Short Game Review: Alpha Protocol

If Splinter Cell had knocked up Mass Effect after the prom, Alpha Protocol would be their baby. Mind you, this is before those series grew up into more games they are today—we’re talking 2005’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and the first Mass Effect, circa 2007. That’s only an insult, though, if you wouldn’t love to go back and play those all over again for the first time, awkwardness and all.

Admittedly, Alpha Protocol has a visual style that looked outdated before the game even hit shelves, combat that feels clunky if you’re using anything but a pistol, boss fights that are literally impossible if you don’t build your character properly (I did, fortunately, entirely by accident), and a convoluted plot of secret agencies and double-double-crosses so numerous that not even the writers can keep track of what your character already knows, deflating some of their intended “A-HA!” moments. Still, sneaking around and punching bad guys in the throat is pretty fun, the dialog system is arguably an improvement upon Mass Effect‘s, and the game keeps track of more of your choices (adjusting plot and dialog accordingly!) than any other game I’ve seen. All in all, I’m sad it won’t be getting a sequel, but I’m glad I got it for only forty bucks.