GoldenEye 007 Review
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On 01/01/2011 at 11:09 PM by Nick DiMola
Don't expect the same experience you got back in 1997; this is quite a different offering.
For Wii owners looking for a solid shooter, who also aren't huge fans of the Call of Duty series. Those who loved the original might be disappointed by the game's single player mode.
Yes, you read that right, GoldenEye is back. But it's not back like you're thinking. If you're reading this, chances are you have some fond memories of the original title, released on the N64 by Nintendo and Rare. At the time, the game set the standards for console-based first person shooters, as the genre really had no significant presence in the market. Fast-forward thirteen years and the story is quite different. The first person shooter dominates the market, though its construction has deviated significantly from the design of GoldenEye 007 years ago. Most recently, the Call of Duty series has taken the market by storm, and has clearly had a huge influence on this re-imagination of story and gameplay of the original title. As such, GoldenEye 007 straddles the line between old school and new school first person shooter design, making for an experience that's not nearly as memorable as the title it borrows so much credibility from.
For reference, I'm one of those crazy zealot fans of GoldenEye and old school first person shooter design. In my experience, there was something addictive and magical about games built from modular missions, each with a variable difficulty that incorporated both stronger and smarter enemies as well as more mission objectives. With this type of design, there was a strong emphasis on improving skills, memorizing levels and enemy patterns, and an ever-changing set of objectives as players went back through previous missions on a higher difficulty setting. Clearly the developers at Eurocom saw this when revisiting the classic title and implemented something similar with this latest iteration of the game.
It's unfortunate, but they didn't get the formula quite right. See, this concept worked so well because missions were short, levels were small, and mission objectives, though vague, always seemed a bit more obvious. As stated above, the game straddles this line between old and new school design, and part of what it borrows from new school design are much longer missions and huge levels that make it tough to backtrack through to find missed objectives. Because of this design choice, the two concepts clash, making it extremely frustrating to complete GoldenEye missions at higher difficulty settings.
Let me explain further. In the new Facility mission, players are subjected to an extremely long and diverse level that is much more similar to the setting in the movie it seeks to represent. As such, the mission takes a whopping forty minutes to complete. If you decide to play said mission on a higher difficulty setting, a total of three terminals must be hacked with your smart phone in order to complete one of the ancillary mission objectives. Along the way, I seemed to miss a single terminal and was barred from going back through the level in order to find it once I reached a certain point. This meant I needed to complete the forty minute mission once again just to continue on the medium difficulty setting to the next mission.
The original GoldenEye had a Facility mission that clocked in at a maximum of ten minutes, meaning missing such a trivial objective would've amounted to redoing very little in order to proceed in the quest. Thankfully, missing the objective didn't bar me from progressing as it counted as finishing the mission on the lowest difficulty setting, which was nice, though it definitely put a hamper on my experience.
Now I don't want to focus too much on why this GoldenEye doesn't match up to the original, but I will say that the ancillary objectives provided by higher difficulty settings were done quite poorly. When players decide to play the game on its base difficulty setting, it amounts to little more than a Call of Duty clone featuring James Bond. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing, but it's also not quite the experience it was sold to be. If that's alright with you, then please, read on.
Once I was able to get past this, I was able to enjoy myself a bit more with the title on the basic difficulty setting. Players will employ stealth tactics to navigate the level to make it easier to reach the finish, but quite often full-on firefights will erupt, forcing players to use cover techniques in order to properly dispense of all enemies.
The level construction and action is significantly less interesting than the competing Call of Duty title, Black Ops, but what's there is serviceable, especially for a Wii game. The Wii library is devoid of first-person shooters, much less any of reasonable quality.
The game's shooting mechanics are quite sound and aiming with the Wii Remote feels pretty nice, especially with the ability to aim down the sights (ADS) like you can in many modern first person shooters. For those who are used to using a standard controller, options exist to play with the Classic Controller, as well as the GameCube Controller, but I found it to be much more comfortable, quicker, and easier to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
The full quest is of a reasonable length, and players can probably expect to put a good 10 hours in on the lowest difficulty setting to finish the whole thing. Of course, going back to slog through the tougher objectives will extend its length significantly. However, my time with the game indicated that the multiplayer experience was more deserving of my time than the average to slightly above-average single player quest.
Again, the game very closely mimics the Call of Duty series in its multiplayer implementation, allowing players to fight in teams or head-to-head in a wide variety of different game types. Though players will be scored in the matches, they will also earn experience for killing enemies in a variety of different ways, just like Call of Duty. This allows players to level-up in order to earn new game types and multiplayer modifiers to enhance the experience. The system isn't quite as robust as Call of Duty: Black Ops, but it does provide a reason to keep coming back to the mode, and it actually keeps the experience balanced, unlike Black Ops.
In order to keep the retro theme alive, the game also includes local multiplayer for when you have a group of up-to-four in the room. This, along with some of the old school modifiers and characters like paintball mode and Oddjob, really bring back great memories.
What really distinguishes this title from Call of Duty: Black Ops is the structure of the levels in multiplayer. Most of them take place inside, and are quite a bit smaller than your typical Call of Duty level. This is really a great change as it makes the combat more heated, quicker paced, and because players don't die as quickly, a bit more old school feeling.
One pet-peeve of mine, however, is the ability to instant melee kill. Again, because you don't die as quickly, and the levels are smaller, melee kills are more prevalent. They don't make much sense, as they are far and away stronger than any of the weapons, and can become frustrating to avoid versus great players. I did encounter some other issues, like spawn camping in some of the really small maps (Archives comes to mind), but this wasn’t as rampant as the melee instant kills.
As a re-imagination of the original, GoldenEye 007 is a miserable failure, but as a new style shooter based heavily on the Call of Duty series, the game is a slightly above average offering. Because the game does invoke some nostalgia, Wii owners who were fans of the original will likely enjoy what GoldenEye 007 brings to the table, especially in the multiplayer arena. However, as a complete package, it does fall short of Activision's other Wii offering, Call of Duty: Black Ops.