I started re-playing Alpha Protocol (apprehensively, at first, but I’m getting more hooked as I go) and it’s given me a few (honestly, just a few. It’s a short post — for me — this time around) new insights I wanted to jot down. Here are some thoughts based off of the first half (made it to the hub, completed Taipei, am now in Rome) of my second play-through.
- In the first post, I mentioned that it sucks how you have to pick your skills before you know which skills are useful. In the second post, I wrote that Alpha Protocol lets you re-specialize your character after you finish the opening chapter — but I said without notification that I would get this opportunity, I didn’t experiment enough and could not take advantage of the moment. Now, in this third post, I’m here to admit the game does indeed inform you that you’ll get to re-spec after you finish your first mission. It’s a quick line and it’s more subtle than it needs to be, but there you go.
- I also mentioned that stealth is a “win game” skill, and separately mentioned that I was better, untrained, with the assault rifle than with the SMG — a weapon I had a lot of training in. In my second play-through, I decided to forgo stealth and load my skill points into the assault rifle. And? I am an absolute murderer. If my spy holds steady for 1.5 seconds, his attack is automatically a critical hit. Even better, aim at the head and people are dying from a single shot. And when the room is filled with baddies, I activate the snap-to-target power that auto-aims for me. I like playing the stealth guy, but kicking the door down, smiling for the security cameras to set off the alarms, and then mowing down everyone who shows up to respond is a lot of fun, too.
- I’ve been experimenting with making people hate me. So far, Mina Tang is the only one with whom I’ve actually pulled this off. She was easy to get to hate me. I went through a hotel and killed security guards (civilians). Each point you gain or lose in the game is like rare gold, but during this mission there are dozens of guards and each one you kill loses you one point. Insane, but effective for my purposes. No one else hates me, but a lot of people mildly dislike me or are neutral toward me. Making a few people hate me is a real challenge. Side note, my conversations with Mina Tang so far seem unaffected by her outright-hatred toward me; she still helps me on missions and acts concerned for my well being, sounds friendly, etc.
- I mentioned that I’ve put no points into stealth on this go-around. It shows. I sneak/crouch into a warehouse and people on the far end are already shooting at me. I am assuming my spy has a boom box strapped to his back. I’ve also put no points into any of the hacking mini-games. They’re all still easy, though I did flub one — which is more than I flubbed on the first play-through.
- A repercussion of the killing/being-hated-by play-through is that I’m killing off the good weapon providers — that is, I showed mercy in each of the boss fights the first time and was rewarded with access to their munitions; this time, it’s instant execution. For a stretch of my play-through, my store was empty (aside from ammunition). Losing out on better weapons is something, but I was hoping for differences with the game’s missions. In fact, as an example of how little has changed, in one encounter on my first play-through I opted to disable a bug to gain a friendship; my handler was disappointed at the loss of data but hoped it would all work out. This time I kept the bug in place and pissed off the new guy; my handler was disappointed at the loss of the contact but hoped it would all work out. The following sequences played out very similarly, if not identically, each time.
I’ll end it here by saying that the fun level is high and I’m enjoying the second play-through — perhaps more than the first. I feel very confident with my skills against the game’s challenges and am enjoying the different approach, even if I am a little worried about the eventual battle with coke-head Brayko. Not sure if there will be another review after this one; I have probably written everything that needs to be written (and then some). I guess we’ll see. 🙂