GoldenEye: Rogue Agent GameCube Review

When a film license is converted into a video game, the end result is rarely something that gains critical acclaim and few developers have managed to do justice to even the best of stories. Nevertheless Rare’s GoldenEye on the N64 was arguably the finest game in the first-person-shooter genre to ever be released on a console, even beating Halo that arrived on the scene a whole generation later. This was not simply down to the fantastic gameplay, but because of the highly effective implementation of the 007 license that added atmosphere found in the films.

Ever since the success of GoldenEye there have been countless failed attempts to deliver a classic 007 experience. EA have put a lot of effort into trying to cash in on the popularity of the franchise, but in the past have been far off in producing what is expected by the James Bond name. The previous release, Nightfire, felt shallow and the engine seemed extremely basic; not least when compared to the N64 classic. As a long time fan of the films I am always excited by the prospect of another James Bond game, but for some time now have awaited each game with a great deal of scepticism.

The latest Bond game calls itself “GoldenEye: Rogue Agent” with the premise of the player being an evil character. However this is not a continuation of the original GoldenEye story as the name relates to your character’s mechanical eye that allows you to see through walls at close range. As such the GoldenEye name has been used to associate the game with the classic game, but the big question is whether it is worthy.

Graphics

I am basing my review on the NTSC GameCube version of Rogue Agent. The game may run fractionally better or worse on the Xbox and PS2, but from my experience the differences are minimal. My advice is that if you buy the game, get it on the console that you believe has the best controller. For FPS games this is most likely going to be the Xbox and the graphics will probably look a tiny bit superior.

The style of the graphics resembles the original GoldenEye and whilst slightly plain are hard to fault. The framerate is smooth and everything is what you would expect from a good 007 game. The game engine is clearly not closing in on the frontier of gaming, but is nice enough. Some have criticised the graphics but for me they are more than enough and provide the basis for a solid gaming experience. Just don’t expect flashy in-game graphics that offer things you haven’t seen before.


Zorin’s zeppelin on the Golden Gate Bridge level.

Blood is something you would expect to see in a FPS game, not least because with today’s graphical standards it is possible to create impressive effects. Almost unbelievably no blood has been included in the game making for a false impression throughout. Another blood related feature that is annoyingly absent is the “blood running down the screen when you die”. Being that Rogue Agent is rated 12+, it comes as a big surprise that the aforementioned elements have been excluded; they are the kind of touches that help take the game to the next level in quality.

Unlike the original GoldenEye, in the single player campaigns there are CGI cut-scenes that I must say are extremely well done. Famous Bond villains such as Goldfinger, Scaramanga and Dr. No are wonderfully recreated for your viewing pleasure. Normally I would expect myself to hate a modern ‘recreation’ of these fictional characters, but EA have handled this in such a convincing way that I must commend them.


If you look carefully in the background, you can see it is Fort Knox.

What is worthy of praise is the recreation of numerous classic 007 scenes in the form of multiplayer levels. Scaramanga’s Funhouse (The Main With the Golden Gun) features great attention to detail and even includes the animated blue lines surrounding the face of Christopher Lee (Scaramanga). Another interesting level is the Golden Gate Bridge from A View to A Kill, with Zorin’s zeppelin hovering above. There are many levels based on the films and it is great to see a developer making an effort to include exciting and authentic multiplayer levels. However the same praise cannot be given to all levels as some are rather dull and boring. But this should be expected and don’t forget that the original GoldenEye relied heavily on only a few quality levels; Temple and Complex being the two I most frequently battled on.

Gameplay

Rogue Agent’s single player mode is presented in an effective way using CGI cut-scenes that set the scene well. This gets you into the mood for the mission ahead and you are thrown right into the action. Unfortunately you will have to be rather patient to play your way through the story mode as the missions are long and repetitive, although I often find this to be the case when playing FPS games on my own. Having said this, the missions are slightly more interesting than Halo’s single player levels. I was critical of Halo’s single player and also that of the original GoldenEye because they weren’t anywhere near as fun as the multiplayer mode. I suppose it mostly comes down to personal taste and the amount of time you have to play on your own. Rogue Agent’s single player is pretty reasonable and the cut-scenes make it worth the bother, and you get the added bonus of being able to unlock game elements. What lets the game down is the same bad guys appearing in small groups around every corner; once you’ve killed them once it gets boring after the nineteenth time.


