Developer(s) – EA Redwood Shores
Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts
Developed as an intended successor to Rare’s massively successful first-person shooter based on the same license, Goldeneye 007, Agent Under Fire was released back in 2001, and met with mixed to positive reviews from critics. Although I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as Goldeneye 007, and despite the fact that many critics have gone on to label it a “standard-issue game, I personally found a fair bit of enjoyment to be had whilst playing, and as a result, I spent a lot of time on it when it was released.
Graphics – 7.5/10
In lieu of the franchise’s tradition, the game is set in a multitude of different locations around the world, and range from locations such as submarines, secret bases office buildings and city streets. Conceptually, the game is as wonderfully varied as any film or game in the franchise. Graphically, it also did a fairly decent job of showcasing what sixth generation consoles were capable of in a graphical sense in the early stages of their respective shelf lives.
Gameplay – 7.5/10
The gameplay also went beyond an average linear first-person shooter. With many different gadgets to use along the way, such as a decryptor to unlock doors, a laser to find hidden entry points into buildings and to break locks and a jet pack to reach higher ground, it all provided the game with a pleasant amount of variety. Since it all also provided different ways to approach each level, it also came with a decent amount of replay value as well. There are also sequences that involve vehicular combat, which only added to the game’s level of diversity, as well as the intensity to be experienced while playing.
Controls – 10/10
This game was released in a time when the first-person shooting genre was about to taken to even greater heights than before in terms of commercial success, so as to be expected, there are no problems with the controls, especially as the game was developed using the id Tech 3 engine created by id Software; pioneers of the genre with the likes of Doom and Wolfenstein. I also found the vehicular sections to be as simple to control as many of the best racing games that were around at the time, such as Gran Turismo 3, which makes the game seem even more impressive, as it was built on an engine designed specifically for shooting games.
Lifespan – 6/10
The game can only be made to last around 10 to 15 hours, which whilst isn’t great, is longer than many other FPS games released today, and was seemingly about the industry standard for the time anyway. What replay value it offers can add on a couple more hours, but I think they could have easily made this game to last longer than they did by either making the stages longer with ore side challenges to complete throughout, or simply having more of them instead.
Storyline – 6/10
The storyline is also typically reminiscent of a James Bond film, but with considerably worse dialogue. In it, Bond is investigating a corporation called Identicon; a botanical research firm suspected of being a front for a weapons smuggling ring. A mole in the organization named Zoe Nightshade is found out and captured by the corporation and its up to Bond to save her, as well stop their plans. There is also a nice twist to it all presented towards the middle of the story, but the voice acting can range from barely passable to lacklustre, making it somewhat difficult to take seriously at times. The voice actor playing Bond also sounded to me like Steve Coogan, and since I’m Alan Partridge was riding high at that time, a program of which I’m a big fan of, it made it especially difficult to take seriously.
Originality – 7/10
Although it was nowhere as innovative as Goldeneye 007, this game is not without it’s own distinct charm that differentiates it from most other first-person shooters. The side quests in each level give players something to do beyond focusing on shooting every enemy in sight, and the vehicular combat does very well to positively mix up the gameplay, and provide gamers with a very different experience to what they will have been used to at that time.
Overall, Agent Under Fire is a very decent licensed game made in a time before the sub genre was taken into greater prominence with the likes of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Even though it is very easy to draw negative comparisons with Goldeneye 007, it’s still a very enjoy gaming experience, and one that even still holds up to this day.