Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Games
Release Date: June 14, 2005
There are countless Nintendo fans out there that have been screaming for a remake, sequel, or just a straight port of Rare's N64 shooter GoldenEye 007 to come to the Nintendo DS. Obviously, the system is capable of handling the game, and based on the way that the Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt demo played on the DS, first-person shooters have a real future on Nintendo's handheld. Somewhere along the line, Electronic Arts picked up the Bond license, and probably thinking that they could score a quick profit by capitalizing on the GoldenEye name with the DS, decided to make a version of the GoldenEye: Rogue Agent game for the Nintendo DS.
As the only first-person shooter on the Nintendo DS thus far (aside from the Metroid demo), Rogue Agent was looked at by many to be a real system seller for Nintendo. The name alone could possibly draw the crowd looking for the experience offered up by the N64 Bond game. While the possibilities certainly seemed to be limitless, the final product didn't really turn out to be anything like what most DS owners were hoping. Instead, it turned out to be something like what we were expecting, which is not a good thing.
In this latest Bond-themed game, you play the title character, nicknamed "GoldenEye." He's a good-guy turned bad-guy type character, twisted against his former employers through no real fault of his own. There are several different enemies from the films who are present in the title, which helps to add a bit of Bond feel, but James Bond himself is strangely absent. I suppose it wouldn't have made sense to be able to fight and kill Mr. Bond, but it would've been nice if he at least made a cameo.
The game features quite a few good-looking in-game cut scenes that really help add a lot to the storytelling aspect. The graphics maintain a consistent framerate throughout the entire game, which is certainly welcome and really makes Rogue Agent feel polished and fast-paced. The character models are generally well-done and textures are varied, but the lack of texture-filtering on the DS really makes things ugly when you get up close to them. The main knock against the graphics are the animations. Enemies die in one of two ways every time. It doesn't matter where you shoot them, what gun you use, or how many bullets hit them, they go down in the same ways. The only way they die differently is if a grenade blows them up - but even then, they still manage to pull off one of the same animations after they are thrown back by the blast. It's really just plain annoying and totally ruins the combat experience.
The way the game plays is only marginally better than the way it looks. The game is really just boiled down to shoot, kill, lather, rinse, repeat. It doesn't get any more basic than that. There are some other pointless goals along the way that only require the press of a button to complete, but most of your time will be spent traveling from point A to point B, killing anything that gets in your way. There's a nice variety of weaponry to collect en route to help you accomplish your goals, and you can wield them in a variety of ways. Some weapons are two-handed and you can only wield one at a time. It's the one-handed weapons that make things interesting. You can wield one weapon in each hand, or a weapon in one hand and a grenade in another.
The dual-wielding aspect of the game really allows for a lot of flexibility in the way you approach your enemies. You can shoot the weapon in your left hand by using the left trigger and the right one with the right trigger button, which allows you to choose your weapon according to the situation you are faced with. It's great to come around the corner and spot a group of enemies, toss a grenade, and then rush in with your gun blazing.
Unfortunately, it's not all that hard to dispatch your foes because they basically stand in one spot and empty their clips into you until one of you dies. With a little strategy, it's easy to avoid getting killed and popping around the corner to take someone out is an easy way to get by. It's still quite a bit of fun though, and the level design and story do a decent job of pushing you forward and providing a reason to keep playing. There are several different control methods as well, so you'll have plenty of options to play your best.
If you're considering purchasing this game for the audio, you should turn around immediately. I've never heard something so abhorrent emanate from a video game created within the last 10 years. The music is just downright horrible. Imagine the lamest MIDI drum beat ever conceived with a few bleeps and bloops thrown in for good measure and you'll have only the tiniest idea of what the soundtrack is like. The soundtrack is so bad that you have to experience it to appreciate just how terrible it is. On the flip side, the sound effects are serviceable, but nothing too exciting. If you turn off the music, the whole game starts to take on a dead feel, since there are absolutely no ambient sound effects at all. Overall, the audio is poor.
At last, we come to one of the most exciting premises for a first-person shooter on the Nintendo DS, and that is the wireless multiplayer. A multiplayer Bond game was possibly the number one wish of many of the people who purchased a Nintendo DS. You can play with up to eight players, and there is a single-player multiplayer option so that you and your friends can have a bit of fun on one copy of the game. The only problem is that to unlock the full potential of the multiplayer modes, you have to beat the game first, which is a huge obstacle for people that just want to play multiplayer. There is also a mode to play against bots if you are the only person you know with a DS. It's certainly not very satisfying and is very reminiscent of the single player portion of the game with its poor enemy AI.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent on the Nintendo DS shows an incredible amount of promise, but the final product is ultimately flawed in too many ways to get a hearty recommendation. Yes, it's the initial offering in the first-person shooter genre on the fledgling system, and things can only get better from here. This was a strong initial indication of how successful an FPS game can be on the Nintendo DS if it's done right. Electronic Arts could have had a true hit on their hands if they had only taken the time to have a good soundtrack and throw some variety into the animations. As it currently stands, it's a bit stale. There is definitely some fun to be had in both the single player and multiplayer, but it's nothing to get too excited about. Enjoy GoldenEye: Rogue Agent for what it is, and not what it should be, and you'll be pleased.
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