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Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol

Score: 50%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Trisynergy
Developer: n-Space
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 5
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Squad-Based

Graphics & Sound:

Visually, Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol comes off as an average game. While it doesn’t sink to the deepest depths of poor graphics, nothing about the game really stands out. Landscapes are composed mostly of jagged, craggy hills with little life. There are a few areas with some grass, but things like trees or different rock formations are few and far between. Character details are sparse and the animations are pretty bad. For some reason every team member walks in a sort of forced crouching position for most of the game which leads to some really awkward animations.

The overall feel of the game has a very sci-fi tilt to it, albeit a very cheesy version of sci-fi. If you’ve ever seen one of those Sci-Fi channel original movies, usually starring Traci Lords or other washed-up celebrities and B-list actors, then you have a pretty good idea as to what to expect. Everyone has that “future-tech” look that really doesn’t work in my opinion. If you happen to be a fan of this look, you may not notice it as much, but I personally didn’t care for it.

Sound follows the visuals step-for-step. They’re not good, but not particularly bad either. The soundtrack is non-existent and in-game noises sound weak. Guns lack the kick you would expect to hear and sometimes sound like supped-up air guns. As for the voice acting, well, I’ve heard better. What really makes the voice work interesting is that at times, it doesn’t match the on-screen text.


In Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol, the year is 2366 and you are Lt. Kyle Hardlaw, the leader of the Alpha Black Zero Special Forces team. As the enforcement hand of the government, SolGov, Alpha Black's mission is to quell the militant groups that threaten SolGov's authority: Black Cartels and the Troglo-Imperialists. The game’s plot set up is pretty interesting and reminiscent of Syphon Filter 3 on the PSX. The game opens as Kyle is on trial for the murder of SolGov personnel after a mission to stop an insurrection. Most of the missions take place as Kyle relives his memories of the events leading up to his trial. Mission layout is decent, but really could have been handled better. The overall story contributes to the game’s B-flick feel, so again – enjoyment is directly linked to how much you enjoy that kind of stuff.

Overall the game plays like a lightweight version of Rainbow 6 or any other squad-based shooter. To be honest, the inclusion of squad-based tactics feels shoehorned in at times. There’s really no reason to plan out ornate strategies with your squad since you can easily take on most missions solo. Mission parameters are basic and usually contain the obligatory defend X or destroy Y setups.

Actually getting around maps to complete missions can be a hassle. Maps are huge and lacking in any types of landmarks; this leads to hours of aimlessly walking around trying to figure out where to go. Its very easy to become disoriented during missions and there were times where I actually lost my cool and opted to exit out of the game altogether. There's an attempt to try and guide you to your mission goal by providing valleys to walk between, but this tends to feel like the old mouse looking for the cheese in the maze scenario.


Three difficulty modes are available in Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol: Easy, Normal and Hard. I was hard-pressed to actually find the difference between the three modes as I had a pretty easy go of things all the time. Enemy AI isn't too bad, but isn't all that advanced either. Enemies will stand in the open while you shoot at them until hit, then they duck or try to find cover. Everything feels very scripted and becomes rather predictable. This behavior is even seen in your team members. The path finding is terrible, leading a few more miles to the endless map navigation as you try to keep everyone together.

Game Mechanics:

At the start of each mission, you are given the option of selecting three weapon types: Normal, Heavy or Stealth. In theory, Heavy weapons are for players who want to bust in and shoot everything that moves, while Stealth weapons are for players who want to depend more on guile. At least, that’s the theory behind the setup. Regardless of which weapon set you choose, the game plays the same way.

Squad control is easy to manage, which is always a good mark in my book. Squads are composed of 4 members. After selecting a teammate, you can assign him with one of 5 commands like attack, take cover or follow. AI is pretty decent and follows and will generally follow your commands. However, due to the heavy scripting found in the AI, its hard to keep your team together and they will often decide to go out on their own little missions when they see an enemy in range.

Technically, I had a few problems with slowdown (even during cut scenes) and experienced a few crashes. Another noticeable bug is that the AI seems to shut itself off after reloading a saved game. Eventually the program would catch up and reset the AI, but if this didn't happen, I had to quit and restart the game.

Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol isn't the worst game you can find on the market, but its clearly not one of the best either. While the game's premise and sci-fi feel may appeal to some gamers, a host of other problems diminish the enjoyment.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/XP/2000/Me; Pentium 4 1 GHz; 64 MB Video Card; 256 MB RAM

Test System:

Windows XP; Pentium 4 1.7 GHz; Radeon 9100 128 MB; 40 Gig HD; 640 MB RAM

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