SOE is sick of men in tights

Sony Online Entertainment is tired of seeing the same old, traditional high fantasy 'men in tights' style of MMO, and will be aiming to craft a totally different type of online experience with The Agency, SOE's recently revealed spy-'em-up MMO for PlayStation 3 and PC.

At a recent SOE event, the developer revealed a wealth of new info on the intriguing spyfest. The Agency will be primarily shooter-focused, with FPS and third-person viewpoints emphasising the sort of action you see in Splinter Cell or Battlefield 2 over World of Warcraft 's "click, bash, grab loot, repeat" mechanic.

The shooter-focus also means casual gamers who drop-in for a quick game can still enjoy The Agency's world - a plan for "PvP anywhere" means you'll be able to play The Agency almost as a straight deathmatch experience. More dedicated players shouldn't fret, though, since there'll be some interesting RPG elements embedded beneath the surface.

Initially you'll be joining up with one of two agencies - the James Bond-style Unite or the more mercenary gun-for-hire Paragon outfit. Your faction will set missions and reward your success with new ranks and items, though the FPS styling means that completing missions is more of a focus than grabbing loot or amassing an inventory full of glittering baubles snatched from the corpses of your enemies.

Solo gameplay isn't discouraged, but linking up with other spyfolks - predictions are for a max of four players in a group - results in greater rewards - these rewards being money, useful gizmos or even NPC "operatives." Operatives come into play later in the game, when you're given the chance to create your own agency, and can be put to work on researching gadgets or upgrading weapons and the like. Create a big enough outfit and you can fight for "World Domination." SOE is coy on details, but we reckon this'll act as The Agency 's high-level player versus player endgame.

Other nuggets of info include the "You are what you wear"' system - which doesn't involve Trinny or Susannah, but works instead as The Agency 's class system. If you fancy going into a mission all guns blazing, say, you'll pull on the Combat outfit. While there'll also be less mission-focused areas to chat, mill around or play mini-games with friends, set in towns like Prague.

June 8, 2007

Ben Richardson is a former Staff Writer for Official PlayStation 2 magazine and a former Content Editor of GamesRadar+. In the years since Ben left GR, he has worked as a columnist, communications officer, charity coach, and podcast host – but we still look back to his news stories from time to time, they are a window into a different era of video games.