black_rose's GoldenEye 007 (Wii) review

Not only a great remake but a great game on its own right

 The 007 videogame series has had a rough time since it hit its peak with Everything or Nothing back in 2004: GoldenEye: Rogue Agent was at best a mediocre FPS and at worst a tedious exercise in frustration, From Russia With Love was decent enough to play all the way through but utterly forgettable, Quantum of Solace was a step in the right direction but it was held back by glitches and a frustrating campaign and Blood Stone… well, Blood Stone just downright sucked.  Thankfully, Activision has hit the jackpot with this remake of the classic N64 game, which comes closest to provide a superb 007 experience.      

 Now, let’s be honest for a second. Goldeneye 007 has aged poorly. Most people hold it in high regard because of nostalgia, but considering the advancements in the genre over the years, it stands as a nearly unplayable first person shooter today. That’s not to say it’s a terrible game. When it came out I was among those who went batshit over it. But truth is, nowadays it stands as nothing but a piece of videogame history.

 The great thing about Activision’s Goldeneye remake for the Wii is that it doesn’t rely on nostalgia. It improves on absolutely every aspect of the original and it’s a fantastic game on its own right. In fact, it would’ve been just as good without the Goldeneye name backing it up.

 The story pits Bond against the Janus organization, which has taken over the Goldeneye satellite and plans to use it to steal all the money from the bank of England. While this sounds awfully similar to the original game’s (and movie) storyline, the locations, characters and several scenes have been reworked to fit Daniel Craig’s version of Bond so it feels grittier and modern, which is a welcomed addition.

 The single player portion provides an exciting globe-trotting experience and features a strong variety of gameplay elements and enemy types.   While most of it consists of shooting levels, there are also vehicle and stealth missions, Quick-time Events and boss battles. The gameplay is pretty refined and borrows a lot from Infinity Ward’s and Trechyard’s Call of Duty series, especially from Trechyard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reflex as the controls are for the most part the same, but tweaked to make them more fluid.   While there’s a variety of control option including Gamecube and Classic Control support, I always felt at ease with the Wiimote + Nunchuck combo as they’re very fluid and consistently accurate. I’d go as far as saying that they are only second to Metroid Prime Trilogy as the best fps controls on the Wii.

One of the best things about the campaign is that it’s challenging. I died… a lot. Now that might have been because I suck at fps and videogames in general but it was mostly because the game’s difficulty is very balanced, it’s never too hard, but it’s never easy.   The enemy AI in particular is really well made, they are smart and react accordingly to your actions, taking cover and running from place to place to find the best spot to take you down, among other things. The best thing about it is that the gameplay is so well designed that I can only remember a couple of occasions where I felt that my dead was the game’s fault and not because of a poor decision I made.

The multiplayer aspect was what people remember most fondly about the original Goldeneye and for the remake it comes back with all the gameplay refinements present in the single player campaign, as well as new modes, weapons and characters. While the offline is rather disappointing in that it doesn’t feature AI bots, it still is enjoyable. The online is among the best the Wii has to offer, there’s a highly competitive community so it’s never difficult to find a match in any of the modes and none of the games I’ve played so far suffered from any lag so it’s pretty smooth as far as I’m concerned. The variety of modes is also nice; Golden Gun mode in particular is amazingly fun. And the XP progression and unlockables make it really addictive too.

Graphically, Goldeneye stands shoulder to shoulder with first party Nintendo games as an excellent looking game.   The levels are rich in detail and the character design and animation is also excellent. The game is also really colorful, which is a nice contrast to the grey-looking style of the Call of Duty series and most modern FPS. The voice acting, which sees Craig and Judi Dench reprising their roles from the movies, is also well done.      

 Goldeneye is not without its flaws. The frame rate tends to drop quite a bit when things get hectic, it suffers from long loading times and the original music is forgettable. But for everything it does wrong, it does twice as much right. Eurocom has made an excellent job at updating the venerable shooter and making this remake not only one of the best for the Wii, but also of this generation.    

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