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Category Archives: James Bond

007 Agent Under Fire Review and Reflection

“Well, I like to do some things the old-fashioned way.” –James Bond, Skyfall

When operator Zoe Nightshade is captured by Identicon Corporation while investigating allegations of weapons smuggling, James Bond infiltrates their Hong Kong facility to rescue her and recovers a courier case. While eluding Nigel Bloch, head of Identicon, in a vehicle chase, Nightshade is killed and the vials are retrieved. However, Bond manages to catch up to them and recovers the vials, which are found to contain blood samples of world leaders and that of ambassador Reginald Griffin, who is working in the British embassy in Bucharest, Romania. Bond discovers that the vials are related to Malprave Industries in Switzerland and arranges to visit their facility. Upon realising he and CEO Adrian Malprave had previously met in Bucharest, Bond attempts to escape the facility, obtaining photographs of Malprave’s plans. He learns that Dr. Natalya Damescu had left Malprave Industries and is under the protection of the British embassy, as she possesses knowledge of their plans. Returning to the embassy, Bond fends off the terrorist attack, including their leader, and picks up a data chip pointing to Poseidon. Bond next travels to an oil rig in the South China sea in pursuit of Bloch and follows up to an underwater cloning facility. After destroying the lab, Bond escapes and encounters the real Zoe Nightshade: the Nightshade at the Identicon facility had actually been a clone. The two board a British aircraft carrier and discover Malprave’s plan to clone the world leaders and replace their originals in a bid to take over the world. Returning to Malprave’s facilities in the Swiss Alps, Bond rescues the world leaders and defeats Bloch in a showdown before escaping with Nightshade, while Malprave dies when her base self-destructs. This is 007: Agent Under Fire, a 2001 first person shooter that was the first James Bond game for sixth generation consoles that featured an all-new story and return to the style that GoldenEye had pioneered.

Agent Under Fire never quite hit the same heights as GoldenEye did, being criticised for flimsy AI and short missions by period critics. Indeed, the game hasn’t aged as gracefully as its successor, Nightfire: Agent Under Fire holds the players’ hands throughout all of the campaign missions, and there’s very little room for exploration and discovery. Moreover, the storyline is, for the lack of a better word, tacky. The notion of creating clones of world leaders as a proxy by which to rule the world is roundabout and ill-conceived: the same outcome would be better achieved by manipulating the media (Tomorrow Never Dies), controlling fuel transport (The World is Not Enough) or investing in super-weapons to challenge the world’s militaries (Die Another Day). Similarly, use of clones opens the floor to deaths that suddenly lack impact or shock, and brings about storytelling clichés that diminish the weight of Bond’s actions. However, where the story is lacking, Agent Under Fire excels with its gameplay. In particular, the integration of gunplay and using Q Branch’s sophisticated gadgetry to advance was particularly smooth, and one could go from hijacking crane signals to destroy an entire group of guards back to sniping distant foes at the press of a button. GoldenEye had a comparatively unwieldy gadget system, but capitalising on the controller’s D-pad to cycle between weapons and gadgets, as well as mapping different buttons to weapon and gadget use simplified things considerably. Moreover, while Agent Under Fire is a first person shooter, the game also features driving segments that allow players to get behind the wheel of Bond’s gadget-laden super cars. Racing around modestly open maps to complete objectives offers a pleasant change of pace from the on-foot combat, and altogether, while Agent Under Fire‘s story might not win any Newbury awards, the game completely succeeded in demonstrating what was possible from a James Bond game on the most advanced consoles of the time.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Agent Under Fire opens in Hong Kong harbour, on a facility that looks like something straight out of a science fiction novel. Set under a golden sunset, the mission would come to set the expectation of what sort of atmospherics would accompany a James Bond game, and here, I equip the P2K, which I’ve unlocked the golden version of for scoring well on this mission. The P2K is modelled on the Smith and Wesson SW99, but unlike its real-world equivalent, the P2K is limited to a six-round magazine (and the real version accepts 10, 15 and 20 round box magazines).

  • As the evening light casts the Identicon facility’s interior in orange-yellows, I fight my way through guards en route to the submarine pen. Along the way, I pick up the infamous Koffler and Stock KS7 (Heckler and Koch MP5), which was a bit of a joke amongst players of the time. In FAQs dating back to 2001 and 2002, the KS7 is described as the worst gun in the game, whose inaccuracy and weak damage meant that it would often take an entire magazine to take out one enemy. Agent Under Fire has a wide range of weapons, and throughout campaign missions, Bond will have access to all of the weapons featured in the game.

  • Unsurprisingly, the most powerful and versatile weapons are found towards the end of the game. As I near the last segments of the first mission, I find an SSR-4000, which is based on the SIG-Sauer SSG 3000. On a per-shot basis, the SSR-4000 is the most powerful and accurate weapon in Agent Under Fire, being a bolt-action rifle with two zoom levels. The weapon’s slow firing rate and small magazine is typical of a bolt-action rifle’s, being balanced to favour long range combat. In the campaign, enemies equipped with the SSR-4000 also have a laser sight, allowing players to quickly work out where they’re aiming and return fire or get to cover as appropriate.

  • Agent Under Fire has a disproportionately large number rail-shooter missions, in which the game automatically drives a player around, and the only aim is to fend off enemies. While the concept of rail-shooters have been maligned owing to titles like Call of Duty, back when they were introduced, they did represent a fun way to have a high speed shootout where players could focus purely on shooting. In Agent Under Fire, the rail shooter missions follow the same approach: Bond is equipped with an RPK, modified SPAS-12 and occasionally, an anti-vehicle option.

  • While Agent Under Fire fails to account for the fact that Hong Kong has left-hand traffic, the game otherwise does a phenomenal job of capturing the Hong Kong aesthetic. Roads are perhaps a bit wider, and traffic is considerably lighter than things are in real life, but the apartment buildings and neon signs are spot on. As Bond beats an escape, droves of Bloch’s men follow in pursuit, making use of cars and limousines alike in a bid to head off Bond. Rail shooting missions feature an impressive ammunition pool, and unless one were to keep their finger on the trigger for the whole of a mission, it is unlikely that one will run out.

  • The CH-6 rocket launcher is named for the fact that it can fire six shots before reloading, and it is immensely effective against vehicles. Owing to its power, it is only available in the second mission, and here, I’ve got the Golden CH-6, which has a bottomless reserve of rockets. With this unlocked, one can pretty much just stick to the CH-6 and decimate all vehicles on the road.

  • Bond subsequently picks up his own vehicle, the BMW Z8: this vehicle was first seen in The World is Not Enough, and its presence in Agent Under Fire speaks to the fact that the game was originally meant to be PS2 and PC versions of the Nintendo 64’s The World is Not Enough, but midway through development, the PC version was scrapped, and the PS2 version was changed into Agent Under Fire. In Agent Under Fire, the Z8 is equipped with two forward-facing machine guns, unguided rockets and homing missiles. Thanks to an unlock, I have unlimited missiles, which renders the mission considerably easier.

  • Racing through the streets of Hong Kong in a weapon and gadget laden BMW proved quite fun: once Bond re-enters the city, likely Central, the main objective will show up: a special van carrying the stolen vials will appear, and Bond must use an EMP pulse to disable it without destroying the samples. The Q-pulse is instrumental for this, and players must drive up beside the van in order to use the Q-pulse, which has a short range. More points are scored if players can disable the van sooner, although care should be taken not to fire the EMP when one is out of range: the EMPs are in short supply and must be picked up by driving around the level.

