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Game Reviewed: Alpha Protocol
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platform: PS3 (also available for Xbox 360 and PC)
Category: Action RPG
ESRB Rating: M
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Alpha Protocol places the player in the role of Special Agent Michael Thorton. You work for a covert branch of the US Government called Alpha Protocol. Your mission is to unearth any and all information around black market weapons deals with terrorist organizations. As with many other spy stories you will find yourself compromised, abandoned, and left all alone with few friends and no resources.
Alpha Protocol is an Action RPG, meaning that throughout the game, various choices can be made to alter the course of the game, as well as character development. The game uses a leveling system similar to a lot of RPG titles. Each kill, evasion technique, conversation, or mission objective has potential to turn into lots of experience (EXP), which in turn levels up Agent Thorton. When you gain a level, you are presented with a wide array of special abilities, health boosts, or technical skills to upgrade.
Any time you engage a person in conversation, you are presented with different conversational options. For example, when talking to women, you are often given the options of being suave, professional or flirty. The way you handle these interactions directly affects your relationships with the people you meet. You will interact with leaders of various organizations and depending on your relationship, they may fight alongside you or against you in future endeavors.
You will be constantly required to make decisions throughout the game. You will decide what to say in conversation. You will decide who lives and who dies. Every decision you make has a consequence in the grand scheme.
What Parents Need To Know
Violence is constant in Alpha Protocol, and you get to witness it from a third person perspective. As Agent Thorton, you have a deadly arsenal at your disposal. You use martial arts, knives, silenced handguns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, as well as other weapons. There is an emphasis on stealth, and if you manage to sneak up on an enemy, you have the option to brutally murder or incapacitate your target at close range. When an enemy is killed, blood will pool around the dead body, but eventually disappear. Some of the most brutal violence happens during cut-scenes where you will often have the option of executing a wounded or captured enemy.
Bad language is used pretty regularly. It shows up in dialogue between characters, but much of it is in emails that you send back and forth to people you are working with. During my game, I experienced the f-word used frequently. Sh**, a**, bi***, damn, and hell were also used at times throughout the game as well as a few other words that were used at least once or twice such as P***k, whore, d*****bag, and slut.
There are 3 female characters in the game that will sleep with you. Two of these instances are implied but one is partly shown. There is no nudity, but there is also no question as to what is happening.
Parts of the game feature exotic dancers. They are not nude, but they wear very little clothing.
There is also sexual dialogue. Characters joke about midget sex trafficking, frequenting strip clubs, pornography, group sex, homosexuality, and even a man being raped by a polar bear.
There is also constant innuendo in the dialogue between Thorton and just about every female character you meet.
A couple of times there were some flippant references to radical Muslims and their beliefs.
Characters joke about drinking. One of your contacts talks about hiding contraband in body cavities. One character smokes in the opening cutscene.
You have the ability to walk around your safe house in between missions and examine “trophies” taken from defeated bosses. When you do this, Agent Thorton almost always makes some sort of off color comment.
At first, I found the game to be entertaining, but by the fourth or fifth hour, it was getting repetitive. The leveling system is pretty cool, and allows you to customize your character to your play style whether you like to run and gun, sneak, or do something in between. I also like the fact that the player is in charge of how their character acts. You have the opportunity to make tons of decisions that influence the course of the game in so many ways. The quality of this aspect of the game was very impressive. Other than that, I found the game to be pretty average.
Based on the content mentioned above, however, especially the sexual content and dialogue, I cannot in good conscience recommend this game for children. The ESRB "M" rating is most definitely correct. This title is intended for mature audiences only.