A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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