I think the confrontation with the Al-Samad Lieutenant was a pretty well done section of game. It's short, yet the scene is set up in such a way that there are a couple of different routes you can take to finish it. It allows for either combat or stealth characters to do what they enjoy doing most, whether it's getting the drop on somebody or abandoning discretion in favor of mass violence. As an interesting side note, the Al-Samad Lieutenant is one of the few characters in the game that you actually have to kill. Aside from him and Darcy, the game allows players to choose exactly how murderous they want to be.
I'm significantly less charitable about the fight against the tank. On at least 2 of my playthroughs, the fight against the tank went very much the way Varewulf described it. I had run out of missiles to defeat the tank with, so I was left using the Pistol and my backup Assault Rifle to fell a TANK. I was surprised to see that the Halbech missile launchers didn't respawn. And like Aldowyn, I remember having a few mishaps where it looked like I had a clean shot, but something in the environment got in the way, making me either miss the tank or blow myself up. This game does have the problem Deus Ex: Human Revolution had where the bosses feel entirely out of place. As we progress through the game, you'll learn what I mean by that. (And as an aside, Aldowyn has a huge problem with not using First Aid when he really should. So much so that we almost made that his title in the credits.)
I said this in one of the earlier episodes, but I really like the idea of using the interrogation as a framing device. In the scene that plays after the Graybox is finished, players are initially led to believe that Thorton is the one interrogating Leland. Now that we've finished Saudi Arabia and as we head to other hubs in the game, we then realize that Leland is the one whose interrogating Thorton. It's a really subtle plot twist that I thought was really well done and had me hooked. All throughout my first playthrough I was wondering "How did Thorton get captured by Halbech and thrown into the Graybox?" And, as anaphysik notes, the dialog between Thorton and Leland is really well written and there's a lot of subtext behind it.
The conversation with Shaheed represents a very big turning point in the game. This is the point where Michael Thorton stops being a tool for Alpha Protocol and starts to really think and plan for himself. This is where the game starts offering choices and consequences that reach farther than the hub they are made in. Choosing whether or not to kill Shaheed is a very morally gray decision. On one hand, he is being set up just as much as Thorton is, another tool for Halbech to use and dispose of. Also, he is a man of his word and keeps all of his promises. On the other hand, he is NOT a nice man. He is very much a terrorist and openly admits to planning further attacks, promising to do more harm to innocent people. It's not an easy choice to make and players can justify making either decision.
So this is where we get into the game's main premise. Alpha Protocol has been infiltrated by Halbech and hijacked for their own ends. As a result, we are now a rogue operative. However, thanks to all the secrecy and the "Yellow-Brick-Road" policy that Alpha Protocol maintains, where operatives must find their own resources, safehouses, and funding, we can utilize Alpha Protocol as well, finding safehouses and gathering weapons or intel relatively easily. There are three leads we can choose to follow: A Halbech connection selling missiles in Moscow, an Al-Samad sleeper cell being activated in Rome, and the impending assassination of the President of Taiwan. As Aldowyn stated, this is the usual Bioware MO of making you go through a tutorial mission and then opening up, giving you the freedom to choose the order you take things on yourself and dividing the game into small mini-stories than culminate in the finale. It's a style I enjoy and appreciate.
As anaphysik said, the first meeting with Scarlet Lake seems WAY too convenient. Right after you find out the Halbech's get-rich quick scheme to start a Cold War will end up causing World War 3, you meet a reporter who's clearly trying to use you to get a scoop because her journalistic instincts tip her off to you. The real reason she needs to meet you at that point is because of something we'll talk about in the Taipei mission. I have more to say about her, but right now you're lacking the context, so I'll save it for when we post the first half of Taipei.
I really like the Taipei safehouse. It feels ripped right out of a spy movie, very fitting for a game like Alpha Protocol. And like anaphysik, I enjoyed the news channel you can watch throughout the game. They offer not only a nice source of humor, but also a way to gauge how laymen in the world are reacting to your actions. It's a nice little touch that I can appreciate, much like the dingy apartment we only see in one brief scene.
See! I told you this post more be more substantial!