Has it really been thirteen years since Rare’s original Nintendo 64 release of Goldeneye? I will never forget the day when I first caught a peek of the N64 in person; it was around October 1997 and as I watched over the shoulders of a group of teenagers playing a four player Goldeneye deathmatch – I knew I had to own this console.
There’s not much to be said about the original Goldeneye that you won’t have heard elsewhere a million times before. Put simply it was the best first person shooter of it’s generation and totally changed the worlds perception of movie licensed video games. To top it off, it actually felt like a real James Bond game, there was plenty of stealth, action, guns and gadgets, not forgetting the two very polygonal Bond girls. What more could any self respecting teenage boy want?
A lot has happened in the world of video games in the thirteen years since; we’re two hardware generations ahead and console power is at an all time high. Well all except the Nintendo Wii that is. You can’t fault that success of the Wii when you look at it’s sales figures but that on it’s own doesn’t tell the full story. Many third party developers complain that the Wii is too underpowered for their latest engines and as such, porting from the 360 & PS3 is no easy task, and one that isn’t worth their time. Combine this with the Wii’s casual image and we have an unfortunate situation where core mature titles are somewhat of a scarcity on Wii. Thankfully though some developers see this as a chance to snag the hardcore Wii owners with little other competition in the market.
Goldeneye 007 is a brand new game from Activision and Eurocom, both companies have gone on the record to say that this is not a remake of the N64 classic, but a new game based on a re-imagining of the movie. One of the major changes you’ll instantly notice is the removal of Pierce Brosnan and the introduction of Daniel Craig. Out go most of the gadgets and the lashings of suaveness and in comes a tougher more physical bond who prefers to use his fists whenever possible. Just like the rest of us, Bond now carries a smartphone but instead of sending tweets all day he uses it to takephotos, track targets, disable alarm systems and communicate with M over at MI6. I don’t know about you but I wish my iPhone had a direct dial to Judy Dench, GILF!
The basic Goldeneye storyline is still in place but has been modernised enough to make it more relevant to society today; for example; the game features less reliance on the Cold War vibe that has littered Bond movies for years and instead focuses more on cyber warfare. The Russian military and the shady Janus crime syndicate still feature prominently but they’re less stereotypical than before. Previously the MI6 traitor Alec Trevelyan (agent 006) was a Russian spy, but this time around it appears that he is just an English agent like Bond but has simply become weary of his duties.
Why should he endanger his life to protect England’s rich elite bankers when they’re the ones that have helped put the world into recession? Of course with all the skills and knowledge acquired after serving in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he is more than capable of planning the world’s greatest bank robbery. Can James Bond stop Alec from carrying out this heist and covering his tracks by blasting London with an enormous Electro Magnetic Pulse from the stolen Goldeneye satellite?
If you wanted retro first person shooter action then you’ve come to the wrong place, Goldeneye is a modern and up to date first person shooter. Many have compared the game to Call of Duty but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Call of Duty is well known for bringing direct storytelling to the forefront with a streamlined narrow experience focussing on one path and multiple set pieces. This modern Goldeneye uses those same style of set pieces and cut scenes to tell it’s story but in a less scripted way. Whereas many Call of Duty games seem to have a massive explosion around every corner and millions of continual re-spawning enemies, Goldeneye sticks to the stealthy roots we know and love.
Right from the start Goldeneye puts you just outside the familiar Verzasca dam, it’s quite possible to go in all guns blazing but you’ll alert more enemies to your presence. Generally Bond likes to operate quietly in the shadows and you’ll find the game a bit easier if you think like a real spy. Creeping up behind on unsuspecting baddies and taking them down quietly is much better than shooting a noisy weapon about the place. If you can remember back to the original Goldeneye then you may well recall that the levels were big and sometimes you’d explore an area only to find that there was nothing there anyway. Some people may describe that as a waste of space but for me it seems more realistic, why should you find all of your mission objectives along a predetermined straight route when you could just as easily sneak upstairs and locate a small office with those secret documents in? For me Goldeneye gives the player a greater level of explorational freedom, if you just follow the checkpoint marker then you’ll miss some interesting stuff and that’s the way it should be. You’ll be rewarded for taking your time and looking in every nook and cranny with better weapons hidden in locked chests, just shoot the padlock off and the goodies are yours.
