What’s the point in all this reputation lark then? Does it really affect the game in any meaningful way? The answer is yes. This time the results screen tells us Grigori’s so frightened that he may alert the local government to Mike’s presence. This, Nathan says, sounds bad for us, but could be good in the long run. Interesting.
Obsidian’s goal is to have the game world react to every action and choice. We’ve seen that in many games. The difference here though is that the consequences of your actions won’t be obvious. Even when you’re a git, it might benefit you. Even when you’re a saint, it might blow up in your face. There is no light or dark side. There is no good or bad karma. There are only reactions, many of which become won't become obvious until later in the game. Often it’s to your benefit to be aligned against factions and NPCs, pissing them off as much as you can. “We don’t make a habit of punishing the player for playing the game the way they’d like,” Nathan says.
More examples. Alpha Protocol employs a dossier system that enables you to gather intelligence on factions and key NPCs. As you near 100 per cent completion on these dossiers, you’ll unlock dialogue options you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. You might have the option to say something that’s personal to them – they might respect your background check, or they might hate you for touching a nerve.
And the story reacts to every decision, too, right up to the endgame. Who you’ve killed, who you’ve let live, who you’ve shagged (yes, Alpha Protocol has sex) – it all has an effect. That’s why reputation is important. That’s why you should care.
Back at Mike’s Moscow safehouse, Mina intercepts an email sent from Grigori - he's selling you out. It doesn’t come as a surprise. This will affect the next mission in a number of ways – the hunting down of the weapons shipment at Leningrad train station. There, it’s all kicking off. Goons are killing each other left right and centre. Nathan’s playing as a stealth character – there are three archetypes: Soldier (double hard), Tech Specialist (gadgets) and Field Agent (stealth). It’s an important choice not only for gameplay, but for story. You’ll get unique dialogue options depending on your archetype, as well as unique skills.
You chat with Sie, an Eastern European female soldier who’s got the drop on you. She doesn’t respond well to suaveness, preferring aggressive lines. She’s after the same shipment you are. You agree to align yourself with her. Peace, for now.
Nathan spends most of his time during this mission crouch walking with a silenced pistol for company. It’s all very Metal Gear Solid – third person camera, cover system, skill-based action and no dice rolls. Passive skills, like weapon stability, and reactive skills, like Evasion, are triggered automatically, and activated skills, like Chain Shot (cue up shots then unleash them in a split second) and Shadow Operative (turn invisible for a short period) are used when combat is unavoidable. Nathan spends most of his time sneaking up on enemies and using melee attacks to down them, but you’ll get experience for leaving enemies alive. This is the stealth way.