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Submitted by Jon Wilcox on December 6 2004 - 18:11

TVG joins forces with Goldfinger, Scaramanga, and Pussy Galore (yes!!!), but can Rogue Agent possibly match the N64 classic…

In 1998 one of the most successful FPS titles was released on the N64, and is still revered even to this day. If youâ??re a visitor to the forums here at TVG, then you may have come across some of the banter that has been posted about the game, especially since Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 made their appearances over the past few weeks.

It was the first game that made you feel as if you were participating in the Bond universe, indeed, you felt as if you were almost Bond himself (despite the fact that you were of course playing as the super spy himself.) Not only that, but it also included an incredibly addictive Multiplayer mode that is sure to be played even to this day.

Since those heady days, the Bond franchise has gone on to become one of EAâ??s most commercially successful franchises, and even though games such as NightFire and The World Is Not Enough proved to be a money spinner for the videogame superpower, the massive success both critically and commercially, have never managed to reach the heights the GoldenEye title accomplished on the N64.

This year saw the release of Everything or Nothing, where the perspective switched from 1st person to 3rd; the game hugely benefited from this change, and the banter surrounding the game as to whether it had finally managed to topple the Bond crown from GoldenEye was immense. Marketed as the yearâ??s Bond â??movieâ??, EoN was a big hit, and if GoldenEye put you into Bondâ??s shoes, then EoN really did make you feel as if you were playing with a Bond film.

The title of the game is enough proof of EAâ??s intent to extend GoldenEye into yet another franchise; they knew that by using the GoldenEye title that they would be stirring the emotions that fans of the original felt. Yet when it was announced that EA were working on a sequel to the original N64 hit, you could almost sense the anxiety that the fans of the original felt, after all lightning never strikes twice â?“ would the formula work wonders once again?

Firmly based in the universe of Bond and featuring some of the iconic characters ever to appear in the Bond film franchise, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent see you play as the character GoldenEye, a former MI6 agent decommissioned due to his violent actions and ruthless nature. Itâ??s then that the infamous Auric Goldfinger approaches youâ?¦And why are you called GoldenEye? Well, the clue is in the titleâ?¦

Suffering from an injury to one of your eyes after an operation against Dr. No, Goldfinger, with the help of the man with the golden gun himself, Scaramanga (voiced by Christopher Lee, who reprises the role that he played over 20 years ago), your character is given a new eye made from gold. The new eye can be upgraded throughout the course of the game so that GoldenEye can see hidden enemies through walls, hack into electronic equipment, utilise magnetic fields, even create Polarity Shields that can deflect bullets. There were some who felt that 007â??s invisible car was a step to far in the last film, but an eyeball that has the ability to defect bullets (not to mention some of the other abilities) just sound a littleâ?¦unbelievable.

So here we are again, all set to play another Bond games from EA and not only that, but this time we can be as brutal as we like, and some of the all time great Bond characters are included as part of the storyline â?“ this should make for a really good gameâ?¦Well, sadly not.

Starting off at the main gold reserve in the whole of the USA, namely Fort Knox, three days before his eventual dismissal, the person who becomes GoldenEye is sent to stop Goldfinger from detonating a nuclear device in the complex, which would destroy the reserve and thus cause massive damage to the US and World economies. Together with 007 (who no longer looks like any of the Bond actors yet still is reminiscent of at least two of them), you are sent in via helicopter to stop this from happening. This is the chance for gamers to be introduced to the control system, but to be honest there isnâ??t anything really different from the usual button layouts. After you have confirmed your settings the helicopter is then shot down and you land through the roof of Fort Knox where Bond appears to fall to his death â?“ itsâ?? up to you now.

The missions fall far from meeting any kind of expectations, and for the most part, itâ??s just a case of running from A to B killing as many enemies as you can. This is true to the extent in the mission when you have to escape from Goldfingerâ??s lair, and the doors wonâ??t open until you kill every bad guy in the room â?“ as if the doors would know thatâ?¦The levels are quiet long, but whereas being a positive element in the game, they just cause you to lose all hope and wish for GoldenEyeâ??s death as quickly as possible. The pace of the game is sluggish, the combat is completely uninspiring and the various missions involved completely fail to engage your interest.

One of the ideas that the developers have tried to push is the utilisation of EVIL A.I., which they proclaim will mean that no two games will be the same. In actual fact in practical terms, this just seems to mean that the enemies will grab one of their own and use them as a human shield â?“ with friends like theseâ?¦ But perhaps the worst aspect is the fact that the opponents youâ??ll face just arenâ??t that clever; because your energy recharges after time (in yet another blatant rip from Halo), you can easily just use the technique of finding cover, ducking out and killing a few and then ducking behind cover to recharge your energy. The enemy rarely tracks you down like the Covenant does in Halo, which ensures that a largely unsatisfactory not to mention completely mundane and tedious mechanic runs throughout the entire game.

