “achievements” actually translated into in-game bonuses, loved that doing missions in different order actually MATTERED…. and, of course, who can forget Steven Heck?

    I played this game so much that I beat Brayko on Hard with a CQC build (the ultimate skill actually disrupts his knifing attack, making him beatable).

    One of these days I need to go back and play the “evil” way, building up my own shadow empire.

    If Obsidian was to crowd-fund a “spiritual successor”, they’d have a big chunk of my money.

  25. Turkey says:

    It’s weird. You can tell they were going for a Mass Effect thing, but it feels more like a game in the Looking Glass lineage.

  26. Monggerel says:

    I liked how sociopathic the game forced you to be. No wishy-washy “companion” conversations – you talk to characters with the sole purpose of getting something out of them.

    Very refreshing after Bioware’s attempts at presenting NPCs as anything but vending machines. Because they are. The fact that Alpha Protocol was completely bold-faced and upfront about this (the game informs you in no uncertain terms during the very first tutorial conversation that your job in the game is to manipulate other) and it still seems to have sailed over most reviewers’ (and critics’) heads is probably… telling. About something. Hm.
    Hmmm.

    Not that this is unusal for Obsidian. They did the same thing in Kotor 2. And in Planescape: Torment (as Black Isle). And in Mask of the Betrayer.

    • Monggerel says:

      wow guy you sure can spell right
      fuck
      wish they brought back
      the edit button
      on RPS

    • Sin Vega says:

      This is an excellent point, and it’s another reason why the setting worked so well. It goes further too, as not only are you manipulating NPCs, but many of them are manipulating you, too, and not just by using the game’s structure to railroad you. Instead, they lie, they joke, they threaten, they flirt, and generally act in such a way that you can seldom be sure how much is true and how far to trust even your allies. Quick and simple example: it’s never clear exactly how much of Heck’s attitude is sincere and how much is an act.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Hadn’t thought of it like that – really good point, so thanks!

  27. Tylaris says:

    Love the game, this is Bioware’s holy grail when it comes to choice and consequence. Story was something we’ve seen a dozen times in action movies, but characters and interaction in this game is outstanding. And the humor…never laughed more while playing a video game ( still have to pick up South Park).
    I’d gladly kickstart a sequel, but under one condition…Steven Heck should be in the lead, shooting his way through his mad conspiracy theories. Final mission with him and Thornton…god, I almost died of laughter.

  28. Jason Moyer says:

    Yes I’ve played it, and it’s in my top 5 games of all time. Probably my second favorite Deus Ex game even though it’s not a Deus Ex game and bares little relationship to one superficially.

  29. Wulfram says:

    I didn’t like the conversation system really. Its OK from a game point of view, but I felt the lack of information and time constraints got in the way of roleplaying.

    Still, its certainly a better game that its metacritic score would suggest. And its less annoyingly written than most Obsidian games I’ve played.

    • Troubletcat says:

      I think the lack of information and time constraint added to roleplaying. In real-life you usually have limited information. And you usually don’t have much time to think about your response to something (people think it’s weird if you stare at them for 5 minutes while forming a response)

      • Wulfram says:

        In real life I know what I’m going to say, hopefully. And I’m reacting as me, rather than trying to put myself in the shoes of another person. I don’t have to think “oh wait, I’m supposed to be angry here”.

      • LionsPhil says:

        A real life where people were forced into committing to a phrase based on a vague one-or-two word cue would be a horrendous one indeed, and civilization would soon collapse under an infinite number of soap-opera-style interpersonal misunderstandings and failures to ever go back and clear things up.

        • Wulfram says:

          That real life might be more entertaining to watch though

          • Geebs says:

            One or two words would be fine. 140 characters will be the doom of us all.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Yes, I tried to play it. Many times. Still hasn’t clicked.

  31. wombat191 says:

    well the hacking minigame is broken but you never have to touch it outside of the tutorial.. thank you emp grenages, its poorly optimised , pistols are overpowered to the extent you kill the final boss in less than 10 seconds not to mention you can get stuck on the geometry near corners

    and i love ever minute of the buggy mess, one of my favourite rpg’s of all time :)

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Hacking minigame wasn’t well implemented for keyboard/mouse (it was clearly designed for analog sticks) but it’s still perfectly functional. WASD with space to lock in the left word and the mouse with LMB to lock in the right word. It can be quite difficult if you don’t invest points in whichever skill governs hacking ability, but if you play a hacking-focused character it not only works but never really presents much of a challenge.

