Review by p1r4t8r
"Agent Under Fire; Shaken not stirred"
'Agent Under Fire' is the first Bond game to appear on the PlayStation 2, and overall is not a bad achievement, especially when compared to its predecessors, although it is still not up there with the amazing 'Goldeneye.'
Unlike almost all Bond games before it, 'Agent Under Fire' is not based on a movie, and has an original story. A part of me still wishes it was based on a movie, as the game not only lacks depth, but it lacks character and plot development. There seems to be no real direction to the plot.
The story starts off with you rescuing a fellow CIA agent; Zoe Nightshade from a secret underground base. She was caught while investigating a Hong Kong biotechnology firm, and its parent company Malprave industries. Something sinister is abound, and only you, James Bond 007 the world’s greatest spy can save the world. Yet again.
The story wouldn't have made a good movie, but it certainly would have worked better than in a game. Honestly, there are so many classic Bond movies with ready-made plots, why not use one of them? They are much deeper and interesting than what is on offer here.
As said before, this is the first Bond game to appear on any next generation console, so how does it look?
When compared to 'Goldeneye' it is truly spectacular. When compared to most other PS2 games, it is only average.
Each level is fairly well detailed, featuring many interactive items such as computers that can be shot, and glass that can be smashed. The characters are fairly well detailed; however suffer from some jolted animation and repetitious texturing. Enemies only change appearance when they have different guns, so all the shotgun goons are huge monsters of men, and the snipers are black clad weedy men. There are many other enemy types, such as your standard machine and pistol henchmen, and the bigger, badder bosses.
The car chase missions look great though, as your car zooms past the surrounding environment, dodging peak hour traffic and leaving a trail of destruction. Some of the explosions in this section look great, such as when you blow up a petrol station. Your car looks great too, and there are three that you will drive, the BMW Z3 roadster, Aston Martin DB5 and the Lotus Espirit, which has to be unlocked. The car models are all highly detailed, and have realistic panel damage. Smash into an oncoming car and you bonnet will crumple, clip the side of your car and you'll have a nasty dent running up the side.
The pedestrians have some odd animations though, and cannot be harmed, jumping out of the way of your car.
Multiplayer isn't handled to badly, and can be played by up to four people. I have only seen this game in two player but that wasn't too bad. The speed is usually kept at a constant speed, and only moves slightly slower than the single player mode. This is great news considering that this mode is the one that you will probably spend the most time on.
'Agent Under Fire' features some decent sound and music. The music is your standard assortment of techno beats and whatnot, but changes dynamically depending on what is happening. For example, run up to an enemy and the music will change to a more frantic pace until the enemy is killed. This works fairly well although does start to become rather annoying as the music will change so often it starts to wear on the nerves till you're reaching for the volume control and putting a CD on instead.
The voice acting is handled well, and although 'M' is not voiced by Judy Dench, the actor in the movies, they have got a decent replacement that does a convincing job of impersonating her. 'Q' is voiced by a nobody, certainly not his original actor as he sadly passed away only a short while ago. The actor is not too bad and does add a touch of humor in your briefings, such as when he gives you a car 'Try to bring this back in one piece 007!'
Your character himself is not acted by Pierce Brosnan either, although his replacement doesn't do to bad a job.
As a single player game, 'Agent Under Fire' is sadly lacking, especially when compared to the likes of 'Goldeneye.'
Each mission is rather restricting, usually only offering one way to complete an objective. The first level sets out fairly well, offering you two ways to infiltrate an enemy base, through the front door or dropping in through the roof. The rest of the game doesn't even offer you that much variety, and it seems that there is only one possible way to go.
The levels are fairly varied, going from secret bases, to the streets of some nameless city and back to even more secret bases. There are levels set on an oilrig, war ship and more, although the objectives are usually the same, kill someone or get a certain item.
There are a few levels 'on rails’, which some will love and others will hate. One of which involves Bond shooting out a car sunroof while your companion drives the car. You have to shoot the way clear, taking out helicopters and enemy goons. Thankfully there are only two of these levels, as I found them to restrictive, offering little in the way of variety or depth for that matter.
