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ROGUE AGENT COMMUNITY DAY @ EA LA
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
I really must emphasize the fact that GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is still in alpha stage and will undergo many changes, or at least some changes, before its release in November of this year. So keep this in mind with my comments since what I've seen and played may end up being different from the game that you play. I'm not trying to be a critic of the game since it's not a finished product and I only played it for maybe thirty minutes total. That won't stop me from giving my opinion however!! We were told on a few occasions that we should give feedback about the game and areas we liked or didn't like. Dan Orzulak even said, "be honest and don't worry about hurting my feelings." I've done my best to offer them feedback on what I've played already. At the end of the day we completed a standard form which asked about our impressions on various aspects of the game and what we liked and didn't like. Since I'm a fan of the original game I had to step back and look beyond the name of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
Well based on my research before leaving on the trip, the many comments around the message boards are asking one thing. Is this game anything like the original? Can EA justify using the name GoldenEye has been asked many many times. That's a sensible enough question since the name begs that comparison. As you can see from the photos and screenshots the name "GoldenEye" is the largest part of the logo. EA knows all about the original game and the pressures, skepticism, and expectations associated with sharing a game of the same name. I think the skeptics of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent will have to simply get past the name comparisons or expectations. The how's and why's of the name don't really matter if this game is fun to play. It's a console shooter that will be playable online! I've thought a lot about what I've seen and played. From all the videos, presentations, and information during the trip I've made observations on this comparison or lack thereof between the two games.
There are two influences or styles in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent which I could draw comparisons to the original. Executive Producer Patrick Gilmore made reference to the original GoldenEye and the use of double weapons. In this game you can also use double weapons, with the exception that there are two separate fire buttons. Remember that trick in GoldenEye when you could use two weapons that weren't the same? Two different weapons is part of the standard gameplay in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.
Secondly, the original GoldenEye was about lots of shooting and taking out multiple enemies. Stealth? I don't think so. Just watch one of Wouters videos!! Remember all those juicy brown boxes that explode and take out multiple enemies in the original? It was a trademark feature in the original and in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent there are the same type of situations where you can take out multiple enemies. Big explosions that you set off by using elements of the environment for example. The use of Deathtraps in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is perhaps the updated concept of this same gameplay. The common thread between the games is utilizing the environment to make kills instead of just shooting enemies one at a time.
It's hard for me to say whether or not the developers are trying to produce a game that will be like the original. I did ask in my interviews about how important new concepts were and if developers were fearful of having a game that is too comparable to another. In other words would creating a game that draws direct comparisons to another game be a bad thing from a pride or creative standpoint? I'm a musician and I know that sounding too similar to another band or writing a song that draws comparisons is definitely a bad thing. I often wonder how much pressure there is to create new gameplay concepts because of this. I ask this question because when I look at the classics like GoldenEye and Perfect Dark I can't see a lot of games that carried on the best features of those two games. Where is the influence in shooters today from a game like GoldenEye? If anything console shooters have attempted to become more like PC shooters which largely focus on realism.
Let's face it the original GoldenEye had nothing to do with realism. Is that why it's still fun to play in 2004? I'm sure if that was the case then there would be more shooters on the market with that same unrealistic gameplay right? Strictly from a realism point of view the original and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent are like apples and oranges. The original had nothing to do with realism whereas GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is based on realism. Because of this, there are many qualities of the original game that simply cannot be considered because of the "realistic" requirement. The biggies in my mind are movement speed and the limited number of weapons in your inventory. Shooters today are all about realism. It's not a fault of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, but just the nature of shooters today and the expectations of realism. Gone are the days of carry five weapons at a time or moving at speeds that are humanly impossible.
The speed of the game was quite a discussion point I found on the trip. I did learn that you will be even slower after taking damage or if you are using a heavy weapon. Speaking strictly from a feel perspective the game felt a bit slow. As you might imagine I was taking damage on a regular basis which contributed to the sluggish feel I'm sure. But as I was told, increasing the game speed affects the entire nature of the game. With a faster game suddenly players can run past difficult sections of a level and the need for taking cover is diminished. I made the argument that the AI is smart enough in this game that if you don't take them out, they will just end up shooting you in the back if you run past. I also don't think that the use of cover will be lessened because the realistic reload times demand that you duck out of the way and use cover. In Perfect Dark the slow reloading meant there weren't many times where I'm reloading out in the open!
Dan Orzulak told us the movement speed in terms of the actual feet per second, and in fact that number was a bit quicker than a truly realistic speed. The movement speed in feet per second was a revelation to me. I find Halo to be on the sluggish side especially noticeable on a multiplayer level like Hang 'Em High when crossing the flats. Can you say sitting duck? Somebody tosses a grenade at your feet and you are helpless to move far enough away before it explodes. Yes, Master Chief wears armor and that means he's slow. I'm the kind of person that would prefer a quicker paced game even if that meant sacrificing a bit of realism. Look at the original GoldenEye! It's ridiculously unrealistic compared to every shooter made today. The point is people are still playing the game after all this time which indicates that realism in my mind is overrated. Do you agree? Disagree? EMAIL me your opinion please. I asked around with the participants in the community day and it was a consensus that the game could use a bit more speed. Having said all this, if the game speed isn't changed then GoldenEye: Rogue Agent will fit in with every other shooter that's coming out. I asked about having a game speed option in multiplayer but there wouldn't be that option. Shucks!
