Goldeneye he'll do what I please, Goldeneye its time for awesome...
Are you sceptical about this game? You are? Oh, because it's an 'unnecessary' remake. Well, I'm here to tell you that you shouldn't be so quick to judge this new take on the videogame world's favourite Bond movie. This new Goldeneye is developed by Eurocom; the very capable folks behind Dead Space Extraction, NES title James Bond Jr, and 2002's well thought of James Bond 007: NightFire. The game offers first-person action, unlike its fellow Activision release Blood Stone. As a Wii exclusive the game had some steep hills to climb make itself worthy of the Goldeneye name, and overcome the general opinion than FPS games suck on Nintendo's waggle-centric console. I can gladly tell you that it surmounts these obstacles and then some, delivering the best FPS experience on the console to date.
You may well be familiar with the Goldeneye story by now, having no doubt played a couple of versions of the tale as well as having seen the film starring Pierce Brosnan. Fortunately, Eurocom have approached the story in a different manner, and while a deadly satellite weapon remains the focus and some of the characters return, this is definitely a different jaunt. You've got Daniel Craig taking the role of Bond, while Alec Trevelyan and Xenia Onatopp return as well as Judy Dench as M. Trevelyan's motivations have been changed, his origins effectively re-written and his gripe with the world repositioned. Bruce Feirstein, the screen-writer for the original move, wrote the script for the game, and does an excellent job of updating it, while enabling the developers enough leverage to create new situations for the player to enjoy.
The levels themselves are extremely well designed, in some cases being reminiscent of the original game given their locations, but generally unique in themselves. They give the player a fantastic platform on which to truly feel like Bond, allowing stealthy gameplay at almost every juncture. If you're skilled enough, you can complete entire levels without getting yourself into a serious firefight, unlike in Blood Stone, and this feels right for the character. The levels definitely remain linear, but the positioning of cover and a variety of vantage points mean that you can properly plan your attack on a room, making your defeat of a large group of guards feel credible. Opening in Russia, that infamous dam jump returning with new style thanks to the lack of a bungee rope, the game globe-trots across Dubai, Serbia and others before climaxing, as it should, in Nigeria. Aside from one manic section where you control a tank through an explosive urban environment, you'll stick to first-person shooting throughout the game.
I welcome that, thanks to the solid control scheme. You have more than enough options to find a system that suits you (GameCube and 'Classic' controllers are supported) but I was happy to play with my nunchuck and Wiimote combination. After slightly adjusting the sensitivity settings, I found it easy to navigate my viewpoint, while the sometimes awkward position of the Wiimote face buttons never caused problems. Generally your view is limited to directly ahead of you, with the game giving you very little cause to look above or below your eye-line. This not only recreates the feel of the N64 game, but contributes to the frantic pace of firefights you're unlikely to ever lose your enemy. You can look down the iron-sights of your weapon and while crouched behind cover, should you do this Bond will automatically pop-up just enough to squeeze off shots into the oncoming goons. Along with the nunchuck controlled leaning, these control features combine to create a fluid, fun experience for the gamer.
The old watch has been replaced by Bond's one-stop gadget, his smart phone. This allows you to hack turrets so that they open fire on enemies, photograph specific objectives as well as the occasional in-game phone call; you'll have to hold the Wiimote to your ear to answer and hear these in a clever, but not very original, gimmick. Classic weapons return, with slightly altered names, but most satisfying is the silenced P99. The game just gets the feel of Bond right - to sneak into a room, and quickly headshot a guard before swinging round to another and doing the same, thus avoiding an alarm, is just awesome. Enemies are no slouch either, using cover in a smart manner and seeking out safe vantage points for their own benefit, making your carefully placed bullet all the more satisfying. It all comes together (shaken, not stirred) in just the right way; challenging, stealthy, and yet fast paced all at once.
You rarely step out of the first-person view, most cutscenes taking place in-game with Bond's limbs coming into shot when necessary. There's a real sense of immersion that comes with that, except from at the start and at the very end you never actually break from being Bond. The game even features a few QTE fist fights that occur in first person, and there's a real sense of tension as you duck and dive. My heart was pounding against my chest in the final sequences, the heady mix of tension and immersion granted by the first-person perspective driving me on to defeat the my nemesis and complete my mission. The choreography of these scenes, and of the storytelling in general, deserves a lot of credit for just how exciting the game is characters are animated extremely well with facial expressions being much more believable than the rubber men found on the 360 and PS3's Blood Stone.
Multiplayer has obviously been a big area of focus, with the Cheat Menu returning alongside famous faces from the Bond universe. The game features online multiplayer, which is surprisingly stable given the Wii developer's limited exposure to online shooters. You've got a full feature set with unlocks and a ranking system in place. Maps are mostly small-ish in size, and feel better suited to the sort of frantic, pushing and shoving style play you're going to experience with four guys on a couch. The split-screen is where the real joy is going to be, given the lack of voice support and the poor multiplayer infrastructure of the Wii. Again, Eurocom successfully updates the familiar concepts, recalling the glory days of the N64 game, bringing them in-line with modern expectations.
I was really blown away with how much I enjoyed Goldeneye 007, and I'd strongly recommend it. The single-player campaign comes in at around 7 or 8 hours across the 6 chapters, while the split-screen multiplayer is where you'll really get your money back. The game features very few flaws, those it does have are inherent because of its system of choice or because there is only so much you can ever do when working from somebody else's story. Sure, it's not entirely original, nor does it break the new ground that the original game did, but it offers a fun, exciting and well-made gaming experience. Based on the games that I have played, it's the best FPS offering on the console, and the first FPS in a long time to make my heart pound with excitement as I darted around the smartly designed levels. Put aside your preconceptions, this is a great game.
- Excellent blend of stealth and all-out-action gameplay, with both options nearly always available.
- Clever level design, filled with clever enemies, all delivering satisfying challenge.
- The story, while old, is brought up to date well with a good script and compelling first-person cutescenes.
- Extensive multiplayer options that bring back a lot of favourite features.
- The online multiplayer would be more useful were the Wii a more capable platform in this department.
- These level settings have, mostly, been explored before so there is a sense of familiarity
- Wed like a XBLA release of the game please Activision. Maybe just the multiplayer?