The Agency. I’m in.



Sorry I haven’t posted in forever, but it’s been a busy week or so in terms of gaming. So here’s to spilling out some thoughts I’ve been carrying around.

First off, I’m liking what I see and hear about The Agency, the MMO from Sony Online Entertainment that could very well be one of the reasons I sacrifice part of the paycheck to invest in a PS3. If you know me as a gamer, you’ll probably guess that I’m not a fan of MMOs. I don’t do EverQuest, WoW, Lord of the Rings, what have you. I’ve seen enough dragons, orcs, magicians, castles and elves in movies and other games to know that I don’t want to spend chunks of my day hanging out with them. Plus, I did a story on EverQuest addiction for the Sun, and I can’t help but keep thinking of it whenever the subject of MMOs comes up.

That said, I want to get a piece of the Agency. The people of All Games Interactive snagged an interview with the developers the day the non-disclosure agreement expired, and it was one of the better interviews we’ve had since I’ve been there. Good stuff. You can hear the passion in their voices as they talk about something that could really be special. You’ll probably be underwhelmed by the screen shots, but the thing about MMOs is that there is so much more to take into account than looks. I’d rather have an OK-looking game that plays great than a sweet-looking game that moves like molasses. I don’t think I’m alone in that statement.

So, what makes The Agency special? First off, no elves or orcs to be found — this is a modern MMO that focuses on the world of espionage, with two different “spy” factions. You’ve got the mercenaries, who come in with guns blazing and leave nothing but a trail of bodies and fire in their wake. Then there are the spies, the gadget-using, fast-roping, Bond-esque operators that use stealth to get the job done. You can also set up a network of operatives, get stuff like cars airlifted to you (the game doesn’t take itself too seriously), and even make game decision in the real world — for instance, one of your operatives could be kidnapped and helo hostage, and you;d get a text message on your phone asking for ransom. You could theoretically press 1 to pay the “money,” or press 2 to let your lackey perish.

One of the foremost questions on gamers’ minds is this — do we have to subscribe to play this? Sony has long been an advocate of free online play, and the devs on AGI were somewhat noncommittal when asked this question. My thinking is this — it depends on the price. This is an experience that one can’t get on Xbox Live, so I would pay to experience a game that I can’t get anywhere else. But if the price is something like, $10 or $15 dollars per month, then I’d probably pay for a month, maybe two, and then call it a spy career. I can’t really rationalize paying $180 per year for a game I own.

Which also brings up another question — what form is this going to take? Will I be able to download it, or will I have to pick it up in the store? Would I be able to use the person I create in PS3 home?

Lots of questions to be asked, and I hope to get them answered in the near future.

I wish I had more time … I actually start my vacation tomorrow, but I still need to spill the words out about my experience with The Darkness, All-Pro 2K8 and eventually, Bioshock. Today, it’s off to the EA pre-E3 event in Los Angeles. I’ll have all that the next time I see you. ‘Til Then.