Amongst the die-hard Rockstar Games' fans, there exists an almost legend of a game, one that could have been perhaps Rockstar's biggest creative left-turn. Alas, the game materialized to nothing and only existed as an idea of "what could have been."
Of course, this is in reference to one of the most interesting ideas from one of the most exciting studios, but one that never came to fruition, Agent.
To many younger fans of Rockstar Games, the name "Agent" would hold no significance. But, to the initiated, who have followed the adventures of Rockstar Games for years, Agent remains one of the biggest sources of heartache.
So, what exactly is Agent? Simply put, the game was to be Rockstar's take on the spy/espionage genre set in the height of the Cold War. If that doesn't sound like the formula for Rockstar's next big cultural phenomenon, then what does?
The spy/espionage PlayStation exclusive from Rockstar Games that never got released
All the way back in E3 2009, Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, announced Agent's arrival to the big stage and confirmed it as a PS3 exclusive.
For the next couple of years, whispers and rumors surrounding Agent were commonplace on the internet. Message boards all over would be flooded with speculation on Rockstar Games' next big thing.
After the success of Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games were riding on an all-time high wave of momentum. The game had been instrumental in solidifying Rockstar Games' mettle when it comes to storytelling in video games.
Naturally, expectations from Agent grew and grew by the day, and the fans were chomping at the bit for any news from Rockstar.
The hype around the game was helped a tonne by all sorts of hyperbole and big adjectives being thrown around by high-ranking executives.
The higher-ups consider Agent to have been "genre-defining"
The then-President of Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar's parent company) was quoted as saying that he believed Agent would be "genre-defining."
His claims were also supported by Sam Houser, President and Co-Founder of Rockstar Games, who commented in a press release that Agent would be "the ultimate action game."
It wouldn't be too out of place for a company to praise one's own product as being the second coming. However, Sony was quick to claim Agent as an exclusive, which was probably a sign that it meant that the game was of great quality.
On PlayStation's official blog, Michael Shorrock, the Director of 3rd Party Relations at SCEA, wrote this about Agent and why Sony wanted it as a first-party exclusive:
"As part of our long-standing relationship with Rockstar, and the incredible success for both companies with the cultural icon that is Grand Theft Auto, we’ve agreed to the PlayStation exclusive rights of the next great franchise from the Rockstar studios."
Further elusions were made that Agent could perhaps even be the game that would set the bar for the rest of the industry, as Rockstar Games have done many times over in the past.
Years of silence, where is Agent now?
Rockstar Games still has a dedicated page for Agent, which reads:
"Rockstar Games is proud to announce Agent. Developed by the people behind Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar North, Agent will be available exclusively for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system. Agent takes players on a paranoid journey into the world of counter-intelligence, espionage, and political assassinations during the height of the Cold War at the end of the 1970s."
Which now, more than a cause for excitement, reads more like a eulogy of what could have been Rockstar Games' magnum opus in terms of narrative and gameplay.
In the years that followed, Rockstar went on to confirm Agent as being in active development. However, not much would come to fruition as the PS3 console cycle came to an end, and the launch of the PS4 had no mention at all of Agent.
From 2009 to 2013, there would appear several screenshots and concept art from Agent on former employee's online resumes. Curiously, in 2013, Rockstar Games had renewed the patent on Agent. (source)
To many, that still remains the glimmer of hope that one day, perhaps, Rockstar will decide to go back to the well and start work on Agent.Published 22 Dec 2020, 20:24 IST