Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/13/01 | Genre: Action
I was not expecting much when I brought Agent Under Fire home and lazily plopped it in my PS2, I did not expect to recapture the Bond-magic that GoldenEye so gracefully purported, nor did I assume the storyline would be at all good. Therefore, I was not disappointed but rather pleasantly surprised to find out that Agent Under Fire is actually an entertaining, albeit short, game.
EA is doing the honors this time around and have, for the most part, given the series fans little to complain about. You control Bond through a myriad of different tasks that include such things as: Manning the turrets of a tank, chasing down objectives in tricked out automobiles and plowing down baddies with a multitude of weaponry. James Bond looks like a mix between Pierce Bronson and Jet Li. Agent Under Fire is not based on any Bond movies so don't expect to recreate your favorite theatrical moments. The cut-scenes are rendered in real-time for the first half of the game and then for some reason switch to prerendered cut-scenes made to look like they are rendered in real-time.
At the end of every mission you will be scored on a multitude of different things, one of which is "Bond Moves". You will have different opportunities within each mission to pull off maneuvers that somehow conform to the stereotypical Bond-stunt. Your overall score will determine what medal you receive: gold, silver or bronze. You are able to unlock different weapons and features with gold medals.
Agent Under Fire is about two parts FPS, one part Silent Shooter, and one part Spy Hunter. Each mode is well executed and for the most part enjoyable. You can pretty much plow through the whole game in right around 5 hours, so you might want to think twice about laying down a 50 spot for it (although the multiplayer mode does vastly extend the life of it's usefulness). The only time you will have any trouble with the difficulty of the game is the notable, but rare, times where it is uncertain how you are supposed to proceed.
The graphics are nothing to go screaming buck-naked in the streets about, there are some nice reflection algorithms but thats about it. What this game does offer however is a solid, entertaining experience. A game can have all the bells and whistles in the world but if its not fun to play then it might as well be good for nothing. This is basically a good game, composed completely with power cords. So while the visuals in Agent Under Fire could for all intents and purposes have been carbon-copy ported straight to the Dreamcast, the "fun-ness" it offers more then makes up for its lack of stunning visuals.
Sadly though, the game suffers from uninspired AI and yawn inducing gadgetry. Most of Bond's "stealth" maneuvers are limited to using the "Q-Laser" to open a lock or the "Q-Claw" to grapple yourself from point A to point B. Not exactly Bond's most shining moments. All the stereotypical Bond clichȧs are duly covered, and all the cheesy PG rated female encounters are lubricated with a nice slick trademark Bond retort. "Oh Bond, I don't know how to repay you" - "I'm sure we can figure something out", queue instinctive eye rolling. And the development team attempted to integrate (key word: attempted) some sort of "jiggly" sub-routine for the uniformly well-endowed female characters of the game.
The storyline is just about what you would expect: Malprave industries are cloning humans to fulfill their sinister intentions of taking over the world, or blowing it up, or some equally predictable thing. And of course, James Bond being the super great guy that he is, accepts the task of giving these crazed super villains a cease and desist order, Bond style.
All is not lost however, when all is said and done Agent Under Fire does come through on multiple occasions. Gameplay is smooth and transitions between game type, surprisingly good. The Spy Hunter/GTA3-wannabe sequences (complete with bystanders and high-speed matrixed out stunts) offer up the most adrenaline rushes, followed closely by the meat of the game: FPS levels. The control in FPS mode is nice and tight (with config mode 3) and delivers the most fluid and precise action this side of Halo. Short of a mouse and keyboard your not going to find play control as silky smooth as this in a home console FPS. But again, as is the Tao of Ying and Yang, you will find that the freedom of movement and range of motion is very linear.
The soundtrack for this game is worth mentioning, due mainly to the fact that (aside from the obligatory Bond Theme) the music consists of original tunes and innovative implementation. The music gets decisively more intense as the on-screen action heats up, and slows down to a more surreal and calming tone accordingly. It's nothing new and has been used in high quality games in the past, but its a nice touch nonetheless.
On one hand, I really like this game: good solid shoot-em-up entertainment, nitro injected driving sequences, head-to-head and cooperative multiplayer modes. On the other hand, the gaggle of faults in the game makes this one a tough sell. The most compelling reason to play it after you have beaten it is the multiplayer mode (which requires the PS2 Multi-Tap to get the most use out of). Overall, I would say this game will be worth every cent you pay for it, for an overnight rental of course.