Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
This is a great game.
I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first. It's a bit buggy, the animations are a bit off (though they're really not as bad as some reviewers portray), and the checkpoint save system can be frustrating enough. I hate checkpoint save systems, and this game has one of the worst one but I still loved it - so that's saying something about its good parts. Speaking of which...
It's got great atmosphere, and while the dialogue is not something to write home about, it's good enough. The characters are fun, and some are actually quite interesting. The story is written more like a movie or a book plot, not like a typical RPG story. A good example are the "romance options". In Bioware games for example, you have to use combination of right conversation options and actions to "build up" the "love meter" as it were until you are given the option to "engage". In this game while obviously you still have to make the right choices, it doesn't feel so "mathematical", so dry - it just flows naturally as part of the plot and the choices you made. This probably has to do with the great conversation mechanic used by the game.
When you engage in conversation, every time it's your turn to talk you've got a limited time to decide which dialogue option to choose, so you never find yourself looking at two characters just staring at each other because you haven't made your decision yet. As soon as one character finishes the other responds - it flows naturally. While this type of system may not be appropriate for all RPGs, I feel that those that are geared towards more fast paced action should adopt a similar system. Mass Effect (1 and 2) would've been significantly better with something like this in them.
Gameply kicks ass. You can approach almost any situation any way you like - stealth, guns blazing, or any combination thereof. The balance between the character skills and your own skills with the mouse is also good. When you start your character isn't very good at aiming but if you're patient you can still make some good headshots, and as you level up your skills, aiming becomes easier but still requires skill on your part. Overall it really gives you a great sense of being a secret agent. Hand combat could've been better and boss fights seem out of place, it's a shame a sequel isn't likely, where those could've been perfected.
I feel that the reviews were too harsh on this game. It has problems but it's also a lot of fun and it offers something fairly unique actually. A lot of reviews compared it to ME2, which is a fair comparison, to an extent, but AP is still different enough from ME2, that you should really play both.
I actually had more fun with AP than ME2. ME2 is a polished game with an epic story, and I even had a few laughs, but it's like a good serious drama movie - you enjoy it, you feel it's good, it makes you think but it's not fun. At least not in the same way that a good buddy cop, or summer action, flick is. And that's what AP is - a fun action RPG game (which incidentally has more "RPG" in it than ME2).
Game Traits applied to Alpha Protocol (PC) by white-rabbit