I’m going through some strange gaming period right now where I totally ignore all these great new releases — I’ve yet to even smell the open box of a copy of Borderlands 2, an experience similar, I imagine, to abstinence — in favour of buying up oldish stuff I’ve wanted to play for ages. One such game is Alpha Protocol, which JB Hi-Fi pretty much paid me to take.
Now, I’ve heard terrible things about this game. It’s been universally sledged as “quite bad, yes” for reasons so numerous I can’t remember them all. However, I’ve been here before. Too often have the critical majority mobilised against a game that I absolutely loved, like Silent Hill: Downpour and even Inversion, say.
So I got this thing more to allay my disbelief than satiate my curiousity. C’mon, Obsidian made this. Those guys are awesome. New Vegas is both the bees knees and the other fun thing. And it’s got Mass Effecty bits in it, y’know, conversational tomfoolery and moral quandaries.
How can this not be, at the very least, really workable? I chuck in my -$5 copy of Alpha Protocol and get started.
I really like the beginning. Waking up in a secret underground lab and going mad test subject on my captors is reminiscent of many a weekend IRL, and I immediately feel something resembling kinship. Sure, the camera’s a bit mental and what’s-his-name’s walks like he sat on a carrot, but I just karate’d a guy in the spleen and couldn’t take his gun because it, for some reason, does not exist. I’m down with surrealism, and I can forgive this for the sake of tutorial pacing, no worries. So far kinda good.
Then the game begins apropos and I’m somewhere in a sandy place with the intention of killing some dubious guy before he can action his dubiousity. Oh my god this is the worst thing ever. The stealth, man. You can even put points into improving your stealthy McStealthing, but being that obscurely placed guards spot you without any kind of warning and immediately open fire, why even.
Subsequently I decide I have no choice but to go full commando on these rubes. After unloading an entire clip into one pedestrian footsoldier, he’s… wait, no, he’s only half-dead. I am a special agent who has trained for years. I pause the game and stare fixedly at the $5 note JB’s gave me in return for taking this game home with me. My face sort of contorts a bit like emotive Dawson Leery. I start weeping openly.
I think I howl “Al-pha Proto-cooool!” into the great cold distance and clench my fist as if it has taken my son from me. Everyone else is playing Borderlands 2 right now and having the time of their young lives.
I persist, flirting with my attractive handler in the most mortifying way possible. The dialogue, dear god, the dialogue. Surely it was lifted directly from public toilet walls.
I’m loathe to admit it because I’m goddamn cowboy who lives by his own rules, but sometimes, the majority is correct. Not often, but sometimes. I don’t think you all got it right with Deadly Premonition (misunderstood genius!), but I’m not gonna argue on Alpha Derpocol’s behalf one moment longer, Mr. Simpson. Tune in next week to find I’ve consigned myself to Fiorina 161’s furnace like Ripley in Alien 3.