Some hands-on stuff from Sony's Gamers Day was apparently finally "unclassified" so you'll see some more detailed previews of this Unreal 3-engined, actiony MMO for a change. These still aren't "hands-on" though, just sort of "in person" impressions from watching SOE folks play.Joystiq impressions
Immediately, it was clear that the PS3 version wasn't running on par with the PC version (which is probably why this was the first time the PS3 version had ever been shown). The PC version ran smoothly with sharp, crisp graphics and superior textures, while the PS3 version suffered from noticeably lower-quality textures and a slightly sluggish framerate. Overall, the PS3 version still looked quite solid, but when displayed next to the PC version, the disparities were very apparent.
The PC version was particularly impressive and appeared nearly complete, while the PS3 version was definitely a step or two behind.
It's obviously early (it's scheduled for a 2010 release), but that sounds a little alarming for something pitched so heavily as a console MMO.
... The Agency is divided between two factions. On one side you have Unite, an organization described as sleek and sexy (you know, Bond-ish). And on the other, there's Paragon, a rough and tumble outfit that leans toward Rambo-esque bravado. While the groups are competitive in the sense that they're both trying to be the number one, super-secret spy organization in the world, they're not enemies per se -- you won't be fighting against Paragon's members if you decide to join Unite (though there are some PvP elements in the game). Instead, there are numerous villainous groups that you will be tasked with taking down, regardless of your affiliation.
The game incorporates both action- and skill-based gameplay. There are no RPG elements applied to the shooting aspect, a la Fallout 3 or Dues Ex -- a headshot is a headshot. Instead, SOE has developed several different representations of character growth. One such element is the "operatives." Operatives are "collectable" NPCs (unlocked by completing various missions) that can lend support in the field, spy on enemies, or craft items (think Q or Moneypenny from the James Bond series). Currently, there are over 480 operatives in the game, each with a unique personality and abilities.
Skills are abilities that can boost players' defenses, attacks and other actions and are unlocked as missions are completed. Their usage is limited by a stamina gauge, requiring players to manage their skills usage wisely in order to tackle some of the harder missions.
The latter is maybe more MMO-ish.
The Operatives part reminds me a little bit of the canceled Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising, where you would have more than 130 minions (pets, basically) to choose from for your party.