  • The fourth mission is a strictly non-lethal mission, and the only time where Bond uses a dart gun. Regardless of difficulty, the darts will knock out guards with a single shot, and in the quiet of the British embassy in Bucharest, the aim is to sneak in, figure out what happened to Reginald Griffin, and get out. Stealth missions in swanky locations always remind me of Christmas – back in the day, one of my relatives always hosted the annual Christmas parties, and my cousin, would invite us to spend the evening playing Agent Under Fire‘s multiplayer after dinner wrapped up while the adults conversed. My cousin favoured cooperative play, and we would challenge ourselves by fighting the bots on maximum difficulty and aggression.

  • In subsequent years, I would come to own a GameCube of my own and beat Agent Under Fire‘s campaign for myself. I occasionally still partake in the multiplayer with maxed-out bots for old time’s sake, and nothing gives more hilarity than squaring off against the Griffin clone on Town. Back in the campaign, I enter Griffin’s office to find him dead, and confront the Griffin Clone, who requires a full magazine of dart gun rounds to take out. Once Bond collects information from Griffin’s computer, it’s time to leave the embassy by taking the elevator back to the main floor and simply walk out the front door.

  • The mission at Malprave’s Swiss headquarters sees Bond pose as a journalist, but his cover is blown shortly after, and he is sealed in the reception area. The mission’s title, “Cold Reception”, is a play on words: the reception is unfriendly, and the setting is chilly, so this becomes a bit of a double entendre of sorts, which the James Bond franchise is known for. Once Bond is sealed in, hitting a switch on the desks will open a side passage that allows the mission to progress. The key here is to hit the switch on the desk to the right of Malprave’s portrait: the others will sound an alarm. Time is limited, so players should keep an eye on the clock.

  • After the classic espionage manoeuvre of photographing classified blueprints, Bond sneaks into a server room and downloads Malprave’s data for analysis before escaping. Agent Under Fire‘s game mechanics haven’t really changed: twenty years later, games like The Division still have similar objectives, and while the modes have changed (ISAC replaces the Q-decryptor and Q-remote), the end results are the same. Here, I’ve picked up the SPAS-12, the Frenesi in-game. It’s a pump-action shotgun that excels in close quarters, although it is limited by a low firing rate. The multiplayer incarnation has an alternate fire mode that allows it to fire in a semi-automatic fashion, sacrificing damage for the ability to make quick follow-up shots.

  • At Agent Under Fire‘s halfway point, Bond fends off terrorists attacking the British Embassy in Bucharest. This mission was provided in the demo version of Agent Under Fire back at the local toy stores back in the day, and I vividly remember dying after walking into the path of a sniper’s laser sights every time a controller freed up. This mission has the same aesthetic as that of Nightfire‘s second mission, requiring that players fight their way through a relatively classy setting. With the P2K, I ended up using manual fire to carefully place my shots and aim for the head: headshots are a one-hit-kill, and allow one to pick off enemies with relative ease. Body shots are highly ineffectual even on low difficulties, and although the manual aim (the precursor to today’s ADS mechanics) was tricky, when things connect, it allows one to save on ammunition.

  • I’ve never been much of a marksman on the console, and so, when the opportunity presented itself, I immediately picked a KS-57 off a terrorist. The KS-57 (AK-47) is an iconic assault rifle, but in Agent Under Fire, it’s a relatively weak weapon with improved accuracy and stopping power compared to the submachine guns, but is otherwise eclipsed by other assault rifles. Here, I enter a bathroom with a suggestive hologram, concealing a secret entrance that opens into the next area. Fanservice has never really been a thing in the games that I prefer playing, and having seen what contemporary graphics are capable of now, moments such as these are absolutely tame compared to what’s possible nowadays.

  • After reaching the rooftops, Bond rappels over into the next building with the Q-claw, rescues the embassy’s staff from the terrorists and enters the building’s basement, where he confronts the Jackal. The first time I fought the Jackal, I was unaware of how the game’s mechanics worked and died instantly. Later, I realised that the Jackal doesn’t actually take damage, but instead, retreats on the catwalk to a different position after taking enough fire, and eventually will fall after trying to fire on Bond from above a ventilation fan. The Jackal is armed with the Windsor FSU-4 (basically the Colt M16A2 with the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher), and in the mission, the Windsor Viper (Colt Anaconda) can be used, as well.

  • With the Jackal defeated, the last step of the mission is to destroy an AH-64 attack helicopter. Agent Under Fire makes it easy for Bond to do so: there’s four mounted machine guns on the roof, and while their ammunition is limited, empty the boxes on two of those guns will do significant damage to the attack helicopter, to the point where a few magazines’ worth of fire from the FSU-4 will destroy it. For folks looking for a shoulder-fired solution, there’s also an MRL-22 rocket launcher and extra rockets lying around. It goes without saying that one should give plenty of space between themselves and the attack helicopter if opting for the MRL-22 approach: the splash damage is very much lethal to Bond.

  • While the Jackal had been carrying a data chip, the terrorists manage to extract it, and Bond heads off in hot pursuit in his iconic DB5. The DB5 is equipped with the same capabilities and equipment as the Z8, so operating it is no problem. Like Hong Kong, Bucharest’s streets offer players with a degree of freedom in how they wish to go about reaching their target, and these segments of the game handled very smoothly. With my unlimited missiles, I had no trouble recovering the data chip, but after the DB5 is totalled following a daring jump over a canal, Bond switches over to a tank in a manner reminiscent of GoldenEye.

  • The tank segment of the mission is a rail shooter, which makes no sense considering that Bond is also the one operating the tank: this tank resembles the Russian T-90, and in-game, is equipped with a MGF-34 main cannon, as well as a minigun. I imagine the weapons were named and chosen purely for cool factor: the real T-90 is armed with the 2A46 120mm smoothbore cannon and a 12.7 mm Kord HMG, whereas here, it looks like it’s got an M134, which is an American weapon and therefore would not be equipped on a Russian tank. While the mission itself isn’t logical, it’s also a fun ride through Bucharest as Bond tears apart hordes of Malprave’s forces.

  • In 2001 and 2002 FAQs, writers wondered why the splash damage from the tank’s main cannon was so minimal despite the weapon working well against vehicles. Per my remarks in Rogue Agent, since it’s been two decades since then, I doubt that reaching out to the FAQ writers would be effectual, but the answer is simple: the MGF-34 is firing kinetic penetrators rather than HE rounds. I understand that at the time, gamers assumed that tanks would always fire high explosive shells owing to how developers intended tanks to really be used in single-player campaigns and therefore, didn’t need balance. In today’s games, things have become rather more sophisticated, and different rounds are implemented to have different functions.

  • The data chip that Bond finds takes him to an oil drilling platform in the South China Sea as he pursues Bloch. Agent Under Fire marks the first time I’ve fought on an oil rig, and I admit that this mission was masterfully designed: Bond has the option of charging in loud, using a side passage to stealthily reach a mounted 50 calibre gun, or sneak closer to the side railing and take out the sniper, then seize the sniper for himself. I went the route of the mounted gun, and after decimating everything, including an attack helicopter, I proceeded across the now-quiet deck with the Calypso submachine gun in hand. The Calypso P750 is based off the Calico M960, whose unique helical magazine allows for a very high ammunition capacity. In-game, its high RPM makes it an excellent close quarters weapon.

  • The second half of the mission entails climbing progressively higher in the oil rig. Bond begins in the pump room and must use the Q-jet, as well as a pumpjack, to escape. Enemies begin dropping the FSU-4, and while it’s been fun to use the Calypso, the FSU-4 is better suited for long range combat. A few snipers can also be found, and they’ll whittle players down very quickly if not dealt with. Climbing the ladders to higher platforms, Bond can use the Q-remote to drop enemy snipers without trouble, and an MRL-22 rocket launcher can be found, allowing one to drive off the attack helicopter that shows up, if need be.

