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Each player can choose to level up their version of Thorton with active or passive abilities, each related to your chosen class. Using an active (user triggered) ability, our stealth class could place colour coded markers above the heads of enemy sentries, showing where they were looking and what alert phase they were in.
As we progressed, this became a passive (always on) ability, an encouraging reward for playing the way the classes dictates. There are many more of these skills, and the broad scope for differing playstyles they offer even within specific classes is promising. As ever, though, relationships can be manipulated to acquire more abilities: be nice to your handler, and maybe they'll be nice to you.
This behind the scenes dice-rolling may seem anachronistic for a generation raised on shooters especially in a game which loves guns as much as Alpha Protocol but Obsidian are keen on players building their own Agent Thorton, moulding a skill set around their style of choice. Want to channel Jack Bauer or Daniel Craig's Bond, go right ahead, and pour all your stat points into combat upgrades and weapon skills, shoot everyone and save the world. Prefer a subtler Sam Fisher style stealth approach? Build up your sneaking and sabotage (there are some neat hacking and lock-picking mini-games) skills.
Your RPG stats naturally open up different kinds of perks, character traits such as '˜awareness' for the stealth type, which locates threats on your HUD and allows access to different weaponry and equipment. There's plenty of hardware to suit your style, and the combination of different loadouts, coupled with your skills opens up various approaches to each mission. Levels look to make a virtue of that too, with paths that loop around an objective on higher ground for snipers, concealed back entrances and, of course, plenty of scope for the more direct approach.