It would be unheard of in 2004 to have a shooter where you can actually cycle through more than a couple weapons and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is no exception. We were told there are twelve weapons to choose from in this game. You always carry a Pistol in your inventory as a default weapon and you can pick up another small weapon for a double threat. You are limited to one weapon if you decide on picking up a large double handed weapon such as a Rocket Launcher. This stays true to that realism factor.
The mechanics of picking up weapons, dropping weapons, switching weapons from hand to hand and firing with two separate buttons is quite a challenge. If you think of what you've played in shooters, you have these types of decisions relating to one weapon, not two. Having an extra item like a second gun to think about adds to the difficulty and confusion during intense sections of the game. Perhaps given a longer period of time I would have been able to master the use of different double weapons and two fire buttons. From an enjoyment perspective, I certainly hope that will be the case.
I've been a big believer in the original GoldenEye health display. There is a reason it's on my home page! Within that segmented display is a strategy that can only be unleashed in split screen multiplayer games where you aren't using one hit kills. Unlike split screen multiplayer, health displays in a single screen multiplayer environment are for personal use only and serve no strategic purpose. I'm so glad you asked for my opinion!
The HUD display in its current state is of similar size and shape to the original GoldenEye and it remains on the screen. Chris Plummer did mention that the final display will likely be different than the one currently in the game. On the left is a solid armor bar and on the right is a solid heath bar. A solid horizontal bar in the lower center of the display shows your GoldenEye level. When taking a hostage a solid red display bar will appear on the right side of the HUD which indicates their remaining health. The game also has an indicator that flashes on the display from the direction that you a hit.
When it comes to picking up weapons, you stand over a weapon and an icon appears in the center of your display. Next you are able to press one of two buttons depending on which hand you want to use. During the game when you stand close enough to a switch, ladder, or zip line, an indicator will appear in the center of the HUD for the actual button to press. Simply press the button and you're on your way. I quite liked this aspect which made for ease of play. I found this made for a much more fluid game and honestly who needs the hassle of lining up a ladder?
Think of a level like Bunker from the original GoldenEye and one thing comes to mind. Enemies, and lot of them. During the presentation by Chris Plummer I asked whether or not there would be steady streams of enemies like in the original. He replied by saying enemies wouldn't leave certain locations of the level to attack you and there wouldn't be enemies randomly spawned into a level. In other words you won't be able to have the pacman type Bunker feasts of the original. Chris talked about what can happen when AI comes from other locations to attack you. It's problematic because other areas of the level suddenly become empty.
I have mentioned previously my impression of the AI in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. It's kick ass! Typically I refer to AI as dummies but not in this case. Taking cover is your best bet against these guys and don't pass by them unless you want to take bullets in the back. Dan Orzulak mentioned that they had to scale back the AI so that the game could be fun. Otherwise you would be constantly flanked! You wouldn't be able to keep up and eventually you would be fodder. The AI base their decisions on their line of sight so keep this in mind when you play!
Multiplayer wise, it's unfortunate that I have the least amount of information to relay on that aspect of the game. Apparently this was the first area that was worked on so you should expect big things. The importance of multiplayer, from what I was told, is huge in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Could I see an influence of the original game in the one level I played? Not exactly. It would be unfair and inaccurate to comment on the influences since I had so little time playing it.
I did find out that there will be a "scrimmage mode" instead of Bots. Basically they won't behave like your standard Bots but you will be able to play against AI in the multiplayer levels. Confused? There will be a lot of multiplayer levels in this game and some will be set for a specific number of players. There are no ammo crates in multiplayer. Body armor, yes it's in multiplayer also and unfortunately I forgot to ask if there will be the option of removing it in the options. Death Traps will be in levels giving another dimension to the gameplay also.
We played the Uplink level with featured a helicopter buzzing around while shooting at you. I'm unsure if all levels will feature AI enemies such as this, but I prefer no interference during a multiplayer game. For me it's more rewarding knowing that I'm the one responsible for my opponents demise. It just seemed that regardless of where I was on the level bullets from the helicopter were flying in my direction!
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is an over the top shooter. You still have to play smart and methodical, but it's geared towards taking out enemies. I liked that aspect of this game. Forget about stealth. When have you ever had so many options to take out the enemy in a game? Bonk 'em, toss 'em, grab 'em, shoot 'em, bowl 'em, burn 'em, squish 'em. The AI was certainly one of the most impressive aspects of the game. Graphically the game is top notch and one of the most detailed environments that I've seen.
I'm really excited to see and read about the final product as it nears completion to see just how much stays the same or how much changes. It was a special opportunity to sit and play a game that is still under development. If you have any questions or comments on what I've mentioned, don't hesitate to EMAIL me. I want to personally thank everyone at EA LA for having me to their event, especially Jonathan Long! It was a trip that I will never forget.
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