Review by Richo Rosai

"Boring, Repetitive, and Illogical"

In attempting to describe Agent Under Fire, I am reminded of how useful the word “mediocre” is. It is one of the most tedious games I’ve played in quite a long time. And disappointing. And annoying. It’s hard to do anything but ramble about how much I don’t like Agent Under Fire, but I’ll give a comprehensive review my best shot.

I’d Rather Not Even Make Section Titles for This Game...

Agent Under Fire is a chore. It’s just interesting enough to make you want to finish it, but you somehow regret playing it all the way through. James Bond has to stop some terrorists from blowing up the world or whatever it is that terrorists do, and you’re along for the ride from his point of view in one of the most agonizing hit’s the genre has seen yet (at least on a console). The bulk of the gameplay goes like this: See a button or a lock, use your massive IQ and skills of deduction to realize that you have to use an illogical Q-gadget to activate or break it, use the Q-gadget, hear an annoying musical sample, shoot a few enemies, yawn, et cetera. The baddies are no fun either. EA seems to have decided that some enemies with good AI can be cheaply emulated by twice as many enemies with the AI of the Hammer Brothers plus a “duck behind stuff” subroutine. On the other hand, the car sequences of this game are a nice break in the tedium. They’re really not that bad. But they're not that good either.

GAMEPLAY: 3
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“People Like Shiny Pipes, Right???”

The graphics in this game aren’t that bad. But they, um, aren’t very good either. They just scream “first generation title.” There are a few overused effects, such as shiny “raytraced” metal, and some that are downright laughably ugly. In the first level of the game, the creators try to simulate light shining through a door by attaching a wedge-shaped slab of semi-translucent white textures to the bottom of the door, with the effect being that of a poltergeist ramp stuck to it. The same buttons, locks, and such are used very repetitively, making the world around you seem false. Glitchy special effects make you wonder if you’re playing an old Playstation game at times. The frame rate also suffers frequently. But there’s really not that much to say about this game’s looks. They’re just bland - boring, repetitive, and bland.

GRAPHICS: 6
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Hear Just How BOND You Are!

If you like trademark Bond music, then you might be able to bear this. When you do something Bond-like, you get an annoying sample, and when you shoot or get shot, some techno spin-off of classic 007 themes comes in. The sounds aren’t quite as bad, and the voice acting is actually above par. But the characters say dumb things. Witness the enemy commanders saying, “Charge him! Charge him! Get back here! Charge hi- Charge him! Cha- Get back here!” all within about 4 seconds. The fading of the sounds in and out based on proximity is also funny. The designers seemed to think that something perfectly clear at 10 feet becomes totally inaudible at 11.

SOUND: 5
_________

Click, Gadget, Click

The movement in this game is standard fare. Ambulating, shooting, and driving can all be done with relative ease. The sensitivity of the sticks is workable, though EA looses points for not bothering with customization (though strangely, it is available in multi-player.) But trying to change Q-gadgets (and to a lesser extent, weapons) is just too frustrating. Scenario: Surrounded by enemies, you desperately click on the left thumbstick (which you need to use in order to move). There is about a half-second delay between when you click the stick and when the gadget pops up, so you can’t rapidly cycle through them. By now you’ve collected about 14 of them. You see the name of the gadget you need just as you click the button one time too many (because of the delay), and then you die. As if the gadget-based gameplay weren’t bad enough, cycling through gadgets is just one of the worst thought-out menu interfaces ever.

CONTROLS: 6
___________

A Section Exclusive to This Game!

This game is irritatingly illogical. Let me try to conjure up a few examples of how dumb it can be... Okay, here goes. It seems that every single piece of equipment in Bond-land is operated by a huge, universal green button. Bond can push this button on the front of a computer’s hard drive to access hidden files. He can push the same button to do just about anything, from opening doors to operating cranes. There is also a universal lock. Yes, no matter how important security is to these wicked scoundrels, they never bother to use anything more than a huge, three digit pad lock on their gates, doors, and conveniently placed air ducts. In addition, your adversaries have placed large, shiny, silver and gold gratings all over the place to make sure you can use your Q-claw to infiltrate all their hide-outs. Bond, even though he appears to be an ugly old man, “charms” about three females out of essential items throughout the game, and makes countless crude references that objectify women. His misogyny peaks when he makes a vague, verbal reference to his desire to take advantage of a flight attendant type lady who is tied up as a hostage. I could go on, but I’ve already digressed enough to throw the balance of this review off.

STUPIDITY: 10
_____________

In short, Agent Under Fire is a disappointment. The designers are probably hoping to take advantage of the James Bond license and the expectations of people who have fond memories of Goldeneye. But don’t be fooled. Unless you like Bond or first person shooters enough to put up with boring, repetitive, illogical gameplay, unchallenging and graphically dull action, and 14 year old humor, stay away from this Bond outing. It doesn’t even come close to Rare’s pedigree.

OVERALL SCORE: 4
================

RUNDOWN:

GRAPHICS – 6
SOUND – 5
CONTROLS – 6
GAMEPLAY – 3
REPLAY VALUE – 1
STUPIDITY - 10
OVERALL – 4

[ + ]
Driving the car is mildly entertaining
[ - ]
I’d rather not repeat myself

If you like this, try:
Stabbing yourself in the face


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/02, Updated 12/17/02


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