In my review for the XBLA version of Perfect Dark, I remarked that Rare had done the best they could to placate all those people screaming for a re-release of GoldenEye 007. With the amount of licensing headaches surrounding the original N64 FPS, it was understandably doubtful that the game would ever exist outside of its little gray cartridge.
However, a rather smart human being at Activision had a rather genius idea. What if you took GoldenEye, removed all of the original levels and character-likenesses, hired current Bond actor Daniel Craig to replace the former, and built a brand new game only loosely based on the classic game and film? Well, you would have GoldenEye 007 for Wii, a re-imagining of the beloved FPS that, surprisingly, succeeds in not only channeling the spirit of GoldenEye Past, but also the Bond franchise in general.
Like the film and original game, GoldenEye 007 sees James Bond investigating the GoldenEye weapon, a satellite that can fire precise EMP bursts anywhere on Earth. The game opens with MI6 dispatching both Bond and Agent 006 Alec Trevelyan to a facility in Russia to look into some possible terrorist activity. Alec is murdered during the mission, leaving Bond thirsty for revenge (a sentiment that isn’t new to this version) as he continues to discover just what the Russian terrorist cell is up to and how the GoldenEye weapon plays a role. Along with Daniel Craig, Judi Dench is also present here as M, the woman in charge who doles out Bond’s objectives and attempts to reel his erratic behavior in, when possible. The story is easy enough to follow, and is ripe with traditional double and triple-crosses, explosions, snappy one-liners and, of course, women. It is pure Bond, through and through.
Though both GoldenEye games share a common theme and general story, the levels themselves are vastly different. While this iteration opens similarly to the other, it becomes instantly clear just what difference nearly 14 years of innovation in level design can make. These levels are expansive, dark, and never see Bond doing the same activities for long. Even in the first level alone, the player is asked to employ stealth in order to dispatch guards, use a sniper rifle to cover 006, steal a truck in order to sneak behind enemy lines, and then engage in an all-out firefight as he approaches the entrance to the facility.
This variety of objectives and play styles keeps things exciting, and I found myself continuing straight into the next level once I had completed the former. From scanning patrons’ faces with Bond’s cell phone at a night club to locate his undercover contact, to escaping a Russian prison in a tank, there is always something new and unique in each mission to test every facet of the international spy’s repertoire. Levels that mostly focus on Bond sneaking into places he shouldn’t be offer the opportunity to crawl through vents and peer around corners while picking off enemies with his silenced P99. Or, if the player should prefer, Bond can grab an AK47 and tackle the level with full force. There are pros and cons to both styles of play, but whichever the player decides to roll with, he will still, undoubtedly, feel like a complete badass.
Modern FPS tropes have also influenced this GoldenEye. Bond has no health bar whatsoever, and only needs to take cover for a small amount of time in order to have his health replenish. Movement and stance also play a role now, as crouching and firing through the gun’s sights will greatly increase accuracy as opposed to running and firing from the hip. These changes might be appalling if a person hasn’t played a single FPS since the original GoldenEye, but for just about everyone who will play the game, omitting them would have been more egregious. Besides, for the hardcore GoldenEye fan, there is a difficulty mode that brings back the health bar and body armor from the original. Everybody wins!
Speaking of which, no one should have a complaint with how to physically play the game, as just about every control scheme imaginable is supported short of the Balance Board. My preferred method used the Wii remote and nunchuk, which features several sensitivity presets as well as the option to completely customize how the aiming and turning works. I thought playing with the most sensitive setting (Expert 3, I believe it was called) allowed for precise targeting and maneuvering. If IR aiming isn’t your bag, the game also supports both the Classic Controller and the Gamecube pad. For those who don’t mind looking silly, the Wii Zapper is also an option, though it is the only method I wasn’t able to test.
Of course, since the original GoldenEye certainly isn’t remembered for its gripping campaign, I would guess most people are just wondering how the multiplayer handles. The N64 version was a multiplayer revelation, stealing hours away from tired students of all ages, and I imagine if someone were to research average GPAs during 1997, there would probably be an alarming drop around the time that GoldenEye was released. Well, people can rest easy, because the multiplayer is (mostly) intact and could be just as addictive.
This GoldenEye offers up split-screen and online multiplayer. With the split-screen, up to 4 players face-off locally in locations pulled from the single player campaign. Much like the single player game, locations here are inspired by the N64 version, but don’t expect to find exact replicas of Bunker or Facility (unfortunately). Also, there isn’t quite the same customization when it comes to load outs, as each individual player picks their initial load out before the game starts, rather than picking what weapon types spawn in the level as was the case previously. Though outside of those changes, the multiplayer is mostly the same as it was before. Players can set up teams, play with the Golden Gun, set up time or life limits, and even play the ever-popular paintball mode. There are even a few other modifiers, such as rubber grenades, which will send thrown grenades bouncing wildly as if made of Flubber. It isn’t the same exact experience as found on the N64, but it is pretty close.
If friends are hard to come by, the option to play online exists as well. Up to 8 players can duke it out in even more modes here, such as Black Box, a variant that has one team trying to steal intel from another, or Heroes, where one person on each team has more health, does more damage, and even heals nearby teammates with his presence. Borrowing from Call of Duty, the player earns XP in each match played and will continue to unlock new weapon load outs, skins, and even game modes as new levels are reached. Though there is no voice chat to speak of, there is an option to create a party with friends. I had no connection problems whatsoever, either, which is a pleasant surprise to anyone who ever tried to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl online. All in all, it is a surprisingly fleshed out offering, and I know I’m going to continue to return to it over the next few months.
This version of GoldenEye 007, despite being altogether different from the original, succeeds not just as a great Wii game, but as a great game in general. Developer Eurocom deserves all the credit in the world for making an FPS for the Wii that crosses platform boundaries and doesn’t need any qualifiers to soften its successes. No, it isn’t as pretty as its High-Def FPS brethren, but it absolutely nails the Bond atmosphere and attitude, and for that it deserves recognition. This is without a doubt the best Bond game since 1997, and one of the best FPS games to come out in 2010. Don’t let this one slip by simply because it is on the Wii.
Things We Liked: Great Bond feel. Level variety keeps things exciting. Multiplayer is fully fleshed out and just as fun as before.
Things We Disliked: A little rough around the edges graphically, with disappearing dead bodies and frame rate stutters. A little more customization for local multiplayer would have been great. Menus are a little ugly.
Target Audience: Any and all Bond fans. FPS junkies who want something a little different than the latest Call of Duty or Halo.
(GoldenEye 007 – Developer: Eurocomm. Publisher: Activision. Available for Wii. A copy of the game was provided by the publishers for review purposes. Unfamiliar with CFD!’s review system? Read our newly revised explanation here.)