The gadgets that 'Q' gives you in your missions were also a sad disappointment. The 'Q Claw' for example boats the ability for Bond to reach hard-to-get-to places, yet it can only be used on certain places. For example, you cannot use it to reach the roof and sneak along there away from unsuspecting guards, which would have been great, but instead you can only use it where there are very obviously placed grates that it can latch on to. For me this completely crippled much of the potential gameplay. A pity really because this would have added in some extra paths to objectives, and even a little more depth to the overall action.
The driving sections of the game are handled well, offering more of a free forming sequence. Still, you are restricted to certain objectives, making for a linear experience.
To make matters worse, 'Agent Under Fire' is a very short game. The developers, obviously realising this have added in a crude system of unlocking things. You have to hit a certain score and collect a number of gold tokens hidden in each level. Once you have you unlock an extra for multiplayer mode, be it a map, a gun, model or power-up.
You can then complete it again and go for the platinum score, which means more points need to be reached, and more tokens collected. Points are awarded for accuracy, time and ending health. You also get points for 'Bond Moves.' These are certain moves you can make in the game that either look cool or save Bond ammunition, such as dropping a crate on an enemy's head, or finding a different way into a level. Strangely 'Bond Moves' are often awarded for completing simple mission objectives. If you manage to get all the 'Bond Moves' in a level you are given a multiplier, giving you an even higher score.
This whole scoring system only tries to add more lifespan and depth to an otherwise shallow game, disappointing to say the least.
As far as Bond's arsenal goes, there is a decent range of guns on offer here, from his trusty pistol to machine guns, rocket launchers, shotguns, and sniper rifles. It's all fairly been-there-done-that stuff, and no different from most other first person shooters on the market. A little variety would be nice!
What will really keep you interested is the multiplayer mode, perhaps one of the greatest redeeming features of 'Agent Under Fire.' It allows up to four players to slug it out in specially designed maps. There are various modes on offer, deathmatch, protect the flag, Anti-terrorist training and a strange protection mission. The deathmatch is very straight forward, challenging you to kill your friends a certain number of times, or get the highest number of kills in a certain time.
Protect the flag is rather odd though, as you need to pick up the flag and carry it for a certain time to score. This makes for some good 'cat and mouse' tactics.
Anti-terrorist training is another odd mode, taking its cue from 'Counter Strike.' One player must plant a bomb somewhere on the map, and the other must defuse it before it blows. This mode was also fairly cool, although would probably work better with four people.
Lastly the protection mission. This is a single map mode, which has a train line in the middle of the map, and a train station on either side. A person will arrive on the train, and it is one player’s duty to protect that person, while the other tries to assassinate them. If the person survives and gets on the next train the protector scores, if he is killed the assassin scores. The responsibility of protect and kill is swapped each time.
Power-ups are available in multiplayer mode, as well as some interesting options. The 'Q Claw' is one such option, which allows you to go wherever you want using the claw. Unlike single-player you are not limited to using it on certain spots, you can now use it everywhere.
The maps that you fight on are average at best, some of them rather small and uninteresting. The best map was one set it a town, with a castle like building at the top of the map. Using the 'Q Claw' it is possible to reach the roof of the castle, making for some great sniping opportunities.
There are a few downsides to multiplayer, the most obvious of these being the lack of bots. This option was available in the X-Box version but it missing here. This is a real shame as there could have been some great human versus bot matches.
As for controls, 'Agent Under Fire' has come under intense criticism from many people. While the controls do take a while to get used to I do not believe they were as bad as some will lead you to believe. The driving sections especially handled like a dream, with responsive controls.
Life Span: 6
Overall 'Agent Under Fire' is an average shooting game, selling more on its licences novelty than on actual gameplay. Do not be taken back however, as 'Agent Under Fire' is a great multiplayer game, and the single player game, although shallow, should keep you interested for at least a short time.
+ Solid multiplayer mode
+ Voice acting
+ Car chase missions
- Average single-player
- Lame music
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/03/02, Updated 12/03/02
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