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Alpha Protocol is a third-person action role-playing game, developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by SEGA. The game revolves around the adventures of rookie CIA field agent Michael Thorton. The game was originally set to be released on October 27, 2009, but the release date was instead pushed back to May 27, 2010.
After a mission goes ugly, Agent Michael Thorton is cut off from all of his contacts and betrayed by his superiors and is being hunted by the United States government. In response, Michael uses the "Alpha Protocol", though it is normally reserved for more senior agents, and begins to operate undercover, to uncover the conspiracy.
Alpha Protocol is played from a third-person perspective, allowing the player to see Thorton and his surroundings at all times. As Thorton is a trained CIA operative, the tools at the player's disposal include numerous firearms, hand to hand combat using Kenpo, and spy gadgets. In addition to the action elements, though, players also earn Advancement Points, which can be placed into any of the ten different skills in the game. These skills will increase Thorton's ability to use certain weapons and grant different abilities to him. These abilities are free to use, but require a "cooldown" period before they can be used again. One ability that has been mentioned in previews allows Thorton to scan a group of enemies in slow-motion before popping out of cover and shooting each of them more rapidly than he would be capable of normally. As with any RPG, Alpha Protocol features numerous characters with whom to interact. Conversations occur in real-time, giving the player a limited amount of time to respond at key "decision points" during dialogue. The dialogue system in the game - known as the "DSS" or Dialogue Stance system - allows the player to choose from three different attitudes, or "stances," when speaking to an NPC. Obsidian has said that these options are based on the personalities of the "three J.B.'s": Jason Bourne of the Bourne Identity novels and films, James Bond of the eponymous film and book series, and Jack Bauer of the television series 24, although the game itself does not use these names. During dialog sequences, the player will be able to choose from options like "professional" (Jason Bourne), "suave" (James Bond), and "aggressive" (Jack Bauer), sometimes with a brief description of the dialogue choice (such as "sarcastic") taking the place of the general stance. A fourth, "action" dialogue choice is sometimes available, used to terminate a conversation prematurely. Each NPC will react differently to these choices; one character might be intimidated by an aggressive stance, but another character may find an aggressive stance to be insulting or childish. The consequences of choices made during conversations may not be seen until much later in game. As each conversation is experienced once per playthrough, multiple playthroughs will be required in order to experience all of the game's content.
Alpha Protocol has a hub structure, in which Thorton must utilize safe houses in each of his hub cities in order to lay low between missions. From a safe house, Thorton can change clothing, access a weapons locker, telephone contacts, and attempt missions. Some missions are critical to the progression of the story, while others are optional. Players will be able to buy and sell weapons and equipment within their safe houses. Hub cities include Rome, Moscow, Taipei and a city inside Saudi Arabia
Players will be allowed to customize Michael's face, but only to modest features such as facial hair and etc. Weapons and gadgets will also be customizable with added silencers, a larger magazine, and so forth. The player can choose also which skills to advance, allowing them to reinforce their play style. Examples include making Thorton more capable of stealth, more deadly in hand-to-hand combat, or better at gunplay. A large list of guns are shown in some demos as well, all under fictional names. Examples include the FN-FiveseveN, FN-P90, the FN-F2000 and the M4A1.
Gary Steinman writes, "Mina might seem normal enough, but Alpha Protocol has its share of quirky characters. 'We used a Kill Bill test,' Parker explains. 'If a character fits in Kill Bill, that's probably too over-the-top. But we don't want them to be just normal suits. That'd be really boring. I don't know how many M60 wielding psychopath blonde girls there are, but there's one in our game!"