3. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
2004 | PS2, Xbox, GameCube, DS
Copies sold in US: Just over one million
Average score: 60%
Heavily hyped as the spiritual successor to the N64 classic GoldenEye 007, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was instead a clunky, linear shooter that was to GoldenEye what sledgehammers are to scalpels. In sharp contrast to the original GoldenEye, which offered players the sensation of being a stealthy secret agent with a versatile arsenal and varied goals, Rogue Agent felt more like piloting a regenerating meat-tank through squads of human insects needing to be squashed. Slick production values and celebrity talent aside, it was the exact opposite of what a game set in James Bond's world should be.
The company line: "Wreak havoc as you cross over to the dark side - experience life as a high-rolling, cold-hearted Bond villain! E.V.I.L. AI makes enemies react intelligently, making every shootout more intense, unpredictable - and realistic."
What the critics said: While a few reviewers had high praise for Rogue Agent, most found it mediocre at best. Most of the complaints centered on the game's skeletal excuse for a story, with IGN's Doug Perry going so far as to call it "an empty vessel of a game missing personality, charm, story or any kind of distinguishing character." The game's lumbering, destructive action didn't win it any accolades, either, with TotalGames.net writing that it "might have actually been all right as a light gun game."
Regardless of what they chose to pick on, most of the critics seemed disgusted that this game dared to identify itself with the still-cherished GoldenEye, let alone the Bond franchise as a whole. For turning its Bond-villain experience into a simplistic shooter that was frustratingly short on story, the game quickly became synonymous with wasted potential. Of course, that didn't stop people from thinking it was worth their money.
Why you bought it anyway: Whether it was fond memories of the original GoldenEye or just the lure of being a bad guy in 007's world, there was definitely something seductive about Rogue Agent. And even if you knew it didn't have much to offer as a single-player shooter, the promise of online Bond multiplayer was still hard to pass up.
The kicker is that, even though its sales across all platforms total more than a million copies, Rogue Agent is considered to have sold poorly, given the expensive Bond license and the huge marketing blitz behind the game. Considering that it hit stores around the same time as Halo 2, however, it did surprisingly good business.
What went wrong? Despite offering gamers a chance to switch sides and become a Bond villain, GoldenEye decided to toss players into the middle of a secret war between two other Bond villains. So what could have been a string of cool heists, assassinations and world-domination plots instead became just another you-against-the-faceless-goons shooter that enabled you to take bad guys as hostages. Apart from a few encounters with familiar Bond baddies, GoldenEye didn't have much of a story, either, meaning it barely made even an artificial attempt to create a villainous atmosphere. Oh, and despite its claims about awesome enemy intelligence, as a shooter it was kind of mediocre - especially when compared to its namesake.
Most infuriatingly positive quote: "Rogue Agent will leave you shaken and stirred," gushed GamePro's Manny LaMancha, proving once again that no cliché is too stale for a writer who wants to see himself quoted on the back of a box.