Â When we started Abbyâ€™s Agency, one of the things that I was really interested in developing was some kind of reader role playing opportunity. Abbyâ€™s Agency is about the office workers behind the scenes of your favorite spy adventure, only a couple of actual WSA agents have been introduced in the comic. So I always wanted to give you, the readers, an opportunity to become the field operatives for the World Star Agency and develop the fan community around a role playing opportunity. I just never got around to it.
Fortunately the guys over at Snakehead Games have made that dream a possibility. Spy Battles 2165 is a role playing game where you become a spy and can join the WSA or any one of a number of other factions to travel the globe in search of intrigue and adventure. You have the opportunity to build and develop your character as you go on covert operations, gamble, and attack enemy agents.
The beauty of Spy Battle is itâ€™s simplicity. Spy Battle is a no frills, text based game. While that means it doesnâ€™t have the visual impact of games like World of Warcraft, the genius of the design is that it doesnâ€™t involve any downloads and can be easily played on any computer capable of linking to the site. In fact, Iâ€™ve played it on my PDA, itâ€™s that basic. It also means that itâ€™s easy to jump in and play for brief bursts while youâ€™re â€œmaintaining your cover personaâ€. Thereâ€™s just something exciting about pretending to be a spy from your work cubicle between filing reports. In addition to the gaming, there are also chat options and forums for you to take your in-character and out-of-character interaction to a new level. For itâ€™s relative simplicity, it offers an immersive world to role play in a variety of ways.
Spy Battle 2165 is based on Snakeheadâ€™s previous game Star Pirates. So in order to maintain some of the game mechanics from that game, theyâ€™ve set this in the spy world of the future. Itâ€™s not quite the world you currently know, but most of the espionage hot spots and key locations are represented. But it does mean that a lot of the subtly of cold war cloak and dagger is gone, in itâ€™s place is more of the overt militarism of contemporary espionage. You wonâ€™t find the tuxedo clad Roger Moore with his unobtrusive PPK, youâ€™ll find the rugged and bloody Daniel Craig with rifle and battle armor climbing through the rubble. This isnâ€™t Mission Impossible, this is closer to 24.
I will admit that I miss the cinematic fantasy of the classic spy feel in the game. I think it also hinders the game play to some degree. In their Star Pirates game, they discourage players attacking players when theyâ€™re online. But in Spy Battles they encourage direct, online attacks which gives the game a more kinetic and frantic atmosphere. But by trying to give the game a fast paced â€œbattle fieldâ€ feeling, it forces you to speed up your game playing and miss a lot of the details that are necessary in a text based game. For example, having money in your pocket tends to make you a target, so when you successfully gain some assets, you end up racing to the bank to get rid of it rather than taking the time to enjoy the details of the mission that gained you the reward. So youâ€™re missing the very details that make Spy Battles such a rewarding experience.
But those colorful details do make the game worth it. Once you get over the idea that youâ€™re not driving an Aston Martin with a gorgeous double agent at your side, the gritty action is really something you can dive into and enjoy. Theyâ€™ve really nailed the atmosphere that theyâ€™re shooting for and in many wayâ€™s itâ€™s an easier universe to role play in than the Star Pirates game. If you take the time to get to know the world, itâ€™s very rewarding.
Another advantage to the game is that itâ€™s completely free to play. However putting a few bucks into your account does have some great advantages. You can buy points and dossiers that help you be more active and build your character faster. You can also take advantage of a disguise ability that brings a bit of stealth to your activities. The disguise helps you hide your assets and even displays a different name to the people youâ€™re attacking and makes it harder for people to find you.
Itâ€™s very easy to just skim the surface of this game, but the real value is going to be in the interaction and community building. I strongly recommend joining a faction (preferably the WSA) and getting to know your team mates. Learn each otherâ€™s strengths and weaknesses. The camaraderie really makes itself felt when your faction becomes strong enough to start waring with other factions. Itâ€™s during these adrenaline high bursts of activity where you really get to pull together and see what makes this game so rewarding. Once again the beauty is in the gameâ€™s simplicity. Since itâ€™s a text based game, itâ€™s even easier for the chats and emails to take precedence and become a powerful tool for your team. And the result is the kind of community that only fighting together can create (even if it is just a game).
So dive into Spy Battle 2165, become a spy, join a faction, make some friends and enjoy the world. You have nothing to lose and a whole new world of adventure to gain.