GoldenEye 007 Wii Review
Publisher – Activision – Developer – Eurocom – Genre – FPS – Players – 1-8 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – DS
N64 legend GoldenEye 007 did so much for both console shooters and the FPS in general, so much so that, over ten years later, it’s still regarded as the best Bond game ever made and echoes of its design can be seen in numerous games that have featured 007 over the years. Even its name has been reused in a cheeky marketing ploy by EA (in case you’re wondering, the game wasn’t very good) but until now it’s never been remade.
The N64 version of GoldenEye, whilst obviously rough around the edges, still plays well today. The stealth mechanics are basic and the AI is dim witted, but the mission design is still excellent and the all important activity of shooting bad men is rewarded with some beautiful death routines.
Eurocom’s modern take on the legendary game also makes use of the modern Bond. So previous Bond, Pierce Brosnan, has been replaced by Daniel Craig. Craig’s Bond is different to Brosnan’s and this is reflected in the game, so there’s an increased emphasis on close combat, a lack of silly gadgets and a grittier tone.
GoldenEye 007 also has all the ingredients of many contemporary shooters: iron sights, recharging health, grenade indicators, impressive visuals and Wii remote control schemes are all implemented. To play it feels quite different to the original version, but it does share the combination of stealth and action as well as the wonderful structure.
The shooting, whilst competent, is a bit disappointing as it doesn’t have the level of hit detection that the original game had, so shooting an enemy in different parts of their body, doesn’t always result in different reactions from him, which takes away from the satisfaction somewhat. Also, whilst the AI is obviously an improvement over the original version, sometimes even catching you out with tactical flanks and such, their choice of actions however are most often on the stupid side of the scale.
The option to play stealthily is still often there and, doing so, shows the AI in a better light and is a more pleasing way to play the game. Cameras can be shot out and there’s something gratifying about sneaking up behind an enemy and karate chopping him in the neck.
The stages aren’t a polygon by polygon recreation of the N64 game, far from it in fact. The only aspect that they have in common really is their general settings, whilst there are some moments and objectives implemented seemingly to induce tears of nostalgia. As different as they largely are, they’re still well designed and, whilst mostly linear, they do occasionally offer multiple routes.
Structurally, it’s much like the original game, so difficulties are not only determined by the amount of damage you’re able to sustain but will also give you different objectives, of which is a great way of handling the level of challenge of a game. On the easiest difficulty you can easily get through a level by just following your objective marker, but choosing a harder level of difficulty often calls for a greater degree of exploration to seek out the additional objectives set for you.
Whilst such a structure is excellent, in this instance it actually brings one of GoldenEye 007’s most glaring of flaws – you can never always be sure of just which of your main objectives will bring a stage to an end, whilst at certain points, you’re not able to return to earlier sections of a stage to accomplish missed mandatory objectives. Completion of a level without the additional tasks will leave you no choice but to either continue the game on a lower difficulty setting, or restart the entire level. It can be a maddening design choice that could easily have been eradicated by a simple warning.
Many will be delighted at the addition of the 007 classic difficulty, which provides an experience more akin to the N64 original, removing the modern, magical recharging health mechanic and forcing you to hunt down armour if your health is flagging.
The N64 version is remembered as much for its multiplayer as it is for the campaign and much like the rest of the game, Eurocom have brought it into the modern day. So online is included, though thankfully split screen play hasn’t been ignored either.
The multiplayer options are much like the campaign, familiarity but with much of the richness that is to be expected today. So there’s an XP system implemented, with bonuses handed out for completing challenges and executing headshots and such. There’s also perk like abilities (here rather fittingly known as gadgets) that you’ll unlock by amassing so much XP. All of those are familiar modern day features but are joined by favourite old modes such as Golden Gun and Classic Conflict. As for the performance, the online performs smoothly for the most part and the split screen retains its speed in two players, though loses a bit when played in four players.
As far as controls go, Goldeneye 007 certainly isn’t short on options. The default Wii Remote controls work well and further displays the advantage for aiming that it has over traditional analogue sticks. You can also play by using the remote horizontally. Players of the original that want everything just how it was over ten years ago (or whenever it was that you got around to playing it) will be delighted at the options available for the classic controller or the GameCube controller.
Eurocom have not only made good use of the Wii’s control capabilities, but have also delivered one of the consoles most impressive looking games. There are some lovely visual effects and the snow and jungle levels do a reasonable impression of a HD console. Even an occasionally struggling framerate does little to dull its splendour. Sadly the music doesn’t fare so well. It’s decent, but there isn’t enough of it and the famous Bond theme is scarcely used – quite simply it’s nowhere near as memorable as the N64 version.
GoldenEye 007 is not the defining game that Rare’s original N64 game was, but it was never supposed to be. It’s a reimagining of a classic that successfully captures some of that GoldenEye spirit, but combines it with the FPS trappings of today, resulting in something that is as much familiar as it is different. It’s not quite on the same level as the original version, but Eurocom have still crafted a game that is a worthy tribute to one of gaming’s greats.