  • Forbidden Depths is the last of the rail shooting missions, and Bond is equipped with both the pump action shotgun and RPK. Beginning with an absurd amount of RPK ammunition means that players shouldn’t have any trouble dealing with the enemy forces. The mission is one lengthy tram ride through the tunnels to Malprave’s underwater cloning lab: Agent Under Fire really took the idea of an elaborate lair to new heights, and the cloning lab is an example where the designers were really free to build levels as they appeared in their imaginations.

  • The only other Bond game with such imaginative environments was 2004’s GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, which took things even further. While racing through the underwater tunnels, Bloch eventually joins Bond and drops mines that must be shot at to avoid damage. The trams will eventually reach a terminal that begins sinking into the lava below, necessitating use of a camera-guided rocket launcher to stop. With this rollercoaster-like mission over, Bond’s finally reached the underwater base. This is the only mission where players will have a chance to use the PS100 and the UGW.

  • The exotic components in Malprave’s cloning lab has a distinctly sci-fi feel to it: simpler graphics back in the day meant that increasingly creative means were used to convey a high-tech asthetic, and games have come a very long way since then. Today, games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and even Division 2 do a more realistic presentation of what ultra-sophisticated labs would look like. Here, as I fight through the research labs, I wield the PS100, a personal defense weapon modelled on the P90. The PS100 is the best weapon in the submachine gun category: while sporting a smaller magazine than the Calypso, it is more accurate and makes short work of enemies.

  • Once Bond’s through sabotaging Malprave’s cloning facility, it’s time to beat a hasty exit: Bond’s deactivate pressure stablisation and tempreature regulators, causing the base to go critical. I’ve picked up the UGW here: this assault rifle is the second best in the game, dealing reasonable damage and mounting zoom optics that allow for medium range combat. The UGW is based on the Steyr AUG A1 with the Swarovski optic, and here, I fight my way through the submarine pen en route to my exfil. Blowing up enemy lairs has long been a staple of James Bond movies and games alike, and in this area, Agent Under Fire delivers.

  • Once the underwater cloning lab is destroyed, Bond returns to a British carrier on the Mediterranean Sea and clears it of Malprave’s forces: it is here that Bond learns what Malprave’s plans were. While it’s fun to fight on an aircraft carrier (I would not do so again until 2010’s Crysis), the story in Agent Under Fire definitely left something to be desired, resembling a hastily-written Bond fanfiction whose goal was to incorporate as many iconic Bond experiences as possible at the expense of coherence. Malprave’s plot is implausible as it is ludicrous. Nightfire completely improves on things, sporting a superior, cohesive and engaging (if still familiar) story that made every mission’s contribution to the campaign more obvious.

  • After reaching the deck and reluctantly freeing a member of the crew, Bond heads off to rescue Nightshade again. This final segment requires caution, since she’s surrounded by depth charges that will explode should anything hit them, sending players back to the last checkpoint. Agent Under Fire utilises a lives system: players have only have two attempts to clear a mission before running out of lives, after which they would need to start over from the beginning. In the end, Bond is able to save Nightshade and stop the clones of the world leader from getting out by shooting down a helicoper they’re in. The British carrier has 50-calibre machine guns on deck, and unlike the 7.62 mm mounted guns, the 50-calibre guns do not run out of ammunition.

  • As evening sets over the Swiss Alps, I begin the final mission, dubbed “Evil Summit”. The biggest challenge about the first area are the snipers, and fortunately, off in a storage room, players can grab their own SSR-4000 for some counter-sniping. After acquiring the program to unlock the access way, hordes of Malprave’s soldiers will flood the platform. They’re armed with the Koffler and Stock D17, which is based on the Heckler and Koch G11 caseless rifle. The D17 is the single best weapon in the game, with a high RPM, accuracy and magazine capacity.

  • Upon picking up the D17, there’s no real reason to use any other weapon. Having the D17 makes this last segment mangeable: the goal is to rescue all of the captured world leaders. After clearing the central control room, Bond must enter four missile silos and rescue the remaining leaders, who will see themselves out. Once this is done, all that’s left is to fight Nigel Bloch. While Bond appeared to have killed him in an earlier mission, it turns out this was his clone. The fight against Bloch plays out similarly to the fight against the Jackal: Bloch is technically invincible and upon taknig enough fire, will simply move to a next area.

  • After pursuing Bloch through a ventilation system, Bond picks up a spare MRL-22 and uses this to defeat Bloch in a scripted sequence, bringing the game to an end. Because of how boss fights are written in Agent Under Fire, I found them to be quite unsatisfying. However, for the most part, Agent Under Fire is a solid game that demonstrated what was possible on a sixth generation console, and the sequel, Nightfire, would return as a refined, polished version of Agent Under Fire.

Indeed, Agent Under Fire would receive a sequel not a year later in Nightfire: using polished concepts from Agent Under Fire, Nightfire proved to be an improvement over its predecessor in every way. The balance of gadget usage and sure aim was further polished, and the game retained a balance of on-foot missions and vehicular segments. However, the story was superbly-written, this time around, and the Nightfire even had James Bond with Pierce Brosnan’s likeness. The learnings of Agent Under Fire were evidently applied to Nightfire, and in this way, Agent Under Fire might be seen as a proof-of-concept, using the Id Tech 3 engine to explore different mechanics. The mish-mash of concepts, while feeling distinctly disjointed in Agent Under Fire, still worked very smoothly. The gunplay remains impressive, and alternate fire modes allow some weapons to be more versatile. Vehicular segments handled well. With gameplay concepts proven to be viable, Nightfire was therefore able to incorporate a better written story, superior visuals, stronger voice acting and a more iconic soundtrack into its experience. Consequently, while perhaps not the most imaginative or memorable James Bond title, Agent Under Fire nonetheless remains an enjoyable experience for its gameplay and aesthetics: the story doesn’t really make much sense, but it does give players a chance to visit a wide range of locales, from Hong Kong and Bucharest, to a classic underwater lair and the Swiss Alps, all the while doing classic James Bond stuff. Furthermore, while the campaign is quite short, Agent Under Fire features one of the best multiplayers ever to grace a James Bond game, and replaying the campaign missions for high scores will allow players to unlock improved gear, as well as more multiplayer options. Agent Under Fire‘s multiplayer is a work of art, worthy of a separate discussion, and even now, provided one has a few extra controllers available, one can still invite some mates over for some classic, 2001-style TDM hailing back to a time where games didn’t need an internet connection or lootboxes for fun to be had.

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent- A Review and Reflection

“How does it feel to be on the receiving end?” –Aaron Keener, The Division 2: Warlords of New York

