Needs More Spy

Every couple of months, I take stock of where we’re at in video games, and where I think the medium is lacking. A while back, I talked about the lack of horror titles. Now it’s time to look at another of my favorite genres that’s poorly represented: spy fiction.

The idea of espionage is something that’s hard to translate into video games. A few of my favorite attempts over the years include Rolling Thunder (one of my favorite games of all time), the Splinter Cell series (I don’t care what anyone says- Conviction was a high point), and Alpha Protocol. I mention these three specifically because somewhere between them is the perfect game. One that I’d kill to see get made.

Maybe spy fiction is something that could be better examined in the next generation of consoles. Maybe we’re almost where we need to be, but not quite. The depths of human manipulation and betrayal run deep in the genre, and it could just be that we don’t have the ability or know-how to convey those feelings and emotions on current tech.

Whereas some games are able to convey the feeling of just surviving by the skin of your teeth (Uncharted), warmth and innocence (Ico), loss and regret (Heavy Rain), or even being a cold-blooded killer (do I need to narrow it down to just one game?), spy fiction is all about manipulating and being manipulated. A great espionage game should both make you feel like you just told the perfect lie, and that everything you’ve believed is false. That’s a large feat. Again, maybe we’re just not there yet.

Ultimately, I don’t know where to go with this article other than the obvious: I want more titles out there that focus on the lives of spies, and what it truly means to do what they do for a living. Picture an amazing Bourne game, or even a great Burn Notice game. Sounds like fun, right?

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  • I do enjoy me a good spy game.  I just got Alpha Protocol for OnLive, and am looking forward to playing through that.