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Jarrod Mawson
10 Nov, 2010

Goldeneye 007 Review

Wii Review | James Bond has returned.
It was the birth of countless friendships. It was strangers squinting at their tiny boxed corner of the screen. It was GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64, and it holds a special place in the hearts of millions of gamers worldwide. With good reason too, as not only was it a unique shooter for it’s time, but it is also responsible for the popularity of console shooters today. It was the Halo before Halo, and while we might take for granted the gigantic library of console shooters in today’s market, it wouldn’t be this way if it wasn’t for that special little game that launched back in the sweet November of 1997.

When Activision announced that they were reviving GoldenEye for the Nintendo Wii, it’s hard to blame anybody for their cynicism. Not only did it seem unnecessary, but the disastrously awful GoldenEye: Rogue Agent had many convinced that publishers had no intentions beyond exploiting nostalgic memories just to make a quick buck. Despite the high quality of Dead Space: Extraction, developer Eurocom’s sketchy record did little to quell concerns, and early footage had plenty worried the game was developing into a cheap Call of Duty clone.

Who would have thought something that could have gone so very wrong, would instead become something so very right?


Bond gets ready to unleash an SBD.

Bond gets ready to unleash an SBD.
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Since it’s reveal the title has been billed as a re-imagining of not just the classic game, but also the film. More than updating the old game with shiny new visuals, this involved modernising the premise for a more plausible real-world scenario, as well as updating the mannerisms of Bond to one that more closely matched Daniel Craig over the Pierce Bronson original. Practically all of the characters and plot points have been rewritten under this new direction, and the end result is a story that is surprisingly accurate to the original source material, yet fresh and reasonable in its changes.

No longer faced with the technical limitations of the Nintendo 64, heavier emphasis has been placed on cinematic presentation, with practically all of the scripted story segments taking place from first person, and once again showcasing Eurocom’s excellent talent in convincing facial animations that were so prevalent in Dead Space: Extraction. Just as impressive is the dialogue, with each character given a suitable identity in their writing. Bond in particular is written astoundingly, as whether he is flirting with a bombshell or exposing cheap liquor, he feels entirely within character and true to Daniel Craig’s likeliness, and it certainly helps that Daniel Craig himself provides his wonderful talent to this modernized James Bond.

However, even with the brilliant writing and cinematic presentation, there are a few character related issues that surface as the game progresses. For example, despite her importance to the climax of the story, Natalya’s exposure is minimal, and villain Xenia is not quite as seductive and threatening as she should be. Then there’s the main villain, whose reasoning for hijacking the GoldenEye has too seen updates, and while these new reasons are both rational and fitting to the revised a modern setting, it lacks the powerful vengeance driven motives of what we saw on the silver screen.

But in the long run these issues are insignificant, as the story manages to remain strong on its own two feet from its enthralling beginning to its climatic final, and accomplishes a wonderful blend of material from the original game and film, with plenty of nods to the more memorable moments found in both that fans will have a great time spotting.


The interdimensional time-rift sub-plot is particularly convincing.

The interdimensional time-rift sub-plot is particularly convincing.
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If there were any concerns that GoldenEye 007 would ignore the stealthy nature of the Bond we’ve all grown to love, let us assure you that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Eurocom has done a fabulous job of reviving the sneak-and-shoot gameplay that made the original game so popular, while enhancing the formula and offering more variety than any of us ever expected.

The predominant style of gameplay revolves around infiltration and assassination of enemies. To successfully sneak past security guards you’ll need to observe their patrol routs, exploit their isolation for silent kills, blast out security cameras, and get down on your knees to crawl through vents to reach that advantageous sniping position or observation post. Brilliant level design feels almost mathematical in its precisely placed positioning of enemies and their patrols, additional pathways and where they lead, and never feels overly intimidating nor disappointingly easily. There’s a great sense of empowerment in taking a moment to observe and analyze a room, then methodically working your way through, taking out enemies and cameras with well placed shots, and reaching the end without a single alarm tripped or guard alerted.

If lurking in the shadows doesn’t take your fancy, then feel free to pick up the nearest assault rifle and get your gun on, as the game is perfectly adaptable to the action loving gamers. Choosing this style of play, or being unfortunate enough to alert an enemy or trip an alarm, will summon tougher opponents that will really give you a run for your money. These enemies feature more aggressive and advanced AI that will blind fire, shoot while moving, duck and dive for cover, and actively pin you down and seek you out. It’s a challenge that will be very welcome to players who want to run-and-gun, but one happily avoidable to gamers who want to sneak their way through stages.


Bond's helicopter disguise proves successful as soldiers attack the decoy.

Bond's helicopter disguise proves successful as soldiers attack the decoy.
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While most of the game’s levels offer a symbiotic balance of these two formulas, there are a handful of levels which almost exclusively focus on all-out action, representing the climatic shoot-outs one would find in many of the Bond films. As exciting as they are, with interesting level layouts and destructible cover, they unfortunately come across as a little too generic, especially compared to the more creative stealth focused stages that comprise a majority of the game. Of additional concern is the framerate, which takes a serious beating in these more intense stages, pushing the little white box perhaps a little too far. But even with their generic gunplay and framerate grinding action, it’s hard to deny that these levels are still very enjoyable, if disposable.

