Nerdwatch Episode 2.36: The Thorton Gambit

Well, that wraps up Alpha Protocol. We’ve slaughtered (or co-opted) our enemies, foiled the bad guys’ plan, and gone on to make a super-organization of badasses with us at the head. I’d call that a successful day for Mike Thorton.

Seriously though, this is just one of many endings that you can attain based on the decisions you’ve made previously. For example, we forced Shaheed to do his best aircraft impression earlier in this season (apparently he decided to emulate the Hindenburg) so we didn’t have the chance to meet up with him in custody here in Alpha Protocol. We also didn’t attain the necessary dossier info on Scarlett, which reveals that she was actually the Ronald Sung assassin (or attempted assassin, as the case may be based on our choices), which actually kinda justifies our total jerkass interactions with her. Our decision to “work with” Halbech resulted in Westridge being the end boss instead of Leland (though obviously he got his too). We had Parker and Marburg kill each other, we allowed Mina to live, and we ultimately gave the middle finger to the standard plot structure of the whole game and put ourselves into power instead of just being the good guy and saving the day.

This is where the game shines, and it’s what elevates it above what it could have been otherwise.

Does it completely redeem the game’s other major flaws? Of course not. I mean, did you see how stupidly broken pistols were? There’s really not much that can make up for awful gameplay issues and those problems will always stand out as being particularly bad even in an era of mass mediocrity. But the fact that the player can influence so much when it comes to the overall narrative is what helps soften those blows. It’s no substitute for having good gameplay and a good narrative, of course, but we’ll take what we can get. Maybe one day we’ll have that espionage game that delivers on all fronts. But in the meantime, thanks for watching our Let’s Play of Alpha Protocol, and we hope you’ll stick with us as we continue to make more in the future.

Nerdwatch Episode 2.35: Let’s Make a Deal

And so we come full circle. While I once again take some issue with Mike’s “let myself get captured” plan, I still like the fact that we’re able to come right back to the organization that burned us and take them down from the inside. Classic espionage.

Anyway, only one more episode left now. We’ll polish off Alpha Protocol on Friday.

Nerdwatch Episode 2.34: A Distinct Lack of Sympathy

Originally, the first few minutes of this episode was meant to be cut and included in an eventual Nerdwatch “blooper reel”, or simply filed away with the previously mentioned “lost season” of Sneak King. But at the last minute I decided to just go ahead and include the sequence in its raw form, partly because I thought it was funny and partly because I didn’t really have any other “blooper” moments stored away for my original plan to be very feasible.

Whether keeping it in the final product was a mistake or not is ultimately up to you.

Nerdwatch Episode 2.33: Freeze!

Yet another big choice to make in this episode, and it’s a pretty decent one. Usually it seems like games will give you a choice that boils down to “save this innocent person you’ve never heard of, or retrieve this important data” or something like that. Alpha Protocol gives you a much more involved choice: save a character you have a personal attachment to, or save a whole bunch of innocents. Admittedly, it’s impact will vary based on whether you liked Madison or not, and even if she’s your favorite character in the game she still lacks the characterization necessary to make you care as much as sacrificing a friend in something like Mass Effect, but it’s still trying to craft a personal vs. practical choice and I respect that.

I always thought Marburg’s taunt at the decision point in this episode was shrouded in just enough ambiguity to be amusing; when he says that he’s with the bombs on the other side of the museum, and that you only have so much time to complete the tasks laid out before you, it always makes me think that he’s threatening to blow himself up. Like, I could just go save Madison, hit a fire alarm to get everybody out of the building and Marburg would just blow up the bombs that he’s standing right on top of. Problem solved, and the only thing lost is a thorough historical collection of one of the most important events in Middle Eastern history.

Just another day in the life of superspy Mike Thorton: culture destroyer.