PAX Prime 2010: SpyParty
SpyParty is an inventive, competitive two-player game featuring some promising game mechanics. During a 60’s-era dinner party. One player assumes the role of the spy and undergoes a series of missions, while trying to blend into the environment and tries not to tip off his opponent, a sniper who watches the events of the dinner party unfold from a far off undisclosed location, peering through the windows with his binoculars and sniping scope.
Spies have to act naturally, in accordance with the AI if they hope to survive for long. The missions available in the PAX demo included transferring microfilm into a book from one of two bookcases, planting a bug on the ambassador, stealing a statue and swapping it out with a placeholder, and contacting the Double Agent, all within the short designated time limit.
The game takes place in a simplistic dining room filled with NPC guests whom will distract and mislead the sniper from correctly targeting the spy. There are a few simple ways of telling which character in the room is your opponent, however. For example, when the spy attempts to contact the Double Agent, they’ll say “banana bread”, and will have to be nearby in order to engage in that conversation, and when they go to plant the bug on the ambassador they’ll have to first perform what the printed manual describes as an “ass-grab” motion.
It’s fairly easy to give yourself away, unless you’re being subtle. While playing as the spy, you’ll generally have a good idea of where the sniper is aiming due to his laser sight coming in through the windows. After years of playing games where your immediate reaction should be to get the hell out of the way, the most effective strategy in SpyParty is more often than not to act unphased by the laser, and pretend you’re an AI player.
Although I’m genuinely impressed by SpyParty, it might be worth noting that what I’ve played was still an early build of the game, comprised of placeholders for visuals and the occasional bugs. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time with the game, however, as I found it’s unique premise and twist onf espionage to be a lot of fun not only to play, but also to sit back and watch others try and spot the spy or be as inconspicuous as possible.
SpyParty’s release date and platforms have yet to be announced. The version I played was running on a PC using an Xbox 360 controller. The game feels like a great fit for Microsoft, Sony, and Valve’s downloadable services, and I can’t wait to see what the final product looks like.