The Agency – hands-on

Following in the footsteps of 2003’s PlanetSide, The Agency is an espionage-themed MMO that blends the salty grit of your average shooter with the smooth concoction of your World of Warcrafts and EverQuests.

Players take on the role of a spy, customising their look, feel and faction – either ParaGON or UNITE. Paragon is the rough-and-ready paramilitary group, with little finesse but a pragmatic, get-the-job-done attitude (think Jason Bourne). On the other hand, UNITE are your classic Bond or Joanna Dark spies, specialising in high-tech espionage, gadgets, and the art of deception.

“We really wanted to bring the FPS market to MMO players. While you have to slow it down to make it playable and fun to everybody, a headshot’s still gonna be a headshot,” said Matt Wilson, The Agency’s creative director. Unlike most MMOs, you don’t pick a class. Before any given mission, you pick a particular load-out, hence the tagline ‘you are what you wear.’

“When you create a character, you’re really just choosing what side you’re on, what you look like, and whether you’re male or female. Once you’re in the game, you can start off as any role and switch it out at your field office before the mission,” added Wilson. “Inside those roles, as you gain experience, you can branch out – a support character can be a field medic who heals people, or a field tech that deals with mechanics.”

The idea is that one player can be a variety of characters depending on how or when they play – if you want, you can play the combat-oriented character with your friends, but play solo as a stealthy stab-them-in-the-dark type. “Lethalities” are the games’ special skills that set The Agency apart from your average online FPS. “The main thing is that weapons and gadgets are critical to the game, but your own skills are too. Stealth players get a cloaking ability, and we want to drive those skills to support each other,” says Wilson.