GoldenEye 007, Activision and Eurocom's "re-imagining" of the Nintendo64 classic, is a weird game.
Watching James Bond's stubby black pistol bobbing up and down on the screen before you, diving down from an air duct into a bathroom stall in the famous dam level, and picking off green-clad Russian soldiers who exercise little logic as they carelessly chase you around corners all lead one to think that the new game is highly faithful to its inspiration.
Thing is, when I hopped online and watched several videos of the 1997 game in action, I realized that the remake is actually much more modern than it seems--and not just in terms of its superior graphics. It has more narrative sequences, there are fewer contrived door puzzles, maps are larger and more immersive, and we have to make good use of cover. Plus, while the new game's enemies are no geniuses they are a lot smarter than their predecessors, who often simply hoofed it directly to the player's location before slowly turning like puppets to take aim.
Consequently, one is left wondering just where this game belongs. Most people in 2010 will see the new GoldenEye 007 as a throwback. However, if we were to travel back in time and show it to a 1997 gamer he would likely think it a superbly cinematic and ultra-realistic action game; a James Bond movie in interactive form (though, to his eyes, starring an unrecognizable and oddly blonde actor in the form of Daniel Craig, who has stepped in for Pierce Brosnan). It fits into some bizarre purgatory between eras. Perhaps it's exactly what shooters were like in the summer of 2003. I can't really remember.
Its vaguely disconcerting nature aside, there's no denying that GoldenEye 007 is fun...in a very basic, run 'n' gun kind of way.
Like its predecessor, the focus is on moving forward and killing bad guys. There are some slower moments, such as one level that begins with Bond scanning faces in a nightclub with his phone while searching for a contact, but most missions are all about tearing through enemies. Stealth should play a role-007's silenced pistol is capable of offing baddies without alerting their neighbours even when they're only standing a few metres away, and we can quietly take down enemies from behind at the press of a button-but I found both precise targeting and sneaking to be terribly unreliable. Brute force was much more effective-and satisfying.
Online multiplayer, meanwhile, offers a similarly fast-paced experience via nine separate modes-including the classic Golden Gun mode from the original game (one-shot kills for whoever finds the gleaming weapon). Like other modern shooters, you can earn experience and work toward achievements in weapon proficiency and combat abilities. It's quite nicely executed. However, smallish maps, a cap of just eight competitors, no voice communication, and a seeming lack of players-I had to wait several minutes to find enough to begin a game the night it launched-makes it all seem a little quaint.
Like the original, you can also play four-player split-screen in your living room, which ought to be more entertaining than ever before, given the massive increase in the average size of televisions over the last decade. However, it's been a long time since I've had friends with enough free time that I could simply call a trio of them up to come over for some same-screen action. Needless to say, I didn't get to try this mode.
One last note: I experimented with the Wii zapper and standard remote and nunchuk controls, but the most comfortable setup by far was with the golden Wii Classic Controller Pro that comes bundled with the special edition. It's essentially a modern gamepad, complete with a pair of shoulder button and palm grips. You can also purchase a black or white Pro pad separately for $25.
GoldenEye 007 isn't quite the triumphant return of the 13-year-old game many were hoping to see, but it's well made and offers a bit of pleasant nostalgia. And, given the dearth of shooters available for the Wii, it doesn't exactly have a lot of competition. If your Wii remote trigger finger is hankering for a little action, it ought to satisfy well enough.
Developer: Eurocom Entertainment