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GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
Score: 60%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent had one strike against it the minute it was announced: its name. The original GoldenEye is a thing of legends. I’ve never particularly agreed with its distinction as the best Bond game ever, but do agree its one of the best console FPS’ around. Rogue Agent tries to rekindle the original’s feel, but the result is a hollow, below average game.

Rogue Agent looks good, but suffers from blandness. Much of the game is spent traversing similar looking environments with very little change between them. Artistically, level designs are boring and flat. Character models are detailed and look good, but the visual quality of the movie scenes they appear in is really grainy. The quality takes away from the models, resulting in an average looking game. Character models suffer from the same blandness as the environments. With the exception of one or two boss fights, you will see the same three or four foot soldiers throughout your entire adventure. This isn’t the same level of design we were treated to in James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, and the overall game suffers greatly for it.

Nothing really stands out about the sound as being particularly impressive. The soundtrack has its “Bond” moments, but these are accompanied by generic sounding techno tracks. Unlike previous Bond games, which have a distinct theme running through the entire game, there’s nothing in Rogue Agent to tie everything together. It would be silly to want the Bond flourish for a game featuring a bad guy, but I’m sure something similar could have been cooked up. Voice work is decent and features one element that is worthy of note. Enemies will react vocally to what weapons you’re holding or where you are in an area. If you’re holding a machine gun, they’ll start barking out warnings to each other. This idea can get a little silly when they start yelling out things like “Dual Weapons!” but you have to take the good with the bad. Remarks about your position are also pretty exact, so expect to have all guns pointed at your position once it’s revealed.

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent places you in a different role than previous Bond games. Instead of stepping into the shoes of the smooth British spy, you are instead a disgraced agent. After being kicked out for “questionable practices” on the field, you are recruited by Auric Goldfinger to lead his war against Dr. No. For your service, Goldfinger endows you with a mechanical eye (your original was injured in a battle with Dr. No), giving you the nickname “GoldenEye.”

Rogue Agent presents a pretty cool “What If...?” scenario. You’re a foot soldier in a war between two of the baddest Bond villains. Beyond the basic concept, the story begins to feel like bad fan fiction, especially when the game starts to throw in other Bond villains who really have no place in the storyline. Other than a brief cameo by Xenia Onatopp, Rogue Agent has nothing to do with the original GoldenEye.

Though the core of the story is the war between the two villains, there’s still a lack of cohesion between missions. There’s never a point where you feel like you’re being sucked into the story. Instead, you’re a bit player in a much larger story that’s going on behind the scenes. The result is a detached “Why should I care?” feeling.

The biggest draw in Rogue Agent is the ability to play as the bad guy. “Why save the world when you can rule it,” right? The thing with Rogue Agent is that you never do anything that’s particularly evil. Other than grabbing people and using them as human shields and a few mission objectives, there’s nothing all that evil about the game. Its not like you’re stealing kid’s lunch money on the playground or kicking puppies -- you’re just hired muscle in a competition between two villains.

For the most part Rogue Agent is a straightforward FPS -- perhaps a little too straightforward. There’s really nothing in Rogue Agent that we’ve not seen in other games. Missions are very straightforward except for a few predictable plot twists during the missions (mostly involving some kind of betrayal). Level layouts are dull and become repetitive. If you do find yourself lost in a mission, a handy arrow at the top of the screen is always around to point you in the right direction. Mission pacing is way off, introducing even more boredom to an already dull game. Some levels are way too short while others -- such as the underground weapons facility, Octopus -- are way too long.

Multiplayer, which was the main reason for the original’s popularity, is as bland as the single-player game. Rogue Agent offers the usual multiplayer game modes that can be played in either single or team-based settings. A four-player split screen option is available for offline play, while up to eight players can compete online. Unlike GoldenEye, Rogue Agent just isn’t fun in multiplayer. Other than using your golden eye’s powers, there’s no real strategy in Rogue Agent, whereas the gadgets in GoldenEye let you set all kinds of little traps for opponents.

Had GoldenEye: Rogue Agent been this easy at E3, I would have a new T-shirt. One of the marketing points has been is its “evil” A.I. system. This system is supposed to be a revolution in game A.I., but is a complete dud. Other than calling out positions to their comrades, I never saw enemies do anything that was particularly impressive. What opposition enemies may present is offset by the ability to recharge your health.

Similar to the shield system in Halo, your health can recharge after a very brief period of time. Body armor is also in ample supply, especially in later levels, giving you an added layer of protection. When combined with the healing ability, you’re basically invulnerable to most attacks. The only time I ever ran into any real problem was when I faced odds of five or more enemies at once.

Game Mechanics:
I could never get used to GoldenEye: Rogue Agent’s control scheme. The button layout is decent, but never feels totally comfortable. Controls are very, very sluggish and unresponsive. Even when adjusting the joystick sensitivity meters, the game never felt right. Turn speeds are slow and there’s really no reaction time. Considering the game’s already plodding gameplay, this isn’t too much of a problem. But when you’re facing six enemies coming at you from all directions, not being able to quickly react is a real hindrance.

Innovations from other FPS,’ like the ability to dual wield weapons and not being able to carry a large arsenal, are also present in Rogue Agent.

Your two primary weapons are your handgun (with infinite ammo) and your mechanical eye. Weapons selection is diverse, ranging from handguns to assault rifles to missile launchers. Some more unique weapons are also present, like a virus gun that stuns enemies and a gun that shoots remote detonators. The golden eye comes with a selection of abilities that can be used in combat. With the exception of the health replenishment and shield, none of the abilities are particularly useful. The eye’s “hacking” ability is only useful for hitting switches from a distance (its ability to disable guns never seems to work) and the telekinetic throw drains too much energy.

Environmental hazards can also be employed when dealing with enemies.

Other than its name-only association with a good game, there’s nothing about GoldenEye: Rogue Agent that really stands out as being anything more than average. It might make a good weekend rental, but beyond that, there really nothing to get excited about.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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