Pistols, License to Kill, the Stack. Many gamers still fondly remember their favorite multiplayer settings for the venerable Nintendo 64 classic “GoldenEye 007.” It is unlikely that a true successor will ever arise, with the original “GoldenEye” team parceled out between startup company Free Radical and the original parent company, Rare. Rare, now owned by Microsoft, doesn’t even own the license to create James Bond-themed games any longer, selling it to videogame behemoth Electronic Arts purchased it years ago. “GoldenEye: Rogue Agent” is EA’s first direct attempt at climbing the mountain left empty after the demise of the N64 — creating a sequel to “GoldenEye.”
For the most part, “Rogue Agent” follows the EA ethos of James Bond games — impressive cut scenes, an over-the-top storyline and a loud soundtrack. The story centers on a secret agent deemed too violent for MI-6 who leaves to work for evil mastermind Auric Goldfinger. The plot is farfetched, even for a James Bond game. Fighting techno-villians with bioenhancements could make gamers long for the realistic beauty of Bond as a Cold War hero.
The actual gameplay is just as lacking. EA seems to think that the success of games like “Halo” and the original “GoldenEye” comes with some breakthrough technological advancement — like dual wielding of weapons or online multiplayer matches. What EA failed to realize is that “Halo,” “GoldenEye” and even popular games like the “Tony Hawk” series are popular because of their perfect control. It seems as if this level of connection between the player and the on-screen agent wasn’t even attempted, and the result in “Rogue Agent” is a loose game that resembles a screen saver more than a first-person shooter.
“Rogue Agent” sports flashy special powers and cinematic cut scenes so good that they are able to pull gamers in despite the lacking in-game play. The character models in these cut scenes are impressive, from Goldfinger’s tweed jacket and jowels to M’s cropped haircut. It makes one wonder what the original “GoldenEye” would be with a similar kind of artistic direction.
The bioenhancements, on the other hand, are ill-implemented. Gamers have too many buttons and features to worry about already, they don’t need four extra semi-useful functions (MRI imaging? Please.).
When it comes to the centerpiece of the original — the multiplayer gameplay that consumed so many hours back in the late ’90s — “Rogue Agent” also disappoints. While it does include an astonishing 22 maps, they are not nearly as complex or inovative as those found in the current multiplayer king, “Halo 2.” And though “Rogue Agent” does feature online play on Xbox Live, most online FPS gamers have already created clans and profiles for “Halo 2.” The online feature of “Rogue Agent” would have been a major draw in the three years between the two “Halos;” now it just seems like a moot point.
For those gamers nostalgic for the time when the only console first-player shooter worth playing bore the epic title of “GoldenEye,” EA’s new effort just cannot compare. Dusting off the old N64 and popping in the old “GoldenEye” cartridge would be a better move than purchasing the new “Rogue Agent.”