Warning: If you’re thinking about purchasing this game on its name alone, you’re making a mistake. While GoldenEye in title, Rogue Agent has little to do with the N64 classic, and you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting a true sequel to what is arguably Rare’s greatest creation. (It’s a toss-up between GoldenEye and Grabbed by the Ghoulies, no doubt.) That being said, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is a fine first-person shooter on its own, with an interesting story and a few innovations to set itself apart from the gazillion others in this genre. One innovation being, of course, that it is not set during World War II.
Unlike the James Bond titles of yore, you don’t actually play as 007 in Rogue Agent. Indeed, the international man of mystery appears to be killed off in the very first level, and you take the heat. You’re kicked out of MI6 and quickly join forces with Goldfinger, who you are to aid in his ongoing war with Dr. No. Personally, I think it would’ve been more interesting to, say, take over the world, as fighting other bad guys pretty much negates the uniqueness of being a bad guy yourself.
Goldfinger outfits you with a “golden eye” to replace the visual receptor you’d lost in battle earlier, and as the game progresses, you gain new abilities with your new eye, like looking through walls and putting up a temporary shield. Using the golden eye depletes resources required for it to work, but that along with health regenerates itself as you play. This innovative gameplay tool makes the game a little more fun than just runnin’ and gunnin’ would be, but it’s almost too difficult to manage at times; it isn’t easy to use the d-pad to switch eye functions while moving about to avoid gunfire with the left analog.
Something interesting to note about the controls, though, is that you can set them to mimic those of the real GoldenEye. I didn’t play around with this myself, having become far too used to dual analog to wanna change my ways, but it’s neat that they included this for those who haven’t played an FPS since this game’s “precursor.”
One thing I was really excited about in this game was multiplayer—after all, who ever bought GoldenEye for its single-player campaign? Unfortunately, Rogue Agent‘s deathmatches absolutely do not compare with that of the game which saved the genre—only a handful of levels are offered (more, no doubt, are to be unlocked; but as the “easy” mode isn’t even easy, I don’t think many will be accessing them all), and only three types are available. There’s your standard “get the most kills in a set amount of time” mode, and then two others whose rules I couldn’t even figure out by referencing the instruction manual. Something’s amiss when a game’s rules are so complex that even the instructions can’t explain it. My friend and I spent about a half-hour trying the multiplayer modes out before realizing that we were more entertained by my VHS copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special.
The game certainly looks a lot prettier than its supposed prequel, so at least it has that going for it. I found myself using grenades and rocket launchers just to view the comical way in which bodies went sailing through the air, and I’ve never seen a game in which corpses can fall in so many different manners. In one level I had used this Force-like golden eye ability to fly my opponent toward me, and I closed the door as he was coming through. He died, in the air, half of his body in one room and half in the other. I was impressed.
To me, it seems like Electronic Arts’ line of thinking with this game was to create a mildly above-average first-person shooter, and hope that it would sell millions on mostly its name. To their credit, EA did produce an innovative title with some fun moments, but ultimately, it’s going to disappoint fans of the original, no question. I wish I could say better things about the title, as Electronic Arts was kind enough to actually send it to me free of charge, but I’d be lying if I said I had more fun with this than with, say, Serious Sam: Next Encounter. Check it out if you’re a big fan of the Bond universe, or if you’ve liked the recent offerings in that particular license; just don’t expect it to live up to its own name.