Know what this game is, and is not, and you'll love it.
A lot of the complaints I hear about this game come from games who, apparently, never read a review of the game and didn't have a good understanding of what it was going in. So let me make it clear what this is IS NOT, first.
- This game is not Splinter Cell, or Thief. Stealthing your way through everything is not always practical, it is never necessary, and it's rare that you're rewarded substantially more for being quiet than you are for being loud. Don't expect Alpha Protocol to be a perfect stealth game.
- This game is not Deus Ex. While there might be multiple approaches to a problem and branching plotlines, there's really only ever one way to go through a level map, and no real sidequests. Don't expect Alpha Protocol to be super-diverse in its gameplay.
- This game is not a spy-themed Mass Effect, whatever third-person-shooter mechanics they have in common. In general, the plot and the choices you make in it are more complicated than in Mass Effect, and the rewards are often less immediate.
- This game is not like any FPS where you can pick up any weapon and use it proficiently: if you want to succeed, specialize.
Now here's what this game IS:
- A pretty good TPS. If you've invested plenty of points into your weapon of choice, you'll be able to enjoy hours of fun blowing people away, up close or behind cover.
- A semi-decent sneaking game. While it's not always important, it's often helpful to take down enemies silently, avoid setting off alarms, and go through the locked, unguarded door instead of the unlocked one with a bunch of people with guns behind it. If nothing else, it's a nice challenge that adds a level of complexity to the gameplay.
- A fantastic story. This is definitely a game you'll want to play more than once, to experience the variety of ways it could play out. You're never heavily punished for your decisions.
If you enjoyed all the games on the "this game isn't" list, chances are you'll like Alpha Protocol, as this game combines some of the elements of all of those without quite turning solidly into one of them.
My biggest complaint is that Alpha Protocol uses a checkpoint-based saving system, which can be a real pain in the ass if you want to save right before a conversation (and you can't look at the menu while in dailogue) or before you do something that might blow your cover. Oh well...