Rogue Agent also utilises Dual Wielding so, in true Halo 2 fashion, you can run around armed with double SMGs mowing down your enemies with glee. At least that was the intention of EA, but in reality, it doesnâ??t work as well as it did and continues to do, in Halo2. There isnâ??t the same excitement about the ability to use two weapons at once, and whilst some of that can be attributed to the fact that itâ??s no longer such a new ability, a lot of it can be put down to the game just not feeling quite right. It is very telling that the developers havenâ??t put the same amount of thought into the Dual Wielding in Rogue Agent as Bungie blatantly did for their latest offering. There is no real strategy involved with choosing some weapons over others, and they rarely work well in tandem with the GoldenEye capabilities, except for when you use the MRI Scanning with the Wall penetrating Mag-Rail Gun. Whereas you could easily determine the months Bungie painstakingly spent playing, balancing and fine-tuning every bullet from every weapon in Halo 2, the Dual-Wielding feature in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent just feels as if itâ??s been stuck in there as a hind-sight; thereâ??s no balance, no strategy and sadly precious little enjoyment to be gained from this feature.

The other weapons are for the most part very predictable, from the upgraded pistols to the sub-machine guns and shotguns â?“ it even includes Mag Rail guns and chain-gunsâ?¦ though there are one or two nice additions to the standard FPS fare - the VENOM, which paralyses enemies on the spot, and the OMEN XR, which vaporises targets where they stand. Whilst the OMEN can quite easily be compared to the BFG-9000, a paralysing weapon is something that doesnâ??t immediately spring to mind as being â??doneâ?? before, but to be honest, itâ??s not as much fun as using death causing high speed pellets of lead.

There are occasions when GoldenEye can interact with the environment, for instance, he can send carts flying down tracks running over enemies, but be warned that enemies can also use these traps on you. These are a welcome addition to the game, and certainly add a sliver of depth to the title, but after pressing the buttons a few times, we found ourselves just running past the raps switches and killing the enemies ourselves.

Visually bland and uninteresting, sounding like an average shooter, with game play exhumed FPS releases of oldâ?¦yawn. The distinct lack in the variety of enemies also makes the game seem old. Whilst masked or hooded enemies can be excused, after all we argued that the masked enemies in Killzone helped to develop the atmosphere of oppression in the game, but when you see unmasked enemies looking as if theyâ??ve just come from the factories of i-Clone Plc, then it just comes across as naff.

The sound effects in the game are quite bland, and the music isnâ??t in the least bit inspiring. Even though it wouldnâ??t have been right to use the actual Bond theme, it would have been nice to hear a really dark version of this instantly recognisable track. The saving grace in this department is the inclusion of Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, but lets be fair, an original voice from the films donâ??t make for a great sonic experience by itself, and the rest of the gameâ??s sounds are just dull.

As we have already said, the original GoldenEye was renowned for its Multiplayer game, and EA have again turned to that feature to try and bolster the game. Sadly, the option is just as bad as the main campaign and after a couple of games max, youâ??ll switch off your Xbox/PS2/GameCube and replace it with Halo2/Killzone/Metroid Prime 2 instead. Even though the developers have tried to add some interesting games into the option such as Tug-o-War, where the players have to press switches to move a Cart along a rail until it reaches the â??goalâ??, the multiplayer is ultimately disappointing.

Considering that just 10 or so months ago, we were praising Everything or Nothing for really pushing the Bond franchise in the videogame world with itâ??s successful creation of a hugely cinematic and stylish experience, Rogue Agent just comes across as a complete and utter backward step. Sluggish with combat about as exhilarating as doing the washing-up, Rogue Agent is a disappointment on just about every level and if you want our opinion go out and buy a second hand version of EoN instead.

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  • Graphics: 53%
     
  • Sound: 54%
     
  • Gameplay: 42%
     
  • Originality: 46%
     
  • Longevity: 43%
     
Overall Score: 4/10
It’s a real shame that for the second time in as many months, EA have marketed two titles which take huge licences and take them on such a tangent that they clearly come across as 100% pure cash-ins. They just about made it with Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, but with Rogue Agent, the software giant has gone too far. Not only have they taken the 40 year legacy of James Bond way off track, but they have also taken the classic GoldenEye reputation and created a game that the fans were dreading. Not a classic – not even an average game, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is just about insulting to everyone in the target demographic.

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