Alpha Protocol review for PC

Platform: PC
Also on: PS3, Xbox 360
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Gaming’s 7th generation – the one that featured PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii – will probably always be my favourite. It’s the generation that got me back into gaming, and it’s the first one where I had enough disposable income to buy what I wanted, rather than having to save up from birthdays and wait for Christmas presents. Plus, most importantly, it featured lots of amazing games – like, for example, Alpha Protocol.

Before I take that thought any further, I’ll admit that it’s not secretly one of the best games of the generation or anything. While I’m grateful that GOG have effectively brought the game back from the dead by re-releasing it (DRM-free, to boot), I’m not going to say it holds a candle to Portal (1 or 2), or Super Maro Galaxy (1 or 2), or Bioshock (1 or Infinite), or inFamous (1 or 2 – and as an aside, hey, remember when we got sequels to games within the same generation?), or any of the other games that I’d say are must-plays from the PS360 days.

But I will say it’s a whole lot of fun. It feels like some of the classic James Bond games, where you get your mission, and you have to sneak through a level (or go through guns-blazing, if you’re okay with dying a bunch), taking out guards and picking up ammo, money, and secrets. The levels are a decent length, and it’s got enough of a story to keep you engaged for the dozen or so hours it takes to finish it – not least because its branching dialogue trees really allow you to mold your character in a variety of different ways.

It’s not flawless, though, and there are definitely areas where the game shows its age – but not, interestingly, in the way you might expect from a 15-year-old game. While the visuals are hardly breathtaking, I don’t think I’d ever say that they’re bad or anything. Similarly, the controls feel a little wonky and unintuitive, but that’s probably more a reflection of how, when Alpha Protocol was released, we hadn’t quite gotten to the point where there was a uniformity across a lot of different games. (I mean, this may just be a reflection of what I play, but I feel like certain controls have just become standard now, in a way that they weren’t a few generations ago.)

Just about the only thing in Alpha Protocol that I’d say I can’t stand are the mid-mission minigames. Unfortunately, every so often the game will force you into a situation where you need to search through a rapidly scrolling screen to find certain sequences, or follow maze-like wires to figure out how to turn off alarms, or carry out other, similarly annoying tasks. In fact, sometimes you have to do it as enemies are shooting at you, which makes them even more annoying. Compared to everything else, these minigames are the one thing I wish hadn’t been kept from the original release.

But in every other respect, I’m really glad that GOG revived Alpha Protocol for another generation to discover and enjoy. It’s a solid spy adventure that deserves to be rediscovered, and it’s a reminder that even the seventh generation’s second- or third-tier games were still pretty exceptional.

SEGA/GOG provided us with an Alpha Protocol PC code for review purposes.

Score: 8