Few would argue the legendary status of the original N64 classic, GoldenEye. Not only was it one of the very first console FPS titles that actually worked, boasting controls that weren’t a finger-bending mess, but it also, arguably, kick-started the whole console FPS multiplayer genre we know today, providing superb competitive shooter action long before the Halos, CoDs and Battlefields of the world.
Fans have been clamouring for the return of the original GoldenEye for a long time, and last year, Activision granted that wish, releasing GoldenEye 007 for the Wii, a remixed and restructured take on the N64 title. It wasn’t quite enough to live up to the original title’s legacy, but decent controls, a solid campaign and some nifty multiplayer content made it into a great Wii FPS.
Now, that same remake is back, this time on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and I must admit, I was a little surprised when it was announced, and wondered if a Wii port could hold its own against some of the biggest FPS release to ever grace any platform.
Spit and polish
Firstly, what you need to know is, aside from a few extra bits and pieces, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is pretty much the exact same game as the Wii outing. Don’t expect a massively different campaign or enhanced sections, as you won’t get them. What we do get here is an obvious visual boost along with some new challenge-style missions in the MI6 Ops mode. The multiplayer returns too, with expected online functionality and an extra ‘Escalation’ mode, but on the whole, it’s the same game as the Wii.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded has been built from the ground up with a new engine, and this has allowed the developer, Eurocom, to make the most of the power that simply wasn’t available on the Wii. Visually this is a large step up from the Nintendo version, and in particular, environment are far more detailed, and character models, whilst certainly not the best around, look much better too. The game also runs far smoother, but even with the added muscle available, it still looks a little basic compared to most other FPS release on the HD platforms.
One of the key elements of the Wii version was the control system. With the obligatory motion controls on offer, Eurocom also allowed players to choose normal, gamepad controls too. With the PS3 version, this is also the case, as Move support is optional, and due to its less that impressive sales, I suspect most players will be using the DualShock for their Bond thrills.
This is probably a good idea, as, although the Move controls aren’t bad, they’re not as refined or polished as the Wii’s, and lack the ability to lean around cover. The DualShock, however, is fine, even if the aiming is a little loose compared to other shooters.
Sadly, the same comparisons can’t be made with regards to difficulty or AI quality. The Wii version of GoldenEye was actually quite challenging, especially on the harder, 007 settings. You had to use cover in hectic firefights, and employing stealth was more of a necessity than a choice at times, and much as Bond does in the films, you had to think about your approach, using the environment to your advantage.
In this version, even on the same, hard difficulty setting, you can just steamroller your way through your foes with little to no consequence. Bond seems to take much more damage, and enemy AI is quite poor at times, offering little challenge. With aim assist on (something I highly advise against for experience players), you’re nigh on unstoppable, making seeking cover all but pointless and rendering stealth a mere option that you never really need. The 007 classic mode, which disables health regeneration makes things harder, but the AI is still flimsy.
Also, the stealth system is rather finicky. It’s often hard to really know when you’re going to be detected, and on more than one occasion I alerted the entire location without even knowing why, only to be assaulted by cheesy, spawning enemies.
To be fair, this was also an issue in the Wii version, so this port shouldn’t come off too badly, but Eurocom should have taken time to refine this element, even if it’s not as important as in the lesser-powered version.
Do pay attention, Bond
The campaign is still very enjoyable though, despite the issues, and the variety of missions, from the iconic Oblast dam to packed nightclubs and secret bases keep things interesting.
And, when you’re done with the campaign you can tackle the MI6 mode. This is a small selection of one-off missions that task you with such things as defeating groups of enemies, defending points on a map against attacked and completing missions without being detected.
They’re a nice addition to the game, but there’s not many on offer, and it won’t take long to plough through them. Still, you also have the multplayer to delve into, and this is probably where the game’s legs are to be found for most.
The modes are largely the same as the Wii outing, with the benefit of decent online support via PSN and XBL, of course, support for up to 16 players, and the aforementioned Escalation mode, which sees you acquire bigger and better weapons as the match moves on.
Despite its pedigree though, I couldn’t help find the multiplayer a little lacking. It could be that there are simply far more accomplished multiplayer titles around, and that GoldenEye relies a little too much on rose-tinted glasses for its appeal. It’s certainly a serviceable, and often enjoyable affair , it’s just not great, and probably won’t keep people online for long, especially in a year that’s already seen Resistance 3, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3 and, by the time you read this, probably CoD MW3 too. Saturation isn’t going to be a friend of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, that’s for sure.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just an odd one. I can see the market appeal of another Bond game on current gen consoles, but a Wii port in a very crowded market is a bad play in this humble writer’s opinion, and Relaoded doesn’t do enough to elevate it past the technically limited Wii. Hell, thanks to simplified AI, an easier difficulty and lacklustre motion controls, it’s not even the superior of the two, and I’d recommend you grab the Wii version instead if you can.
If you don’t have a Wii, though, and want a bit of Bond action, then you’ll get some enjoyment out of this. Just don’t expect a shooter anywhere near the level you’re used to on the platform.