The Cow with the Golden Gun

This one is pretty well-known, but I was lucky enough to get the official word on this easter egg from Jason Priest, an environment supervisor on the game.

In the first portion of the Hong Kong mission, players can obtain the golden gun. This is literally the only campaign stage where this is possible; as a matter of fact, even if you somehow keep the golden gun up until part two of the Hong Kong mission, you'll automatically lose it.

 

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After getting betrayed by the triad informant, the building you're in gets blown up by Dr. No's aircraft. Once you've defeated every enemy in this room, you can retrace your steps a little, crouch down, and then phase through the wall in a specific spot. This will eventually lead you to a flooded room with a cow standing in a boat. If you proceed to walk up to the cow's ass, you find a golden gun waiting for you. It has the same appearance/function as it does in multiplayer, with the exception that you're able to actually pick it up after dropping it. Strangely enough, kills scored with the golden gun are not calculated in your stats after completing the mission, despite the fact that the golden gun is still listed amongst the other weapons.

 

As stated, Jason Priest was kind enough to give me the definitive story on this easter egg:

 

"I'll gladly give you the full lowdown on the cow room.  I was working on the HK mission while also supervising all the environment team for the game.  Hands down one of the most stressful projects I've ever worked on.  When wrapping up work on the game the designer and I decided it would be fun to add a little easter egg room.  We got approval to add it as long as there was some gameplay reason for it to exist, so that's why the golden gun is in there.  I added it to a place where I figured very few would find it, going through the invisible collision, crouching and passing through the wall.  The room itself was made from assets from the first game and level I worked on at EA, Medal of Honor Rising Sun.  Rising Sun was my first AAA game I worked on start to finish.  When making those linear shooters, typically an artist and a designer are paired up.  On Rising Sun I was paired with Tim Coolidge to build the third mission, Guadalcanal.  The opening of the mission was a group of marines in a raft going up a river.  So the raft is from that mission, the cow was also from Rising Sun and we added it as an homage to the goofy 80's comedy "Top Secret" which features a cow costume in rubber boots. Just to make sure we were not breaking any copyrights we placed the boots by the entrance instead of on the cow.  The initials on the ass are pretty self explanatory.... Tim Coolidge and Jason Priest. "

Jason Priest

Auric Enterprises Word Search

Years back, I got in touch with Ryan Magid, who worked on Rogue Agent as an environment artist. One of the missions he specifically recalled was Auric Enterprises, and he let me in on a secret relating to the periodic tables seen on some of the monitors throughout the level.

 
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As it turns out, most of the "elements" shown on these screens aren't real at all. Many of them in fact spell out names in the form of a word search. The names are apparently of Ryan's friends and family. If you want to attempt to find these yourself, then the names he confirmed to me are as follows:

 

Jon, David, Stefanie, Ofelia, Kevin, Ryan, Magid, Chris, Sam bass, Chacko, and Jack. He also said there may be more that he couldn't remember.

It's worth noting that, due to the often lower-res textures, this easter egg is much harder to appreciate in the Gamecube port.

Hong Kong Family Photos

In the bathhouse section of Hong Kong, two family photos are hidden carefully away from the action. They can be found in the room where the player is tasked with eliminating the triad informant, on the right hand wall from where you enter.

I won't bother to speculate on whose children these are, but one would imagine they belonged to an environment artist on the team. Since the game came out in 2004, they could be making their own games by now!

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GoldenEye 007 References

Despite what many were led to believe, GoldenEye Rogue Agent essentially has absolutely nothing to do with Rareware's GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64. I'm not here to justify that whole thing, but I'm satisfied enough to accept Patrick Gilmore's words on the matter during development, that the idea behind the "GoldenEye" name was more of a beacon the team wanted to aim for with the quality of their own title. Personally I enjoy both games, and think the comparisons are pointless, as Rogue Agent is great on its own. One can't argue that the namesake makes it difficult to ignore, though.

 
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Having said all that, references to the old game/film do indeed exist within Rogue Agent. Some are vague, while others are quite obvious, such as this crate labeled, "GOLDENEYE LASER SYSTEM" in the Octopus campaign mission. Obvious as it may be, it's actually fairly easy to miss if the player neglects to turn around after descending a particular staircase.

The much more in-your-face references shouldn't be difficult for anyone to pick up on, such as Xenia Onatopp and the "Uplink" multiplayer map.

