Let's face it, the Nintendo DS with its dual screens and touch
screen technology should have developers drooling over the
prospects of a FPS (first person shooter). Finally the accurate
mouse-type control of a personal computer can effectively be
executed on a portable system. Those who purchased a Nintendo
DS system near the launch got an early taste of this potential
with the demo of Metroid Prime Hunters that was included with
the system. Now, Electronic Arts has taken the initiative and
released GoldenEye, the first DS first-person shooter, and
although the game does show off a lot of potential for the
genre, especially considering it's running on a portable system,
it somehow feels a little rushed at times, especially in terms
of its gameplay execution.
Although GoldenEye is a James Bond game, you take on the role
of an agent that's been badly injured in a fight with the evil
Dr. No. You've lost the use of your right eye and now seem
more content on getting revenge than carrying out your missions
as a secret agent. MI6 has now deemed you unfit to carry on
as an agent. You're now on your own in trying to take on the
task of each of the game's campaigns in an attempt to foil
the plots of each of the evil villains.
Gameplay in GoldenEye is fairly straightforward.
Using the DS touch screen, you can control most aspects of
the firepower you use in the game. The touch screen also
works as a HUD that allows you to change weapons, use your
magnetic shield, and switch between the different views at
your disposal. You'll also use the touch screen as your targeting
mechanism. You always have two small firearms in your inventory,
which never run out of ammo. As you make enemy kills you
can then pick up their weapons, which as the campaigns go
on, become bigger and more powerful. You can also use melee
combat, if the need arises, and you'll find that it comes
in quite handy in close quarters when it becomes difficult
to target enemies. GoldenEye allows you a lot of room to
customize the controls, but finding the perfect way to comfortably
hold the DS and still control the game can be a little tedious
given this wide variety of settings. You can use the D-pad
or the "X" and "B" buttons
to move forward and backward. Targeting and turning from side
to side are accomplished via the touch screen and the shoulder
buttons are used to fire your selected weapons.
The control in the game ranges from responsive, to all over
the map. Trying to find the control setup that is most comfortable
to you may take some time. First off you have to decide whether
you want to use the thumb strap stylus, which is a little tough
for people with small hands since the reach is so far to the
middle of the touch screen, or the regular stylus in which
you then have to decide which hand to use it with. This is
where the gameplay begins to get tricky. Trying to hold and
use the stylus while still using the d-pad or face buttons,
and yet having to fire via the shoulder buttons can become
quite a tricky affair. It seems that the touch screen may lend
itself well to the controls of an FPS game, but in GoldenEye
it feels like the developers might have tried too hard to get
it right and in doing so left the controls a little shaky at
The campaigns in the game have a nice feel to them, but the
actions can become a little repetitive, as most of your time
and energy is spent merely exploring the areas and taking out
your enemy targets along the way. It would have been nice to
see a little more depth to the campaigns, but fans of first-person
shooters should feel right at home with the straightforward
way in which the game's missions unfold.
There are several multi-player games available. The single-cart
game allows another player to download the game to their DS
using your game cart and then play a one-on-one match to the
death. While this mode is enjoyable enough, the real multiplayer
treat is when each player has their own GoldenEye cart. It's
then that you can play a team showdown where you team up with
another player and take on the other team in a death match.
There's also a unique game in which both players are given
a blue or red colored section and they must hit switches to
make a rail cart go back and forth between the other player's
sections. The object of the game is to get the rail cart to
roll to your opponent's base three times. Given the standard
action you'll find in the main game, these multiplayer games
are a very nice diversion and add a lot of replay value to
Visually GoldenEye has some high points and some low points.
Most of the areas in the levels have a nice, sharp look to
them, and show a good amount of detail. Even the frame rate
manages to move along at a steady 30 fps, even when the action
begins to heat up. The one area of the game's visuals that
seems a bit lacking is the character models. Many of the characters
look like they just stepped out of the polygon circus, and
most look blocky and unrealistic. To make matters worse, they
move in a clunky fashion that adds to their unrealistic facade.
The game is also a little too dark in some places, making it
difficult to maneuver in tight quarters. The upside to this
slightly dark feel is that it tends to hide some of the tacky
textures you'll encounter when you get too close to certain
If you've ever seen a "B" grade
horror movie, you'll have a pretty good indication of what
to expect from the music in the game. For starters, the music
never seems to change in tone or tempo, which makes it not
only bland, but also repetitive. It just doesn't seem to
fit in with the type of action going on throughout the game's
many levels. The sound effects, while accurate enough, also
have a slightly fuzzy tone to them, which could be the result
of being output at a low bit-rate. There are a few voices
in the game that do tend to perk up the sound effects a little,
but even they are few and far between, and certainly not
enough to save GoldenEye's below-average soundtrack. This
might be forgivable if it weren't for the outstanding sound
capabilities of the DS that are pretty much wasted with the
sound in this game.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is a decent first-person
shooter in its own right, but shows that the genre still has a ways
to go on the DS before reaching the level of playability of its PC
and console counterparts. That's not to say that GoldenEye is horrible,
far from it, it just never seems to get on track with its, at times,
awkward play control. If you're in the market for a first person
shooter, and you want to see the possibilities of what might soon
come for the DS in this genre, you might want to pick up GoldenEye.
It's a nice play through, and has some very valid gameplay elements
to it. For everyone else, the game is a rental, at best.
Playing Hints and Tips
- It's best to memorize the functions found on the touch screen
HUD, as some of these functions are really close together and can
be difficult to get to in a pinch.
- If you find yourself under heavy fire, you can always grab a hostage
and use them as a human shield. It works surprisingly well.
- Find a control setup that works best for you and stick with it.
It takes time to get used to moving around and shooting accurately.
- When in close proximity to an enemy, don't be afraid to use a
little hand-to-hand combat. It will generally stun your opponent
long enough for you to fire a couple of rounds at them.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
The visuals in GoldenEye have a nice,
detailed look to them, and tend to move at a pretty steady
frame rate. Occasionally you'll come across a particular area
that looks a little bland, but for the most part the game looks
nice. The only real drawback comes in the character models,
as they not only look a little plain, they also tend to move
in a rather clunky manner, taking some of the realism away
from an otherwise adequate graphical performance.
What few voices there are sound pretty
bad. In fact, most of the sound effects in general sound a
little fuzzy and don't seem to take advantage of the DS sound
capabilities. The music in the game is tolerable, but it's
nothing terribly memorable, and you might be better off just
playing the game with the background music turned off completely.
It's obvious that not much attention was given to the musical
aspect of this game.
Given that GoldenEye is the first attempt
at a first person shooter for the DS, it's actually carried
out pretty well. The game's control mechanics could use a little
work, but the game at least shows that there's a lot of potential
for this genre on the DS. The game could have used a little
more realism in the actual combat portions of the game, but
for those looking for a typical "shoot everything that
moves" FPS game, you should be content with this game
until a better one comes along. GoldenEye is a decent first
attempt at a DS FPS.
GoldenEye just lacks the polish that
most FPS fans expect from this type of game. The game is a
step in the right direction for this genre on a portable system,
but given that it doesn't offer much in the way of innovation,
it's one you'll most likely play through once and not pick
up for awhile. A little too vanilla for most diehard FPS fans.