GoldenEye 007 sits in a somewhat unique position. It is a game based on an older game of the same name from the Nintendo 64, which in turn was based on a movie. The movie hit theaters in 1995 and served as a reboot of sorts for the franchise, casting Pierce Brosnan in role of 007 for the first time. The movie was a critical and commercial success. The game, which came two years later, was also met with much critical and commercial success. Recently, we took a look at GoldenEye 64, and even if it has not held up that well over the years, it is still regarded as a genre defining title.
It is no surprise that when the James Bond license came to Activision, they were interested in tapping into the success that was GoldenEye. Instead of trying a re-release or taking a GoldenEye-in-name-only approach, Activision and developer Eurocom went in a totally different direction. Did their decision pay off? Read on to find out.
Instead of just re-making or re-releasing the Nintendo 64 GoldenEye, Activision and Eurocom brought a whole new game to the table, even recasting Daniel Craig as 007 himself. The story follows both the original game and the movie somewhat, but follows neither exactly. Avoiding any spoilers, just know that some characters from the movie and original game are not in this version, and while the major twists and turns are the same, the game is not a re-telling.
The game lets players know this is not the GoldenEye of old from the start, but it also smartly plays homage to the Nintendo 64 version throughout. Players start in a very basic training level, getting accustomed to their control method of choice. The first actual level is the dam, just like in the Nintendo 64 version. It starts with the same fly-through preview as the original, which is a nice treat, then reminds players that this is a new game by starting the level an entirely new way - with Agent 006 by Bond's side. From then on, the game continues to be all new, while still nodding and winking to the original. This fan service works as a nice bonus, while being in no way distracting those that may not remember the ins and outs of the Nintendo 64 game.
The game's graphics, while not great, are good enough. When compared to games like Halo: Reach, Killzone 3, or Call of Duty: Black Ops, GoldenEye can look rather dated, though its graphics never distract the player during the game or hinder the experience. At times, the game can even look kind of nice with explosions, dust, and other particles floating in the air. Things certainly are not dull. When too much is going on there can be frame-rate hiccups, nothing that ruins the game, but enough to be annoying. Eurocom certainly looked to push the Wii and largely succeeded, even if this will not be the game players will use to show off a new TV.
GoldenEye provides gamers with numerous control options, including various Wiimote and nun-chuck configurations, the classic controller, classic controller pro, and GameCube controller. While the Wiimote and nun-chuck offerings are not totally customizable, like those found in The Conduit, they work great and provide solid control. There is something for every type of gamer regardless of preference. The classic controller (which was used for most of this review playthrough), classic controller pro, and Gamecube controller feel the most familiar, and seemed to provide the best accuracy during multiplayer. Gamers, however, should give a Wiimote setting a chance, as it does add a certain level of immersion - and features a very useful cover lean-out feature.
The game keeps players in first-person perspective most of the time, heightening immersion. While other games, like Halo: Reach, move to third-person for every cut scene, GoldenEye sticks closer to the Half-Life approach. Hand-to-hand combat and jumping for aircraft, along with some major plot points and narrative sequences, are all presented from Bond's point of view. While the game has to show Daniel Craig's likeness occasionally, most of Craig's Bond is felt through the excellent voice work and the brutal combat and melee attacks found in the game.
While Bond starts almost every level with his trusty P99, there are a variety of weapons at his disposal throughout the game, each packing a different punch. One annoyance is that there is no "weapon wheel," which forces players to cycle through the various guns to get to the one they want. While this does not break the game in any fashion, it can cause some frustration during a heated firefight.
The single-player levels feature multiple paths and at times do a great job of letting players think the levels are broader or more expansive than they might actually be. Levels and enemies can be attacked stealthily or guns blazing. While the computer-controlled enemy AI is decent, there were times when it would react for no particular reason, and others when it ignored me completely while I took out another soldier close by. At times, after setting off an alarm or being discovered by enemy soldiers, new enemies or reinforcements would appear behind me out of thin air, which broke immersion and felt a little "gamey." But once players make the quick adjustment to GoldenEye's game-world rules, stealth and action gameplay mixes together well. GoldenEye really does a good job of letting the player feel like Bond and approach a problem in different ways.
Multiplayer was a big part of the Nintendo 64 original and it remains a focus in this version, too. Four-player split-screen is back, as are many favorite modes, game types, and characters from the original's multiplayer. It doesn't stop with a retro wink, as the game features online multiplayer as well, utilizing friend codes or random matchmaking.
Multiplayer has a very Call of Duty feel to it, which is not a bad thing at all. Kills and streaks reward the player with experience points that are then used to unlock additional modes or equipment. While the maps are well designed, they did feel a little sparse, something an 8-player cap likely did not help. And while there is a good variety of modes available, some gametypes took a long time to find other players, which could imply that the game does not have the largest online community at this point.
GoldenEye does a good job of bringing the modern-online FPS to the Wii while still retaining some fun Nintendo 64 version options. Unfortunately, however, the game does not support voice chat, and while no lag was experienced during the course of this review, other users have reported some issues with lag.
Yes, this game has its flaws and technical limitations, but it is more than the sum of its parts. Fans of the original GoldenEye will appreciate the care Activision and Eurocom took with the source material and enjoy the nods and winks throughout. Gamers new to GoldenEye will get a solid, well paced, and fun FPS. It is a win, win.
Simply put, the game is fun, the action is intense, and the updated presentation and inclusion of Craig as Bond works really well. I found the single player here more enjoyable than that in Modern Warfare 2 or Halo: Reach. It took around 8-10 hours to complete, and I was engaged from beginning to end. Add to that a full-featured multiplayer mode, and gamers have a fun, feature rich FPS for the Wii.
It might be nice to see this game on the PS3 or Xbox 360 where the graphics could be sharper and the frame rate a little more stable, but if Wii gamers are going to play a FPS, this is the one to choose.
This re-imaged take on GoldenEye is available now exclusively on Wii.