Review by Old Rooster
"The Name Is Bond, James Bond?"
What gift do you give a fellow who has lived almost seven decades
and has a lot of stuff? Well, one of my favorite presents this Christmas,
and one the wife had expected to likely be returned, was a boxed,
14-volume set of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. It's been many
years since I've read them, and seen the related films, so I've
set about the exercise of beginning at the beginning, Casino
Royale, reading the novel, then renting the related film. About
five in at this point (From Russia with Love), I've developed
a renewed appreciation for Fleming's writing, with Moonraker
ranking as my favorite thus far.
However, and it's a major "however," what has not been
at all impressive is the translation of these works to film. Indeed,
most of the Fleming-related Bond films were released after his death
(Fleming's, that is; Bond can't die), and I have to believe Mr.
Fleming would be mightily displeased with the outright butchering
of some of his finest work.
You can see where I'm headed, can't you? GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
uses the franchise to offer up a new character, an evil, or
at least morally confused, "00," sort of an unfunny Jimmy
Bond, if you remember your Casino Royale film. It often appears
as if our traditional 007 hero has or is about to step over a moral
boundary. Well, this 00 agent has really crossed the line, and he
is let go to find some other kind of work. His introduction to this
new life first comes in the person of our old acquaintance, Auric
Goldfinger, who finds a place for this deadly ex-agent. Indeed,
his "work" doesn't have to change much at all. Goldfinger
is in a pitched battle with Dr. No and is able to outfit our man
with many of his old tools of the trade, including an ingenious
"golden eye," enabling all sorts of deadly aggressive
Let's Hear it for P. Galore, X. Onatopp and Oddjob!
A few of our favorite book and film characters make appearances,
but these are largely token window dressing. Rather, the storyline,
if one can call it that, serves primarily as a setting for a shooter
with a gimmick. You move through the rather dull levels armed with
a host of weapons, one in each hand even! This is called a "dual-wield
weapon system"good grief! Of course, as all good shooters
require, there is an assortment of guns of various shapes and sizes.
But the frosting on the cake becomes the increasingly powerful accouterments
to your golden eye. Upgrades are available, depending on how good
your kill rate is, ranging from seeing through walls to manipulating
electronics, deflecting bullets and sending enemies flying (cf.
PSI abilities of Second Sight). Deathtraps of various
types abound, as well as nicely controlled A.I. baddies taking pot
shots. Thank goodness, you do have the infrequent occasion to rest
a bit, which automatically regenerates your health.
The graphics are fine, as is the framerate, with the cutscenes
being mundane and not especially motivating. Sound effects and voice
acting are well done, with some voice overs, such as that from Christopher
Lee, especially pleasing.
Controls are workable but cumbersome for this old guy. I still
prefer my shooters to be on the PC, with good old mouse management.
Save points are close and frequent enough to enable not as much
repeating after dying as in many titles.
This GoldenEye Lives up to the Term "Rogue"
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is the most disappointing game I've
played in a few monthsand I play a lot of games! It's shallow,
empty, tedious, rarely involving or interesting. The fired 00 character
is one I could not care less about, he hardly ever speaks, and little
about him is revealed. Interactions with famous Bond film/book personages
are infrequent and meaningless. Levels have different backdrops,
but all are essentially run-and-gun within a linear dime-novel storyline.
Unfortunately, the "golden eye" gimmick doesn't begin
to save the game. A much better job of PSI-ing is done in Second
Sight, along with a dramatically better and more involving story.
As a Bond game, this GoldenEye doesn't begin to compare to
the excellent 007: Everything or Nothing. Playing nasty is
a lot of fun in such games as Evil
Genius and Chronicles of Riddick, but it offers
no satisfaction in this effort.
If a rogue is one who doesn't fit, doesn't mesh, doesn't belong,
than GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is aptly named. It's not really
the Bond world, in spite of famous names. This anti-hero is a cold-blooded
killer who makes me want to root for the other bad guys. The Bond
license, gimmicky shooters, even hitmen are all shown to much better
form in many other games. I simply can't recommend GoldenEye:
Rogue Agent, except, perhaps, to one who simply has to have
every "Bond" game, or every shooter. Might one suspect
that the holiday-timed release of this humdrum game, with its implied
relationships to Bond, GoldenEye of N64 fame, and Bondian
characters, was a cynical marketing decision? Of course not, I wouldn't
think that. On second thought, yes, I would.
What I Liked About the Game
- The concept and setting form an interesting premise ...
What I Didn't Like About the Game
- ... which premise, tragically, is fumbled rather badly;
- Controls are mushy and often imprecise;
- Beyond the first two hours, I really just played to get it done;
- Even then, it's only a 10-hour game;
- The tedium is compounded by what could have/should have been!
Release Date: November 2004
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