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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2004

 

 

- Inventive implementation of your rogue agent’s “golden” eye as a weapon
- Usual assortment of Bond weapons, including the requisite rocket launcher
- Most weapons can be dual-wielded (like Halo 2)
- Satisfying single-player experience
- Good voice acting work
- Use of level features to aid your destruction of the enemy with deathtraps

 

 

- Gameplay speed during online multiplayer a bit on the sluggish side
- Without James Bond, doesn’t capture the charisma of the original GoldenEye
- Need more save points during missions
- Generally smart, but sometimes uneven enemy A.I.

 

 

Review: 007 Everything or Nothing (GC)

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Review: Halo 2 (XB)

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Action Figure: James Bond (Die Another Day)

Action Figure: Ernst Starvo Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)

 

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GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

Score: 7.8 / 10

 

goldeneye rogue agent review          goldeneye rogue agent review

 

GoldenEye from developer Rare on the Nintendo 64 was an instantly-classic FPS, especially with its magnificently conceived multiplayer. It was amazingly fun as a single-system multiplayer session, back in the days when there wasn’t any online console multiplayer availability. GoldenEye was just a brilliant overall game.

But ever since the Bond franchise was bought by Electronic Arts, removing Rare from the development picture, there hasn’t been another Bond game that has captured that true GoldenEye gaming magic, even though many – (not all) – of the Bond games since then have been good themselves.

EA has tried and tried to grasp hold of the overall GoldenEye charisma, but hasn’t been able to find the elusive winning formula that separates games from being just good to classic. The latest attempt, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (GRA), cashes in on the GoldenEye name, but without James Bond as its lead character and a new first-person shooter gameplay engine (Havoc). While GRA does catch a precious few

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shiny glimmers of the GoldenEye touch, GRA again joins the ranks of good-but-not-GoldenEye-great EA Bond games.

The single-player storyline of GRA is actually not bad at all and well-developed, as far as the usual Bond storyline goes. After a virtual training mission in your tryout to be the next double-O agent that, because of your reckless and shoot-first-ask-questions-later style,

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leads to the “death” of the virtual James Bond (Bond’s only appearance in the game), you are dismissed from MI6. Those polite, British! If that was a U.S. secret agent, I doubt he would be allowed to leave without a nice bullet in the back of the head as a parting gift, but nonetheless you are able to vacate and become a rogue agent who gains employment from supervillian Auric Goldfinger. Goldfinger wants you to help him eliminate his arch nemesis, the equally evil Dr. No. With no other options and a penchant for deviant behavior anyway, you join him, but a skirmish with Dr. No costs you sight in your right eye.

But Goldfinger restores your sight with a new “eye”, complete with cool new powers that will aid you in your quest for revenge against Dr. No, and eventually after a few upgrades will be a handy weapon for defeating foes. Revenge does finally come for you, now known as GoldenEye, which leads to a betrayal that only creates another thirst for revenge that needs to be satiated. Along the way, you’ll encounter all types of Bond movie villains including Oddjob, Scaramanga, and two double-entendre named vixens, Xenia Onatopp, and Pussy Galore.

Goldfinger’s missions will have you traversing the entire globe to points east, west, north and south, including Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Fort Knox. This gives the developers a perfect excuse to design a diverse range of game levels, including casinos, underwater lairs, and other secret locales for the denizens of evil. There are plenty of spots to secure cover while under fire for GoldenEye, an intentional feature that is due to the gameplay element that requires you to use cover to your advantage. It’s a smart twist in relation to the go-in-with-all-guns-blazing approach that GoldenEye is used to. Now, you must learn to be more patient in your killing, because if you try and take on enemies without employing cover strategies, expect to be killed on a consistent basis.

Besides this reliance on covering techniques, the most inventive feature implemented into GRA is the use of the eye of GoldenEye. By the final stages of the game, you will have four powers available for your eye: you can hack weaponry, computer and electronic equipment; see through objects you happen to be using for cover to locate enemies without exposing yourself to gunfire; give yourself a protective shield force impenetrable to weapon fire; and finally, allows you to use the induction field to throw nearby enemies to their doom and death. There are many areas that these powers are very helpful, especially your hack power, that without its use, you wouldn’t be able to progress through certain areas of the game.

