reviews\ Dec 6, 2004 at 7:00 pm

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent - GC - Review

Saving the world is hard work, but there's not a gamer on the planet who can't handle it.  Ruling the world, however, is not something we're used to doing.  Sure, the bad guys make it look easy – luxury cars, expensive suits, high-def TVs -- but they're professionals.  They've been taking over empires for generations.

Now it's your turn to take over the world.  As exciting as that may or may not sound, the real excitement comes from the source of your world-taking: James Bond gameplay.

You don't play as James Bond.  You don't constantly hunt for James Bond.  But you will feel like James Bond's evil brother, wreaking havoc on anyone or anything that stands in your way.  Some objects are destructible, and virtually every enemy in the game can be taken hostage, forming a shield to protect against all the bullets flying at your chest.  How's that for being evil?

As I'm sure you've heard by now, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is the long awaited non-sequel to everyone's favorite James Bond shooter, GoldenEye 007.  The star is a rogue agent determined to get ahead without working for the good guys.  He's not overly thrilled with the bad guys either though.  When evil forces are fighting other evil forces, which side should we be cheering for?  The side you're on, no question. 


Although it's a non-sequel, the GoldenEye name tells you exactly what the developers wanted you to know: this is the gameplay sequel to GoldenEye 007.  The controls, character movement, level design, weapon style, mission objectives -- every gameplay element is a tribute to Rare's classic.  Their take on the genre was so well received that it paved the way for the only game that could replace it: Halo.  EA's take on Rare's take on the genre is exactly what GoldenEye fans have been waiting for Santa to bring them.  For them, Electronic Arts is Santa.

If you've been playing Halo 2 lately (and who hasn't?), Rogue Agent is going to feel really strange.  The gameplay is slow like Halo but does not have any of that game's realistic elements.  It's hard to put into words.  I felt like I hovered over the environment as opposed to walking or running across various terrain.  Most weapons are without realistic feedback -- they stay in position (or close to it) at all times, firing as if the person was holding a toy.  These are tiny and mostly pointless differences, but you will notice them now that every other FPS on the market has gone realistic on us.  It was necessary for EA to design the game this way though, if only to preserve the classic GoldenEye experience.  Evolution is necessary for this new (possible) series to survive, but it must be done slowly.

Rogue Agent's weapon selection is a combination of inspiration, mainly from GoldenEye 007, and perhaps a little from Halo.  From handguns (Spec-9) and submachine guns (HS-90) to assault rifles (AR4 Commando) and rocket launchers (Harpoon RL), Rogue Agent has excellent firepower.  If you can hold a weapon with one hand you can wield two of them simultaneously.  Some are triggered automatically, but the standard way to dual-wield is to press both shoulder buttons, just like in Halo. 


There are secret weapons like the Omen XR, which is said to use "mass energy neutralization technology."  Translation: should you choose to shoot an enemy with this thing, it will vaporize him or her instantly.  I can't tell you how to get it, but when you do, try it on your friends!  Don't let 'em know you've got it either.  Grab it, sneak up and shoot.  Then laugh at the dumbfounded look on their faces.

Core gameplay mechanics aren't the only thing that justifies the name.  Rogue Agent's leading man is missing an eye when the story begins.  His eye isn't replaced with gold (they only do that with teeth), but instead a high-tech computer device that lets you see the world like never before.  Security guards may run but can no longer hide thanks to your eye's ability to see through walls.  It's not always possible to shoot through walls, but that's what grenades are for.  Toss 'em over or around a wall for explosive results your target won't soon forget.  There's a weapon that does essentially the same thing, except it looks like a plasma shot and sticks to whatever it touches, including enemies!  Pull the trigger once to fire; pull it again to detonate.  A cool weapon to use during single-player games, an awesome weapon to use in multiplayer.

The GoldenEye (the name of your high-tech computer eye) has other features as well, like the ability to stop bullets from reaching your flesh.  It can't run forever though.  The GoldenEye is limited by its power level.  Use it too often and you'll go blind!  Actually you'll just lose its power and will not be able to use it again until it has regained some energy. 

The single-player campaign is a fun, shoot-till-you drop adventure, but the real fun cannot be unlocked until you plug in at least two GameCube controllers.  Once plugged in, the two controllers unlock a world of entertainment you never thought possible: multiplayer.  The more controllers you plug in, the more fun the game becomes.  GameCube has a limit of four players via split-screen, but that didn't stop anyone from loving the original GoldenEye.  Back then all console gamers had for multiplayer games was a split screen.  To this day it is still my favorite way to game. 


The multiplayer maps, weapon selection (some exclusive to multiplayer!) and character selection are excellent.  I know it's easy to simply say that the gameplay experience is a next-gen version of the Nintendo 64 classic, but it's true.  There is no more appropriate console for this game than GameCube.  I almost wish it was a GameCube exclusive – then the graphics would have been tweaked to match the console's true power.  As it is this is an attractive game, though I'm sure that won't be a selling point for any of its buyers.  The GoldenEye name and the trust that EA has gained with gamers will be the reasons why millions of you will be adding this game to your Christmas list.

A must-buy?  If you have to ask, this game isn't for you.

Review Scoring Details for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

Gameplay: 8
No one will walk away from this game without being a little bit shocked.  Player movement alone is unbelievable.  The way you walk, the way you run, the way that the view changes as you switch targets, etc.  The controls are virtually identical, the levels are very similar, and the graphic style is what you'd expect a next-gen GoldenEye to look like. 

Graphics: 8
Impressive but unrealistic, Rogue Agent has all the flare of a next-gen Nintendo 64 game.  Of course, we're not in 1997 anymore, and this isn't Nintendo 64.  That said, Rogue Agent has a lot of what you'd expect from a GameCube game: large environments, detailed backgrounds, and...that's about it.  The standard issue enemies are somewhat bland and don't move very realistically.  That'd be easier to accept if the last Bond game hadn't looked so beautiful.  It's even harder to accept the frame rate, which slows down every now and then.

Perhaps the developers followed the original game design a little too closely.

Sound: 8.9
Exhilarating tunes for a game of exhilaration and world domination.  This is a great game to play if you have loud stereo speakers, or better yet, a full surround sound system.  (It's a great game to play with any sound system, but the better your system, the more you'll enjoy the experience of taking over the world and dominating your friends in multiplayer.)

Difficulty:  Medium
The AI isn't brilliant, but the claim is true – no two games are exactly alike.  Of course, that's true of most games with varying enemies.  Still, Rogue Agent provides a good challenge.  GoldenEye masters won't agree, and even a semi-hardcore player could get through the game in a night or two.

Concept: 7.5
Take GoldenEye’s beloved gameplay and pour it in a mixing bowl with a new story, a few flashy colors, some artificial intelligence, and a dash of Sodium Musicalcium (to preserve freshness).  Bake for 12-24 months.  Serve when ready.

Multiplayer: 9
The reason you bought GoldenEye 007 is also the reason why you'll buy GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.  Artificially intelligent enemies – who needs that.  Your friends are far more intelligent than any enemy you’d encounter in a game.  And even if they aren’t, you know it’s more fun playing against a living, breathing, swearing human than it is to play against a computer-controlled droid.

Overall: 8
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is rated "T" for "Teen," but the gameplay is no less violent than Halo 2, minus the blood and gore.  Humans are most vulnerable to headshots, something that the game pretty much encourages.  I'm not complaining, I just want it to be clear to gamers that they aren't getting a watered-down package.  This is 007 – I mean Rogue Agent – in its purest form since 1997.


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