Uplink is probably the biggest nod/love letter to the original GoldenEye 007 in Rogue Agent, but no more so than "Golden Gate Bridge" is to 1985's A View to a Kill. The single player mission was known as "The Cradle" in Rareware's game, but either way both iterations were based on a real location; the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which sadly collapsed on December 01, 2020.

The remaining allusions to GoldenEye 007 are rather subtle. Players familiar with the original game likely would have recognized the similar health bars immediately, and probably wouldn't have failed to make the connection that dual-wielding weapons was also possible in Rareware's title (especially with the "All Weapons" cheat. Dual-wielding separate guns was even possible via a bug). Beyond that, some of the multiplayer modes and options echo that of the N64 game, such as "You Only Live Twice" and "Golden Gun." Paintball is also available via a cheat code, which is my personal favorite callback the team included.

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Out of Bounds in Hong Kong

This one is hilariously simple. In the second portion of the Hong Kong mission, on the second rooftop near the glowing green sign, you can casually walk onto a wall and leave the play area.

There are a few interesting spots you can access using this exploit. For starters, you can return the way you came, since the wooden staircase that normally breaks behind you can now be bypassed. Also, you can drop down to two different locations on the side of the building. Finally, you could choose to just jump off of the building, which won't actually kill you, and you'll be able to look up and see the building towering above.

 

Moonraker Pods Inconsistencies

There were technically six Moonraker maps made for Rogue Agent; three splitscreen variants, and three online variants. These maps are all actually intended to be set within the same facility, however. For example, in "Moonraker Pods," you can look down from the balcony and see what is the location used in "Moonkraker Fuel." Similarly, zones from Moonraker Pods and Fuel can be seen from a window in "Moonraker Launch." It's somewhat similar to how the "Archives" was split into smaller stages in the GoldenEye 007 multiplayer... however, in the case of Rogue Agent, there is no option to play one giant map incorporating all three areas.

 

Nevertheless,the fact remains that the three are supposed to be set in the same location. Do all the landmarks match perfectly between them? Almost... but not quite.

 
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Moonraker Pods is basically the mid-level area of the three stages. You and your friends shoot each other on the balcony overlooking the area from Moonraker Fuel. The images above showcase this. On the left, you can see the view below the balcony, and on the right are the windows from the Moonraker Launch map.

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The online/system link variation of Pods displays a pretty accurate layout of the Fuel map down below. A shadow even lingers next to the glass booth, where a crate is supposed to be in the actual map. Missing details such as that aren't surprising, considering this is all just background dressing.

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These images are from the splitscreen variant of Pods, and are the exact same angles as what is seen above in the online map... but some things just aren't quite right.

For starters, the glass booth is missing entirely. I'd be willing to accept that one as the team just trying to keep the splitsceen map as low-poly as possible, but some other things simply can't be justified like that.

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Take the the windows, for example. They are much larger, for one thing, but in the image on the right, you can see that there are in fact two of them! This doesn't match the actual Moonraker Fuel map at all.

What's really interesting here, though, is a mysterious doorway, seen closer in the above image. This is a doorway that simply doesn't exist in the Fuel map as we know it. The path texture is even extended to meet up with it! Speaking of that, there are also little lights illuminating said path in this version, which also does not match the actual Fuel map.

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Guess what? There's yet another mystery door in the splitscreen map! These shots are from the same spot, behind the left side of the shuttle (splitscreen left image, online right).

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Unfortunately, each path ends pretty abruptly once you turn the corner, but the angle of the hall at least gives some indication of the general direction. My best guess, based on the nature of the final version of Fuel, is that both paths eventually led to the conference pit under the shuttle. After all, there's no trace of the path as we know it otherwise. Regardless of what purpose these routes served at one point, it's interesting that some remnant of them remains only in the splitscreen variant of Moonraker Pods.

Bore Tunnel Phantom Doors

Bore Tunnel is a multiplayer map based on the fourth portion of the Hoover Dam campaign stage. Essentially two long hallways side by side, each end leads to a blank beige wall. Amusingly enough, a rectangular section of each wall is unaffected by gunfire. This seems to be a carryover from the campaign mission, where similarly bullet-resistant sliding doors once resided. Phasing through the walls reveals nothing but a black void, however.

