The recently announced GoldenEye: Rogue Agent will be the follow-up to the classic Nintendo 64 first-person shooter, but instead of letting you play as James Bond, it'll let you play as a powerful Bond villain--a character bent on ruthlessly having his way. The game is currently in development for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, and the former two versions will feature online multiplayer support for at least eight players in addition to the single-player campaign. All versions will also support split-screen gameplay. We got our hands on the game and tried out a version of the very first single-player level, set in an under-siege Fort Knox, as well as a multiplayer level set in the space shuttle launch facility from the James Bond movie Moonraker. From this session, we got a good feel for where the game is going and what it's trying to do, though the gameplay itself understandably still needs polishing up.
Though GoldenEye: Rogue Agent will probably be a T-rated game--we didn't see any blood or any graphic violence in anything we played, which is consistent with the Bond films, for what it's worth--it will be a game in which you'll be encouraged to take a rather sadistic approach. You'll be able to take enemies as human shields, knock them off of balconies, and set them up to get wiped out in creative ways via what the developers are calling "death traps." For instance, in Fort Knox, you can cause a little cargo train to come crashing through a group of armed guards--nice.
The game essentially plays like a standard first-person shooter on consoles, though it has some noteworthy features. You'll be able to dual-wield weapons, respectively using the left and right triggers to fire them independently. This prevents you from being able to chuck grenades, but the extra offensive power may well be worth it. As mentioned, you'll also be able to manipulate death traps or interact with the environment or characters in other creative ways, such as by banging the hand of a foe hanging off of a ledge for dear life. At the end of each single-player level, you're rated on your callousness, and you'll be able to augment your evil abilities using the points you earn. EA's tagline for the game: "Why save the world when you can rule it." Good point.
We got to see the game's artificial intelligence in action and were assured that what we saw was actual AI and not just scripted behavior. At any rate, foes would strafe and duck for cover, or try to flank us--behaviors that seemed pretty realistic and made for some good tactical showdowns. In one scene, we fought a bunch of thugs in a hallway filled with smoked glass, which created some flimsy but nevertheless useful cover for us when crouched. We enjoyed rushing up on some of our foes and pistol-whipping them into submission, though the mechanics of this still need some tuning--the hit detection didn't feel quite right.
Though the developers state that multiplayer Rogue Agent was the first thing they got up and running, it actually seemed a little earlier in development to us than the single-player. At any rate, it will feature at least the one objective-based mode we got to try, in which both sides will be trying to launch a shuttle in the Moonraker base. We were able to run around, shoot some other players, and get killed a bunch of times, but the action itself still needs to be tightened up. Specifically, the game's frame rate in the four-player splitscreen mode on the Xbox, as well as in the single-player mission on the PS2, will hopefully be significantly boosted before the game ships this holiday season.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent has a unique concept and features a lot of big-name talent, such as production design by Sir Ken Adam, the same man who did production design on many of the classic Bond films, and costumes by Kym Barrett, best known for her costume design in the Matrix movies. Additionally, character models for the game's major characters, including classic Bond villains Oddjob, Dr. No, and Goldfinger, have a great look to them. But it's going to come down to the gameplay with Rogue Agent, so we're hopeful that it'll get ironed out in the coming months.