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GoldenEye: Rogue Agent

From the moment GoldenEye: Rogue Agent lead designer Dan Orzulak takes the controls and wades in among the flying lead, there's a muted intake of breath as the words "bloody hell, this is tough" run through our minds. And it's all in the AI. During his recent visit to the offices, Orzulak played through mission five of Rogue Agent - where your objective is to blow up the Hoover Dam - and demonstrated three GoldenEye abilities, among other features.

Hack, the first ability to come under scrutiny, doesn't apply to simply hacking into computer systems. However, what can and cannot be hacked isn't flagged up during the game - it's a case of try and see. As the Orzulak put it, "With regard to the Hack ability, Rogue Agent is full of hidden features but the game doesn't imply you have to play it in a specific way."

And this is indicative of the game's whole ethos. Developers EA Los Angeles provide the tools but exactly how you choose to play the various missions and use the bestowed features really comes down to preference of game style. An example of a Hack use that isn't immediately apparent is using it on enemies to magnetise their guns, severely impairing their accuracy.

However, throw in another GoldenEye ability like MRI (basically, x-ray vision) and you may rely more on knowing where the enemy is and your own accuracy than impairing that of your opponents. As you can only utilise a single GoldenEye skill at any one time, it's a matter of choice in any given situation and how you prefer to go about handling the rather tasty opposition. If you're totally gung-ho, the EM Shield may be the way to go, making yourself invincible for a period of time and wading in regardless. Even so, the GoldenEye can't be in constant use as its energy depletes when employed, encouraging the gamer to be prudent within their own chosen style of play.

That said, the game doesn't restrict you to one kind of style once chosen (like the RPG-cum-FPS Deus Ex: Invisible War does) as it's not a case of setting the character into a given mould but allowing for on-the-fly choices where you can mix and match as you see fit. A stealthy approach is amply catered for and could well get you through the majority of the levels but, if it all kicks off big time, there's nothing to stop you nabbing that rocket launcher and doing your best impression of a Rambo-inspired nutboy.

It's all about giving the gamer variety and choice in an arena that lets you play around with your favourite toys. Handily, the game auto-saves incrementally throughout the levels so you've no worry of having to redo a whole level. While this encourages experimentation our only concern is that by saving so frequently the game may end up being far shorter than it would be otherwise.

Still, the weapons you have available are the main determining factor when taking on the enemy. No matter how good you think you are, if you're reduced to a revolver and a few bullets, more judicious and stealthier gameplay is more likely to see you through until you get your hands on something a tad more potent.

Which brings us to the Detonator. It's a handgun that fires extremely powerful sticky-grenades and is so effective it would kill the game dead if Detonator ammo were readily available throughout the missions. It's not but, when in a tight situation, the Detonator is your very best friend.

The twin-gun action has been much talked about already (with both guns working independently and firing off separate left and right shoulder buttons) but we'd reiterate here that it's very user-friendly. Swapping guns couldn't be simpler - just hit Square when over a gun and it either replaces the one currently armed or is taken up by the 'empty hand'. If you choose a heavy gun though, such as a rocket launcher, it's worth remembering that you're not Arnie in Commando and, as such, can only carry a single major piece of hardware. Also worth noting is that every secondary weapon has a zoom function. Coming from the school of FPS campers, this is music to our ears.