It's up for debate what people may class as old games or retro but shouldn't retract from a fan's enjoyment. While your Dad might consider Pong or Arkanoid retro, you will consider the likes of Medieval and Croc to amongst those retro titles. The point is it's all quality gaming and can still be enjoyed by both sides of the retro spectrum. Sega made some great video game consoles back in the day and fans were particularly sad when they had to stop due to financial constraints. Their games however were just as good and they made some great role playing games back in the day. What instantly springs to mind is the epic martial arts title Shenmue which may have caused their financial downfall because of it's massive budget. I however would like to focus on an unheralded Espionage RPG for Playstation 3 and X Box 360.
Alpha Protocol was a spy role playing game which may have went under the radar for a lot of gamers. I believe I paid £20 for it from Grainger Games and it was money well spent. The game plays like a cross over of Mass Effect and Syphon Filter but with more stealth. It's a third person action game where you're given the choice which way the story progresses. Like in Spy movies there's no clear cut good guy or bad guy, only decisions whether the character lives or dies. You can be morally motivated or more service to self inclined; how you play the game is up to you. This is the first type of game I've played of it's kind and was pleasantly surprised first time round. Playing it now I'm enjoying it just as much if not more. I'm kind of into spy media after recently watching the television series 'The Americans.'
You play as a spy named Michael Thorton who is picked up by a 'Black Op' government agency known as 'Alpha Protocol.'
Entertainingly you can choose Michael's background and this is a big influencer on how you play the game. The backgrounds you can choose are along the lines of being technically savvy, handy with a gun or stealth orientated. It's quite impressive how the style of your character gets injected into the story of the game. You then get to distribute your skill points as is typical with this sort of role playing game. What some gamers maybe irritated about is the shooting system which is similar to the likes of Fallout 3. Even when the cursor is seemingly on target your shot can hazardly miss and I believe it's to make it true to life. The creators didn't want to just create a run and gun shoot 'em up; they wanted you to think about what you're doing.
That said in true Sega style there's some arcade gimmick power ups which bring that realism down a touch. I welcomed both elements as I'm quite fond of the RPG formula which has made so many other games popular and challenging. There's a huge cast of characters who you get the opportunity to build relationships with. You'll be supplied with Intel on each so that you are able to decide how to handle them. This is helpful as you quickly have to make decisions during cutscenes on how to handle somebody. You might want to 'rough up' a character or be a bit more professional. Ultimately this affects your relationship with them and how the story plays out. There's also a large cast of female characters for you to seduce but it's not as easy as it looks.
Be prepared to read an intel file so you get the desired out come you want with a female character. Otherwise you maybe given the cold shoulder in more ways than one. The combat is excellent in the game and you can play it 'stealthy' or 'all guns blazing.'
Sega are clever in that they've created the game to cater to both audiences and it just shows how good they are at developing and making games. The locations range from exotic hotels to warehouses and drug lord's mansions. It's a good mixture and all the locations are graphically beautiful. The characters are pretty memorable too; there's a fellow agent named Darcy who's a down right jerk. Another one is the sexy Mina who depending on what outcome you choose may act as your handler on most missions.
It's impressive the length Sega has went to so that you can develop a relationship with such characters. A couple of glitches here and there don't spoil what truly is an epic game which am surprised wasn't more heralded on it's release. I'm going to give it 4 out of 5; it might be outshone by other modern day RPGs but if you like the spy genre then you're going to love Alpha Protocol.
4 out of 5.