Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: April 4, 2002
After the immense success of Rare’s Goldeneye, every interactive rendition of Bond has been measured against it. Technology has taken enormous leaps; the industry has seen four major console systems since the bygone Nintendo 64, yet people still refer to a game from 1997 as the torchbearer of the franchise. Now we welcome James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire, the latest first-person shooter with the super spy’s license, courtesy of Electronic Arts. For the first time, the plot has no ties to any Bond movie, so the designers had unlimited action and storytelling possibilities. The result, originally conceived for PlayStation 2, has now come to GameCube, questing for the Goldeneye torch.
The CIA is in trouble again: One of their agents, Zoe Nightshade, was captured while on assignment in Hong Kong. She had been investigating a botanical research firm known as Identicon. Of course, Identicon is just a front for a very large, very sinister terrorist organization headed by the imposing Nigel Bloch. Of chief concern is their latest research, which could threaten every civilized nation in the world. Lucky for the CIA, James Bond just happens to be on location in Hong Kong to pick up the slack. Naturally, you play as the suave secret agent, and your first mission is to rescue Ms. Nightshade and retrieve her carrier case, which contains evidence of Identicon’s insidious plans. As the adventure unfolds, you’ll meet many other pretty polygonal ladies, including the shipping kingpin Adrian Malprave and the sexy assassin Carla the Jackal. The plot grows grander (if sillier) at every turn, revealing a conspiracy that affects all major governments around the world. Bond will not only have to be fast on his feet and quick with his P2K, but skilled behind the wheel, too. He must chase down villains in well-armed sports cars and, in an unapologetic nod to Goldeneye, drive a massive tank, too.
007: Agent Under Fire is, primarily, a first person shooter. In most of its 12 missions, you see the world directly through Bond’s eyes, right arm outstretched in standard weapon-bearing fashion. Both analog sticks are used in tandem to maneuver Bond and aim his armaments; seasoned console gamers will find the setup familiar. With a little help from an adjustable auto-aiming feature, capping terrorists becomes a fluid process. Each mission has a set of objectives, which your commander, M, lays out beforehand in a briefing. The objectives usually run along the lines of, “Infiltrate the compound, retrieve the case, access a locked room, rescue the hostages, and escape via submarine.” If you forget any these goals, they can be found on the pause screen. Most of the time, the goals have to be accomplished in a linear fashion, so you’ll always know what needs to be done next.
After the briefing, you move right into a cinema scene to set up the action. After the movie ends, you’re smoothly segued into the super spy’s skin. From that point on, you make the choices, but you’re never on your own. M, along with R, the gadget wizard, can communicate via a private earpiece. Somehow, they’re able to track your every move, and thus offer timely guidance throughout. In the early missions, especially, R enjoys popping up to suggest when to use his gadgets. His Q-Laser cuts through locks and his Q-Claw acts as a grappling hook, latching to special silver plates positioned around enemy compounds. Other gadgets are offered, all beginning with “Q,” and each one coming in handy at least once. Most of the time, though, the best tool at your disposal is an itchy trigger finger, because in any mission, you won’t get far before you’re detected. Enemies will come at you with submachine guns, assault rifles, grenades and more. You’re equipped with nothing more than your standard-issue P2K handgun, but any defeated enemy will drop their weapon, so you gather better firepower by downing the baddies with the juiciest guns.