After an assignment leaves an MI6 agent without his right eye, the agent is sent for an assessment simulation with James Bond and fails after he leaves Bond to “die”. Dismissed from MI6, the agent accepts an employment offer from Auric Goldfinger, who has scientist Francisco Scaramanga fit him with a cybernetic eye. The agent takes on the moniker GoldenEye, and helps Goldfinger secure the Organic Mass Energy Neutraliser (OMEN), a weapon capable of breaking down organic matter at a molecular level. After fending off Dr. No’s soldiers, GoldenEye is sent to Hong Kong and assassinate Dr. No – despite being betrayed, GoldenEye manages to take out the traitor and escapes with Pussy Galore. Despite having moved the OMEN to his casino in Las Vegas, Dr. No’s forces continue their pursuit of the device. GoldenEye fights through the casino and reaches a vault housing the OMEN, successfully defending it, but fails to stop Xena Onnatop, who was leading the operation, from escaping. Goldfinger has GoldenEye infiltrate the Hoover Dam and tasks him with eliminating Onnatop. He succeeds in killing her, and Goldfinger sends him to the Octopus to locate Dr. No’s base. Determining Dr. No is hiding out at Crab Key, Goldfinger sends GoldenEye on a one-man assault on the facility and kills Dr. No, but Goldfinger realises that GoldenEye is far too dangerous to be left alive. He detonates Crab Key’s reactor and leaves GoldenEye for dead, but GoldenEye escapes. Pussy Galore reveals Goldfinger has taken control of the Lair, and Scaramanga provides GoldenEye with a special computer virus to disable the Lair’s defenses. After clearing the Lair out, GoldenEye confronts Goldfinger – despite being trapped, the computer virus activates and overloads the OMEN. Goldfinger is disintegrated in the process, and GoldFinger manages to evacuate alongside Pussy Galore. Meanwhile, Ernest Stavro Bloefeld takes an interest in GoldenEye after sharing a conversation with Scaramanga, deciding to simply wait and see before making any decisions about how to best deal with GoldenEye. This is GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, a 2004 first person shooter that was a spinoff of the popular James Bond series of video games. Despite being unrelated to the James Bond franchise as a whole, and suffering poor reception as a result of the plot and gameplay mechanics amongst video game critics of the time, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was commercially successful amongst players.

During my play-through of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, I found the game to handle very similarly to Halo 2: dual-wielding is very much a part of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and the fact that players can only hold onto one active weapon at a time means that even more thought must be given towards what one takes with them. Equipping the rocket launcher for anti-vehicular combat leaves one ill-prepared to fight soldiers, and two-handed weapons actively prevent the player from using grenades. While I found the mission objectives to be unremarkable, the levels themselves were very well designed, and fighting enemy forces was always a thrill because of how many different ways I could approach the firefight. I could sneak behind cover and pair the MRI vision with the Mag-Rail to pick foes off from behind cover, methodically pick enemies off with the AR-4, or charge in with a pair of HS-90s blazing, using the shield to absorb all damage. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent thus was a thrilling game, and I had a great time going through the game right up until I finished Crab Key. After reaching Goldfinger’s Lair, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent takes a turn for the unfair after the OMEN XR is introduced – in the player’s hands, the OMEN XR is a semi-automatic weapon firing slow-moving plasma orbs that disintegrate enemies in one hit. The weapon’s great firepower is offset by the low projectile velocity and the small capacity, so the OMEN XR is not the end-all solution to all combat scenarios. However, in the hands of an enemy, the OMEN XR is a devastating weapon capable of vapourising the player even if they are at full health and armour. Because of how common enemies carrying the OMEN XR are, the final segments of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent were downright unfair. Any sort of carelessness will send players back a long way, and the final fight of the game has players squaring off against four named enemies, each of which equip their own shields and shoot with devastating accuracy. Consequently, on my run of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, I actually had started the game back in April, but after reaching the Lair, I lost interest, and it was only late in October that I decided to give it another shot; as it turns out, I’d been a stone’s throw away from finishing the fight, and after defeating all four of Goldfinger’s remaining enforcers, I had finished a game that I’d been longing to play since I heard about it back during 2004. Despite the frustration with the final mission, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent overall is an entertaining game, and I found that the period reviews for the game to have misunderstood and misrepresented what the title had been trying to do.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • One knows they’re dealing with an old game when the screenshots are 4:3. I only have one screenshot of the opening mission, and I remember starting this after things had slowed down during April: I’d just finished watching Koisuru Asteroid, and Battlefield V was reaching the end of its lifespan. At the time, I was still on the fence about Warlords of New York, and with the global health crisis both introducing a lockdown in my area, as well as knocking anime out left and right (Houkago Teibou Nisshi and Oregairu were both delayed), I had quite a bit of extra time around to make a dent in my old backlog. Right out of the gates, I was impressed with the way GoldenEye: Rogue Agent handled the dual-wielding system; players can freely swap out weapons in their left and right hands.

  • My favourite weapon for most of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was the AR-4 Commando, a facsimile of the HK 416. In GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the AR-4 is equipped with an optic that provides magnification, and while it can be inaccurate when fired on full automatic, burst-firing the weapon allows it to reach further ranges with fair accuracy. With a 30-round magazine and capable of holding its own at close and long range, the AR-4 is the best weapon in the game, fulfilling the role that Halo 2‘s Battle Rifle did.

  • GoldenEye will always start with the SPEC-9, a 9 mm pistol modelled on the USP Match. As I make my way through Goldfinger’s lab here, I find an interrogation room with a laser identical to the one that Goldfinger had used in Goldfinger: there, Goldfinger had captured Bond and was about to deal some damage when Bond mentioned Operation Grand-Slam. Subtle call-outs to Bond films appear throughout GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and being a Bond fan myself, it was nice to recognise the different references. Here, I’m rocking the Mk. II Detonator, which acts as a miniature grenade launcher with impressive range and damage.

  • The HS-90 (FN P-90) is the most common weapon in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and can always be relied upon in a pinch. With a high rate of fire, large magazine capacity and reasonable accuracy, the HS-90 can be paired with almost any weapon, rendering one capable of handling close and medium-range combat without any trouble. Here, I’m rocking the Jackal in my left hand: modelled after the Desert Eagle, the Jackal only has an eight round magazine but hits like a truck. Different weapon combinations work with different efficacies, and in general, one can’t go wrong with the HS-90. I’ve noticed that a lot of guides from 2004 call the HS-90 a “machine gun”, and indeed, some folks use the term “machine gun” and “automatic weapon” interchangeably.

  • This is certainly not the case: an automatic weapon is any weapon that can fire multiple rounds without releasing the trigger because the weapon has a mechanism (either using the recoil or gas from an earlier round) to chamber the next round. A machine gun is a purpose-built weapon for firing full-power cartridges (such as the 7.62mm NATO round) in a sustained manner. Technically, the P-90 isn’t even a submachine gun (weapons that fire pistol calibre ammunition): it’s a personal defense weapon (PDW), a class of weapons that fire small-calibre ammunition shaped like an intermediate cartridge. I imagine that contacting the writers of these FAQs to offer revisions would be an exercise in futility, since all of them date back sixteen years, and their email accounts likely no longer exist.

  • The mission in Hong Kong is set on the rooftop of a fictional restaurant/public bath of sorts: to be clear, no such building exists in Hong Kong in a site where the IFC and The Centre are simultaneously visible along with the Hong Kong Bank of China Tower. While the site has been heavily fictionalised, it was nice to see Hong Kong appear in a video game. In this mission, enemies speak Cantonese, and there are various signs in Traditional Chinese around the level. GoldenEye traverses the rooftops by way of zip-lines, and fortunately, while using said zip-lines, one can still fire their weapons.

  • While GoldenEye can pick up body armour to provide an additional layer of defense from enemy fire, unlike traditional 007 games, GoldenEye has regenerating health. Health begins recharging as soon as one is out of combat for a while, similarly with the energy shields in Halo 2, and what’s more, like the Halo 2 energy shields, GoldenEye’s health will make an audible indicator when it is recharging. Despite the sophisticated mechanics in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the HUD remains relatively simple: ammunition is displayed on the lower side of the screen, and the left hand’s status is also displayed, whether it be zooming in, throwing grenades or firing the left-hand weapon if one is equipped. Health is indicated on the right, armour on the left, and the active Eye Power sits on the centre of the screen.

  • Early in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the Eye Powers are not particularly useful, and I got through entire missions without using them. In Hong Kong, I alternated between the AR-4 and the Harpoon RL, a fictional pump-action rocket launcher that is devastating against infantry and vehicles alike. During the fight with Dr. No’s VTOL, there was, fortunately, an endless supply of the Harpoon RL on the rooftops to take advantage of. While powerful, ammunition for the Harpoon RL is relatively rare, and so, after dealing with vehicles, my first inclination is to switch back to the AR-4 or HS-90.

