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GoldenEye: Rogue Agent Review

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Developer: Electronic Arts Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 22, 2004 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

The gaming media really needs to wake up. All of these corporate sites have over-hyped dozens of games this year, including Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Metroid Prime 2, Killzone, and Fable, all of which fell short of our expectations. At the same time, they have given sparse attention to games like Sly 2, Half-Life 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and now, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. It is our job as reviewers to separate the good from the bad, the “must buy” from the “toxic garbage”.

It is my opinion that the gaming media has utterly failed the public this year and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is no exception. Sites have unfairly written that it does not properly incorporate its new concepts, writing that they are highly flawed. Yet, if EA were to release a sequel to the well-developed Nightfire, the same media elite would be decrying them as unoriginal. The ones that are unoriginal in their tactics are the reviewers themselves. They take the same positions every year: follow the bandwagon of hype surrounding whichever game is most popular, whether Halo 2 or GTA: San Andreas.

If you are expecting a James Bond game to be Halo, don’t play this game. If you are expecting the all-star cast that you found in Everything or Nothing, both voice acting and orchestral, don’t play this game. If you are expecting Rogue Agent to be anything other than a Bond franchise game, where you get the chance to play as the villain for the first time, don’t play this game. Now that that’s out of my system, let’s move on to my review.

I am going to pivot my criticism away from the gaming media for a second and take aim at EA for a moment. When I first heard about GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the first thought that crossed my mind was one of pure cynicism. “How could they possibly surpass the greatness of GoldenEye for the N64? How dare they even use the GoldenEye name.” With that being said, I can’t hold it against them that the game does not live up to the GoldenEye name, but to put it plainly, GoldenEye should have never been used in the title. It was a marketing ploy to sell more titles. It’s as simple as that and should be put to rest.

With all of that out of the way, Rogue Agent is a fitting addition to the Bond universe. I learned from EA that Danjaq was unhappy with the violent approach that the company had taken with the Bond series, just as GoldenEye did under Rare. Rogue Agent was their chance to take violence to a new level.

Fortunately for us, the Bond stealth levels that we found in Nightfire are no longer here. While those were small in number, they were boring, hard to navigate, and gave you little control. They were especially difficult since the game was in first-person. Unfortunately, EA strived more at getting a ‘T’ rating than making your character as evil as you would like him to be.

Rogue Agent will have you play as a former MI6 agent, by the name of GoldenEye. GoldenEye lost his eye and had it replaced by a mechanical prosthetic eye provided to you by Auric Goldfinger. Apparently, Goldfinger is at war with Dr. No. It is your job to take down Dr. No’s organization. Your enhanced eye will give you the ability to shield yourself from bullets, throw enemies Psi-Ops style, see through walls, and disable enemy weapons.

Is GoldenEye: Rogue Agent a bit out there with its game concept? Sure, but we’ve seen crazier things from the Bond universe in the past: a guy that can bite through steel, a flying hat that breaks people’s necks on contact, and pretty much everything in Moonraker. EA also instituted a melee system that allows you to punch enemies, take them hostage, and then throw them at will. If your skills prove lethal, enemies will take their buddies as hostage, using them as a shield against you.

As demonstrated by the lead designer to me in July, the AI in GoldenEye is as advanced as they come. The difficulty level has been noticeably reduced from the version I played then, but it is still above average on difficulty compared to most games. Head shots, cover, ducking, duel-wielding, grenades, and the use of your eye will all assist in beating any given level. The E.V.I.L. AI, as it is being called, will flank you, coordinate with each other, blind fire, and take cover. If you are expecting swarms of dumb enemies, guess again. This game will throw advanced enemies at you in medium to large groups. Add to that, their armor levels vary by enemy type.

The single player missions will take place over a few levels, of which there are several save points. You will start off in a training mission at Fort Knox, followed by Goldfinger’s mountain retreat, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, Atlantis, etc. The levels are well-designed, while at the same time, quite linear. Unless you encounter a glitch in the game, you should have no problem navigating the levels. An arrow on the display gives you directions.

As far as multi-player goes, EA went all-out. There are a slew of maps to choose from, some of which require two players only, while others will require more than two. Split-screen offline multi-player is an available option, as is Xbox Live online multi-player. I personally prefer facing friends, as that is a more satisfying win than someone you have never met. Either way, the multi-player is a solid addition. Some of the maps can get frustrating, as they seem large for 3 players, but since there are so many to choose from, you will learn to just avoid a couple that you do not like.

Death traps are a new addition to gameplay in the multi-player. For the most part they were implemented well, despite the few kinks here and there. For instance, in the multi-player maps where the traps are used, they are discreetly positioned. You will find an unsuspecting walkway as a collapsible floor, leading to the death of your enemy at the press of a button. It works best in the Uplink, Fun House, and Golden Gate Bridge levels. While they are present in most of the levels, some of the levels feel like the traps were thrown in.

GoldenEye, the character, might not be a spy to love, but he sure is a spy you will love to play as. Rogue Agent does one thing well and that is provide you with a good time, something that felt empty in parts of previous Bond titles, as well as in several FPS games in recent memory. All that matters in my mind is if you are having a good time. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent succeeds in doing that. Be it with its single-player, which you will likely play again on the Hard difficulty after beating Normal just to see how more advanced the AI can get, or going head-to-head with friends in multi-player, you will enjoy Rogue Agent. Just remember to forgive and forget, as this is not in any way connected to GoldenEye for the N64. If for nothing else, pick GoldenEye: Rogue Agent up for the multi-player and all of the retro cameos, like Pussy Galore.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide