Earlier this year EA released their best Bond title yet in Everything or Nothing. There was a few factors that were key to its success; perhaps the fact it was not a first person shooter and also the fact it was not based on a film. A short ten months later we have their next Bond game, but this is not your regular bond game. EA have taken a risk in not only using the Goldeneye name for the title considering the prestige that RARE's N64 game still has today, but the fact that you don't play as Bond and while the title is fairly solid, it seems that the risk did not pay off for them.
Rogue Agent tells the story of Agent Goldeneye, a former MI6 agent kicked out for over use of brutality and being tactically inept. Auric Goldfinger, one of the most famous Bond characters, offers him some work on the wrong side of MI6 which he gladly accepts and from there you will encounter a variety of famous Bond enemies and locations from the films which have been made over the years. The storyline is incredibly weak and most of the time you can ignore it and still know what to do.
Rogue Agent is played from a first person perspective, making it almost a sequel to the N64 game, in fact there is a lot which has been borrowed from that game for the new title which is perhaps one reason it is such a disappointment at times. The gameplay boils down to running around, completing tasks and shooting characters but it's not all plain sailing, especially towards the latter stages of the game. Some of the missions are quite long, and often you will die only to be dumped back quite far into a level to once again complete some seemingly impossible tasks. It seems completely unfair and perhaps artificially extending the life of the game, that once you defeat four or five tanks, if you die you have to do it all over again.
The game does have its fair share of help for the player though. On the heads up display there is an arrow which tells you exactly where to go. Unlike Medal of Honor which points you somewhat in the right direction, this works like a GPS navigational system. However the developers have balanced this with some very tough challenges you will encounter, even on the easiest difficulty level.
Other than the GPS, Goldeneye also has his bionic eye which, as the game progresses, has more and more powers added to it. You begin only with the ability to see enemies hiding behind cover but other powers such as a shield, and the ability to disable electronic equipment are added further on. This may seem like an unfair advantage but the developers have countered this by including some truly tough enemies to fight.
The power of the enemies is definitely in their numbers but they can cut you down rather quickly. Your health does regenerate if you can find cover, but they will hunt you down if they know where you are. The weapons are actually licensed which is a nice change and range from a typical pistol through to fictional weapons such as venom guns. As has been a memorable aspect of the N64 game, you can dual wield certain combinations of weapons with the left and right trigger controlling each one.
Now to the disappointing aspects of the game. The first is that your encounters with the famous Bond characters is fleeting on both sides of Goldfinger. You're always fighting alone even though characters such as Oddjob may be elsewhere in the level, it never gets to a squad based combat scenario. Another disappointment is that the storyline is extremely weak as mentioned before and while you do visit some famous Bond moments, not being Bond kind of destroys that. The fact your main enemy is other Bond enemies also makes it not feel all that different to a typical Bond game. Also when you drop a weapon, to pick another up temporarily, don't be surprised if the other disappears.
The game's locations will be recognized by some fans of the franchise but it would also have been nice if there was some development in the cut scenes which talked about the history of that area in terms of Bond. If you haven't seen the films, you're likely to just run through shooting at people not picking up the references and this can make the game feel even worse than it is. The levels are highly detailed but do have a great deal of repetition and because of the guiding arrow, it is unlikely you will be looking at them for long. Some are extremely long, others can be completed quickly. The cinematic style is fairly good and EA have gone the film route, with an epilogue and then full introduction on display ala the movies.
The sound effects are fairly good as is the voice acting but here is something, Paul Oakenfold should do the soundtrack for the next Bond film just like he did with Rogue Agent. What Oakenfold has done is a sublime mix of trance style music paired with a espionage theme. He even created a song just for the game which has always been an aspect of the Bond films and adds a bit more authenticity to the game.
Coming off 007: Everything or Nothing, EA had a lot to live up to as they had raised the expectations of Bond gamers by producing such a quality title. Rogue Agent was an interesting concept and could have worked perhaps if they didn't use film scenes. Basing a games structure on a game which was a N64 launch title was always going to be a risk, especially without much structural updates. As it is, Rogue Agent is really only for the die hard Bond fans and those who just can't wait to get some Xbox Live 007 action.