  • Of the abilities in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the polarity shield is probably the most versatile and useful. It absorbs incoming damage, and when engaged, allows players to down any enemy, even named enemies, with a single melee attack. GoldenEye does have access to melee strikes in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, just like in Halo – the melee offers a means of dispatching nearby enemies without expending ammunition, and GoldenEye is able to even use enemy soldiers as a shield. This ability is useful for helping one to absorb incoming fire: it is brutal and absolutely speaks to GoldenEye’s ruthless methods. Most first person shooters do not have this as a feature, and it wasn’t until this year’s Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, where a game utilises this mechanic.

  • During the fight in Goldfinger’s Las Vegas Casino, I picked up an M134 Mini-gun (the Predator MG). Like the Harpoon RL, it slows down player movement, but capable of holding 200 rounds (with an extra 200 in reserve), the Predator MG is a beast at close quarters: the rounds are individually powerful, and the weapon has a high rate of fire. At longer ranges, spread becomes problematic, but in the narrow confines of the casino, with its card tables and slot machines, the Predator shredded enemies, allowing me to quickly reach the vaults.

  • Goldfinger’s vaults have a very clean feel to them: Bond villains always seem to have a distinct sense of aesthetics when it comes to interior design, and here, I fight through the corridors en route to the OMEN. Having now been given the polarity shield, it was here where I found that GoldenEye: Rogue Agent‘s Eye Powers add a new versatility to the game. In Halo, the idea of a deployable armour ability only arrived with Halo: Reach. Altogether, there were many features in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent that were well ahead of their time, and one must wonder what gaming journalists were thinking back in the day.

  • The Hoover Dam mission has a very late-spring, early-summer feel to it, being set during the evening. The mission reminds me of those days late in the term when the school year was ending, and the days were lengthening. When GoldenEye: Rogue Agent first came out, I was a middle school student, and I’d just beaten 007: Nightfire. Back in those days, the internet was nowhere nearly as advanced as it was now, and I found out about the game only because I had been looking up walk-throughs of Nightfire on GameFAQs and came across the new title. After reading the various weapon guides, I became intrigued with the game. One of my friends did have the game and found it enjoyable, although he remarked that Nightfire was better all around as a Bond game. Having now beaten both, I’d agree here: even now, Nightfire set the standard for what Bond games should be.

  • I’ve heard rumours that there is a new Bond game in the making – Bond titles like 007 Legends, from Activision, have been horrible, and the bar isn’t particularly high to surpass those games, but compared to classics like Nightfire, Agent Under Fire and GoldenEye 64, any new Bond game will have quite a bit to live up to. Back in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, I blow up a helicopter with a well-placed round from the Harpoon RL. The road on the top of Hoover Dam was the first section of the game I had any trouble with – since I started out with a half-empty AR-4 magazine, I was short of ammunition. It took a few tries to beat this segment: once I worked out where more ammunition could be found, dealing with enemies became much simpler.

  • I ended up picking up a Longbow SR (AMP TS DSR-1), a bull-pup bolt-action sniper rifle that excels at long-range shooting. It’s the only weapon in the game suited for extreme long range combat, and its unmatched stopping power is reigned back by a low rate of fire, small magazine capacity and the fact that ammunition for it is extremely rare. With its high magnification scope, it surpasses the AR-4 for long range combat, but my lack of skill on a console means that I prefer automatic weapons, which are more forgiving to use where controllers cannot offer the same precision as a keyboard and mouse.

  • After making my way through the interior of the Hoover Dam, I come across the generator hall. I’d actually visited Hoover Dam when I was in Las Vegas some sixteen years earlier: I remember that vacation best for the luxurious buffets that the hotels on the Strip offer, as well as the excursion to the Hoover Dam. The interior is actually rendered faithfully, and towards the end of this mission, I would fight Xena Onnatop. Were it to be a melee-fight, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent would have doubtlessly proved boring – to keep the gameplay fresh, and at the expense of narrative, Onnatop only toys with GoldenEye before grabbing a nearby VTOL, and so, one can to shoot her down in a fight, as opposed to resorting to quick-time events (incidentally, quick-time events did become popular for a while in the early 2010s).

  • The Octopus is an underwater auction house of sorts for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent‘s enemy factions. Only accessible by submarine, the location holds a computer that happens to have the coordinates of Dr. No’s personal base. Shortly after arriving, I immediately picked up the AR-4. The observant reader will notice that I’ve not made too much use of the Mamba 12G: this double-barrelled shotgun is a fictional weapon that is devastating up close, but is stymied by a low firing rate and long reload time. It is most effectively paired with the HS-90: when burst fired, one can annihilate nearby enemies with the Mamba 12G while fending off more distant foes with the HS-90.

  • During the course of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, there are two weapons players will encounter, usually in the most inopportune times when ammunition is low. These weapons are the Venom 200ML and the Tesla EM. The weapons are equivalent to Halo‘s plasma pistol in terms of efficacy: the Venom 200ML only slows down opponents, and is utterly useless, while the Tesla EM can punch through polarity shields and deal some damage against named enemies, who are usually shielded. Unlike the plasma pistol, they do not have a dedicated utility, and when one runs out of ammunition, it is preferable to stick to the SPEC-9 and hand grenades rather than pick any of these toy guns up.

  • Conversely, the Mag-Rail is probably one of the most effective and entertaining weapons to use in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent; ammunition for it is comparatively rare, and the weapon requires a moment to charge up before it can fire, but the projectile can pass through walls and take out opponents on the other side. Paired with MRI vision, one can stay behind cover and pick off foes so as long as they have energy for their Eye Powers and ammunition for the Mag-Rail. The Mag-Rail is best paired with the HS-90, allowing one to deal with enemies at close to intermediate range.

  • The penultimate mission is set on Crab Key, Dr. No’s iconic base from Dr. No. While it’s not totally faithful to the Crab Key in the movie, the general aesthetic is captured, and much like how Hoover Dam reminded me of those days late in May, Crab Key reminds me of the summer. This is hardly surprising, since Crab Key is located in Jamaica. Since the Octopus mission, I’ve been conferred the so-called “Magnetic Induction Field”, which uses magnetics to pick up and throw enemies around. While the most entertaining of the Eye Powers, it is very power intensive and usually leaves one vulnerable in a firefight. I’m guessing that it acts on the metals the enemy’s armour is composed of, since there is no way for the eye to generate enough power to have a tangible effect on the body, even in a fictional setting.

  • Before I pushed my way towards the heart of Crab Key and its reactor, I took one last look at the scenery. The visuals in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent were passable for its time: Halo 2 and 007 Nightfire both had better graphics, and I wonder if a part of the development budget went towards the voice acting and character models: GoldenEye: Rogue Agent features the likeness of Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman, Harold Sakata, Joseph Wiseman, Christopher Lee and Famke Janssen. As it stands, while the visuals were nothing eye-popping, the game’s main appeal lay in having faithful renderings of classic characters, the level design and gameplay mechanics.

  • At this point in the mission, I’ve emptied out my weapons and so, had to fall back on the SPEC-9. I’ve skipped quite a bit of the mission here: players must make their way through several fortified areas and defeat Dr. No’s tanks, go down into an excavation and push deep into Dr. No’s base in order to confront him. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent‘s graphics were on-par for what was available at the time, but these areas of the game were a little less inspired than the other parts of the mission, and so, I’ve opted to skip past them.

