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Monday, June 12, 2006

Cyberpunk Bond

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent arrived via Gamefly before the weekend so I've been putting it through some paces. Reviews of the game weren't terribly favorable. I never really liked EA's obvious abuse of the GoldenEye brand to key off of Rare's classic, so I think in some ways the constant comparison between all things shooter and Bond to that game was completely deserved. EA literally asked for it.

More than not living up to that classic's quality, the game itself is very bizarre for a Bond game. In fact, were it not for the calvacade of Bond villians parading around the cinematic sections, you'd be hard pressed to think of this as a Bond title. Not because you don't wear the shoes of the legendary superspy ... but because design reminds one more of Project: Snowblind than anything in the Bond series. There's augments and near sci fi like weaponry abound. It's not that Bond never had a strong appreciation of realism or anything, but having someone's cybernetic eyeball being able to cast a bullet-proof force field would be a bit much even for 007's world.

There is some stuff to like, though. The akimbo weapon design is pretty clever. I played with "true" akimbo weapons for a Unreal Tournament 2004 mod, where you could mix and match left and right hand weapons. Each weapon would also have a seperate trigger (right and left mouse buttons) in lieu of secondary fires as well. Rogue Agent works in much the same way and works pretty well in practice. You worry less about reloading and ammo management and spend more time picking up a variety of combinations along the way. It keeps the action changing and interesting without being overly complicated about it.

Rogue Agent is almost absurdly arcadish at times, with most of the design being theme-linked rooms with a random number of nearly identical baddies lurking about. Occasionally there's environmental interactions like flipping a switch to crush people under a lift or some such. Here again, the Bond franchise does little for the game. You could be in anyone's casino, it just happens to be Auric Goldfinger's.

And that's the rub of Rogue Agent. There's some good ideas and a fairly clean design going on, just nothing elaborate ever made of it. Probably because all the rest of the concept was blown on fitting it into the Bondverse. Like Snowblind was a better game for simply not trying to follow in Deus Ex's footsteps, Rogue Agent should have gone a little more rogue itself.

On a side note, The Girl was apparently brought up in a Bond-free environment. At one point, Oddjob's hat flies past your view. When I noted that was a neat addition, she asked what I was talking about. Oddjob ... hat ... .... apparently she'll have to be re-educated...

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