Hostage taking is another fine example of the simplicity and user-friendliness of the interface. Once you're suitably up-close and personal, jam on X and you can whip your hapless hostage around by the neck and use him as a human shield. However, his buddies will hesitate for only a second before deciding it's his loss and will continue to send lead in your general direction. The exception to this is if you manage to take a boss hostage. If you're able to pull off this extremely difficult (though possible) manoeuvre, they will ponder on the wisdom of firing at you, buying you more time. In the main, though, hostages are simply flak-jacket meat and, once they have served their use, they usually get thrown over the nearest railing.
While this looks like great fun, there is actually a point to this tactic - racking up points in the Rogue scoring system. As you work your way through the game's nine missions (which are split into 21 levels), gameplay is monitored and the more ruthless and nasty you are, the more points you'll garner. This in turns leads to opening up the many hidden features, so you're encouraged to be the badass you always knew you were. This we like.
But going back to what we said at the start, if the demonstration is a fair representation of the game as a whole, this game is tough - and it all comes down to the AI. These guys do not wait to be shot. They rarely run at you like imbeciles. They use cover. They seek out your position in an intelligent we-don't-want-to-die kind of way. They use combined strategies, such as pinning you down and flanking you.
The AI is also subtle enough to change tactics and not just depending on your chosen route through an area. It was surprising to hear the guards calling out to their compatriots the name of the gun you were using and switching tactics accordingly. If you remain hidden and pick up another gun, they'll be ignorant of the fact but, once you expose yourself, they'll note your weaponry and employ a different approach. We haven't seen enough of the game to judge just how much variety and subtlety the AI commands but early impressions bode well for enemies that'll keep you on your toes by counteracting your actions in an intelligent fashion.
Which suggests that Rogue Agent is going to be a rollercoaster ride from start to finish and just how you handle the trip really is a matter of choice. A choice that is most definitely yours.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is scheduled to hit PS2 and Xbox on 26 November and will be followed by the Gamecube version on 3 December