Alpha Protocol is such a frustrating game. For every moment where its misguided action gameplay rears its ugly head, there's a moment where you're confronted with a subtle consequence of a subtle action in the distant past that makes you wonder just how the hell Obsidian did it. It's like watching an incredible magic trick being carried out by a piece of crap.
When I first booted the game up, I literally laughed out loud at elements of its presentation, like the protagonist's insane crouch-walk animation. I was also immediately impressed with the conversation system, which kept me engaged and on my toes, and actually made me switch off subtitles altogether: This game will start the timer bar for your conversation choice well before you have good time to form a response, and often your dialog choice will be completely instinctual. It helps that the dialog is written sharply and delivered very well, and by the end of the game I felt thoroughly invested in "my" Mike Thorton; His entire character history had become defined by hundreds of minute decisions I'd made, and characters would remind me of who i was, regularly. I made buddies with an ageing russian mobster at one point. I've seen replays of him getting his head smashed into a bar counter; I don't even know how I'd get to that resolution.
When I came out of the game, and it summed up the story in such a way that I can't even imagine the game being the same for everyone who plays it, I was actually a little angry at Sega, and at how Alpha Protocol has been systematically skewered for its flaws. Certainly it has massive flaws. Every time you need to shoot a gun the game becomes downright amateurish, and often furiously difficult for no good reason; Specced your guy for stealth? Too bad, now you're fighting a helicopter and Infinite Russians.
But this is a game about conversations, choices and exploring a complex story. It's a TRUE role playing game, and it makes the storytelling devices of games like Mass Effect 2 look like absolute childs play. Which sounds crazy, because ME2 is no slouch! It's that good at it.
I was angry with Sega for killing any chance that this game would get a sequel. An Alpha Protocol sequel with polished action gameplay would be an astounding achievement. The sentiment seems to be "f Obsidian for trying", and the press has thoroughly enjoyed giving the game a hard time for its action gameplay. There isn't that much of it, it isn't very hard, and the story stuff is a thousand times more impactful.
You can likely pick up AP for a song and a shuffle at this point, and if you consider yourself a true RPG fan, you owe it to yourself to see this game rock a story like no other game before it.