23/07/2012

Secret Agent Girl

At long last, my Imperial agent hit level 50 and completed her class story. It's kind of amazing to think that it took me this long, considering that she was the first alt I ever created, but all too often the draw of playing with my friends on Republic side was just too strong.


Common consensus seems to be that the agent storyline is the best of all the class stories. I hesitate to say that I agree when I have only played through two of the others in full so far, but it's certainly a very good one. It definitely felt more layered to me, with unexpected twists and turns occurring at every corner. (Except for Alderaan, where I saw the "surprise" coming from miles away and was annoyed that the game wouldn't let me state what I felt was obvious.) Where other class stories are often fairly straightforward in the goals they set you, simply making you jump a couple of hurdles before you're allowed to reach the finish line, as an agent I often found myself going somewhere expecting to do one thing and then having it turn out to be something completely different. If the class stories were films, I reckon that most of the others would be good, solid summer blockbusters, while the Imperial agent story would be something like... I don't know, Inception. (Cue movie buffs being outraged at my totally inappropriate comparison.)

I think my favourite part of the whole experience was that many of the sub-plots required my agent to pretend to be somebody else. There is something about roleplaying a character who is playing yet another role that amuses me to no end - it's one of my favourite plot devices in pen and paper roleplaying as well.

I was only ever so slightly disappointed by the ending - it wasn't bad, but I felt that it gave little closure and I didn't particularly like the new role I was being shunted into. I suppose it's a good setup for your character to continue his or her journeys through MMO land at endgame, but it didn't really feel like a great conclusion to me. I guess the writers are faced with a bit of a catch-22 there: because if they do end the class story with a big and impressive conclusion, like the consular story for example, having the character go off to do dailies afterwards can feel a bit trite.

The agent story also contained my first instance of the game making me feel like something had been written primarily for a male player character, namely when a certain female NPC approached me with big puppy dog eyes at the end of the Tatooine storyline as if she was about to kiss me, though she didn't do it in the end. Actually, my first thought was: "Whoa, did they include some same-sex romance in this game after all?", but I quickly found myself answering my own question with: "No, I guess whoever designed this bit just thought of the agent character as a man." At one point the summary text on the loading screen also referred to my lady agent as a "he". To be fair though, those remain the only times that anything like this has happened to me so far.

I talked about my bad luck with Bioware romances before and also mentioned at the time that my agent appeared to be my only character who might finally have a chance to score with someone. I'm happy to say that this did actually work out. I went through with my "threat" of respeccing from dps to healing post Alderaan just so that I could quest with Vector instead of Kaliyo (two squishy melee dps wasn't working so well for me), and his affection rating soared quite quickly and naturally as he and my agent were very much on the same wavelength. After a couple of companion conversations I found myself really getting into the romance too, as he kind of seemed to play hard to get, always forgetting about my flirtation attempts in favour of focusing on business. Call me strange, but bug eyes aside, Vector is actually pretty close to the type of guy that I find attractive in real life as well: quiet and a little weird, but also gentle, loyal and reliable. (There is a thread on the official agent forums that starts with a funny rant about why Vector is supposedly the worst love interest ever, but then gets mostly taken over by fans of his character. It's currently on sixty-nine pages.)

The only point at which I had to draw the line was marriage, as I felt that it's not a good idea for secret agents to get married. I figured that, not unlike superheroes, they always end up with some very deranged enemies, and officially declaring your love for someone would only result in inviting lots of trouble for that person. Unfortunately that kind of explanation wasn't an option in the game, so I only got to say something like "this isn't what I was going for" and poor Vector got all sad with me. I cursed Bioware afterwards for making me feel bad about rejecting a marriage proposal from an NPC. Damn those really likeable characters!

The agent companions as a whole were a pretty eclectic and interesting bunch - I never got over my hatred for Kaliyo though. She's got an interesting personality, don't get me wrong, but I just couldn't see why my agent or Imperial Intelligence in general would keep her around. The worst thing was when her last companion quest ended on a bad note and with my character effectively telling her to bugger off... but then there was no follow-up to this, and our next chat was all about how everything was peachy keen again and what a great team we were. Harrumph. Kaliyo really made me wish that Bioware had kept the option to get rid of nasty companions in the final game... though I can absolutely see why they didn't. I think I would have struggled to quest my way up into the thirties with no companion after leaving her anarchist butt on Hutta, heh.

After finishing my last mission I had a quick browse around the official forums to read a bit about other people's thoughts on the agent, and the thing that really surprised me was how many different forks there seem to be in the storyline, which is something that you can't necessarily judge very well if you just play through it once. I mostly played my agent as neutral, only sliding into Light I towards the very end of the story, and ended up killing all the major characters I confronted at the end of each act. I was very surprised when I read that you can not only spare some of them, you can actually completely change your allegiance! Now I almost want to make another agent right away just to see some of those other outcomes.

16 comments :

  1. This makes me wonder at the outcomes for my Gunslinger. I mean, I've already got Beryl in love with me, and there were discussions with Risha where the options were "flirt" "flirt" "be an asshole". My Gunslinger may be a lot of things, but he's not an ass. At the same time, I'm wondering just what is going to happen with Risha and some of the other companions I've picked up, like Akaavi.

