Activision (Scion of Darkness) recently registered the domain goldeneyegame.com. Now, either Activision is trying to make a really bitching fan site for one of the classics of gaming that they didnít make, or else the rumors are true and theyíve discovered yet another franchise name in their stable they can shake and shake and shake until all the money falls out.
Iím betting on the latter. Apparently I missed the memo which said that Activision had to ruin at least one thing a day, and they were behind on their quota.
I donít think Iím alone in thinking a sequel to Goldeneye is a phenomenally terrible idea. Letís take a gander at the various James Bond games released over the years:
Tomorrow Never Dies: Awful
The World is Not Enough: Crap
007 Racing: Totally exists, not to mention one of the worst ideas ever.
Agent Under Fire: Bad
Nightfire: ďThe best game since GoldeneyeĒ. Which isnít a ringing endorsement.
Everything or Nothing: Unmemorable
Goldeneye: Rogue Agent: Wait. Wait. Theyíve done this already?
From Russia With Love: Meh.
Quantum of Solace: Again, not good, but not bad.
Seeing a pattern here? Developers seem to be figuring out James Bond, and by figuring out I mean theyíre realizing he doesnít make a great game protagonist. The lure of Bond is in his ability to go into a really bad situation and pull it out. Think of all the movies, and how most of them involve him getting captured, put into a deadly trap, and pulling it out with guile and gumption. This doesnít work in a video game, because either there is an obvious, contrived solution that removes the illusion of being in a bad situation, or you die a million times and the game stops being fun.
Goldeneye worked for the precise reason that it didnít play like a James Bond game. It played like a horrible mash up of Doom and a huge joke draped in a James Bond suit. Playing Goldeneye now is like stepping back into a fever dream where first person shooters we myopic and more based on luck than twitch. And honestly, that was a good time, and itís why I still enjoy the occasional proximity mine multiplayer match in Goldeneye. Itís decidedly more chaotic and terrifying than modern first person shooters, which depend on (scoff) skill and strategy, rather than dumb luck.
Why would you make a sequel to that, though? How would you make a sequel to that, without creating another generic Splinter Cell like stealth shooter? James Bond in video games has proven that itís very hard to create a suave badass game, and really easy to create a game with explosions and the proverbial lols. Goldeneye had soul, but it didnít have James Bondís soul. It had the soul of someone completely ludicrous, who blew his friends up with proximity mines because he had nothing better to do. And he controlled like a boat.
Could you make a good Bond game? Sure you could. This isnít going to sound like a ringing endorsement, considering how bad the prospective game is shaping up to look, but Alpha Protocol is on the right track. The lure of Bond isnít shooting, or stealth, but rather the suaveness, the finding the right place to go, infiltrating it, and being a badass. To go back even further, a Bond game in the style of Deus Ex would be phenomenal. Something where a problem is put in front of you, and you have all these neat gadgets, tools, and your own charm to solve the situation. Imagine, for instance: you end up in a small fishing village in the Dominican Republic. Thereís a big drug lord living in a massive manor at the end of town. You are given x number of tools, y connections, and have to infiltrate the manor and steal, say, plans for a nuclear device that the lord is selling to terrorists. Or something. Whatís important is, youíd have all these different options. Youíd be deciding how Bond was supposed to play, whether he shoots the place up Goldeneye style, whether he sneaks his way in, whether he charms his way in the front door. Youíd have the choice, and youíd be defining how you want to go about things. Doesnít that sound so much more enthralling than a linear shooter through an insipid Bond knockoff plot, coupled with a generic multiplayer mode inferior to every other game of the type?
But when Activision makes a soulless Splinter Cell clone out of one of the silver screen's greatest leading men, donít say we didnít warn you.
(cross posted from http://www.nightmaremode.net