GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
| GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

Natty black tuxedo, gadgets aplenty, fast cars and smooth sophistication that the ladies just love - who could be a better role model for the life of a secret agent than Mr James Bond?

But, wherever there's heads, there's tails. Always a ying to a yang. So when it comes to those happy to play good Bond, EA thinks there are plenty of others who'd like to try their luck with a bit of badness. Enter GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, which as the title suggests, finds you in the role of a 'double-0' agent who's gone bad and signed up with the villainous Auric Goldfinger. Caught up in a war between your new boss and his rival Bond baddie Dr. No - who incidentally is responsible for the loss of your eye (ouch!) - you're tasked with shooting your way through a bunch of missions to exact revenge.

To aid your aim, your boss has replaced your lost vision with a special goldeneye. This provides you with some unique abilities including x-ray vision. Peering through walls at unsuspecting guards is great fun and, combined with the mag rifle that can shoot through solid objects, means you can pick off opponents before they even know you're there. As you progress, you'll pick up more eye powers too, which you can select via the touchscreen inventory.

As you might imagine the weapon selection is one of the game's highlights. One cool feature is you can dual-wield by holding guns in both your left and right hand - just like games such as Halo 2. Adding a tactical element, you can choose different guns such as combining a fast-firing submachine gun and a heavy-duty pistol for variation of accuracy and power. Some of the weapons, such as rocket launchers and the sniper rifle require both hands, but overall they are pretty varied and have good sound effects giving them a powerful feel. And as you battle through the game, you'll unlock virtual training levels, which in turn, enable you to unlock more weapon upgrades.

The major problem with GoldenEye however, is the control method. Like other first person shooters on the DS, such as Metroid Prime Hunters or Splinter Cell (strictly this is thirdperson but when you're in combat it works much the same as a first person game), Rogue Agent uses the touchscreen to let you control where you're pointing your guns.

There are a number of setups available, but none really does the job. One example being the dual-wielding, which encourages you to use the Nintendo thumbstrap on the touchscreen so both hands are free to reach the shoulder buttons to fire your guns. Only doing this leaves the position of your hands rather uncomfortable, and after a few minutes of intense play, it can become downright painful.

The other main option is to use the stylus to control your aiming and fire all your guns with the right shoulder button. This is better, but still not ideal. Similarly, because the action does get very fast, even using the touchscreen for simple inventory changes such as selecting a different weapon or an eye power can be near impossible as the icons are small and fiddly.

There's also the feeling that Rogue Agent is a bit uninspiring. Based largely on the console version that came out last year, there's nothing much to get excited about once first impressions wear off. Though the graphics are quite good, the level design is dull and can get confusing thanks to the ability of the player and enemies to duck down behind the scenery. This is fine on a big size TV but on the DS' screen, combined with the touchscreen control system, often makes for a frustrating experience.

More motivating in the longrun perhaps is the presence of many well known Bond characters who present themselves as you work your way through the story. Dr No, Pussy Galore, Odd Job and of course Goldfinger all put in appearances alongside a host of other favourites. The boss fights at the end of each level are exciting too, but you'll have to wade through far too many generic bad guys to get there.

The multiplayer modes supports up to eight players for deathmatch only. Of course, the levels are just as drab as in the single player mode, but facing off against real players is still a good laugh. You have the option of using bots, but their AI is poor and they're no substitute for the real thing. As with most DS multi-player games, only one cartridge is required, your mates being able to download the game from you. Alternatively if you each have the game, up to four can play through more extensive multiplayer modes and different maps.

So in a DS world without many first person games, how does GoldenEye: Rogue Agent fit in? On the downside, it suffers from unimaginative design and difficult control system, while on the plus side it makes good use of the Bond license and has solid multiplayer game. But the result is a distinctly average game, which is only likely to appeal to fans of shooters and those who want to be bad Bonds.

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is on sale now.

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

Lack of imagination and poor control mar what could have been a good twist on the Bond theme