  32. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Excellent game. Criminally underrated by many. Oh, for a sequel.

  33. neotribe says:

    This has been sitting in my library forever, waiting for a slow weekend. Interesting to see the polarization on the timed dialogues. The idea puts me off, but maybe it works in the moment.

  34. Leprikhan says:

    And oh boy was it ever buggy. In fact, it had one of my favourite bugs in my history of playing games!

    There is an ability in the game that slows time for everyone but you. There is a boss in the game who has a second phase that causes him to get super speed.

    I used slow time and was beating on his face, crossing the threshold into his second phase. He did his thing, and sure enough he went into super speed. I was slightly miffed, as my slow time was still active, but oh well.

    And then slow time ended.

    He went into SUPER super speed, running around and attacking as a sonic the hedgehog blur and killing me completely in a matter of seconds. I laughed too hard to be upset.

    • kud13 says:

      you know, if you ask a friend to spike his coke beforehand, he’d be losing health while running and stabbing you.

      I love this game so much. I need to re-play it again.

  35. El Stevo says:

    I decided to give Alpha Protocol a shot based on this article. Won’t even launch.

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      What is your issue? Let nothing stand in your way of trying this game

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      The, uh, computer issue. Not your personal one. :D

  36. PampleMoose says:

    I remember enjoying AP, but feeling like I had to dig through crap to get to the good bits.

    At the end of the day, what was fundamentally at the core of AP that separated it from, say, Deus Ex? The way conversations worked might be one – was there anything else?

    If Obsidian kick started a sequel, I could get into that. I’d love it if they had more ‘hub’ areas, though, rather than just the the action levels, which often annoyed me in a way that Deus Ex didn’t (often because, at least in Deus Ex 1, the more ‘social/public’ flowed naturally into and often overlapped with the ‘set-piecey’ areas – this was less so in HR).

  37. Fellhuhn says:

    What I loved is that when you start as a “Noob” you get a forth dialogue option which is always funny. And the game is hard as you start without any preallocated points.

    After finishing the game as “Noob” you can restart as “Pro” which even gives yet another dialogue option. Man, I really should play it again…

    And still the only game where I still hate myself for one of the choices… But man was I mad at that girl. Thought she deserved it… *sigh*

  38. XxBrentos9xX says:

    If anyone reading this is still deciding to play or re-play, after 89 other comments, just do it now please.

  39. zarthrag says:

    This article reminded me to finish this game. I’m a bit surprised that it still runs, even under windows 10. More still, I’m have a MUCH less buggy experience: not a single crash to desktop, this time around!

    I’m not caught up to where I was. But this game has aged quite well. Also, the email/dialog systems really are worthwhile!

  40. zoog85 says:

    Thanks for this article! After reading this and some user reviews on Metacritic, I’m now about 7 hours into the game and absolutely love it!! I’m so glad I found this one, it’s such an awesome game with so many possibilities, what a gem. A game that actually manages to make the conversations the most exciting thing, putting you on the edge of your seat (yes this is a compliment). I do like the gameplay as well, but the decisions of you in the game is where it’s at.

    Also everything is very well written (intel, e-mails, story, conversations) and with some fine humor. Love it.

  41. DeadInHell says:

    Alpha Protocol is definitely rough around the edges, but it remains one of my favorite games. It has that Obsidian charm in droves. The dialogue system was compelling, the handler and enemy relationships were interesting, and there were a lot of choices to make during the story that shaped the way things went down (as did the aforementioned relationships and dialogues). Combat was a little dull at first, but once the trees open up a little and you get your skills the gameplay is much more interesting. And the stealth takedowns (in both non-lethal and throat-stabbing varieties) were really satisfying.

    I also loved the fact that you could play through the game on Recruit mode and then unlock Veteran – which not only starts you with a basic proficiency in all skills but also unlocks new dialogue options and even allows you to circumvent one of the game’s “save the [x] or your [x]” choices by accomplishing both, because you’re savvy. Recruit gets its own unique dialogue too, at least during the game’s training arc. I wish more games added this kind of replayability. I want to go back with knew knowledge and see things go a different way. This game does that on multiple levels.