Obsidian Entertainment are wizards when it comes to creating sequels and spin-offs for other developers' with games like Fallout New Vegas, adding their own story and gameplay tweaks to an existing franchise. So, when their brand new IP Alpha Protocol was announced, merging the interactive story telling and character customization of Mass Effect with the globe trotting spy thriller of a Bourne Identity yarn, I was excited. Unfortunately, it seems when the training wheels came off, Obsidian wobbled and scraped a few knees trying to get Alpha Protocol out the door. You take control of Agent Michael Thorton, a globe-trotting spy, who joins the ranks of a shadowing organization investigating criminal corporations and double dealing terrorists with a licence to kill.
During the course of a single mission, Michael Thorton is betrayed by his country, framed by his superiors, and cut off from his support. This pivotal moment in the story is clearly where things go wrong for the super-spy hero, but I wish it were as easy to pinpoint exactly where Alpha Protocol falls apart as a gaming experience. The espionage-themed hybrid of third-person action and RPG leveling is a baffling cocktail of outdated design and technical problems, with only a handful of bright spots illuminating how good the game could have been. The best spy stories have magnetic, capable protagonists you love to cheer for — just look at genre icons like James Bond and Jason Bourne. Michael Thorton is an unlikable idiot by contrast.