Everything old is new again these days. I feel like I’m a kid when I turn on the TV and see "Battlestar Galactica" and "Doctor Who" on again. I’m still waiting to see a reboot of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, though. Like their compatriots in television, game makers have also been trying to harness the power of nostalgia to make a few bucks, and so Goldeneye 007 is back.
Let’s get this out of the way: Goldeneye 007 for the Wii is not a port of the Nintendo 64 classic. Instead, it is a new game that also happens to be based on the 1995 James Bond movie. Today’s Goldeneye 007 is a modern shooter and thus, benefits from modern technology, but it also has a few of modern gaming’s annoyances as well.
In a case of “ripped from today’s headlines” the story has been changed slightly. In the movie, Trevelyan seeks revenge against England for their involvement in the death of his parents in the Repatriation of the Cossacks after World War II (look it up). In the game, however, we get to hear him rant about “the bankers and their bonuses.” Geeky programmer Boris Grishenko also only pops up in one scene, and his trademark “I am invEEncEEble!,” was also not to be heard. Aw.
NOBODY DOES IT BETTER
Cinematic - Each level starts with a briefing from MI6 and cutscenes that are rendered with the in-game engine. The cutscenes do a great job of telling the story and giving the game a cinematic feel. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench lend their voices to the game, reprising their roles as Bond and “M.”
Lots of Control Options - The game offers a plethora of control options that include just about everything short of a N64 controller: Wiimote/Nunchuk, Wii Zapper, Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro, or even a Nintendo GameCube controller. The game also offers lots of options that can be tweaked to your liking.
Smarter Than the Average Russian Bear - The enemy A.I. in Goldeneye 007 seems to be a little bit smarter than what I’ve been accustomed to playing against. On a few occasions, I thought I was hiding in a safe place only to soon find an enemy right on top of me.
Fun Multiplayer - There are lots of options, weapons and characters to choose from, including classics like Golden Gun and Paintball. Levels have descriptions that let you know how many players they are suitable for and it’s still as much fun as it was back in the day. Playing online is fun, too, except for some caveats I will explain later.
Looks and Sounds Good - From the grey concrete Soviet-era structures to the lush Nigerian jungle, Goldeneye 007 does a great job of bringing Bond’s world to life. The game’s graphics look good and the characters animate well. The voice actors do a great job, and music cues keep the action going as well as letting you know when you’ve been spotted.
New Bond, Same Game - Today’s Goldeneye keeps many of the original’s habits and conventions. The game zooms into Bond’s point of view to start missions, shooting people makes that distinct ‘crunch’ sound you remember from the first game (which comes in handy), the bodies of fallen opponents disappear, you get ratings after multiplayer battles, and higher difficulty levels mean having to complete more objectives.
Weak-mote - I initially tried playing the game using the Wiimote and Nunchuck, but it wasn’t quite good enough for when things got hectic. I found myself going ‘off-screen’ at inopportune times and soon found myself switching over to the Classic Controller Pro, which worked great. I don’t know if Motion Plus support would have helped any, but with all the other control options available, I was surprised to find it wasn’t there.
Wii Can’t Handle It - Most of the time, the Wii took everything the game threw at it without complaining, but every so often, it would stutter. This became increasingly noticeable in the later missions, and while it wasn’t enough to adversely affect gameplay, it was unfortunate to see.
Death by Quick Time - The game occasionally features Quick Time Events that take place during the in-game cutscenes, which I discovered after getting killed by them because I didn’t notice the grey button prompts on the screen. A quick heads-up would have been good, as I watched future cutscenes, I kept a close eye on the screen for prompts, which took some of the enjoyment out of watching them.
“Bond” of Duty - In a suckier nod to modernization, Bond’s health regenerates. If you want to play Goldeneye just like Back In The Day you have to kick up the difficulty level to “007 Classic.” I think it says something about today’s games when the hardest difficulty level comes from a thirteen year old game.
Online BS - I’ll give Activision credit for trying to give Nintendo’s online service some support (see also: Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock) but unfortunately, Nintendo’s silly friend codes make it a bigger pain than it has to be. The lack of voice chat support sucks some of the fun out of online, though your mileage may vary on that. Of course, if you don’t care about online, you won’t be bothered by this issue or the next.
Online Unlockables - Goldeneye’s online component has an XP system similar to the one found in Call of Duty. This would have been great, but nearly every weapon, modifier and perk has to be unlocked. This puts new players at a severe competitive disadvantage until they play enough games to unlock the good stuff like night vision goggles.
Where's My Theme Music? - I have been a fan of James Bond my whole life, and so I’m going to put my “nerd” hat on for a moment. Why does this James Bond game not have the James Bond Theme? Seriously, Activision, would it have cost that much? It’s just not James Bond (to say nothing of Goldeneye) without that “Ba-dum-da-dumm!”
I had fun playing through Goldeneye’s single player. It has enough in common with its N64 forbearer to feel familiar, but has been updated to meet today’s standards and plays well. It isn’t quite good enough to stand up to Halo or Call of Duty, but it’s still a good game. Even with the regenerating health, the “Agent” difficulty level provided a decent challenge; the only truly frustrating part of the game was a mission late in the game where I had to defend an NPC, but let’s be honest, defense missions have sucked since Wing Commander.
As I said at the top, this is not a port of the N64 classic. If you get Goldeneye 007 looking to play the 1997 game with updated graphics you will be disappointed. Those looking for a good FPS to play on the Wii (and let’s be honest, there aren’t many) will find plenty to enjoy with this game.