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Alpha Protocol

Get smart... spies are the new space marines

Going 'off the grid' is something we hear a lot of these days. The 'grid' has become choka with everything from shopping list at Tescos to secret government files, usually involving your shopping list at Tescos. The grid isn't the place to be if you're on the run.

The latest Sega game to sneak out of America, that I've been privy too this issue, is based squarely around the idea of going off the grid, or instigating the alpha protocol as fancy spies call it. Alpha Protocol casts you in the shoes of Michael Thorton, a super spy cut from the same cloth as Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer, and apparently he's just as unlucky as following a botched mission must fight against his former colleagues to prove his innocence.

On the face of it, this is a similar
game to Bourne et al, however developer Obsidian is one of the world's leading RPG studios with Knights Of The Old Republic and Midwinter Nights 2 on their CV - games as well respected as Oblivion for scale, script and originality. So, though the action plays out in real time, using a cover fire system close to Uncharted, there's more going on behind the scenes than a comparison deserves.

Character-class system
Alpha Protocol is an action RPG, as such there is a class system close to Fallout 3 in here for you to upgrade. There will be 10 skills and within these a further 10 ranks to tinker with. However these won't be standard action-orientated upgrades, but instead they'll affect how Thorton perceives people, and is perceived by people.

A complex dialogue system, called the Dialog Stance System, is being implemented so you'll be able to express emotion as well as lines of discourse by pressing a face button; how you deliver lines will be as important as what is said.

This is a big game. There will be multiple story paths running at once and missions will take place all around the world, with you free to travel where and when you want.

Obsidian is also promising a string of sexy spy girls to romance, and yes, you will be able to snare them all with your charms - if you try hard enough. Still, how many of us are going to upgrade Thorton with the soul aim of shagging the game's lady spy community? Oh, just me.

The verdict

It's Fallout 3 with spies and is possibly all you need to know to get excited about Sega's latest announcement.

PlayStation 3
Obsidian Entertainment