The single player campaign is split into 4 difficulty levels:
- Operative is the lowest difficulty level and contains the main story missions.
- Agent features heightened difficulty and an extra couple of side objectives.
- 007 will tax you by increasing the difficulty further as well as adding even more objectives.
- 007 Classic is the same as 007 but is where the original Goldeneye fans will feel more at home because auto health regeneration is removed and the body armour pickups return.
Oddly enough before the game’s release most of the talk about Goldeneye Wii was about it’s multiplayer modes. Activison promised us a return to our heritage with awesome splitscreen local multiplayer, of course it’s fun playing online but there’s nothing quite like blasting your friends to pieces when you’re in the same room is there? So the very same deathmatch that attracted me to the original returns in all it’s glory here on Wii, up to four players can sit around with a quarter of a TV screen each and play headlong into the night without having to worry about laggy servers or migrating hosts every 10 minutes. If you can find three friends to come play Goldeneye with you then I promise you’ll have masses of fun here, almost every aspect of the game can be customised and there are plenty of deathmatch modes to choose from. To everyone’s surprise Eurocom didn’t go the easy route and leave Wii owners with no online mode, those with broadband can take the game online and experience a fully fledged multiplayer experience that you’d normally associate with the HD consoles. A full XP ranking system awaits you and just like with Call of Duty, the more you play the better the weapons you’ll unlock.
Whatever mode you play, Goldeneye features a range of control schemes for Wii supporting every peripheral except the Wii Balance Board. Those who have experienced Wii Pointer controls on shooters such as Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime 3 or The Conduit will be pleased to hear that they too can point at the screen and shoot those Ruskies. As much as I wanted to use that control method I just had to default to a joypad, the sluggish framerate and auto aim assist conspire to ruin the default control system. You can also use the Wii Zapper, Classic Controller or even the Gamecube pad if you feel so inclined, but the best experience will be gained if you use the new Classic Controller Pro – this updated pad features better button and analogue stick placement as well as being much more comfortable to hold. It is with this that I personally suggest plumping for the Collectors Edition of Goldeneye that comes packed in with a discounted cost Classic Controller Pro, that is if you don’t already own one.
Goldeneye on Wii looks terrific and is one of the most ambitious games to come out on the system do date, there’s real time lighting, explosion and smoke effects a plenty. The levels are huge and full of detail with no fogging and a very long draw distance, it’s certainly come a long way since the N64 original. The attention to detail is stunning and creates the most authentic Bond atmosphere to date. Everything from the voice acting of Daniel Craig and Judy Dench to the title sequence with the (obligatory) sultry naked female swimmers, set the scene perfectly. Not to mention the game is full of the same superb motion performance capture you’ve seen in games such as Resident Evil 5 and Uncharted 2.
Well I can’t complain about the effort put into Goldeneye at all, however my biggest complaint has to fall to games sluggish framerate. This can’t really be attributed to the developers though, they set out to create the best FPS on Wii and they’ve succeeded – however there’s only so much they can do with a CPU and GPU which are just a small step up from the Gamecube and Playstation 2. Goldeneye deserves to be running at a solid 30fps but for the most part it feels like we’re lucky to get 25, it doesn’t sound like much but it’s a noticeable difference.
Goldeneye for Wii is an essential purchase for all Wii owners who have been waiting for a real gamers game since they finished off Super Mario Galaxy 2. It’s true you could play a much better looking game on 360 or PS3 but if you want that authentic Bond experience then persist with Goldeneye and you’ll understand that graphics aren’t everything. Despite the flaws that come from being too overambitious on a platform that is underpowered, and yes seeing as you ask; I enjoyed the single player campaign more than the much more expensive Black Ops on my Xbox 360. Goldeneye scores a perfect 9 out of 10.
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