by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
Too many reviewers fall back on the clichéd line “I have a confession to make” when they write about a famous game whose predecessors they have not played. It’s as though missing out on a piece of gaming history is a cardinal sin. More likely, it is a convenient introductory sentence with just the right amount of mystery to draw readers in. Well, I have no confession to make. I did play the original GoldenEye. And it was pretty good.
Developer Eurocom was granted the license to remake it for the Wii. The game was widely regarded as one of the better shooters for the system, but that caveat, ‘for the system,’ often serves as an excuse. Wii shooters have to deal with a vastly different control system than the other consoles, and developers make concessions for that. With GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, Eurocom has given the game an HD upgrade and brought the controls back to the realm of two analog sticks. The game is definitely much better for it, but fails to truly distinguish itself from other shooters on the market.
A Blonder Bond
The campaign – essentially a series of set pieces strung together – is a short but sweet experience. Don’t expect anything too creative. Stealth is encouraged but not required, so the gameplay often devolves into run-and-gun shooting with a ‘snap-to’ feature borrowed from Call of Duty. You can sneak through vents, shoot tranquilizer darts and silently take down foes from behind, but Bond is equally capable of mowing down foes with a machine gun, so why bother? Harder difficulties answer that question. Unlike other games that often just throw harder enemies at you, the higher difficulty levels in GoldenEye add on new objectives and force you to explore the entire level to complete them. It’s a neat way to add some replay value. Then again, the campaign is rather short, so perhaps it was necessary.
Eurocom made the choice to switch Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig. Brosnan’s and Craig’s Bonds are fundamentally different. The former is high-tech and suave, while the latter is dangerous and dirty. Though Craig is the new leading man, your character feels more like Brosnan. Melee is an option in combat, but isn’t as effective as a bullet against groups of enemies, so you won’t be using it often. You will, however, still use gadgets like a smart phone to tip the odds in your favor. The game really made me feel like I was in a Bond movie, but never really made me feel like James Bond. This is somewhat paradoxical. What I mean is that the story, the set-pieces, the pivotal moments – they all fit into the Bond universe. But the high-tech James Bond would rather outsmart his enemies than face them openly, as you so often do, while the newer Bond would favor bare-knuckle brawling, of which your options are limited. So you feel like Bond’s understudy, doing what he would do, but never quite pulling it off as well as him.
Supplementing the campaign is MI6 mode, which has shorter, more focused missions. You might be tasked with sneaking through a facility without being detected at all in one, or defending a compound from waves of enemies in another. They are fun to complete, but feel like sections of the main campaign, only without any additional story, and can grow tiresome. They are also only available for one person – a missed opportunity to add some coop.
No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.
The HD upgrade certainly elevates the graphics over the Wii version, but not high enough to challenge other games built for the PS3 from the start. Enemy bodies disappear from the ground, and there are invisible walls that are too contrived to be excusable. Character models are detailed, but sharp object angles and some blurred textures make the environments seem less real. GoldenEye isn’t ugly by any means, but isn’t fully golden either. The 60 fps, however, ensures a silky smooth shooting experience.
Daniel Craig lends his voice to the game, but the villains, not the hero, stand out as they deliver their lines with gusto. Even better is the background music. Classic James Bond themes permeate the game, and I could have sworn I heard some Deadmau5 in a level that takes place in a nightclub.
Multiplayer is the remaining mode, and while very different from the original N64 version, has enough remnants to be familiar. Levels have been redesigned and weapons are no longer placed on the map. Instead, Eurocom has seen fit to crib from Call of Duty once more with an upgrade system with weapon loadouts and perks. It would all be rather pedestrian if it weren’t for the inventive game modes and individual characters, all of whom have different stats. Playing as Oddjob and throwing your razor rimmed hat is just as fun as I remember. You can also change the game in a variety of ridiculous ways, from making everybody tiny, to specifying certain weapons or what have you. It all adds up to a more zany experience that feels like Modern Warfare if it let its hair down. The game is playable online, but make no mistake about it; GoldenEye’s multiplayer truly shines where it always has – in one living room with four friends gathered around a TV.
If you’re planning to buy this game purely to relive your N64 glory days, you had better give it a pass. It’s been completely redone, so the nostalgia factor won’t really matter. But GoldenEye can stand out on its own merit. The campaign is fast and intense, but then again, many shooters are. It doesn’t do quite enough to really distance itself from the numerous other shooters out there, except where multiplayer is concerned. The selling point of the game is its James Bond license. While it doesn’t exploit it fully and never quite reaches the peak of Bondage (maybe Bond-dom is a better word), this is the closest any game has come.
A competent shooter with funky, enjoyable multiplayer
Campaign is short, stealth options fall flat.