E3 2009: SEGA’s Alpha Protocol
Another game that was being featured by SEGA is their upcoming espionage RPG, Alpha Protocol. You play a modern day spy with a morally ambiguous alignment that removes the good/bad elements normally found in role playing games.
The demo was lead by the game’s producer, Tim Ernst.
In this third-person RPG, you play as Michael Thornton and as with most RPGs, you are able to choose your look and weapons, and you are able to build trust with other characters. The dialog system has been shortened so you will not see the long sentences or paragraphs that you usually see in traditional RPGs. In Alpha Protocol, they have introduced a timer which creates some amount of tension by forcing you to choose to either be aggressive, to bluff, or to be honest. Each response will trigger something different between you and the other characters – making things easier or more difficult by using how you respond to people. As in real life, if you are constantly aggressive, you will find that you will make more enemies than you will friends and so-on.
The game also uses a reputation system that will affect how NPCs will perceive you. There are 9 different skills that you can level up throughout the game. Leveling up your skills will affect how well you can do certain thinks like hack into computers or use particular weapons. There are even a variety of hacking mini games that you will need to beat in order to break into computers to gather intel and more.
You can choose to play the game with three different styles: combative, stealth, and attack. You can engage in melee combat where you can choose to subdue or kill your enemies. You can even score critical hits – if you keep the weapon reticle still, it will get smaller, and you can do more damage. You can even level up in martial arts for more hand to hand combat skills. With levels in the martial arts, you can go into Fury where you will enter a bullet-time mode that will slow time.
There are even mini boss battles – if you choose the attack option while in conversations, certain characters will go into a mini-boss battle mode. These generally don’t end in death but can change how the characters align with you.
When you complete missions, you go back to your safe house, your RPG hub, where you can check your email or go to the store to buy intel or buy and upgrade your weapons. There is even a dialog system within emails where you can choose to be brief, direct, or snarky!
You can only go to Level 15, however, you will not max out your abilities your first run through. You will need to play the game a few more times in order to fully max out all your levels. The game promises 25+ hours of game play with over 40 missions available. With the new dialog system, playing the game 2-3 more times seems likely as the outcomes will be change dramatically each time you choose a different approach so there seems to be some replay value to the game.
My only issues with this version of the game was that the enemies seemed a little dumb. Also, I did notice that the subtitles overlapped notifications like when you gain points in certain abilities. I do hope this gets changed in the released version. However, we were later notified that the game is still buggy, the kinks are being ironed out, and that the AI had to be lowered for E3 for demonstration purposes.
Alpha Protocol comes out later this fall for the Xbox 360, PS3, and the PC.