 

goldeneye rogue agent review         goldeneye rogue agent review


Another interesting inclusion is the ability to use environmental elements to vanquish enemies. For instance, in the prison holding area, you can electrocute the platform in front of the cells, and the deathtrap will fry anybody that happens to be on that platform at the time (but your enemies can also use these deathtraps to their advantage, so beware!).

Expect the usual assortment of Bond weapons that the franchise is famous for, including the requisite rocket launcher and the new, extremely powerful (but hard to master) Omen gun, that immediately vaporizes any unfortunates (including GoldenEye) that fall into the path of its fire.

Dual-wielding weapons, just like in Halo 2, double the killing pleasure in GRA. The game’s targeting system hit the bull’s-eye too, giving players satisfying, fill-them-with-lead firefights, made all the easier mowing down foes when two guns are in hand. Different types of guns can be utilized for each hand, such as a fast-firing HS-90 submachine gun in one and a slower firing, but more powerful Mamba 12 GA single-hand shotgun in the other. Strategizing using different weaponry with different levels of lethal force is essential in many areas of the game with multiple enemies to eradicate.

And you’ll need smart fighting tactics too, because the enemy A.I. can be rather resourceful and hard to kill, although it can also be unevenly balanced at times with its predictability. As long as you hold your ground using cover, standard issue enemies most times stick to a repeating path, allowing you to find an easy kill solution. They do react to gunfire by straying from their beaten path, but usually by then it’s too late for them. “Boss” characters tend to be much harder to predict in their chosen path due to the game’s E.V.I.L. A.I. system (which randomizes their behavior), but eventually you’ll be able to find a viable kill solution for them also.

Finding that solution could take a few deaths on your part, and having to backtrack too much can get frustrating. More save points besides just at the completion of each level would have been most welcome, as would not-so-distant restart points. Being only able to save at the end of a mission means that if you get stuck at a particular point, even if it’s at the near-end of a level, you won’t be able to save and if you quit, will have to start the entire level from the beginning. GRA really makes you appreciate the amazing save system built into both Halo games.

Graphically, GRA retains the same style that it has since the Bond franchise has come into the EA fold. With the Havoc engine’s “rag doll” physics, enemies have a more animated look, however, that’s both good and bad. Good, because it gives them a realistic appearance, especially when blown in the air with the aforementioned “rag doll” physics in place via a well-placed grenade attack. On the bad side, the characters move with a skating or floating motion, not entirely moving in a realistic manner. Overall level design maintains a sufficient and sometimes impressive layout and attention-to-detail.

On the sound side, GRA applies THX technology, so expect your ears to be treated to some wonderful sound effects and goldenly melodic musical elements. The voice acting is also solid throughout the pleasantly long single-player mode.

Perhaps the one area that could have pulled up GRA’s bootstraps was the multiplayer online gameplay over Xbox Live. But while it’s certainly a better online FPS happening than many other Xbox Live games today, it pales in comparison to Halo 2 (but then again, almost every game does). It’s not always noticeable, but GRA has a certain amount of sluggishness, moving at a much slower pace than you may expect. It becomes much more bogged down when there are more than a few online gamers in the same vicinity at once. You can enjoy GRA’s multiplayer mayhem, but it simply doesn’t hold up to the captivating multiplayer moments found yesteryear in the N64’s GoldenEye or today in Halo 2.

EA still can’t find that elusive GoldenEye touch in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. But they finally seem to be on the right path to glory. Returning Mr. Shaken-not-Stirred to the forefront and tightening up the online multiplayer could go a long way to thrusting the Bond franchise back to its golden age. However, GRA still is a worthwhile FPS diversion to Halo 2 for Xbox owners.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(December 21, 2004)

 

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