Ever since the original GoldenEye for Nintendo 64 caused college students' grades to plummet, people have been clamoring for a sequel. Needless to say, it was a big deal when EA announced GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, a FPS, would be the next game to use the Bond license. However, EA stressed the game was not a sequel, and the GoldenEye in the title was simply due to the main character actually having a golden eye. This news, coupled with the fact that EA has never made a good FPS Bond title, cooled some of the enthusiasm for the game. Unfortunately, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent continues the tradition of disappointing FPS action from EA, and while it's not a bad game, it's not a worthy follow-up to the amazing Nintendo 64 game.
Rogue Agent's storyline had lots of intriguing possibilities, but EA failed to take advantage of telling the story from the perspective of a Bond Villain. The game starts off with you at Fort Knox, where you and 007 are flying in to stop Goldfinger. The copter that you're traveling in gets shot down, but both you and Bond survive – for a minute. When you take control, you see 007 hanging on for dear life, but he falls to his death, leaving you to handle the mission. After you beat the level, a cut scene reveals that this scenario was only a simulation, but your poor performance, reckless actions, and failure to save the life of your partner, have earned you your dismissal from Mi-6. Your talents aren't wanted by the good guys, but the bad guys want you, and soon you find yourself working for Goldfinger, who's in the midst of a turf war with the infamous Dr. No. The premise is interesting, but the story feels thrown together, and even with villains like Xenia Onatopp can't help out.
Another problem with the game's premise is that you just don't feel like a bad guy. You spend most of your time killing other bad guys, which is what Bond does, and you just don't do anything really that feels really "evil."
GoldenEye's eight levels are quite large, but they're too big for their own good. Since the gameplay consists of little more than opening a door, mowing down anyone in the room, collecting ammo, and then repeating, the levels tend to feel endless. There are some interesting locations, like Fort Knox, Hong Kong, and even an underwater level, but when the gameplay isn't that interesting, the locations don't do much to make things better.
The biggest difference between Rogue Agent and the average first person shooter is your "GoldenEye." Dr. No is responsible for you losing your eye, but this injury turns out to be a blessing, as your new "golden" eye gives you several abilities that will help you along the way. The first ability you learn to use is x-ray vision, which is great if you have a rail gun that can shoot through walls, but otherwise, it's completely useless. You'll also get a telekinetic-like ability to throw enemies, as well as the ability to hack into computers and even jam guns. Using your "GoldenEye" takes energy, which slowly recharges when you're not using it. This is supposed to keep you from using the abilities all the time, but the A.I. is so pitiful, you can often just hang back and let your meter fill up before moving on.
Another of the game's touted features is the ability to duel wield weapons. This allows you to mix and match different weapons, but there are limits to what you can carry, based on the size of the weapon. Carrying two guns at once is mostly only helpful because the game's collision detection is so poor that you'll need twice the normal amout of bullets to hit your target. As you'd expect from a Bond game, the weapons are quite cool, and some of the better ones, like the rail gun, the shotgun, and the gun that shoots a remote detonating device, are tons of fun, especially in multi-player. The rocket launcher, which is always everyone's favorite, is much less enjoyable here, since it makes the already slow pace of your movements even slower.
Speaking of multiplayer, anyone who lost days, weeks, and months of their lives will probably be pretty let down by GoldenEye's multi-player experience. You can play online, but after playing Halo 2, the experience is poor. Not only do you have to earn the online levels in the single player game, but finding quality opponents is tough, lag seems to be a big issue, and the levels just don't get the job done. It's certainly playable, and if you're able to organize games with friends it's much better, but for anyone trying to join up for a few good games with strangers should be prepared to be disappointed.
Rogue Agent's graphics are pretty middle of the road, but there are some things that are done well. Key amongst these are the great character models, especially the incredibly detailed Auric Goldfinger. The likeness to the actor is uncanny, and the fact that they were able to create such a lifelike replica of someone who's no longer alive is amazing. All of the games' characters are animated smoothly, and there are quite a few ways that enemies will die, though after a few hundred kills, they do get repetitive.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems that really hold back the game's presentation. The framerate gets choppy when too much is happening on screen, and choppy action in a first person shooter tends to make it difficult to aim, which is the case here. The levels are also pretty bland, a problem which isn't helped by repetitive and poorly done textures. The FMV's all show major compression artifacts, which is a problem usually seen on the GameCube, not the PS2.
GoldenEye's audio is just what you'd expect from a Bond game; the music is engaging, the voice acting is very good, and the sound effects are also top-notch. The game is THX certified, which is nothing more than saying it meets a certain quality for its audio and visual presentation. It's not anything like DTS or Dolby Digital, so don't get all excited when you see the THX logo appear.
In the end, GoldenEye is more of a disappointment, than it is a bad game. It's entertaining, but there was so much to work with here that the end result is unfulfilling. This is one of the cases where a developer like Rare or Bungie would have delayed the game for a year or two, just so they could make the game that the fans expect. Unfortunately, EA tends to rush products out the door for the holiday season, often sacrificing quality along the way, and Rogue Agent is the latest victim.