The bar has been set extremely high in the world of shooters this holiday season with blockbuster titles we're sure the majority of gamers plan on adding to their collection. Among this stiff competition comes GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, the remake of the classic, this time in HD.
If you’ve played GoldenEye on the Wii, there won't be much new for you to find here. The campaign still has its ups and downs, as mentioned in our Wii review, with some fantastic set pieces and stealth elements, only this time with a fresh coat of paint slapped on. The graphics look much improved over the Wii version from last year, with more crisp textures and a higher resolution, but don’t expect to see any fancy new character or weapon models. We did notice some textures popping in here and there and the improved visuals don’t do much to make the environments or enemies more interesting. Everything still looks generic, lacking the visual and audible punch of bigger shooters.
But that’s not to say there is no fun to be had playing as the world’s greatest field agent. As far as the campaign goes, it is an absolute blast to see the classic levels and objectives reimagined in this generation. There are a few throwback scenes that can be directly compared to the N64 grandfather, like the first level’s intro scene or placing mines on fuel tanks to blow up the facility. Along with those classic scenes, there are plenty of new ones that catch the feeling of playing GoldenEye from the good old days. Walking through a night club to make contact with undercover agents while rejecting imitation high-end vodka adds to the authenticity of playing as James Bond as much as driving tanks and blowing up helicopters. This game has those instances, and they’re awesome.
The stealth portions of the campaign are where we’ve had the most fun. Sneaking around, strangling guards, delivering silenced head shots with the PP9 make us really feel like we’re playing a GoldenEye game. However, the feeling diminishes when the action heats up.
The heavy action sections seem to take inspiration and shooting mechanics from modern shooters like Call of Duty and Killzone. Enemies typically run toward Bond or duck behind cover resulting in both sides taking pot shots till everyone’s dead. Bond will pop out from cover when ducked behind a crate or wall and snap to a target when aiming down the sights. These mechanics felt smooth and natural even while using the Move controller on the PS3 version. While there wasn’t always much variety in combat situations, the shooting mechanics work well enough that taking out a room full of soldiers in rapid succession is satisfying enough to continue on through the campaign.
One issue we had with the Move controller was that it took a considerable amount of tweaking in the settings to get comfortable. We ended up having to calibrate several times, then spending five minutes fiddling with the settings. Once we found the sweet spot though, the extra precision had us capping heads faster than with the standard controller.
But enough about all of that – one of the biggest draws of the GoldenEye name since the N64 days has been the multiplayer. So, how does it stand up? Well, it does just OK. There is clear inspiration drawn from the Call of Duty franchise – offering customizable loadouts, level progression, and accolade bonuses that pop up as they are earned in game. There are a ton of modes ranging from the standard deathmatch to the game’s own version of gun game (Once a player gets a kill they automatically switch to the next weapon in the sequence, and will be set back in the sequence for dying twice without getting a kill). GoldenEye’s multiplayer offers plenty of variety and motivates players with weapon, gadget, and character unlocks. However, there are a few issues.
In matchmaking, we ran into network errors when trying to join team games, but when we were sent to a game lobby no other players would be in it. In fact, we were rarely sent to a lobby that was populated. If we sat in the lobby long enough, eventually other players would join and the game would start, but no one wants to wait ten minutes whenever they change modes. GoldenEye’s multiplayer also doesn’t offer the fine tuning of more popular shooters. Some hits don’t seem to register on occasion and the general feel of the controls feel slightly sluggish and imprecise. There are also “perks” unlockable – called “Gadgets” in GoldenEye, but rather than creating bonuses that would be unique to the James Bond universe they are just more generic perks like longer sprint time, faster reloading, and the ability to drop a grenade upon death. Making use of laser watches and other spy inspired gadgets was a missed opportunity.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded has some definite strengths and some obvious shortcomings. The single-player campaign captures the feel of James Bond despite some generic environments and cookie-cutter enemies. The multiplayer leaves something to be desired, which might have satisfied more with the unique James Bond tone attached than an attempted Call of Duty clone. GoldenEye lost some charm moving from being one of the few first-person shooters on the Wii to the shooter heavy PS3 and Xbox 360, but there is something here for Bond fans with a variety of gameplay modes each with something to offer – if you can get over a few bumps.