reviews\ Jun 26, 2005 at 8:00 pm

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent - NDS - Review

By now you’ve heard game reviewers rave over a Nintendo 64 game based on a movie that just happened to be Pierce Brosnan’s first stint as James Bond. Yeah, GoldenEye was an excellent first-person shooter at the time and while it seems tame and dated today, it inspired Electronic Arts to follow up with GoldenEye: Rogue Agent for all the consoles. The result was a game that not only felt rushed but also too by-the-numbers to be something genuinely fresh and enjoyable. Now EA wishes to introduce the same game to the Nintendo DS, but will the handheld version stand out?

The answer is a yes and no. Yes, this one will stand out seeing as it is the first first-person shooter to show up among the Nintendo DS lineup of titles and it actually does give fans of the genre hope that it could do the genre justice. It’s just the source material that just doesn’t work. Rogue Agent is the same experience as the console version with the exception that there is text for dialogue and the cutscenes have been severely cut. The DS can handle the first-person shooter format and it does it rather well, and Rogue Agent will make you see this despite the level design.

During an intense mission, the MI6 agent you play is shot in the face by none other than Bond’s most dangerous opponent, Dr. No. As a result of losing your right eye to this madman, you become consumed with hatred and the need for revenge. Your actions become more brutal and this is evident during a training exercise so MI6 declares you unfit for duty. Miffed by being rejected, you turn to Auric Goldfinger who had offered you a juicy position in his organization that includes such familiar heavies like Oddjob, Pussy Galore, Scaramanga and even the sadistic Xenia Onatopp. Now, as a rogue agent, you fight under a new banner and jump into missions armed with your weapons skills and your new enhanced eye. 

All of this sounds good on paper but trust me when I say that the rogue agent you play isn’t as bad as his fellow teammates. Just about the only evil thing you’ll be doing is grabbing a stunned enemy and using him as a meat shield until said human shield is killed by his buddies. You’ll be able to use environmental hazards against your enemies but these things aren’t evil. You won’t even execute or torture anyone so you’ll basically feel like one of the good guys who just happens to be friends with guys named Scaramanga.

As a shooter, Rogue Agent’s controls aren’t simplistic so you’ll be thankful there’s a Virtual Training mode. The game makes use of all the game’s buttons but to aim you’ll be using the touch screen (unless you change the default control scheme to an all button configuration). Yet the touch screen is used often no matter what control configuration you choose and this often results in odd jerks. Sometimes the touch screen can be so sensitive that an accidental brush can result in your character looking up at the sky. One second you’re looking at a computer console on screen and suddenly you’re facing the opposite direction. And just try clicking on one of your upgradeable eye abilities with the Stylus and move your character at the same time.

Control issues aside, the game’s levels will be very familiar to those who have played the console version. It faithfully brings many of the levels of the console's original to life so you’ll be fighting in a casino or defending Goldfinger Enterprises from Dr. No’s henchmen. You can mix and match different weapon types so you can point a semi-automatic machine gun with the right hand and a Mamba sawed-off shotgun with the left. Scaramanga also offers you various upgrades that you’ll use in conjunction with your weapons. For example, the MRI vision allows you to see through solid material so you can shoot an enemy using a rail gun. The EM Hack allows you to manipulate electronics while the Magnetic Polarity Shield deflects damage. All of these things could have been cool had the enemies been a bit smarter and thanks to the Halo-styled health regeneration all you have to do is hang back a little before jumping into the next battle.

What does work wonderfully is the game’s multiplayer mode. There is Multi-Card play and there’s Single-Card Play that allows up to eight gamers in total to go up against each another in modes like Team Showdown, Showdown, Tug of War and Domination. There are plenty of maps and characters (although the best ones have to be unlocked in the game’s main mode). The best part about all of this is that all you’ll need is a single-game card to play. Among the best modes, Tug of War has you teaming up with four players as you attempt to push a bomb into the enemy team’s territory. It’s fun stuff, all right.

