Few would disagree with the importance of GoldenEye on the N64 all those years ago, and the standards it set. Apart from a robust single player campaign, it was the multiplayer mode that took the world by storm; truly encapsulating the way multiplayer first-person shooters should and would be played in the future.
It’s natural, given the original E3 trailer and the name of the game, to not only draw comparisons between Activision’s GoldenEye 007 and the ageing original, but to also expect the same game but with spruced up graphics and some enhanced AI. But don’t be fooled, as that is where the comparisons end, for this is essentially 95% all new and 5% the GoldenEye of old; ironically, GoldenEye 007 shares more similarities with the Call of Duty franchise in regards to the its control system and overall presentation then it does with its younger brother.
Yes, GoldenEye is all grown up now and has matured with age. For those who expected nothing more than a mere visual update, Activision’s renovation of the GoldenEye franchise may be a bitter pill to swallow and understandably so. But to judge on that basis would be unjust, as this is one of the most outstanding shooters this year, certainly the best on the Wii, for GoldenEye 007 stands proudly on it’s own two feet with a successful marriage of nostalgia, flawless controls and contains enough new features to please both the old and current generation of FPS gamers.
The game’s main story feels like a hybrid of elements, all taken from the best that FPS have offered over the years, but it never strays too far from the original, staying true to its Bond roots. As Bond works his way through levels, he is presented with main and side objectives. The main objectives are essential to finishing levels and depending on the selected difficulty mode, side missions can be ignored or not.
In true Bond fashion, there are different ways in which you can approach levels, whether it be going all-out-guns-blazing and making as much noise as possible, or using stealth to creep your way towards your objectives. Pressing the ‘C’ key will make Bond crouch, not only making Bond himself harder to hit, but making him virtually silent, allowing you to sneak up on the enemy and kill them espionage style. This is a great touch as it not only allows the player to take on the level in a different direction, but also enforces the fact that Bond is a Government spy and that this is how a spy would handle his business. Plowing your way through the murky snowstorms of Siberia, surrounded by enemies unaware of your presence, makes the thought of espionage not only more tempting but also a very engrossing experience.
There are other elements of the game that help to break up the action, such as the random quick time events and the odd sniper mission, the latter collaborating so effortlessly with the Wiimote that it could almost justify its own spinoff game. The quick time events, although not awful, do feel past their sell by date and despite being quite enjoyable first time around, they’ll start to feel all too familiar the second, third and every other time missions are repeated. Luckily there are checkpoints throughout the game, so should you fail at an unexpected quick time event, you won’t have to travel too far to replay that same scene.
Gone is the background music that accompanied the original and in place is a more concurrent soundtrack that changes based on your situation, adding to the drama and suspense and bringing it more in line with a Bond movie experience. Even though the new music isn’t quite as memorable as the original, it is still sublime and feels more like an atmospheric backing track rather than a song on loop.
Aside from the single player, there is of course the multiplayer, the place where most veterans and newcomers alike will spend most of their time. There is the classic option of 4 players split-screen for those who prefer to battle it out, shoulder-to-shoulder while for more adventurous there is now the option to bring the skirmish online with friends and strangers alike. GoldenEye 007 does not hold back on multiplayer options either, packing a mixture of modes and the ability to pick and mix at will. Even compared to the likes of Call of Duty and Halo, GoldenEye 007 doesn’t shy away from giving its next-gen compatriots a run for its money. But options alone don’t make a game special, great gameplay does, and thankfully GoldenEye 007 delivers on all accounts.
Regardless of which control system you choose from, controls feel tight, responsive and reliable; something that previous FPS games based around the Wiimote cannot claim to be. Lag is almost non-existent – the bane of any online game – and very little time is spent loitering in lobbies for matches to begin. There are obvious amendments to the GoldenEye formula, changes that help make it feel fresh and current, but even when playing in new environments, there is something inherently GoldenEye about the game. Is it the pace, the blood rolling down the screen or seeing Oddjob slap Jaws to death? It was always was the small things that counted in the original and it’s nice to see that Activision have taken those idiosyncrasies on board.
In an industry arguably over populated with first person shooters, it was always going to be tough for this revamp to make the same mark on the first person genre that the original did 13 years ago. And from that point of view, GoldenEye Wii does indeed fail to inject that same groundbreaking feeling that the original did upon its release. What it does manage, however, is to not only demonstrate the Wii as a serious first person platform – a well overdue achievement – but sits alongside the likes of the Call Of Duty franchise as being one of the top shooters available on any console.
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