Let’s get this out of the way first: no game will ever be GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64. The unique combination of advancements in technology, controls, gaming and culture are not going to collide like that ever again. It was a revolution in gaming and those come along very, very rarely, and usually not in the form of a licensed videogame.
GoldenEye 007 (Wii)
I’m not lying when I say that this game has almost nothing to do with the original. The plot, actors, levels, guns, gadgets, objectives, graphics, controls and multiplayer are all either different or seriously reworked. The game is simply influenced by its namesake and the similarities pretty much end there. It should be noted, however, that these influences are actually pretty cool. You’ll be playing through levels that feel familiar, but are entirely new. It’s a strange feeling to play through a room that you know, but have never played, and the team behind the game should be proud that they managed to squeeze some of the essence of the original game out without directly copying it in any way.
This is far from a complaint at all. If you’re going to ape something, ape the best, and the game actually apes quite well. Controls are tight and responsive and easily adjusted for however you want to play. I did buckle and pick up the golden Classic Controller, and I have to say it’s nice, but in the end I played through most of the game using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck combo. This was the first time I had actually switched between standard and motion controls in a single game, and it’s just hard to relinquish the ease of pointing and shooting (and the fun of motion controlled melees) for thumbsticks.
It’s not all copying and pasting, though. GoldenEye stands on its own feet pretty well. There’s a pretty robust collection of case sensitive take downs you can preform when you’re close enough to an enemy and stealth plays a much larger role in the game than most FPS. Actually, I should say that if you want stealth to play a much larger role in the game then it can. If you want to go blazing through each level with a machine gun, that can work too. The game does a great job of setting up levels that can work either way. There were plenty of points where I was torn between sneaking up and taking out some guys with a few quick and well placed shots or blowing up the truck said guys were standing next to, and thus alerting every enemy in the area. There’s actually some great level design going on in parts of the game, especially when you’re indoors in closed quarters. There’s an amazing sequence in which you bust into a large open room and some slower background music starts playing loudly while everything slows down just a bit. Exploding pieces of furniture and decorations are placed liberally about the room too so that when you shoot their remains burst into the air and float down dramatically. It’s a really cool effect that makes you feel like you’re playing through one of those slow motion action sequences with meaningful music over it that are so trendy in films now. It’s little cinematic touches like that that make GoldenEye stand out form the crowd and give it a true Bond feeling for some of the game.
Sadly, as it progresses things start to become a bit more generic in design. It’s still fun to play, but you feel like you’ve done a lot of the stuff before in plenty of other games. In some games this isn’t a problem at all, but when you’re playing as James Bond it better feel like you’re doing something special, not just running around as another FPS character with a gun. In this same vein it doesn’t help that it sounds like Daniel Craig mailed this one in from the Arctic. There’s about as much feeling in his voice acting as there is in early Resident Evil games. OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the point. It also doesn’t help that the story of GoldenEye has been roughly handled in order to update it to modern times. (Spoilers) Instead of Alec Trevelyan, agent 006, getting revenge on England as his excuse to steal lots of money he is getting revenge on the bankers for the financial crash. It makes little to no sense and plot wise the game pretty much falls apart before it begins. It doesn’t help that Sean Bean, who played Trevelyan in the film, is nowhere to be seen, and his replacement is lackluster at best.
The crap story doesn’t take away from the game being entirely enjoyable as a game though, and there is plenty of replay value in the single player. The game comes with four different difficulties, all of which you can play from the get go. Much like the original GoldenEye every level has sub-objectives aside from the main goal and the higher difficulty you choose the more side objectives you have. It makes playing through on harder challenges quite fun because you’re not simply playing against harder enemies, but also achieving new things. The game also has a classic mode, which puts the player into the 007 difficulty (hard), but instead of giving you the now FPS-standard magical, regenerating health it gives you the classic GoldenEye life bars and hides armor in the levels. It’s old school, challenging and a very welcome addition to those getting tired of simply hiding behind things until you heal up.
The graphics, and more notably the sound, do take a hit when you jump into the online arena, but that’s pretty par for the course with many games. You give a little, you get up to 8 people playing online. Playing online also means you give up a lot of the fun modifiers that you can get with splitscreen. It seems a bit odd until you realize the simple fact that splitscreen play was actually the focus over online play, and yet the game still has some of the best online play on the Wii and could stand proud with online on other systems. Sadly, game specific friend codes do exist, and there is no Wii Speak support. Both of these facts make gaming with friends online a bit annoying, but far from impossible, and I can’t stress to you how cathartic it was not to have some moron shouting how gay I was every time he shot me.
I may have harped on a few flaws with the game, but overall GoldenEye is a very solid game and well worth the money if you enjoy videogames. If you’re a Bond freak then the golden Classic Controller makes for a nice collector’s item, but it’s hard to justify the purchase beyond that since the Wii Remote and Nunchuck were my preferred area of control. Either way you play, you’re probably going to have a good time, and even if it isn’t the most Bondian of Bond’s videogame adventures it is indeed a good game and one that you won’t regret playing. The new GoldenEye 007 could never be as truly great as its predecessor for a variety of reasons, but it does a superb job of following in its footsteps.
THE VERDICT - GoldenEye 007
Reviewed by Matthew Razak