Alpha Protocol Game Poster Image

Alpha Protocol

(i)

 

Violent, sexy spy game has players make moral decisions.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game glorifies the life of a secret agent and makes the lead hero out to be almost invulnerable as he works through missions killing dozens of people, often without getting seriously hurt himself. The narrative carries anti-terrorism and anti-corruption messages, but violence is the constant problem solver. It also contains adult themes in the form of sex, profanity, and drug use.

Positive role models

Our protagonist is set up to potentially become a traditional hero, but the game’s open dialogue system allows players to lead him in less noble directions. Players can choose whether he kills villains rather than sparing them and can opt to be rude and aggressive to people he speaks with in conversations. Some negative actions carry penalties (a handler may not be as helpful as he would have had the player chosen to be more affable), but the consequences aren’t too severe.

Ease of play

Fairly standard third-person shooter controls should prove easy to learn for experienced players. Note, though, that navigation can be a little awkward and that technical glitches can get in the way of play.

Violence

Players spend much of their time engaged in melee and ranged combat using a variety of guns and grenades. Blood is evident when characters are shot and can be seen in small puddles on the ground. Victims issue grunts of pain. Hand-to-hand combat is mostly bloodless but arguably more intense, since the game’s protagonist can sneak up on and choke people, flip enemies over by their necks, and viciously punch, kick, and knee foes in pre-rendered animations.

Sex

The game’s hero flirts with female characters via voice dialogue and in emails. They converse frankly, talking at one point of having sex in a utility closet at a party. One scene implies that two characters, one a woman in underwear, are about to have sex before fading out to leave the act to the player’s imagination.

Language

Profanity isn’t frequent, but a broad range is present, including the words “s--t,” “f--k,” “ass”, “asshole,” “damn” and others.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One scene shows a character inhaling a substance presumed to be cocaine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Alpha Protocol is a violent action game featuring plenty of combat, frank sexuality, scattered but strong profanity, and a scene with drugs. Blood is seen frequently in firefights, though there’s no gore. The protagonist can be a traditional hero with a noble and suave demeanor, but the game’s complex narrative allows players to make moral decisions by deciding whether to be mean and aggressive when talking to non-player characters, flirt with female characters, or kill unarmed captured enemies.

What's it about?

In ALPHA PROTOCOL players take on the role of a secret agent working for a clandestine organization undertaking missions that involve stealth, shooting, hand-to-hand combat, and mini-games to bypass locks and hack computers. Players begin by choosing the background of the game’s protagonist, Mike Thorton, then proceed to develop their characters by earning experience points, acquiring new abilities, and upgrading their arsenal of gadgets and weapons. A major facet of the game is its complex dialogue system, which allows players to select Thorton’s demeanor while interacting with non-player characters, choosing from selections such as aggressive, suave, professional, and suggestive. Decisions in conversations can alter relationships, change mission objectives and results, and have an impact on the overall narrative.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

There’s no doubt Alpha Protocol has the foundation of a deep and satisfying action-oriented RPG. Its character growth system is complex and clever, and the dynamically changing conversations and their narrative consequences are impressive. Unfortunately, many other parts of the game are woefully underdeveloped.

Gunfights are frustrating until you’ve managed to level up your skills and find some decent weapon upgrades. Ditto for situations requiring stealth. Melee combat is perhaps the best part of the action, but even that is hindered by poor navigation; our hero’s turns are too wide and he gets stuck in canned animations while enemies back away and take aim at him. Then there are the glitches. The screen tears when turning the camera quickly, details sometimes slowly pop-in when new environments load, and the camera sometimes gets stuck while in cover. There is plenty of potential here, but this game needed a lot more baking.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the depiction of sex in video games. In most cases, scenes involving an act of sex involve no interaction and are not part of the game but rather a facet of the narrative. Does that make them completely superfluous in an interactive medium? Or do they serve a worthwhile and valuable narrative purpose for adult players?

  • Families can also discuss games that allow players to mold their characters through complex dialogue trees. When given the option, do you make decisions you think you would make if you were in that situation? Or do you try to be meaner -- or perhaps more gallant -- than you would be in real life? What prompts you to these decisions?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Price:$59.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sega of America
Release date:June 1, 2010
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language

This review of Alpha Protocol was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 February 28, 2012

Just slightly worse than Call of duty or Battlefield.

I got this when I was 12 but I still wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 14.There is lots of shooting,hand to hand combat and some stabbing.And you can also break enemies necks complete with loud snapping sounds,This is not something for Tweens or immature children but if your children can handle Call of duty,try letting him to move on to the next stage:Alpha Protocol before moving on to games like Halo or Left 4 Dead,then GTA then games like Dead Space then games like Manhunt which are extremely gory then finally AO rated games then......Need I go on?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old January 26, 2011

Stupid spy game that isn't worth it!

This game is really boring and pretty darn stupid. It has lots of sex, plenty of graphic violence, drugs, and awful role models. I beat it super fast to so in a way I don't even think it is quite worth it. The only thing I like about this game is that you can make decisions which may change gamplay!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old August 24, 2010
most of the sex is an choices made by the player and no that much blood

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