We’ve been hearing from SOE about The Agency for a few years now. The way SOE was talking about it at one point made the release of the game seem imminent.
Then things went quiet. My personal guess is that PlayStation 3 integration is holding things back, seeing that they haven’t managed a PS3 title as yet. It is a year after the FreeRealms launch and SOE is announcing that they are going to SHOW people the PS3 version of that title at E3 this year.
Interesting, but The Agency has also been “shown” at E3 before. Heck, Simutronics “showed” Heroes Journey at E3 in 2005 and won “Best at Show,” so it is hard to put much stock in visibility at E3 as an indicator of being close to shipping.
And even if the PS3 version was coming along fine, the problem of making an engaging and persistent Action-FPS-MMORPG may have The Agency bogged down.
The Agency’s site is still up though, so the promise of the game still exists, although the last post on the front page is a Twitter from nearly 11 months ago.
But otherwise things have been quiet.
But a new bud of The Agency popped up in an unlikely place, on Facebook.
Okay, maybe “unlikely” is the wrong word, given the current stampede, Facebook having been declared the latest savior for PC gaming. You’re a dinosaur prime for extinction unless you throw everything you’ve got into Facebook games!
Of course, it is still tagged as “beta.” That seems to be the “out” for Facebook games, as they all seem to have that tag. I follow the line that if you’re taking money, then you’re no longer beta, but who listens to me? I blame Google for this “everything is beta forever” phenomena.
And the game itself?
It is a Facebook game. If you’re expecting the “pulse-pounding missions” promised in the press release, you’re likely to be disappointed unless you find rock-paper-scissors to be edge-of-your-seat gaming.
It has the standard “egg timer” aspects that is one of the things that sets Darren off about Facebook games. For this game, it is “Cover,” a resource you need to run missions and which regenerates slowly over time. I ran out of “Cover” pretty quickly.
And there is the usual “pester your friends to play” aspect to it. You can spam your wall with achievements. You can also send your friends out to die.
On the other hand, it has many nice SOE touches. The game assets are good, clean, and consistent. The tutorial is dialed back from the common, primitive “you press button now!” level of intros that seem common on Facebook. Then there are the mini games, which seem pretty good so far.
And you even get a home to decorate between missions. Always a draw in EQ2, so why not here?
So The Agency: Covert Ops is certainly many times more engaging than Mafia Wars, and is certainly more “game like” than FarmVille, but will it succeed? Do Facebook users want better games?
And what does this mean for The Agency? The Covert Ops site links back to the site for The Agency under the link “The Official MMO,” so I guess that it is still in the works. But what will it end up being and will there be a link between it and the Facebook game?