E3 2010: GoldenEye 007 changes more than just the leading man

Can Activision modernize the brand without treading on nostalgia?

GoldenEye 007 is not a remake, at least not in the traditional "update the visuals and add online play" sort of manner. Sure, it shares the title of Rare's Nintendo 64 hit, delivers the much-loved four-player split-screen experience, and likely offers up several familiar scenarios. But GoldenEye 007 for Wii is more a reimagining of the 1995 film's content, albeit with obvious winks and nods towards the original game -- even if Activision seems reticent to admit such things.


Above: You can almost see the camera panning around your chunky 3D Bond

Billed as a contemporary update to the original, GoldenEye 007 for Wii revises the characters and storyline for 2010 in more ways than the most obvious one, swapping in current Bond actor Daniel Craig for previous star Pierce Brosnan. Just as Craig's version of the suave secret agent has been noticeably more aggressive and violent in his two films, Activision repssaid the in-game character would bear such traits, as well. Moreover, the real-world environments in the game have been updated to better reflect changes in the world in the last decade-plus.

In the single-player mission we viewed, weinstantly recognized environmental hallmarks from the original, but the events seemed different, along with the presentation. Certainly, the game looks better than its 64-bit counterpart, but another noticeable difference came with how the scripted sequences were presented, and in the way Bond can now subdue enemies and vault over barriers. It reminded us of the recent Call of Duty games in its flow and presentation, which shouldn't come as a shock, considering the publisher in question. The mission was also preceded by a fresh cinematic, not only setting the stage for the events, but also revealing to us that actress Judi Dench will be reprising her film role as the voice of Bond's boss, M.


Above: "Do I haaaave to go look for Bond boss? It's icky out!"

Activision demonstrated how player choice guides your path through missions, as you'll often have the choice between covert tactics and straight-up firefights. Branching physical paths also play a role, and it seems likely that you'll be able to tackle missions in a handful of different ways. And if you do want to go in guns blazing, Activision says the game will include more overall weapons than the Nintendo 64 game, including several familiar (or nearly familiar, in the case of the "Klebb") favorites. In addition to using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to control the action, GoldenEye 007 also supports the recently released Classic Controller Pro, or you can even use the Wii Zapper, assuming you haven't already trashed that awkward plastic shell.

Naturally, multiplayer got a lot of focus in our demo session, and Activision confirmed that GoldenEye 007 will include four-player split-screen play, as well as eight-player online matches via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Familiar modes and modifiers from the N64 title like paintball guns and "You Only Live Twice" are included, but Activision's press release on the game only mentions five multiplayer maps -- a surprisingly skimpy amount, if correct. From the little we played of the split-screen (using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk), GoldenEye 007 felt pretty familiar: tight corridors and simple controls lead to a lot of action, and it's fun to trash-talk over the post-match accolades.


Above: The bodies are still a little blocky, but the textures are much improved

We didn't see a ton of GoldenEye 007 at E3, but there's certainly plenty to be intrigued by. Activision's take on the game maintains enough of what keeps the original a nostalgic favorite, while embracing the evolution of the franchise -- and first-person shooters in general. Whether it's enough to take onmore modern titlesor convince doubting puristsremains to be seen, but we'll no doubt be hearing much more about GoldenEye 007 before its winter release target.

Jun 16, 2010

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at http://andrewhayward.org.
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