  • The fight with Dr. No was simple enough: after using the remote hacking ability to disable the safeties on the reactor, the reactor will overload and electrocute Dr. No. The challenge here was getting in range to carry out the hack, during which I did not have access to the polarity shield. It took a few attempts, but in the end, I got it done. With Dr. No down for the count, GoldenEye’s quest for vengeance is complete, although Goldfinger suddenly betrays GoldenEye, claiming he is too dangerous to be left alive. It would appear that Goldfinger had only allowed the employment of a former MI6 00-agent to eliminate his rival, and with the rival dealt with, this leaves Goldfinger to take centre stage.

  • The final mission is set at the Lair, a massive base located in a hollowed-out volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The interior is faithful to the original Volcano base as seen in You Only Live Twice, but is smaller in scale and lacks the launch pad. Players won’t spend too much time here, since the goal is to sabotage Goldfinger’s rogue operation. While GoldenEye is only armed with the SPEC-9 to start things off, enemy soldiers will soon drop what is one of the most infamous weapons ever to be featured in a James Bond game.

  • For the past fifteen or so years, I’ve only ever read about the OMEN XR at GameFAQs: gamers of 2004 described it as a dangerous weapon for its ability to vapourise enemies in one round, making it obscenely powerful; the OMEN XR is only limited by a low muzzle velocity and small capacity, and FAQs don’t mention what these limitations entail. Technically, this is a miniaturised version of the OMEN Goldfinger plans on using for his quest to dominate the world, being able to fit into a firearm’s form factor. While the OMEN XR appears great on paper, its low rate of fire and muzzle velocity means that in practise, the weapon is utterly useless at longer ranges.

  • When it does connect, the disintegrations that the OMEN XR causes are amusing, however, and at close quarters, against small number of enemies, the OMEN XR works just fine. However, in a serious situation, the OMEN XR is more of a liability than an asset, and the weapon’s overwhelming power against individual opponents does not leave it better suited for dealing with groups of enemies. Having taken a look around, it would appear that the internet actually does not have any screenshots of the OMEN XR in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent proper. This post rectifies that in full – I do believe that I now have the internet’s only screenshots of what the OMEN XR looks like from the first person perspective.

  • While amusing, the OMEN XR is ultimately impractical, and my preferred setup during this final mission was to pair the HS-90 with either the Mag-rail, or the Mk. II Detonator, which respectively allows me to engage enemies from behind cover and effectively deal with groups with a well-placed shot. I believe the Mk. II Detonator fires the same detonators seen in Tomorrow Never Dies: despite its small form factor, it is capable of causing serious damage, making it one of the best weapons in the game. The AR-4 is all but absent in this final mission, so having a HS-90 around is essential for survival – enemies equip the OMEN XR, and in their hands, the weapon fires in bursts of three that make even an ordinary soldier exceedingly lethal.

  • The interrogation room from Crab Key, as seen in Dr. No, is inexplicably transported over to the Lair. Players will simply need to pass through this room, retrieve the virus, and then continue on towards the next part of the mission. The first half of the final mission was moderately challenging, but the second half is diabolical. Every other soldier is equipped with the OMEN XR, and being hit will instantly kill the player. The polarity shield can absorb one of these rounds, but since soldiers fire in bursts of three, one cannot simply rush out and expect to tank all that damage. Making things more difficult, ammunition for the better guns is scarce, so one must really pick their shots well.

  • The simulation rooms were tricky, but fortunately, Goldfinger’s betrayal means that some of the soldiers will fight on GoldenEye’s side. They are moderately effective, and can help act as decoys, drawing fire off GoldenEye and allowing players to move into position for a better shot. Named enemies will show up in each of the three simulation rooms, and once all are cleared, players will continue fighting into the base to reach Goldfinger. Checkpoints are rare, and deaths are extremely punishing here: besides the OMEN XR soldiers, enemies make use of the Venom 200ML and Mk. II Detonator, which slows players down and can cause massive damage.

  • On my first play-through, I’d cleared the conference rooms and meeting areas out, and reached the final part of the base, but had to call it quits that evening back in May. When I learnt that I had been a gruelling boss fight away from finishing the game, I lost the will to continue, and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent sat unfinished for five months. I subsequently spent May and June in Battlefield V, caught up with Warlords of New York in July and spun up my own World of Warcraft server in August: it wasn’t until late last month that I decided that I might as well return and finish the fight. What awaited was diabolical: it took me some forty minutes to kill the named enemies here, but after I finished, I was left with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

  • I grabbed an OMEN XR off the floor, cleared the remaining soldiers out  and watched the closing cutscene to GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, where Goldfinger attempts to kill GoldenEye but fails. With GoldenEye: Rogue Agent in the books, I’ve now completed a game that I’d been wondering about for the past decade-and-a-half, and while the final mission was brutally difficult, overall, I found GoldenEye: Rogue Agent to be a surprisingly enjoyable game. The gaming journalists of the time got this wrong, and looking back now, what was considered to be a “mediocre, unimaginative” game from EA still is leaps and bounds ahead of modern games like Fortnite. Back then, games didn’t have loot boxes: enjoyment boiled down entirely to skill, rather than emote dances. I note that today marks the sixteenth anniversary to the release of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, and it seemed appropriate to mark this date with a revisit of the game, hence this post.

In retrospect, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was actually ahead of its time in the areas that period critics found lacking. The story of an MI6 agent going rogue allowed the game to explore a side of the Bond universe that was never dealt with in the films and suggests that the villains of the James Bond universe are not more effectual than they are because all of them have their own aspirations and plans for the world; these plans do not entail cooperation, and the reason why the villains have not already overcome the world’s governments is precisely because they are too busy quarrelling with one another. Bond films have always presented the villains as threatening the world, one at a time, and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent offers a suggestion as to why this is the case. As it stands, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent‘s story, while doubtlessly written to simply maximise the amount of exotic locations players can shoot through, is still reasonably entertaining, on top of the insight that being a bad guy in the Bond universe is a tough occupation. Besides providing the justification needed to blow stuff up in cool places, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent‘s gameplay was actually ahead of its time. The dual-wielding system was as sophisticated as that of Halo 2‘s, which would have released a mere thirteen days earlier, and unlike Halo 2, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent also incorporated the Eye Powers. GoldenEye can use MRI vision to spot enemies from behind cover and walls, hack into remote devices and disable enemy weapons, project a shield that temporarily renders him impervious to damage, or even pick enemies up and throw them. The weapons systems, together with the Eye Powers, give players tactical options during combat and encourage creativity in dealing with the enemies that GoldenEye: Rogue Agent throws at the players. The enemy AI was also fairly responsive for its time: they react in real time to the player’s actions, whether one picks up different weapons or engages different Eye Powers. Altogether, between the strong art and animation for its time, plus having a robust dual-wielding system and the Eye Powers, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent actually proved to be exceptionally innovative for its time, especially with the idea that players were not playing the good guys. The game has a very distinct personality from more conventional James Bond games, and every aspect of the game, from the visuals, to the soundtrack, conveys a sense of deadly professionalism and determination, quite unlike the suave, classy air that James Bond had been associated with during that time period, prior to Daniel Craig’s casting as Bond in 2007’s Casino Royale, which redefined what being James Bond meant.

