With their latest use of the James Bond franchise, EA Games is taking a bold chance: They're making you the bad guy. But what a bad guy you are: As a disfigured (having lost an eye) and now disgraced 00 agent who didn't make the grade--certainly not James Bond--you flip to join the dark side under an organization headed by classic baddie, Goldfinger. Along the way, you also cross paths with other Bond-film villains, including Dr. No, Scaramanga (the man with the Golden Gun), and Oddjob.
Gunning for the Top
Rogue Agent is a hard-core FPS with a full slate of weapons--pistol, shotgun, sniper rifle, grenades, and more--and a wonderful playfield in which to use them. There are bathhouses, rooftops, all sorts of laboratories and buildings--and all are populated by myriad bad guys. You can trade gunfire stealthily--or not, seeing that you can dual wield--or pop a foe melee-style and use him as a human shield. It's also rewarding to take advantage of the selection of machines and other hazards that can be used to dispatch your adversaries, such as test firing a rocket or dumping a load of molten gold on a catwalk.
The enemy A.I.--dubbed E.V.I.L. for Emotion-based, Visceral, Intelligent, and Learning--is well done. If you fire near foes, they'll react with increased caution, weapons drawn. If their cover is blown away, they'll retreat to better hiding places. This assures that the competition in single-player is strong and you don't get the exact same behavior in repeat playthroughs.
You'll also earn GoldenEye powers as you go, which are special functions installed in place of your agent's damaged eye. Push the directional pad in one of four directions and then hit the trigger button to activate the ability to see through walls, disrupt an enemy's weapon, or give yourself added shielding. These substantially increase the strategy you use through the game.
Bonds Meant to be Broken
Perhaps the best feature, though, is online multiplayer--at least for PlayStation and Xbox owners. The game's intensity is upped by the human competition, and the standard selection of gameplay modes (such as deathmatch-style Showdown, Team Showdown, and Domination). Each of the 20 maps has a designated player count to be sure the action stays tight; for those wanting to take on friends on a single console, EA also offers split-screen action.
Add to that simple, intuitive controls; a driving soundtrack courtesy of Paul Oakenfold; and sharp animation for the characters, and you end up with a Bond game that does the job. Rogue Agent will leave you shaken and stirred.