However, when the two styles of play seamlessly blend together the game hits its peak, and manages to deliver some of the most memorable Bond gaming in years. One of the mid-game stages set in Severnaya, a re-imagining of the original game’s Surface, features arguably some of the most polished shooter level design and pacing of this generation. These levels continuously throw interesting design, unique challenges, and creative layouts that demand players continually adapt their skills to sneaking, fighting, sniping and more. They rarely dwell on singular mechanics for too long, and always give the impression that something new and fresh is just around the corner. As an added bonus, most of these levels look drop-dead gorgeous, with production values and detail polish that rivals even Nintendo's best.


Jawesome.

Jawesome.
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Any self respecting fan of the original game would tell you that single player is only half of the good stuff. All those hours weren’t chewed away fighting bots, they were lost in late night multiplayer matches, and GoldenEye 007 attempts dig deep into those memories through two main options.

First up is split-screen, which pits up to four players against each other in either standard combat or a couple of additional modes, and is strangely stripped of many modes that are available for online play. In replacement of these modes are modifiers, which allow matches to be spiced up with additional features such as paintball guns, melee only, bouncing grenades, and plenty more. There’s enough here to mix and match and keep things fresh, but even with these options there is a bizarre absence of a ‘classic’ mode. Instead, split-screen relies on load-outs and regenerating health mechanics. You won’t find armor and weapons lying around maps, and you wont be able to relive those memorable moments of racing for the RCP or proximity mines. It is baffling that for a game marketed as the revival of the Nintendo 64 classic, the core mechanics simply don’t exist at all.

Moving away from local multiplayer is the standard of any modern console game; online play. Here the mechanics are almost identical to split-screen, with the addition of even more game types and the exclusion of modifiers. At it’s core, it is disappointingly little more than a poor man’s Call of Duty. Customizable load-outs, perks, experience points, and unlockable attachments are only a few of the copied ideas, and none of them are executed with the polish and finesse of its bigger brother. Some of the more unique online game modes aid in creating a sense of game’s personal identity, but still not enough was done to differentiate this online experience from the other games out there.

But worst of all is the questionable net-code, which hinges match performance on the connection speeds of all connected players. With strong, stable connections games will flow smooth and quickly, but with high ping connections the framerate takes a serious beating. There are no programming tricks employed to smooth out the framerate from your perspective, even when your connection is stable, which makes technical performance far too dependent on the sum total of connection speeds, or the stability of the host. With no high speed servers to guaranty match performance, quality of online gaming is a gamble every time you connect.

Yet even with the technical issues and confusing design decisions in both of these modes, with a good group of friends the quick and dirty gameplay of split-screen certainly has its enjoyable merits, and the online component is one of the more complete offerings to be found on the Wii.


Revenge of the tall people.

Revenge of the tall people.
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It could have been a disaster, but instead it is something far from it. GoldenEye 007 manages to successfully recreate and modernise a classic Bond game and film for a new era, and in the process creates what is arguably the greatest single player Bond experience since the original game. It’s diverse in freedom, exhilarating in action, and wrapped in a cinematic presentation that makes you feel like you’re living the movie. It’s a shame the multiplayer could not meet the standard of exceptional polish that encompasses most of the single player, but it never stoops low enough to seriously hurt what is otherwise a fantastic package.

A surprisingly standout job by Eurocom and Activision well deserving of your time and money, and a game that ranks among the Wii’s very best. Get it and love it, because GoldenEye is back and it’s a blast.
The Score
Arguably the best Bond game since the original GoldenEye, and the definitive single player Wii shooter, bought down only by marginal multiplayer flaws.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Goldeneye 007 Content

GoldenEye 007 Wii launch trailer
31 Oct, 2010 One to watch.
GoldenEye 007 - Tank level trailer
27 Oct, 2010 Daniel Craig couldn't reverse park to save his life.
4 Comments
3 years ago
Excellent review! A friend who is a Goldeneye nut from way back when and I both got a copy on launch and I honestly got shivers down my spine on the opening camera pan through Dam just before you step into Bond's shoes.

The fact that you can SPOILER (higlight to read) actually hang upside down and sucker punch the guard on the toilet

END SPOILER

is all too cool! I always dreamt of doing that in the original. I agree that Xenia was underutilised and many characters I enjoyed in the original, simply didn't make the cut or were reworked completely and made little screentime. Them's the breaks I suppose.

Surprisingly, what the hell is Boris doing as a selectable character in MP SPOILER (highlight to read): when he is nowhere to be found during the single player campaign?

Very odd indeed..
3 years ago
Jaws wrote
Surprisingly, what the hell is Boris doing as a selectable character in MP SPOILER
Is he invincible though?
3 years ago
Anyone care to comment on the best method of control? i.e. is the classic controller pro better than the gamecube controller? I hear the extra buttons on the cc pro make it better fit for this game, so is it worth the extra $20 if you already have gamecube controllers?
3 years ago
tbenton wrote
Anyone care to comment on the best method of control? i.e. is the classic controller pro better than the gamecube controller? I hear the extra buttons on the cc pro make it better fit for this game, so is it worth the extra $20 if you already have gamecube controllers?
If you like to play with a pointer, its better with a pointer. If you like to play with dual analogue, its better with the CCPro.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  03/11/2010
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2010
Players:
  4

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