'GoldenEye' returns -- and this time, you're the bad guy
By Sid Lipsey
CNN Headline News
(CNN) -- They may have homicidal tendencies and a thirst for world conquest, but when you really think about it, the bad guys in James Bond stories are amazingly inept villains.
After five decades, 20 movies, countless books and several video games, no Bond villain has ever succeeded in his or her dastardly plans. Not one. It's almost as pathetic a losing streak as the one the Boston Red Sox just ended.
In "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent," you get the chance to do your best (or worst) to improve the fortunes of the Bond villains by becoming one yourself.
"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" is the first game in Electronic Arts' acclaimed Bond series in which you don't play as 007. Instead, you're a former "00" agent-in-training who's dismissed by MI6 for "reckless brutality." Now a free agent, you're hired by master criminal Auric Goldfinger -- yes, THAT Goldfinger from the 1964 Bond movie -- to help him in his violent underworld turf war against another old-school Bond villain, Dr. No.
Goldfinger (whose irredeemably evil nature apparently doesn't preclude him from offering generous employee health care benefits) replaces an eye you injured in a previous mission with a hi-tech gold-colored one that gives you special abilities and a new nickname: "GoldenEye."
"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" is the unofficial sequel to the 1997 Nintendo 64 game "GoldenEye 007" -- widely considered one of the greatest first-person shooter games ever.
"[Our creative] team is made up of people with a reverence for the [original] 'GoldenEye' game," says "Rogue Agent" executive producer Patrick Gilmore.
Not only were "Rogue Agent's" creators eager to follow-up a classic, they were excited about creating a main character who's not quite as encumbered as the heroic 007.
"Villains are the guys who take their gloves off," Gilmore says. "They don't have to play under the same 'I-work-for-the-Queen-of-England' constraints as Bond."
The gloves are definitely off in "Rogue Agent," where you have to fight fiercely and sometimes dirty. During firefights, you're able to take enemies hostage and use them as human shields ("Bond doesn't exactly do that," Gilmore says with a laugh).
You're also rewarded with "Rogue Points" -- extra credit for dispatching targets in especially violent, explosive and creative ways. And there's a cool, easy-to-use "dual-wield" gunplay option that lets you blast away Chow Yun-Fat-style with a different weapon in each hand.
Your most lethal weapon may be the "golden eye" itself. Your character's synthetic eye has a list of high-tech features that would make "Q" drool with envy.
The most useful is MRI vision, which lets you see targets behind walls. In most other action games, you need to find a special rifle with a high-tech scope for that kind of "see-through" option. But that ability is available to you here for pretty much the entire game.
And finding new and different ways to get the drop on unsuspecting bad guys is an endless source of wicked fun.
You only shoot twice: "Rogue Agent" features "dual-wield" gunplay for twice the firepower.
Even though 007 is a minor character in "Rogue Agent," the game is firmly rooted in Bond tradition. As you undertake your violent missions in the criminal underworld, you'll encounter some nefarious figures you may remember from the Bond movies, including Odd-Job, Xenia Onatopp and Pussy Galore. Actor Christopher Lee, who played villain Francisco Scaramanga in "The Man with the Golden Gun," reprises his film role for the game. So does actress Judi Dench, who plays Bond's boss, "M."
In giving you the chance to succeed where other Bond baddies have failed, "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" manages to offer a fresh take on the Bond universe -- no small feat considering that Bond has been around for more than 50 years.
And who knows? Maybe in a future "Rogue Agent" game, you'll get the chance for the ultimate prize: taking out 007 himself.
One word of advice: if you manage to get him, don't tie him up inside your headquarters, tell him your evil plans and then leave it to your minions to do the dirty work. That never works.
EA Games' "GoldenEye: Rogue Agent" for the PlayStation2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube releases November 22.