Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Goldeneye 007 (2010) Review

I initially had absolutely no intention of picking up Goldeneye 007 for the Wii, doubtful that it would do the N64 game justice, I was cynical of Activision’s ability to replicate classic feel. Nonetheless, upon hearing many good things about the game, I decided to take a risk and purchase the game. After a seven-hour marathon session, I can profess with certainty that Goldeneye 007 does its legendary namesake justice, a modern shooter that feels like a classic. While it may not have the impact of the original, Eurocom’s remake takes creative liberties while preserving the original aesthetics of the game even through the addition of modern mechanics. The result is a fine and memorable campaign coupled with incredible local multiplayer worthy of the prestigious franchise.

Reverent Tribute or Blasphemous Desecration? Single-Player
From watching gameplay footage, one would predict that Goldeneye 007 would be a Bond-flavored Call of Duty game, and to a minor extent, this is correct. Aim-assist is present, levels are linear (though not to the extent of Modern Warfare 2), story is told through load-screen briefings, breaches are accompanied with a slo-mo effect and aiming down the sight is the key to success in combat. What makes this Wii-remake so special is how it delicately balances these modernizations to make the game both familiar yet fresh.
For one, much like the original, this is a stealth/shooter hybrid. Running and gunning leads to many deaths, and thus, enemy placement is designed to promote a stealthy play-style. Enemies are positioned so that tactical planning of attacks is necessary. A stealth-takedown move is preformed by maneuvering behind an enemy and following a motion prompt, allowing for the player to eliminate enemies unnoticed. This stealthy method of play is extremely satisfying and gives what could have been an overly generic shooter its own unique play style. While the N64 game was geared towards run-n-gun gameplay, it still was filed with stealth-sequences. Fans of the original will be pleased to see this style of play replicated in 2010.

Unlike the original Goldeneye’s short, snappy levels, Goldeneye for the Wii has a very lengthy campaign with some incredible set pieces. While the N64 versions levels could be completed in five minutes, the average Goldeneye Wii level takes about 25 minutes to complete, resulting in one of the meatiest single-player games in recent memory. Goldeneye’s weapon set also mixes Call of Duty and the N64 games dynamics to an excellent effect. Weapons feel powerful, sound great and are excellently modeled. Pulling off headshots with a high-powered Pavlov sniper is as fun as it was years ago, and while it might not have the spectacle that other recent AAA shooters are known for (read: Reach, Black Ops), Goldeneye’s campaign stands alone both as a modernization of the original and a new experience. Level layouts may be entirely different, but they differ to Goldeneye’s  benefit
Nonetheless, one innovation that this game utilizes that has been sorely underused in modern FPS games are multiple objectives. As the player increases the difficulty, new objectives must be completed, thereby changing the experience and adding a replay value rare in modern shooters (no pun intended). The original Goldeneye had this scaling difficulty system and not since the TimeSplitters series has this been used. Needless to say, the utilization of this difficulty system makes this modern game so much more honest to the original, and thus, so much more fun.

Ultimately, Goldeneye 2010 does indeed succeed in replicating the original games aesthetic despite its newer mechanics and is a worthy successor to the esteemed 007 title.Whether or not it can create as many fond memories as the original remains debatable. 

Graphics, Control and Sound
Goldeneye 2010 is by no means a good looking game compared to game like Corruption or Red Steel 2, and despite the best intentions of the art team, Goldeneye’s artistic direction feels generic in the face of the recent surge of modern-warfare inspired shooters. The game runs off developer Eurocom’s Dead Space Extraction engine, and thus, features some very impressive facial animation and lighting effects. Light sources are awash with ample bloom-lighting and reflect and bounce off beautifully off polished surfaces. Mo-capped and facially scanned character models are impressive in detail and react realistically.
Nonetheless, the graphics do fall short in certain areas. For one, some textures are rather blurry compared to other Wii games. Bullet-holes leave a noticeable decal and the frame rate drops slightly at busy times. Goldeneye’s engine might lack the sophistication of The Conduit’s Quantum3 engine and it might also lack the inspired artistry of Corruption, nonetheless, the framerate is solid almost all of the time and rarely drops and the texturing won’t get in the way of enjoyment.

