Review in progress: Alpha Protocol

Just a quick post for now, I’ve spent two hours playing Alpha Protocol tonight and my impressions are… Mixed. I’d heard it had it’s share of bugs and glitches, but I didn’t find any at first. Some janky animations, weirdly huge crosshair (maybe it’s because my pistol skill isn’t high enough) which then develops it’s own crosshair if you aim at stuff for long enough, a bit like how the Xenomorphs in Aliens have a mouth inside a mouth, I suppose.

In my first mission after the tutorial, though, I got a pretty brief taste of what the game is apparently about. It’s kind of cool, really, a bit like Deus Ex: Human Revolution but also a lot like Mass Effect. The character I made pretty much was the Shepard I made in the first Mass Effect and as you level up your skills you unlock specific things for them, rather than just improve them generally as you do in, I don’t know, Deus Ex (the first one). For example, I levelled up my Stealth skill and gained the extremely useful ability to turn invisible (yeah, really) for a second if you’re about to be spotted at one level, and at the next level I gained a permanent version of something that was a one-use thing (with a cooldown) which I wish I could turn off now but never mind.

Balance seems like it could be a problem, mainly because the skill I just mentioned appears to show every enemy that’s near you in 3D. Think Battlefield 3-style spotting except it also shows which direction they’re facing, it’s on all the time and rather than being subtle little triangles, it’s needlessly over-designed large triangles. I’ll reconsider this when I come to write the review properly.

The hacking where you have to move lines of characters around is just horrible! Yeah, so bad I just used an exclamation mark in a review. You have two boxes with ‘passwords’ in them and then a huge grid of characters which are constantly changing underneath, except for the two passwords you have. You use WASD to move one password and the mouse to move the other, you line them up with the same password in the grid and then you press space or mouse 1 to confirm. WASD, fine, no problem. Mouse? Forget it, it’s just shit. It doesn’t respond when you move the mouse and then when it finally does respond and you get the password lined up, the slightest movement of the mouse will move the password to the wrong column, row or both, so if you move even slightly when clicking then you’ll probably set off an alarm. I’d like to find whoever came up with that idea and make them eat nails, and not the metal ones either because the other one would be so much worse. Urgh.

I also experienced quite a large glitch in the first mission which essentially went like this: Somehow glitched on top of a huge crate, checkpoint was awarded anyway, died, restarted at the checkpoint but it was somewhere I’d never been, went into a hangar whose interior hadn’t loaded (including the back doors), walked through where the back doors would’ve been, was clearly outside the map at this point, walked a bit further ‘for a laugh’, fell through the map. I managed to fix it, though, turns out using the crate glitch thing (which, by the way, I didn’t try to do, it just happened) to hop over the fence was a bad idea and I had to backtrack and open a door which triggered the loading of the hangar interior.

Anyway, I’m only two hours in and the game has barely gotten started.

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