007 Nightfire Review and Reflection

“I’ll credit you with persistence Mr. Bond. Persistence and failure. There are NATO launch sites on Earth which could challenge the arsenal on my island. Those bases will be incinerated…by turning these defensive missiles into massively offensive ones.” —Raphael Drake

007 Nightfire is an appropriate way to kick off a new class of posts under the “Ye olde Arcade” section, where I will review older games for old times’ sake. Released in 2002 for Playstation 2, Xbox and GameCube, 007 Nightfire is the first-person shooter I owned — at the time, I only played shooters at a cousin’s house during Christmas dinners, and I only had the Super Nintendo console. Enjoying GoldenEye 64 and Agent Under Fire thoroughly, I was thrilled to receive 007 Nightfire as a birthday gift. An original story, 007 Nightfire follows James Bond through his investigation of Phoenix International, a multi-national corporation who is suspected of weapons smuggling. Coming head-to-head with its owner, the industrialist Raphael Drake, Bond learns that Phoenix International has been clandestinely stockpiling nuclear materials for Operation Nightfire: the reorganising of the world under Phoenix International in order to create a world ruled by Drake’s corporation. Fighting through Drake’s private paramilitary groups on a secluded Pacific Island and in an underground launch facility, Bond infiltrates a shuttle, boards the US Space Defense Platform and destroys the nuclear missiles to save millions of lives before taking Drake on in a one-on-one in a space battle that was crafted and honed well before Call of Duty: Ghosts would return to a similar environment some eleven years later.

Possesses a 007 with Pierce Brosnan’s likeness, a novel narrative, its own theme song and is ultimately one remarkably well-executed adventure, making it perhaps the best 007 game ever made; coupled with its excellent graphics and smooth gameplay, this is an excellent instalment in the series that acts as a worthy successor to GoldenEye 64. Aside from technically solid elements, 007 Nightfire is also rifle with callbacks to older James Bond films. Bond’s switch from combat gear to an evening suit to infiltrate Drake’s party is inspired by From Russia With Love. The Aston Martin is clearly the same vehicle from Die Another Day. When Bond visits Tokyo to obtain information from Alexander Mayhew about a missing guidance chip, he visit Mayhew’s Japanese mansion and Phoenix’s Japanese branch, in a manner similar to that of You Only Live Twice. The Aston Martin’s ability to transform into a submarine is from The Spy Who Loved Me, and the ultimate showdown between Bond and Drake is reminiscent of Moonraker. Other elements, such as Fort Knox and the Golden Gun (Goldfinger and The Man With the Golden Gun), also make a return in the multiplayer: this game is packed with references to older James Bond films and is an absolute blast to play through for existing James Bond fans.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Until I review DOOM, I believe that 007 Nightfire will be the oldest game I’ve ever reviewed on this blog. Playing through 007 Nightfire brings back plenty of memories, and as such, the figure captions for this post will be one long trip down memory lane for me. I will offer some suggestions on the gameplay here and there, although how useful those bits of information will be will be up for discussion, since I do not imagine this game is played with any great frequency.

  • The first thing that made 007 Nightfire so enjoyable were the atmospherics: after a chase through the streets of Paris in the first mission, the second mission has Bond infiltrate a party at Drake’s castle in Austria. The snowfall and castle by night evokes a plainly Christmas feeling, even though there is a total absence of Christmas decorations at Drake’s castle.

  • Here, I wield a suppressed Accuracy International AWM with a winter camouflage (Winter Covert Rifle), one of two bolt-action rifles in the game. I imagine that these long-range weapons are outfitted with a straight-pull bolt, since Bond never zooms out in order to chamber a new round after firing. It’s an excellent weapon for long-range combat, and can be used to pick off Drake’s guards without drawing too much attention to oneself.

  • The Walther PPK (Wolfram PP7) is Bond’s starting weapon on most missions. Firing 7.65mm rounds, it deals little damage and has a low capacity, meaning that it will often be replaced by other weapons that are found. However, it’s not entirely ineffective — one of the PPK’s advantages is that it can be suppressed, making it useful for dispatching lone enemies without drawing attention to oneself. Beating the game will unlock the Walther P99 (Wolfram P2K), a more powerful weapon with a larger magazine capacity chambered for 9 mm rounds.

  • Special actions, known as “Bond Moves”, can be performed in 007 Nightfire (as was possible in its predecessor, Agent Under Fire). These actions allow Bond to move through areas more easily, or dispatch a large number of opponents at once in an ingenious fashion. When performed, they confer a scoring bonus that contributes towards the end-of-mission medal, which unlocks multiplayer skins.

  • The interior of Drake’s castle is well-designed, featuring warm lighting and an aristocratic atmosphere befitting of an industrialist such as Drake. It’s the perfect place for a Christmas party, and I’ve often spent time exploring, wondering what such an area might look like by day. Subtle attention to detail in the different levels make the game highly pleasant from a visual perspective, giving it a very polished feel.

  • After retrieving the guidance package and meeting up with Zoe Nightshade (a character returning from Agent Under Fire), it’s time to leave the party. I’m wielding the Heckler and Koch MP5K (Deutsche M9K) with a 21-round magazine, and later, I’ll pick up the AT-420 Sentinel, a fictional shoulder-fired multiple rocket launcher with TV-guided missiles to take on Rook’s gunship. To avoid self-inflicted damage, it’s advisable to shoot out the windows of the gondola first.

  • The gameplay in 007 Nightfire was incredibly diverse for its time, featuring both rail-shooting and driving missions in addition to first-person shooting. The third mission is the escape from Drake’s castle via heavily armed snowmobiles. Armed with both heavy machine guns and rockets, this mission is highly enjoyable, standing in stark contrast with the PC version of 007 Nightfire, which I’ve also played and is an inferior game in every way to the console versions.

  • While it seems a little strange, vehicles can also pick up Kevlar vests to become armoured. After a harrowing chase down the mountain side, Nightshade pilots the snowmobile through a mountain lodge filled with guests before destroying one of the pursing helicopters to end the mission.

  • Equipped with smoke, EMP rounds, boosters, guided missiles, unguided rockets and forward-facing machine guns, Bond’s Aston Martin is a fantastic vehicle to drive. The upgraded missiles can lock onto up to four targets at once, allowing for Bond and Nightshade to reach the extraction point with relative ease. Civilian police cars participate in the chase, although harming them will result in an immediate mission failure.

  • I lock onto one of the helicopters and prepare to blow it away with the guided missiles in order to clear the extraction site here. While an excellent vehicle in all regards, one of the features that I missed from Die Another Day is the adaptive camouflage (in effect, a cloak for the vehicle). It’s explained as making use of cameras to project an image they see onto the other side of the vehicle to give the sense of invisibility. I imagine that adding this ability to the vehicle would make it overpowered, and furthermore, isn’t strictly necessary in terms of gameplay.

  • The fifth mission, set at Mayhew’s Japanese home, is another example of the excellent level design in 007 Nightfire: subtle details, such as the furnishings in the interior or the layout of the gardens outside, are simply spectacular. Here, I’m equipped with a Desert Eagle (Raptor Magnum) chambered for the .375 calibre round. Compared to its .5 calibre counterpart, this one is more accurate and has a slower rate of fire.

  • 007 Nightfire is where I first encountered the SPAS-12 shotgun in a game, and it could alternate between pump-action and semi-automatic fire. Excellent for close quarters combat, it’s particularly effective in the narrow corridors of Mayhew’s mansion.

  • Here, I wield the Ruger MP9 (Storm M32), which offsets its weak bullet damage with a high firing rate and magazine size. How did I take the screenshots for this post? A magician does not reveal all of is tricks is all I have to say on the matter. I did try to make some of these screenshots consistent with those from my old website’s review, and have since replaced them. I’ve discontinued updates for the old site, although the 007 Nightfire images merited a return: I believe they are the only images that remained that I did not capture myself, since I lacked the means to capture screenshots when I wrote that post.

  • The mission to infiltrate the Phoenix International building in Tokyo gives the game a feeling similar to those of the older Metal Gear Solid games, and for this mission, Bond is initially to make his way to the top floors of the building to plant a worm into the computer servers. Only civilian security guards are encountered, and the mission will end if they are killed. To aid players, Bond is equipped with a specially-modified Heckler and Koch P11 (the Korsakov K5 Dart Gun) that fires tranqualiser rounds. To conserve on limited ammunition, it’s also possible to stun guards with the key fob or simply punch them out.