    (No telling, got it?)

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    1. Hey, I couldn't spoil the smuggler story for you if I tried, my gunslinger is only level 29...

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    2. Good to know.

      I've already annoyed Akaavi once, by implying that she should have played tag as a kid instead of fighting in arenas.

      BTW, I know it was by design, but I've got a massive earworm this morning due to the title of your post.

      Secret Agent Man
      Secret Agent Man
      They've given you a number
      and taken away your name

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  2. Seconding the Agent love. After I got Th'ane'a to lvl 50 (and made her into a bigamist on the way...) I immediately rolled another Agent just to see how the story plays out for a male bastard.
    Soooo, did you fight the big bad at the end of Act One, or did you talk him into leaving? While leveling up my lady Agent I didn't know about this possibility and it took me a week to down Darth PainInTheButt. The meltdown I had when I learned of this possibility was spectacular.

    I am currently a bit at a loss about what I should do with Th'ane'a now. I haven't got the slightest clue how the progression into Operations is supposed to work, and I am already sick of dailies...

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    1. Like I said in the post, I killed all the act end bosses, including the first one. He was definitely the hardest class quest fight I've encountered in the game so far though; the interrupt requirements were incredibly harsh.

      Story mode operations don't require that much preparation, as long as you have level 50 blue quality gear or mods in most slots you should be geared enough for them. You could always queue up for a story mode in the evening while doing something else and see whether the group finder gets you into one; my experiences with this have actually been pretty good so far.

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  3. Permit me to say ... I told you so. Agent is the best, hands-down (though the Smuggler is rather amusing and easily my second favorite).

    Neener, neener.

    XOXO
    From your favorite Agent, Targeter

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    1. I wouldn't have expected any less from you. ;P I did think of you when I saw the bit where the unsavoury background of the old twi'lek from Tython is revealed (which is something that you mentioned in a comment elsewhere).

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    2. Yar! That old hag! I was like, "NOWAI!" and then I was like "OOOOH YOOS GONNA GIT IT!"

      Also, just polished off Chapter 1 for the Smuggler and Republic Privateer Targeteer is shaping up to my second most favorite character of all time. If you don't have a smuggie yet, I highly recommend it.

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  4. The agent story also contained my first instance of the game making me feel like something had been written primarily for a male player character, namely when a certain female NPC approached me with big puppy dog eyes at the end of the Tatooine storyline as if she was about to kiss me, though she didn't do it in the end.

    Odd thing about that - I'm fairly certain she didn't kiss my male agent, either. (I can't say with complete certainty since it's been a month or so.) And I still think the guy you work with on Balmorra was originally planned to be a romance option for both sexes. Some of his friendly dialogue is a little, well, _friendly_. He's at least got one heck of a man-crush going on. I wonder if both are left-overs from them wanting to have same-sex romance in the game.

    [Kaliyo]'s got an interesting personality, don't get me wrong, but I just couldn't see why my agent or Imperial Intelligence in general would keep her around.

    I've played my Agent Light Side and I can think of no in-character reason for her to stick with him, either. Especially when he started messing up her plans.

    It would've been more interesting if you could ditch companions (or they you) if there were serious incompatibility issues. Especially since most classes get at least one potentially completely incompatible companion.

    Vector, though, is awesome. And strangely quick to become loyal to one's Agent. I was surprised by his dialogue when you confer with him and Kaliyo when you get sent on your Chapter Two mission. She's all "Don't worry, I'll shoot you if [spoilers]" and he's all "I'll follow you wherever." (Quotes approximate.)

    I may have to make a second Agent (female this time) just to romance the weird, yet likable guy.

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  5. I love the Agent. I think one of the big strengths is that the villains in the Agent story line are very strong.

    Especially at the end, when I found myself agreeing with the aims of the last conspiracy. In another universe, I think my agent would have joined them.

    I think the story nailed the "disillusionment" aspect of spy stories. Especially Voss. A lot of players from other classes seem to dislike Voss, but I loved the Agent storyline on Voss.

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    1. I agree about the chapter three villains. I could definitely relate to their desires, I just didn't like the way they were going about it.

      I'm a bit torn about Voss, as there are parts about it that I love and parts that bore me. I thought that the agent's class story there was a bit obtuse at times (really, how is this helping with tracking down our enemies again...), but I loved the sub-plot with the tea house owner.

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  6. I want to play the IA, but I'm still trying to figure out if I want to play a guy or a girl. My girl would be Chiss and my guy would be a cyborg. I love Vector and I kind of really want to do the romance with the guy.

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  7. You could have married Vector actually, and it wouldn't have been "official" as in documented. He specifically states that given the nature of your job it's best to keep your bond private. So technically, you aren't married by legal standards but you both are married by your own private standards.

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    1. That's cool to know, thanks!

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    2. Aye. Sorry, I didn't check the date before replying to this, but I had just finished his romance and happened upon this blog. So I didn't know if you had rolled a new Agent and found out or not. :P

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    3. It's cool, I don't mind getting comments on older posts - that's why the option is even enabled instead of comments on older posts being closed for spam protection. :)

      And no, I still haven't managed to complete the agent story a second time! Shame on me, I know!

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