GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

[1 June 2005]

By Azmol Meah

One in the Eye for 007 Fans...

...or rather a heavy boot up the backside. Let’s get something clear from the start: this is not the sequel to the legendary N64 title GoldenEye. It has nothing in common with that title whatsoever except in name. GoldenEye was made by Rare and published by Nintendo and went on to sell over 10 million copies. Rogue Agent is just a very sly attempt by EA to cash in on gamers’ nostalgia and deepen their ever-growing money pits.

You assume the role of an ex MI6 agent who was shot in the eye by classic Bond villain Dr. No. Since that unfortunate incident, Mr. Hunter (as the agent is known) has been consumed with revenge and hatred. Reckless brutality and extreme violence has landed Mr. Hunter in a lot of trouble… especially with M (voiced by Judi Dench). While on a VR (virtual reality) simulation mission Hunter performs poorly—very poorly—and idly watches as 007 hangs on to dear life from a burnt helicopter. After the virtual Bond falls to his death, Hunter’s days with MI6 come to an end. That leads to him accepting a job offer from another Bond villain, Auric Goldfinger. Goldfinger wants revenge on Dr. No for leaving their super villain organization, and so he sends Hunter to be fitted with a golden eye by another Bond villain, Scaramanga (voiced by Christopher Lee, the original Scaramanga).

So let’s try to understand the idea here. You’re meant to be a bad guy (we’ll call Hunter “GoldenEye” from now on) who is working for another bad guy (Goldfinger)... who wants you to take down another bad guy (Dr. No)... yeah.

This idea had so much potential, but EA managed to screw it up so badly you really have to wonder how the game ever saw the light of day. Why can’t you take on the good guys and attack MI6 for firing you? Why can’t you take revenge on the people who weren’t sympathetic to your misfortune? Where’s the point in being a bad guy killing other bad guys. I know it would have been highly controversial, something I’m sure EA and MGM would want to avoid especially in these unstable times. But if you can have games where countries such as Germany, Iraq, Vietnam, and Indonesia are attacked then why not the MI6?

If this had happened then the possibilities of an original take on the license could have been realized. Instead all we have is a lifeless game with a boring character, taking on other boring mercenaries who are working for equally uninteresting villains.

Despite all of EA’s money this game has some of the worst presentation I’ve ever witnessed. The cheap, blocky FMV cutscenes are just so hurried and rushed they often leave you confused as to what had just happened, and the gameplay completely kills whatever else might have been clinging to life within this game. There are a total of eight chapters divided into lots of small levels, but since you have to start from the beginning of these very long chapters each time you play through (rather that just picking the level you want to start at), what little replay incentive there is quickly disappears. This added with a tricky difficulty towards the end only compounds the problem. And while the PS2 and Xbox versions offer online gameplay, the GameCube version has squat.

This FPS is so predictable it gets boring fast; it plays a lot like Serious Sam or Doom, and that’s not a good thing in the context of this game. The almost never-ending, re-spawning enemies with their laughably pathetic AI only serve to grate your patience with each shotgun blow to the head. Rogue Agent also has its super soldiers, soldiers that take ridiculous amount of fire before they die. One guy took eight shotgun hits, and three grenades before he finally fell. Gamers don’t want the “you against the world” scenario anymore, as it’s just not believable. But here you’ll go up against countless helicopters, tanks, aircrafts, and what must be the army of a small country.

Also, Rogue Agent is extremely linear and the developers seem to have done everything possible to make it that way; you’ll often find that a crate or a fence or a small gap in the floor will halt you progress. If GoldenEye is meant to be such a badass, why do bits of scenery completely prevent him from moving onward? All this added with poor design, predictable structure, an irritating lack of checkpoints, heavily scripted play, its one-dimensional/repetitive nature, useless boss fights, and bland graphics make this one of the worst shooters I’ve experienced in a long while… and I’ve played Medal Of Honor: Rising Sun!

What the developers seemingly ignored is that the success of the original GoldenEye was built on its respect for gamers and the maturity with which it was handled. EA needs to be reminded of that.

With all its wealth and its NFL and ESPN deals one would have thought EA would have been prepared to spend a bit of money on a talented developer that could have given fans exactly what they wanted rather than just relying on the brand name to bring in the cash. Fact of the matter is that Rogue Agent is an absolute insult not only to the fans of the real GoldenEye and its status in gaming history, but to just about everybody who is interested in playing video games.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/goldeneye-rogue-agent/