“Alpha Protocol” is an RPG that, despite being in development for several years now, is still a bit of a dark horse title. It’s a new IP and, if you just look at screenshots from the game, it’s easy to confuse with a lot of the other modern-day action games out there. Seeing it played it is a different story, as it looks like a more active (hell, more fun) version of the original “Mass Effect,” from the dynamic conversations to the character skills to the branching storyline.
I saw the game in New York last night. It was the E3 build again, but there was something I didn’t notice the first time around. “Alpha Protocol” has what’s called “Recruit” mode. Just by the name it sounds like “Easy,” doesn’t it. Well it ain’t. Starting the game as a “Recruit” kicks you off with exactly zero skill points (normal play-throughs start with a handful, spread out among several skills). Not to mention, everyone it in the game treats you like a recruit, so if you try to intimidate someone, they may just laugh in your face.
In the menus, the option is labeled Recruit (Hard), and when you hover over it there’s a description of what sorta deficit you’ll be facing. You’ll never “catch-up,” skill-point-wise, so someone who picked one of the other options will always have an edge at the end of the game, but there is a benefit (beyond potential achievements).
Finishing the game on Recruit unlocks Veteran. Here your skill points won’t be hampered and most everyone will be instantly intimidated with you. There will, however, be certain characters that want to make a name for themselves and will try to take you down to earn rep. Also, enemies are much harder in this mode and you’ll earn experience slower (an old dog, as they say…). Think of it as the “Very Hard” option.
Kinda interesting to see higher difficulties that don’t just increase damage. It’s definitely something I’d like to see done in more games.