Visually, Rogue Agent is an impressive-looking game that’s both sharp and detailed. And here I thought the Nintendo 64 GoldenEye, at the time, looked so well. The DS is capable of bringing us some pretty sharp graphics (as we’ve seen in the Metriod Prime Hunters demo) and we see some pretty visuals here. The enemies have their own distinct look and so do the environments (check out the Golden Gate Bridge). Even explosions and the scripted events that happen in the game will not fail to put a smile on your face.

Coming from the Nintendo DS speakers, you’ll hear the exchange of gunfire so clearly that you’ll be able to tell if an enemy is firing a sub-machine gun or a shotgun. The explosions are loud ... just the way we like it. Shoot a window and you’ll hear the shards fall or shoot a computer terminal and you’ll hear the buzzing of circuits frying. Yes, this game has some pretty distinct sound effects and they sound good coming from the DS or through headphones. What doesn’t sound good is the music and although there is a nice variety of tunes it the tunes themselves that will not fail to annoy. Take the opening tune playing throughout the first mission, for instance. It will drive you nuts before the end of the level. Luckily there’s an option to shut off the music and leave the sound effects.

Unfortunately, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent for the Nintendo DS suffers from the same things that tarnished the console version. While the game does possess some truly uninspiring levels and occasional jerky controls, it’s impressive to see the game transferred so close to the original and I’ll admit that there’s still some first-person shooter fun to be had here despite the flaws. If you’re looking for an excellent shooter you won’t find it here but its still worth playing nonetheless.

Review Scoring Details for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

Gameplay: 7.2
Rogue Agent makes good use of all the DS’ features and while it takes some practice to move and aim using the touch screen, you’ll have a blast blasting away at the enemy. Wielding two different weapons at once is cool and so is taking hostages. Too bad the controls can sometimes respond a bit late and using a Stylus just complicates movement.

Graphics: 7.8
This game is much prettier than the original Nintendo 64 GoldenEye and it’s great to see how sharp the character models and environments look on the DS screen. There are some great animations of enemies flying back when you unload the Mamba on them and the explosions look particularly good. There’s some cutscenes as well and you’ll be amazed how characters like Oddball and Pussy Galore look. 

Sound: 6.9
Bullets echo in hallways and the explosions are followed by howls of pain. There isn’t much in terms of environmental sound effects, although it’s great to hear glass shatter when you shoot windows. The dialogue is purely text, although you’ll hear a sound clip or two. And the music, while offering a variety of N64-styled tunes, will make you want to lower the volume.

Difficulty: Medium
Okay so the enemies will sometimes move to position themselves to get a better vantage point or to get a better shot at you but these aren’t the brightest bunch either. Oftentimes the enemy will move from the safety of their cover to expose themselves long enough to receive a couple of bullets that either results in death or the realization that hiding behind a glass wall wasn’t such a good idea.

Concept: 7.5
The mixing and matching of different weapons is a downright cool feature and there are a small number of levels (such as the one that takes place in a casino) are actually pretty fun despite the ho-hum mission objectives. There’s even a good multiplayer and Virtual Training fun to be had here. My biggest complaint is that this bad boy just doesn’t feel as bad as he could have been ... I mean, come on, where is the Bond villain brutality?

Multiplayer: 8.0
With a number of options to choose from, including playing as favorite Bond villains, the multiplayer mode adds more bang for your buck. The good news is that you and up to seven other friends can play using a single game card and here’s even more good news ... there are enough maps and modes to keep you and your friends nicely busy.

Overall: 6.7
Rogue Agent had all the makings of a genuinely stellar first-person shooter but it followed in the same footsteps of the disappointing console version. As a first-person shooter on the DS, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent isn’t a bad attempt at all, it’s just not a perfect one either. Is it still fun, though? There are levels that are actually pretty fun and the multiplayer mode is an enjoyable extra, but the faults are too numerous and too evident to ignore.

Above Average

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