Game Rant’s Rob Keyes reviews GoldenEye 007: Reloaded
When we reviewed GoldenEye 007 last year on the Nintendo Wii, we concluded by saying it'd be nice to see the game on the more powerful PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles with HD graphics and a better frame rate. As it turns out, this was all part of the plan and this summer at E3, Activision unveiled the remake of a remake, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded.
With a new game engine, expanded multiplayer and an entirely new game mode, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded aims jump into the crowded shooter genre during one of the busiest release schedules ever seen. Does it offer enough to stand out among the pack, while at the same time serving the nostalgia of fans of the original GoldenEye?
The short answer is not really, but that's not to say Reloaded should be avoided. In fact, on its own, it's a rather competent game that benefits greatly from getting a release on the more powerful two consoles. In addition to obvious upgrade in graphics, redesigned levels and characters, gameplay mechanics have also seen an overhaul. GoldenEye 007: Reloaded employs an easy to use cover system, sprinting and context-sensitive actions from leaping over objects to up close and personal enemy takedowns. Needless to say, the game is mostly similar to the Wii version, but it goes to show just how superior standard game controllers are over motion controls for shooters.
From the simple ability to aim with the left trigger, to the more cinematic action bits, the redesigned campaign of the GoldenEye remake feels as if it belongs in the Call of Duty franchise and that's in no small part thanks to Activision's involvement. The beauty of this game leaving the Wiimote behind in favor of standard controls on a more powerful unit is how quick and clean everything is. Every part of gameplay is silky smooth, from the shooting and movements to the AI actions.
Gadgets from the Pierce Brosnan era don't make an appearance in the re-imagined GoldenEye, just like they're mostly absent in the Daniel Craig films. Instead - and more realistically -007's cell phone is used for everything, from snapping photos of important intel, to hacking sentry turrets and deactivating security. It's a neat and logical update, but it's slow and underutilized.
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Gone are the colorful and vibrant level designs and in are gritty and realistic locales to traverse, more complex but still familiar to fans of the original. The first few missions are very similar to the original game and movie but after that, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded takes some drastic turns and becomes more of an original title for the Daniel Craig film era.
The campaign is quite challenging, even on Agent (normal difficulty), but as a super spy game with stealth elements, the extreme linearity of the level designs prevents the game from becoming something different than the campaigns offered in generic shooters. The stealth doesn't work as well as it could, partly due to the AI and partly due to lack of stealth abilities or actions players can take and it's just not that fun or rewarding to follow that path.
The game also suffers from dated design choices including invisible walls, enemies spawning right nearby, sometimes right in front of the player, and bodies that instantly disappear upon death, pulling players out of any sense of immersiveness they may feel and nullifying a key element in stealth gameplay.
The story bits involving other characters (all recast outside of Craig and Judi Dench as M) and the quick-time event boss fights are very enjoyable, but running through the campaign killing hundreds and hundreds of the same bad guys can get boring and most users will find little reason to replay on all of the difficulties or to locate all of the emblems hidden within the levels. The campaign of Reloaded just doesn't have the charm or the iconic moments the original Nintendo 64 game had.
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What differentiates Reloaded from the Wii version in terms of structure is that it adds an entirely new mode titled Mi6 Ops. It's single-player only and allows players to jump into a variety of maps taken from the campaign for three different types of scenarios (elimination, defense and stealth) - it's basically the Bond version of Spec Ops from Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series.
Players select a mission and can customize a large variety of options, from classic fun options like paintball mode and infinite ammo to the basics such as the amount of enemies and the difficulty level. It's much more detailed than that with additional options for AI attributes and such, but the basics of Mi6 Ops is that players earn stars by beating them and use the stars to unlock other missions. The more challenging the players make it, the higher score they can earn and hence, more stars (up to 4 per level). Eurocom dropped the ball big time on this mode by not allowing multiple players in. Having a group of friends holding out against an army, of which they can customize beforehand, would add some replayability and excitement, but without it, there's not a lot of reason to be playing this mode alone.
The real sell for gamers familiar with the original GoldenEye will be the return of classic 4-player splitscreen multiplayer. Reloaded brings back not only local play, but adds more players through online (up to 16). Classic gameplay modes including Golden Gun and You Only Live Twice return, rounded out by many others, some of which need to be unlocked through progression.
Adding to the nostalgia factor, the playable character skins include Jaws, Oddjob and Baron Samedi. Players setup their multiplayer character by configuring multiple loadouts with different weapons and gadgets. Unlike the campaign, weapon attachments can be customized here and players can actually use grenades and mines.
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A few odd limitations exist however and like the campaign, the Mi6 and multiplayer modes both force the player to keep one of their three weapons as the basic P99 Bond handgun, even if said players pick up another handgun (sorry, no dual wielding). While the game supports 4-player splitscreen local, if you want to go online, you can only bring one friend along.
Multiplayer, like the campaign, is Call of Duty light. From killstreaks to unlockables, there is fun to be had with GoldenEye 007: Reloaded's multiplayer but shooter fans will be disappointed if this title is the one they choose this fall.
Taking the game into consideration and looking at everything it offers, the key question becomes, as a remake taking a classic title into the current generation of gaming, does it live up to the competition? It does not. While GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is a solid game in its own right and a rather authentic James Bond experience it doesn't bring anything new to genre to set it apart and as such, it has to rely on its branding and nostalgia factor to win over fans against the stiff competition that is Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Newcomers will be disappointed.
In almost every way, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is a lighter version of Call of Duty. From the controls and gun mechanics, to the quick-time events and breaching scenes and even the multiplayer setup, Eurocom does everything they can to make the re-remake of GoldenEye a competitor in the modern day shooter market and similar to its big brother franchise. By doing so however, they're left with an all-around inferior product that pretends to be something it's not meant to be. Outside of splitscreen support, Reloaded offers less than the last few Battlefield and Call of Duty games in every way and because of that, it's impossible to justify a $60 price tag. For half that, pick it up.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is now available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Wii owners can also pick up the stripped down GoldenEye 007 title from last year.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.