 
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Hoover Dam Monument Reflection

The real-world Hoover Dam borders on Nevada and Arizona, and is known to most of us as a very popular tourist attraction. In Rogue Agent, it is the site of a fictitious catastrophe not unlike that of which is seen in Beavis and Butthead: Do America. Surprisingly enough, many popular tourist sites are actually present in the Rogue Agent rendition. One of the most notable is the monument of dedication plaza, found in the third portion of the campaign mission (the top of the bridge).

 
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As with much of the outdoor scenery in the Hoover Dam mission, this shot looks almost as though it was pulled from a Nintendo 64 game. More interestingly, however, is that the monument itself actually features the same text that is found on the real-world plaque.

 

...As a matter of fact, the texture used is nothing more than a raw photograph.

What's most striking about this photo is that EA seems to have neglected the obvious reflections still present in the image. Not only can we see the photographer, but four other onlookers as well.

 

If you search for online photos of this real-world location, you'll find dozens of tourist pictures plagued with the same problem. The question is... why didn't EA just use a simple, matte texture with the text pasted on top? Also, are we looking at members of the team, or just a simple stock photo with folks that don't even realized they've been immortalized in a 007 spin-off game?

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GoldenEye's Retreat/Ski Lodge

For some bizarre reason, the multiplayer map "GoldenEye's Retreat" has a different name only in the European Xbox version of the game. There, it is referred to simply as "Ski Lodge." There's a little more to this than a simple name swap, though. The map actually is listed as "Ski Lodge" in the game's memory and internal files, regardless of the version. So, it would seem that somehow the earlier, more generic title remained in only one single release of the game. Indeed, it is called "GoldenEye's Retreat" even in the PAL versions for Gamecube and Playstation 2. The differences do not extend beyond this simple discrepancy.

 
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Scrapped P90 Sightings

Anybody that has taken five seconds to check out the back of the case for any of the released versions of Rogue Agent will probably think, "What is that gun?" That, my friend, is the goddamn original HS-90 design that I wish made it into the final product. Whether it made it far enough into production to be even called the "HS-90" is anyone's guess, but it's plastered over so much pre-release and marketing material, you'd think EA wanted to confuse people.

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The early design for the "HS-90" submachine gun actually can still be found in the retail version of Rogue Agent... as scenery. It shows up both at the very start of the game (helicopter sequence before Fort Knox), and again in the third room of the "Octopus" mission. For some reason, there doesn't seem to be a texture applied to this gun in the Fort Knox stage, but neither incarnation can be interacted with in any way.

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HS-90 Multiplayer Error

For whatever reason, the HS-90 is messed up visually in multiplayer mode. This flaw isn't present in the campaign mode, where a separate weapon model is used. There, dual-wielding the gun will essentially produce mirror images on either side of the screen. In multiplayer, however, the guns are shifted slightly to the left, and therefore crash through the player's hand models. This doesn't happen with any other weapon, and if I had to guess why this flaw is present I'd say it's a result of the gun being redesigned late in development, and the team neglecting to correct an animation error when replacing the model.

 

This bothered me so much that I had to make a fix for it. Codes can be found in the "Hacking" section.

 
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"Halo DS"

Years back, IGN (specifically Matt Casamassina, an editor for the website) posted an article regarding a "canceled" Nintendo DS project. I first encountered the story while browsing the DS boards on GameFAQs, where someone had linked to the gameplay video.

 

Upon viewing the footage, something about it looked awfully familiar to me. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was the first game I ever purchased for the Nintendo DS, and admittedly, a large part of the reason I bought the handheld to begin with. For someone who had put a decent amount of time into the game, it was hard to accept that the similarities between the two were mere coincidence. See for yourself below (normally I wouldn't post watermarked images, but IGN was the only source for "Halo" in this case):

 
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Halo DS is GoldenEye: Rogue Agent... or at least, the same engine.

 

The fact is, this actually did exist. It wasn't, however, endorsed by Bungie in any way, shape, or form. Most online sources point to it being no more than a pitch by another developer. Could it have been members of the original Rogue Agent DS team at EA? That would be the only logical conclusion, unless the source code somehow got out. I hope to find more info on the nature of this project in the future, but in the meantime, I think it qualifies as an interesting piece of Rogue Agent history that shouldn't be forgotten.