Alpha Protocol is espionage RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Sega. The game was published in Europe May 2010 and in America June 2010, and it was published to PC, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. This review was made basing the PC version. While I try to avoid major spoilers some minor ones appear in this review, as it would be nearly impossible to explain all the necessary things affecting the rating of this game without doing so. So, if you want to avoid any spoiling, jump over the sections with SPOILERS text in the title. Graphics Alpha Protocol uses Unreal Engine 3, and I have to say that, while it's not the pretties game published during 2010, the graphics are very well done. Bullets leave marks on the walls, the faces of all characters appearing in the game are well rendered and the world is very detailed. While the graphics are pretty and well done, sadly there are some minor gripes as well. Often the borders of different textures are visible, showing as strange black and colored lines appearing here and there. The game also has problems with loading detailed textures at times, and thus the engine displays the blurred versions before the detailed ones are drawn. Not a big issue, but especially the lines appearing among the textures tend to annoy a bit. Otherwise, the artist have done good job. Sound and music (SPOILERS) The background music is very well done, each situation having fitting music. For example, during the combat there game plays music with faster tempo, while in peaceful situation the tempo is also slower. Another fine detail is that the music is made to fit the surrounding, like when you fight against certain boss. During that fight the background music used is disco style, which is more that fitting for the surrounding. The voice acting is well done, with correct accents and all. Each voice does fit the character it belongs, which is not even nearly the case of modern games. In Alpha Protocol this fact is especially crucial, as there are lots of dialogues during the game, and all of it has been voice acted. This makes the at times even lengthy discussion more enjoyable, as bad or even mediocre voice acting can ruin it easily. All characters appearing in the game has also distinct personalities, and the acting does represent those personalities very well. Interesting note about voice acting is that all characters, even the normal soldiers who usually die during last seconds after being encountered, do have at least few lines of banter, again everything has been spoken. Of course the generic enemies do use same voice files, so there is no possibility to tell which one said what, but that's only understandable, as the player encounters hundreds of such enemies. But, unlike in many other games, the banters the enemies have between each other do have some logic behind, and is not just few lines chosen randomly. Story (SPOILERS!) The player controls a character called Michael Thorton, who has been recruited to secret government organization called Alpha Protocol. Thorton is sent out to investigate the terrorist attack against civilian airplane occurred in Middle East, and then to assassinate the man behind the incident. After Thorton captures his target he finds out there is corporation called Halbech behind the incident as well. Soon after the location is hit my one of the Halbech missiles, Thorton being one of the targets of the missile. Thorton survives and is contacted by one of his colleagues, explaining him that Halbech has infiltrated the Alpha Protocol and that the missile was launched to kill Thorton and destroy all the evidence he has about the corporation. As the attempt failed it's required from Thorton to turn rogue. And from there the actual game begins. During the game the story takes Thorton across the world, from Saudi Arabia to Rome, Moscow, Taipei and even back to US. Each city has group of missions Thorton must do to find out the truth behind the whole incident, and most of the missions can be done in any order, though some mission require that certain missions has been completed to become available. While the story progress it comes apparent that all the missions have in fact happened already, and that Thorton is only recalling his story in investigation. This fact also brings one of the biggest feature of the game, which is that each action Thorton takes affect the story. All the decisions made will alter the story, and even the civilian casualties Thorton has caused have impact in the story. The story of Alpha Protocol, with all of the varieties caused by decisions, is the game biggest carrier. The story is just amazing, with numerous hooks and details, surprises and such. The writers have done excellent job, and it's wonderful to see a modern RPG putting such a weight on story alone. If nothing else, the story is very good reason to play this game. Be warned though, the game is pretty heavy in terms of dialogues and cinematic, as those are the things that carry the story forward. Still, there was no situation while I played the game when watching and listening the cinematics and dialogues were burden, which is a strong point of the game. Gameplay Alpha Protocol is third-person game, with the camera being behind the character. The only moments when the view turns in first-person are when Thorton uses sniper rifles and mounted machine guns, which can not be brought to the site by default but must be either found from the location or bought from black market and been deployed to the site. Neither types can be carried around, as those are mounted, so the locations are fixed. The camera also contains the two most annoying things in Alpha Protocol, which cause feelings from frustration to even anger. First problem is that at times the camera jumps wildly while player is turning, which makes it difficult to control Thorton especially during heated fights, causing unnecessary deaths. When this is combined to the other problem, which is that the camera follows Thorton very close behind and cannot be zoomed, causing the field of vision being very narrow and only forward, it's really difficult to deal with the situations where the enemies are swarming from all directions. Many times my character died due these problems, and it can become very frustrating to redo some difficult fights just because I was not able to aim properly. The controls of the game are pretty straightforward, with mouse used to turn the camera and aiming. Interesting thing is that the PC version also supports the XBox 360 controller, and the player can choose either the normal mouse and keyboard combination or the controller. It's even possible to change the controlling method during the game. Unfortunately it's impossible to remap the keys of controller, and while the keys are obvious and well placed, it's for example impossible to move Thorton in circle while running, as, at least for me, it was impossible to get my right hand fingers to find both the A button as well as right stick. Still, the using of controller is a solid option, as the jumping of the camera is not as bad with controller as well as one of the minigames is much easier with controller. The game is pretty straightforward tunnel running, though almost every situation offers the player several ways of approach. For example, player can use land features like ledges and zip lines to move from point to point, and even reach certain locations unnoticed, which would be otherwise impossible. The landscape also offer numerous objects which player can use. Zip lines mentioned above are such, but the objects range from simple things which can be used as covers to trucks and gas tanks which can be made to explode, potentially killing any enemies lingering nearby. Alpha Protocol forces the player to choose the method of how the mission is done. There is always one way to solve the situation stealthy or with force. The decision the player may affect Thorton's reputation in the eyes of key NPC, as some may shun Thorton for killing civilians, while some may prefer more aggressive method. And even though the player mainly goes with aggressive method, relying on the brute firepower, at times it's still recommended to wait a moment, study the patrol routes of NPCs and pick out lone enemies in silence. It's also possible to choose whether to use lethal force or non-lethal, like stunning martial strikes or non-lethal bullets.