Reviewed: November 2, 2010
Released: November 2, 2010
It’s a Bond-tastic day for Activision and fans of the 007 franchise, especially if those fans happen to be from the old-school of gaming back when N64 and 4-way, split-screen gaming was giving birth to multiplayer first-person shooters, long before broadband Internet was a household fixture. Ask anyone what their favorite N64 game was back in 1995 and nine gamers out of ten will answer GoldenEye, then proceed to beat the crap out of the tenth one.|
GoldenEye 007 is arguably the most desired title in the history of gaming to be ported to a next-gen console. When Microsoft acquired Rare we all crossed our fingers that GoldenEye would be coming to the Xbox Live Arcade, but apparently that license didn’t belong to the developer. Somehow Nintendo managed to cling to the name and Activision owns the James Bond franchise, so magic wands were waved, piles of cash were deposited into Cayman Island accounts, and Eurocom was tasked with rebooting gaming’s most cherished franchise for a new generation of system and gamer.
The original GoldenEye game arrived a bit too late for me. I was in the process of switching over to the PlayStation and games like GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, and Conker were quickly forgotten and stored away in favor of Sony’s new generation of game system. But I still remember at least one solid month of playing Bond, both in the solo campaign and the intense 4-player modes where I usually came in last because that's all my other friends were playing. I was certainly looking forward to seeing how Eurocom was going to upgrade the game without offending any purists.
Right out of the gate we find that Pierce Brosnan has been recast with current Bond actor, Daniel Craig, and with that change comes a host of smaller changes that are inherent to the way Daniel plays the role. This is more than a vocal recast. Craig is more about guns and melee and less about gadgets, so several signature moments have been tweaked, altered or entirely changed to personify this new Bond.
While the game may have changed the way we play doesn’t have to. The back of the box clearly shows support for Wii controls, the Zapper, and even the classic controller, but when it comes to reliving the past it’s time to break out the old Wavebird – the only way to play GoldenEye. While the Wii-mote and even the Zapper contraption are functional, turning Bond into a “light gun” game is borderline sacrilegious, not to mention clumsy, awkward, and frustrating to control at times. At least get a classic GameCube controller. It's not wireless but it will rumble.
While the GoldenEye story remains intact as well as the general level designs and missions, the action has definitely changed to incorporate a nice blend of stealth, melee, and some fantastic firefights. Levels are designed often with multiple paths to certain areas allowing you to flank or even surprise your targets. There is a nice cover system in place that allows for blind fire and pop-up target lock using iron sights. Enemy AI is excellent with soldiers dashing for cover, destroying your cover, and constantly advancing on your position.
Bond’s bag of tricks includes a whole lot of weapons and one kick-ass phone that makes my iPhone green with tech-envy. You can hack computers, take and send spy photos, and even make phone calls. The levels are fairly large and depending on your chosen skill level you may or may not have secondary objectives. On higher levels these secondary tasks are mandatory to continue the game, which can be a bit annoying since it is possible to end the mission without completing the required tasks then having to replay the entire mission over. And since doors will often close and shut you off from past sections of the level you had better be sure you have done and found everything before moving on.
Visually, the game is stunning (and not just for a Wii game), with character models that look nearly as good as the ones in Blood Stone on PS3 and 360. Textures are impressive as are weather effects, smoke, fire, explosions, broken glass, lighting, and just about anything else you care to analyze. Characters move realistically with excellent mo-capped moves and the transition between game and narrative is seamless. And I love that opening movie – 20x better than Blood Stone with a fantastic Bond feel and great song by Nicole Scherzinger.
The voice acting is also topnotch with Craig delivering a much more believable Bond performance than he does on Blood Stone. The supporting cast including Dame Judi Dench all help create a cinematic Bond experience. The music is classic Bond-theme action-adventure and the Dolby Pro Logic II mix of special effects (mostly gunfire and explosions) and plenty of environmental sounds are equally as impressive.
But as any N64 Bond veteran will tell you, the campaign is only a small fraction of the GoldenEye experience. This game put split-screen multiplayer on the map and Eurocom has delivered a brilliant 4-player local experience as well as online support for up to 8 players in various team modes. I’ve never been a fan of split-screen gaming because I tend to get confused trying to watch the other portals and play my own character, but for those who want to return to those crazy split-screen competitions, it’s here and just as classic as ever.
GoldenEye offers a large number of multiplayer game modes making it a bit difficult to hook-up with random gamers and play a mode you like. That means its time to break out the “friend codes” and start exchanging them so you can use the lobby system to setup and play games. I would have thought Nintendo would have come up with a better online solution by now. Maybe this will be the game to encourage a permanent Wii gamer tag so we can end this code nonsense. There is also no support for the WiiSpeak or any other voice chat options so leave the strategizing for other consoles or break out those cell phones and put them on speaker – seriously…do it…you’ll have a huge advantage.
New to the GoldenEye multiplayer formula is the addition of XP that allows you to unlock all sorts of new content, mods, and extras. Think of it as GoldenEye with a heavy influence of Modern Warfare. It’s certainly not as massive as the Call of Duty Perk system but it makes it much more rewarding to play local and online matches a lot more than you otherwise might.
I only played GoldenEye 007 for a few minutes at E3 this year but that was long enough to give it Best Wii Multiplayer Game of the Show and that award still stands after playing the final game. In fact, it may very well be the best Wii game of the year – it certainly is as of this review, and it will take something pretty spectacular to unseat this reigning champ of first-person shooters. If you’ve never played GoldenEye then now is your chance to experience a piece of retooled history, and if you are a grumbling diehard fan of the original then suck it up and get with the times. Change is good and GoldenEye 007 has never been better.