  • The offices for the Japanese branch of Phoenix International feels like the headquarters for Konami, Square Enix or other Japanese game publishers: both missions set in the Phoenix International building in Tokyo give the sense that they were designed and published by Japanese developers with respect to the level design, feeling like something straight out of older PS2 games, such as Metal Gear Solid, despite the fact that Eurocom developed the console version of the game.

  • The seventh mission deals with a derelict nuclear power station undergoing decommissioning along the Japanese coast. It marks the first time I’ve played a shooter set in a haikyo, and the abandoned area serves as a fantastic location for Drake to conduct illicit research on prototype weapons even as he leads a group of reporters in a tour of the area, suggesting that his goals are philanthropic in nature.

  • The standard AWM (Winter Tactical Rifle) is the best weapon in 007 Nightfire for long-range combat. Chambered for the .308 round, it’s well suited for taking out distant enemies in the seventh mission: enemy snipers are prevalent on the map, and can deal serious damage to Bond. The best tactic is to stay hidden and pick off enemies one at a time, always keeping one’s back to a wall. Later, armour piercing rounds can be equipped.

  • The eighth mission sends Bond back to the Phoenix International building after his capture at the nuclear power plant, and is a backtracking mission that places emphasis on going loud. I’ve got the SG-552 carbine here: there’s a suppressed variant of it in the second mission, but here, I’ve got access to a full automatic version equipped with optics. The go-to assault rifle in 007 Nightfire, ammunition for it is reasonably common.

  • I’m wielding the AT-600 Scorpion rocket launcher against an endless horde of enemies in the Phoenix Building’s lobby. With the objective being to escape, it’s also the perfect time to boost one’s stats at the end of the mission: unlike the Sentinel, its rockets are heat-seekers. There’s also a Mikor MGL (Militek MGL) in the level with twelve available 40mm grenades (six in the chamber, six in reserve) that can be likewise used to unleash explosive chaos. Exiting the lobby completes the mission and leads to the introduction of Alura McCall, an Australian operative.

  • The ninth mission entails piloting Bonds Aston Martin as a submarine to infiltrate Drake’s island facility. I never could get past this when I first played the game some twelve years ago, but of late, perhaps armed with the wisdom and experience of a graduate student, I’ve managed to beat this level now. A combination of a steady piloting and caution will allow for this level to be completed, and it was very enjoyable to delve deeper into a well-designed facility I’d not seen previously.

  • Aside from avoiding patrols, making use of guided torpedoes to damage surveillance infrastructure, and deploying limpet charges on the underwater missiles, there’s also a section in the ninth mission where Bond must destroy an active submarine. Its torpedoes are devastating, but one trick to make this fight easier (if lengthier) is to stay in the shadows and hammer it with guided torpedoes until it is destroyed.

  • The tenth mission is another driving mission, and I recall watching The New Woody Woodpecker Show during this time period. Produced from 1999 to 2002, it was well-animated and rather comical; Woody Woodpecker himself is voiced by Billy West (Futurama‘s Phillip J. Fry). I rather miss the show, and English-language releases have been even more rare than Kevin Gillis’ The Raccoons.

  • Consisting of three distinct acts, the tenth mission of 007 Nightfire is one incredible ride through a tropical island. After commandeering a heavily-armed SUV and destroying automated turrets en route to an airfield, Bond and McCall take to the skies in an ultra-light armed for a rail-shooter. The pulse weaponry and rockets are superbly effective against ground-based and air-based targets. I prefer using the rockets for harder targets, switching to the D1400 pulse weapons to finish other opponents off.

  • The final act of this mission is in a stationary turret, armed with a powerful anti-tank cannon and what appears to be a directed energy pulse weapon for anti-air targets. The enemy tanks, aircraft and a submarine will always spawn in the same order, making this section of the game reasonably straight forwards to complete. Coming up next in “Ye Olde Aracade” will be a talk on Enter The Matrix, which I played for both GameCube and PC. I have an opinion on that game contrary to most reviewers, and will be looking to write about that one as time allows. Regular programming resumes with the sixth episode of Brave Witches, which I will aim to publish by Thursday or Friday.

  • The penultimate mission through the interior of Drake’s facility is downright epic. The initial goal is to follow Kiko stealthily through the facility to reach a server room, and Bond is equipped with a crossbow for ultimate stealth. Disabling the alarms and cameras helps greatly, and subsequently, once the servers are offline, it’s time to settle a score with Rook, Drake’s henchman. Rook is incredibly durable and can tank direct hits from the M29 OICW’s high-explosive 20mm grenades. Known as the AIMS-20 (Advanced Individual Munitions System) in-game, the OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) is the best assault rifle in the game, firing 5.56 mm rounds in bursts and also mounts an integral grenade launcher, as well as an infrared scope.

  • The OICW’s best feature are its grenades: smaller than those of the MGL, they are not affected by projectile drop to the same extent and can be used to deal serious damage even at a distance. After defeating Rook, the Phoenix Samurai Laser Rifle can be acquired. The most powerful weapon in the game, it has unlimited ammunition and is quite lethal, although I prefer the OICW for this mission owing to how plentiful ammunition for it is.

  • The final stage of the penultimate mission is to survive two consecutive shuttle launches and fend off two waves of attackers, including two ninjas. At the end of the fifth mission, a ninja shows up to assassinate Mayhew, forcing Bond to engage him. I found that a single headshot (or two body shots) with the AWM would work quite well, but in this mission, the under-barrel grenades can eliminate the ninjas on very short order. Once they’re down, Bond sends Kiko to her death and boards the shuttle for the final mission.

  • 007 Nightfire got the concept of space missions down before Call of Duty: Ghosts existed, and the final mission, titled “Equinox”, is a superb exercise in aiming and persistence. Players must destroy the coupling on the missile gantries, which will send them off course, while simultaneously fending off soldiers who are also armed with the Phoenix Samurai laser rifle. The weapon has good optics and an alternative fire that compresses energy into a powerful ball: its firing sound is identical to the Photon Cannon, a multiplayer-only power weapon available in Agent Under Fire.

  • Once all the missiles are sent off course, Drake himself comes out to fight Bond mano-a-mano. He’s wielding a Scorpion rocket launcher and can tank several laser shots: the heat seeking missiles makes him quite devastating, so it is imperative to keep moving. The first time I beat this mission, I managed to push Drake into the Space Defense Platform’s laser, killing him instantly, although now, my aim is sure enough for me to hit him using the Phoenix Samurai laser rifle. Even after he’s dead, one must keep moving to avoid any missiles still in the area, but once Drake’s lifeless corpse is shown in a cutscene, players can breathe easy, having finished 007 Nightfire‘s campaign.

As far as I am concerned, 007 Nightfire is the greatest James Bond shooter ever made: even today, the gameplay and design of the game is quite solid when compared to some modern shooters. Clearly, 007 Nightfire has stood the test of time, and I’m finding that the game is just as fun now as it was when I played through the game during a lazy summer vacation during my time as a middle school student. Back then, I had a tremendous amount of difficulty beating the submarine mission, and only completed the game recently. The reviews on the campaign’s short length are spot on: it does come across as being quite short, although there is plenty of replay value in trying to collect all of the medals and unlock all of the multiplayer skins. In an ordinary review, I would give 007 Nightfire a strong recommendation and suggest that players check this game out. However, 007 Nightfire is fourteen years old now, and picking up the game for a Playstation 2 or GameCube could be quite tricky. With that being said, it is nonetheless a solid game, and anyone with the game for an older console could probably find it quite entertaining, if a little tacky, by contemporary standards.