This Isn't Your Father's Goldeneye
Goldeneye 007 is not a remake of its Nintendo 64 predecessor, but rather a re-imagining. There are a lot of changes that hardcore fans of the game will not be happy with, although overall I think players will enjoy the new offering by not-007-developer Activision.
The first bit of information we need to get out of the way is: How many Bond people are associated with this game? Judi Dench (M) is reprising her role, as well as David Arnold as composer, Bruce Feirstein (wrote the Goldeneye film script) is writing the script, and Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner.
Bond himself has been updated to match the new days. Rather than the stretch-faced Pierce Brosnan that starred in the original game, the torch has been passed on to Daniel Craig, much to the dismay or excitement of Bond fans. Craig brings both his voice and his particular traits to the game, as Bond fans will be aware of his higher likelihood to choose shootouts over libido. That isn't to say Daniel Craig doesn't play the Bond role well, as shortly into the second level finds you condescending a waitress for the obvious counterfeit vodka being served.
In addition to the latest Bond, your tools have been upgraded from their original 1990's format. Pierce Brosnan may not know what a smartphone is, but Daniel Craig does, and you will use it a lot in hacking terminals. Fans of the original will be disappointed to know that not only have items like the remote detonated bombs been scaled back to certain missions, but apparently Daniel Craig just doesn't have the strength of Pierce Brosnan, and dual wielding virtually every weapon is out. The Bond watch is gone, and so is Miss Moneypenny. The cheat menu from the original Goldeneye has returned however, and all of the original cheats have returned with it.
As controls go, 007 goes where no other Wii first person shooter has gone before: Allowing choices. Not only do you have the Wii controls to choose from, but you can also opt for the Classic Controller or the Gamecube controller if you prefer. I found that the Wii controller gives you a small edge in aiming in multplayer where your quick reflexes really count. Other than the choices, the game controls like a standard first person shooter, with the only notable inclusion being the vaulting system where Bond can jump over obstacles. The feature is finely tuned, but is strangely absent in certain areas where its presence could be useful. For example, in one area I could have moved around a group of soldiers to a low fence and jumped over it to get by, yet I had no option to despite the fence being about crotch level.
The game does feature very limited auto-aim, which requires your reticle to virtually be right on top of the enemy before it locks on, and does not help if the target is moving from side to side. Noting that, this tiny bit of help does make a difference in modes like Golden Gun, where having your first shot lock on is all you need to get a kill. There is also a melee takedown option, where you can press Z + B and silently (and violently) subdue an enemy.
The graphics are top notch for the Wii, and play homage to the original Nintendo 64 graphics, with new features. Reloading your gun clouds the rest of the screen in a depth of field blur that takes a while to get used to, but is a nice touch. Flashbangs and smoke grenades offer their respective effects. The game even features the Bond-style introduction credits, which you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtaf7PZOjUQ.
Multiplayer is now offered through splitscreen and online, and if you have a gamecube controller or a classic controller you already have the necessary items for your extra players! The old multiplayer modes are back alongside new modes, although now you'll be working for experience to level up and gain access to new weapons, ala the Call of Duty system. You can build classes, each with a primary and secondary weapon, perks, and abilities, and certain game modes do not unlock until later levels.
But with all good things come the bad, and this is where we get to the disappointments. James Bond is a tank, forthright. Not all the way to Kane and Lynch tank, but he can take a lot of bullets before he is put down. While in the 007 Classic difficulty, Bond's health does not regenerate and players are required to maintain armor and intelligent tactics, the other modes are a walk in the park. I initially finished the game on 007 mode (second hardest) and did not die from gunfights once, but rather from the game's various insta-death moments. Even on 007 mode, I was able to stand in front of a person holding an AK-47, as he pumped an entire clip into me, and manage to reload my weapon, and then shoot him in the fact without dying. I'm playing through again on 007 Classic, but anything below that is a disappointment.
And speaking of insta-death, the game features quick time events. There are only a handful of quick time events, and they range from easy to obnoxious, mashing the L or R triggers in order to pull yourself up, and two or three fight sequences that require you to press buttons to react. These sequences aren't particularly difficult, and the game is lenient on you pressing the wrong button or taking too long to react. The instant death moments I spoke of earlier had to do with certain sequences where rockets are being fired at you, and you have to move from cover to cover or you will die instantly.
The multiplayer, as a PC gamer, feels dead. Because the Wii has no (popular) microphone or keyboard, there is no chat to be had. The online matches are strangely silent, and really don't offer more of an experience than playing against intelligent bots. There is no teamwork as there is no communication, and matches routinely suffer from dropped host syndrome, where the host rage-quits and takes the locally hosted server down with them.
Despite its minor shortfalls, Goldeneye 007 is without a doubt a buy. Hardcore fans of the original may not be happy with a few of the changes, but this is a solid game that offers a cinematic experience and enjoyable (if somewhat generic) online multiplayer. The single player is short, short enough to finish in a long afternoon, but the cutscenes and acting will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
I give Goldeneye a 4.5 because it is a solid game with minor annoyances. If you don't want to buy it, rent it. The single player is worth it.