Review by PlayItBogart

Reviewed: 01/31/05

Okay, so it rips off of Halo. Big whoop.

Goldeneye: Rogue Agent is a new step in the world of gaming as everyone's favorite secret agent - You're not playing as everyone's favorite secret agent.

You played as a disgraced 00-agent nicknamed "Goldeneye" for the cybernetic golden right eye that replaced his eye, which he lost in a battle with Dr. No. As a result of losing his eye, his tactics became more and more brutal, and was considered a liability to MI6. In a mock VR mission to Fort Knox, the agent allowed 007 to die, and failed to diffuse an atomic bomb (Don't worry, it's VR, Bond's not really dead).

Auric Goldfinger recruits the unemployed 00-agent to work as one of his henchmen, and gives him the trinket that earns him the nickname "Goldeneye".

In a selfish plot by EA Games, their in-development James Bond game was tentatively titled "Goldeneye 2", no doubt an attempt to cash in on the rampant success of Rare's timeless classic, Goldeneye 007. However the game has absolutely nothing to do with the N64 giant. The bad (main) guy needed a nickname, and since Goldeneye is famously associated with 007, there you go.

The plot is pretty basic 007 stuff. All the bad guys work for an evil organization. Technically it is known as SPECTRE, or the SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. However, MGM and EON do not own the rights to SPECTRE, or the name of its leader Number One, so they are not made reference to.

Dr. No, one of SPECTRE's operatives, has broken away from the organization and seeks to stage a coup to gain control. Auric Goldfinger (Who in the 007 universe, NEVER worked for SPECTRE) takes it upon himself to stop Dr. No's plot in its tracks by having him assassinated. Of course, things become complicated quite quickly.

The characters in the game represent a smorgasbord of villains from 007's glory days. Present in the game are Auric Goldfinger, Oddjob, and Ms. Galore (All from "Goldfinger"), Dr. No (From the movie of the same name), Francisco Scaramanga (From "The Man with The Golden Gun"), Xenia Onatopp (From "Goldeneye") Ernst Stavro Blofeld ("You Only Live Twice" styled), and of course, M and 007 in brief appearances.

The star power of the game is a step down from the collaborative effort of Everything or Nothing, which featured big names like Pierce Brosnan, Willem Dafoe, and Heidi Klum. While the level of star power is low (Because most of the actors are uh...old, or dead), the voices to the actual characters are almost dead on. This helps in part to the fact that three actors/actresses who played roles in 007 films signed on to make the experience more authentic. Famke Janssen who played Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye reprises her role, as does Judi Dench as M. An impressive fact is that Christopher Lee, who played Scaramanga in 1974, is doing the voice for that character. But Golden Gun was over 30 years old, and he sounds justifiably older and more serious than he was in the film.

The graphics, while nothing to write home about, are certainly not an eyesore. Big shiny guns, decorated environments, and fancy GUIs help to enhance the fun.

Gunplay in Rogue Agent has been changed drastically. Gone are the 007 days where you could carry every gun imaginable and then some in your back pocket. Goldeneye will carry one weapon in each hand, and nothing else. By default, Goldeneye will hold a two-tone Walther P99 in his right hand, and a supply of grenades in his left. But when he comes across other weapons (FN-P90's, Rail Guns, Desert Eagles, etc), the player can press X to place the weapon his left hand, or O to place it in his right, for amazing dual-wielding action. Each gun is controlled individually - L1 fires the left gun, and R1 fires the right gun, giving the player the option to either go with both barrels blazing, or have one gun shoot, and shoot with the second gun while reloading the first one. Exceptions are when Goldeneye stumbles across a weapon that requires two hands to wield (M4A1s, Rocket Launchers, Gattling Guns, etc.) Characters can drop whatever weapon Goldeneye is holding in either hand by holding the O or X button for a second or so. He will drop the weapon in question, and either pull out his grenades, or unholster his P99. His P99 sidearm has infinite ammo, so you need never have to worry about being a complete sitting duck.

The golden eye that your character sports isn't just for seeing - several tricks are up its proverbial sleeve. Throughout the game's progress (And instantly available in multiplayer/online), Scaramanga will issue a total of four upgrades for the eye. To switch eye functions, the player simply presses the D-pad button that corresponds to the function:

LEFT - MRI Imaging (X-ray vision, basically. Goldeneye can see enemies through structures up to a limited range)
UP - EMP Hack (In certain levels, it's needed to hack consoles. Otherwise, it can be used to jam and disrupt enemy weapons)
RIGHT - Induction Field Disrupter (Ever wanted to pull a Darth Vader? This baby lets you fling enemies around with ease)
DOWN - Polarity Shield (Deflects bullets for a brief period of time, rendering the player virtually invincible)

In previous EA 007 games, you earned bonuses for doing things that James Bond would do, such as setting traps for enemies, and other Bond-ly things. This time around, you earn points for doing things that 007 wouldn't do in a thousand years - Brutal headshots, taking enemies and comrades hostage, triggering deathtraps, etc, which rack up points for unlocking items (Pictures, multiplayer/online characters, etc.)

Eight levels may seem short at a glance, but unlike Everything or Nothing, they go for quality over quantity. The levels are huge, and on a first run through, could take you between a half-hour to a full sixty minutes to beat.

With the exception of Fort Knox and the Volcano Lair, not many of the actual missions take advantage of some of the sets from the James Bond movies. Fortunately, multiplayer and online play do. Multiplayer sets range from three Moonraker-themed levels, to the Golden Gate Bridge from A View to a Kill, and even Scaramanga's Fun House from Golden Gun. Each map also has it's own share of deathtraps for unsuspecting players to walk into and have triggered by others.

Online play is a blast, and is easy to get into. Get an EA account through the game, pick a skin, then look for a game. Modes range from Showdown and Team Showdown (Kill them! Make them all dead!), to Domination (Uh...not sure, but it does involve killing them all too), and a fun new mutiplayer mode, Tug of War, which deserves it's own paragraph.

Tug of War is a welcome break from the usual Capture the Flag/King of the Hill/Download Porn or Something modes of 007 and other FPS games. For example, in the Tunnel level, two teams fight it out along a rail tunnel, where the objective is to fight your way into enemy lines and activate consoles on the opponent's side - this moves the cart up the line and closer to the enemy's base, the goal being to get it there all the way. The game can turn into a real Tug of War, with the cart being shoved back and forth dozens of times until a point is scored.

The soundtrack has its share of good and not so good tunes. Scored by Paul Oakenfold (Swordfish, "Bond VS Oakenfold" on the Die Another Day soundtrack) doesn't exactly have the 007 flair, but then again you're not 007. It's Bond-ish techno, and it usually fits the situations well. The credits theme will make your ears bleed. Mute your TV.

If I could register one complaint about the game, it's that it features a bevy of famous Bond villains, but you can only play as three of them in multiplayer: Oddjob, Xenia, and Dr. No. This is namely because the other characters exist only in FMVs, and didn't have actual rendering work done (Although there is a render for Goldfinger...why they didn't put him in, I'll never know.)

In closing, I feel this is a very solid and unique effort by EA Games into uncharted territory. Unique gameplay and enough little tidbits to make hardcore Bond fans happy, but its insane action will no doubt appeal to fans of other FPS games as well.

RENT OR BUY?: As it's a new game, the price is still high. Unless you have a birthday coming or any other situation where it's someone else's money, rent the game first. As the price drops or copies of it used surface, a straight buy could be safe.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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