Goldeneye’s controls, much like its graphics, pale in comparison to titles like The Conduit and Corruption. The pointer-based controls are excellent, without many problems. Nonetheless, I often wished for a quick-turn button which would allow for me to snap back to engage with threats behind me, as the default turning speed was too slow for my taste. Nonetheless, Goldeneye features extremely customizable controls through which every button can be remapped and the bounding sensitivity can be adjusted. In addition, the game also supports Zapper, Classic Controller and Gamecube support. Gamecube control, while functional, is not recommended as the C-Stick is too small and stubby to work well for long play sessions. Ultimately, the bundled Classic Controller Pro works best for this game, with button mapping being flawless.
Sound-wise, the game is excellent. Daniel Craig leads the voice-cast of the game as Bond providing a very authentic recreation of the events of Goldeneye. Music, while repetitive, remains reminiscent to that of the series and sets up the game’s tone and mood very well.

Narrative Problems
Nonetheless, a considerable problem facing Goldeneye is its story.While thematically, it is refreshing to have a fun espionage-themed shooter in face of the gritty war titles we have received in recent years, Eurocom’s attempt at modernizing the Goldeneye story falls absolutely flat in seven instances, leaving gaping plot holes.


For one, by moving the events of the game to occur in 2010, the writers have essentially made Treylevan’s motives for attacking the Bank of England useless, his motives seemingly become hazy. Also, the dam mission, now coinciding with the rest of the story, makes the relationship between Janus and Ouromov confusing and unclear. If Treylevan was working for the Russians under the guise of a MI6 member, how did he survive the gunshot wound and why did he kill so many Russian operatives. Goldeneye’s story is minorly tainted in this revival and is one of the weaker parts of this game.

Goldeneye 64 was known for its innovative split-screen multiplayer mode, which attracted a cult-following in the late 90s in college dorms and high-school basements everywhere. Surprisingly, the revival’s multiplayer is very robust for the Wii, while it may not necessarily cut into the TF2 time, the online multiplayer is both fun, responsive and addictive. While not as deep as the recent Call of Duty: Black Ops, one can appreciate the smaller maps and reduced player-count, leading to better balance, simpler gameplay and fewer infuriating spawn-kills and deathstreaks.

Structurally, Goldeneye is considerably simplified Call of Duty. Character customization is limited to three perks, a primary weapon, secondary weapon and a primary weapon attachment. Thus, success depends on reflexes and marksmanship rather than map memorization and camping. The low-player count reduces the risk of frustrating spawn kills and the lack of killstreak awards keeps things simple and controlled. The same simplicity is one of Goldeneye’s faults, and while it is fun to pop online for a few quick matches, online multiplayer eventually grows repetitive and the lack of voice-chat significantly reduces the appeal. Online Multiplayer fanatics might rather look at Black Ops or the upcoming Conduit 2.


Thankfully, true to the original, Goldeneye 007 features not only some of the best local multiplayer shooting on the console, but of the entire generation. While modern shooters have focused more on online play, seldom is excellent local multiplayer a focus for developers. Sure, there is Call of Duty, but one does get tired of playing Rust and Nuketown for the umpteenth time. Goldeneye 007 does an excellent job of fine-tuning its maps for raucous split-screen matches. While the fact that the pre-set loadouts does limit strategic depth, the sheer accessibility of the experience is reminiscent to the quality of the original N64 game. A bevy of character models and the large variety of control options allows the game to access a wide audience. The masterful degree of customization allows for a degree of rule-changing depth unseen since TimeSplitters 2. Needless to say, Goldeneye 007 offers a refreshing change of pace, and while the online multiplayer might not be as robust as other FPS games, the split-screen will give ample reason to leave the disc in your Wii for weeks at a time. Highly Recommended. 4.5/5

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