I have to admit that while I cover all aspects of the videogame business, including the lucrative massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming space, I’ve never been one to jump in and play an MMO game. Quite simply, I don’t have the time to invest in these massive role-playing games and fantasy has never really been my thing. But after getting a sneak peak at Sony Online Entertainment’s “The Agency,” I’m actually looking forward to jumping into this genre–although in a very different way.
The main problem I’ve always had with the MMO gaming space is that, by and large, it’s been limited to the men in tights category. Even the global phenomenon, “World of Warcraft,” would have to be classified in this category along with “EverQuest I and II” and others. “The Agency” is an arcade-action MMO that puts players into a James Bond-style world of espionage. In other words, it’s completely different from anything else out there.
The world of “The Agency” is a battle between good and evil, only you have two options of playing as the good guys. UNITE is an agency that’s focus is on spies who like wearing tuxedos and using gadgets, a la the James Bond films or True Lies. ParaGON is an agency of mercenaries that likes to shoot first, not unlike the spies of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. These two competing agencies each offer unique gameplay and separate missions, which offers plenty of variety and replay value. Go at it via stealth or jump in guns blazing.
Because SOE Seattle is creating this game for PlayStation 3 and PC, it’s thinking more mass market audience when it comes to playing these missions. That’s what has me excited about this game. The high definition graphics bring the world of Hollywood espionage movies to life in full 3D. All of your actions in the game world will have an impact on the rest of the game universe. In fact, this game will actually work for your while you’re in the real world. Your agents will perform tasks like building new spy cars or gathering intelligence while you’re offline living your real life. You’ll even get e-mails and text messages via phone or Blackberry giving you updates and missions to lure you back into the game.
In addition to becoming a better spy or mercenary, the more missions you play, the more money and influence you have to assemble better operatives. You’ll have full resources to invent new gadgets, buy new weapons and create new technology that will help you in the field.
From the MMO side, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with friends online. In addition to being able to trade operatives, there will be a variety of mini-games ranging from casino games to shooting range competitions to mano-a-mano combat. SOE Seattle is still being mum on details, since the game’s not shipping until 2008, but I’m also hoping missions will offer the chance for spies to team up. One thing that was mentioned for multiplayer was the World Domination mode, which will involve player-versus-player combat on a large scale. Details on this are classified for now, but SOE Seattle definitely has my interest.
The ability to jump into this game world for short durations of 20 minutes or an hour, play a mission, talk to friends, and then jump out, is what really has me excited about this game. The graphics bring the world to life in a 3D anime-influenced style that works perfectly. The trailer depicted an animated Prague, one of my favorite cities to visit, and a super sexy spy who likes to ride her motorcycle as fast as her leather suit is tight. There’s certainly a lot of fun potential lurking in this game. And the MMO space definitely needs more original ideas like this to tap beyond the niche of gamers they currently cater to.