The famous “laser scene” from Goldfinger.

The multiplayer mode is what always attracts me to playing this genre of game as there is nothing like sitting down with a group of friends and shooting each other on the television. As you would expect it is fun here too with a good range of levels and weapons (including the classic Golden Gun) to choose from. The slow pace of the original GoldenEye is present here too and is great to see. In Free Radical’s TimeSplitters 2, a game that some of the original GoldenEye team had a hand in, the game speed was increased and this had a severe impact on the quality of the gameplay. Having a slow pace helps to create skilful shoot-outs as madly running at people can be more easily punished. Unfortunately each player is surrounded by coloured rings to make then easily visible at a distance, which is rather annoying as you don’t have to try too hard to see someone trying to hide. The radar feature has also been removed, most likely because of the small levels and being able to see your opponent’s screen is a good alternative to find out where they are.

Only extended play will tell how good Rogue Agent’s multiplayer compares to the original GoldenEye, but my initial belief is whilst it isn’t as good, it is the best we have yet to see in a Bond game since the N64 classic. One nice feature of the multiplayer levels is the introduction of interactive buttons that allow you to activate differing devices on the level. Using the two levels I have mentioned previously, examples are raising a pit of spikes and causing the zeppelin to fire. These add a new dimension to the gameplay and are great fun too.

Poor controls often let FPS games down, most notably in Nightfire and TimeSplitters 2, but fortunately that isn’t the case here. The default setup is effective and I didn’t feel the need to change it. To my surprise the game feels much like the original GoldenEye did but now “duel wielding” has being introduced to allow the player to hold a gun in each hand. Rather surprisingly picking a gun up is done with pressing the ‘A’ button along with either ‘L’ or ‘R’, but this actually works well. I have always thought the GameCube’s ‘C-Stick’ to be vastly inferior to the second analogue stick on the Xbox controller, but in this case it performs quite well although the accuracy is not quite as good as I would want. This is hardware related though and EA have done better than Free Radical in making sensitive aiming as accurate as possible. The manual aim from the original GoldenEye eclipsed this with its perfect R+analogue combination, but in that case the controller was perfect for the task.

Sound

Paul Oakenfold provides the music for Rogue Agent and whilst rather bland the title music has a vaguely 007 sounding theme. The soundtrack from the films would have been a more suitable choice, but perhaps could not be achieved due to copyright reasons; although this would surprise me as it would seem EA have acquired every other 007 license out there, with the exception of Scaramanga’s third nipple used by Bond when impersonating the villain. Jesting aside, the sound is pretty good but it is far from ambitious and these days we like a more “cinema like” experience in-game. To make matters worse the classic few seconds of Bond music that accompanied the N64 game’s death sequences is also missing; instead your character suddenly dies and there is no atmospheric change to signal it other than him falling over (without any sign of blood, as mentioned previously).


The multiplayer level “Moonraker Launch”.

Lifespan

I suspect that 2-3 days spent playing the single player campaign will be enough to complete it, so how long you make the solo mode last is down to you. The missions are quite long and drawn out and so I doubt many will be too keen to complete more than two at a sitting. As is customary with most FPS games the multiplayer mode will be what keeps your interest in Rogue Agent alive. Unfortunately I can’t foresee anyone playing it regularly 6 months down the line as it doesn’t quite have that addictive perfection of the N64 original. If you want a quick shoot-out with friends then you could do a lot worse, not least because the game is quick and easy to get to grips with. The day long gaming N64 GoldenEye sessions will probably not be experienced with Rogue Agent, but in small doses will get you into that 007 mood, after which you will most likely return to your James Bond DVD collection. Rogue Agent will get you by until the next in the series is released.

Overall

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is a solid if unremarkable game. Some have been quick to criticise EA’s latest release, but I urge even the most sceptical out there to pick it up if you are a fan of the films. It would have had to mark a new generation in gaming to truly compete with the N64 original, but nevertheless does a reasonable job at getting the series back on track. There are signs that EA will deliver a first class Bond game in time for the next console generation, and I wish them good luck in trying to accomplish one of the hardest tasks in gaming.

The computerised incarnations of classic 007 villains is nicely done.

7.8 out of 10

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