GoldenEye 007: Reloaded Review
Game: GoldenEye 007: Reloaded Review
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Almost every gamer worth their salt will have played GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 at one point or another. Even if it was just to experience the ground-breaking multiplayer. My friends and I spent countless hours playing the game and even our non-gaming friends were drawn in. People even had to create their own rules for the game, it was just that popular. No playing as Odd-job, he’s too small, no slappers only, it’s too irritating. If you played the game before now, you know what I mean.
Time hasn’t been kind to the shooter. It is still a fun game in four-player mode, but the graphics have aged terribly and the controls feel too loose making you feel as if you are sliding around the screen. People have been demanding that RARE re-release the title on current consoles, but I feel that they may be a little disappointed, wearing rose-tinted glasses. So Activision did the next best thing, re-make the game with a high-definition makeover, and a host of new features. The game was re-released on Wii last year, but now Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers get another update, with even more extra features to try out. Does the game still score with gamers? Can Bond prove that Nobody Does it Better?
STORY: The storyline is more or less the same as the original game and therefore the film that inspired it. It has been updated somewhat, to reflect the fact that the Cold War is now thankfully long behind us, and now focuses on the more imminent threat of financial turmoil around the world. But don’t worry about these changes, the overall plot remains very familiar. What is nice is that elements from the original plot have sometimes been expanded or jazzed up, to mesh better with our current idea of what a modern James Bond film is like. What has changed more dramatically though, is Bond himself. As Pierce Brosnan has moved on to other projects, we are treated to a new Daniel Craig skin for 007, as well as a whole new cast of actors playing the parts of the other key players from GoldenEye. No more Robbie Coltrane unfortunately, but this isn’t likely to bother you too much.
GRAPHICS: The main difference gamers will notice between this release and the previous Wii iteration is the Hi-Def visuals. The game does look incredibly sharp and crisp, which helps round out the slick production values we have come to expect from a Bond Movie of late. Actors faces are recognisable as their real-life counterparts, and animations are smooth and realistic on the whole. It is when you play through the re-worked versions of classic Nintendo 64 levels that the graphical integrity really jumps out at you. For instance, playing the Dam level for the first time is amazing, as you notice all of the familiar landmarks and features from the classic game, which are now rendered in full HD. Some of the re-worked levels are closer to the originals than others, and it is in these more recognisable ones that you will relish in the overhaul most, and it is bound to bring back fond memories.
SOUND: As with the visuals, audio integrity and production is also of a very high standard. Voice acting, sound effects and music all add to the overall atmosphere of the levels, and make the game a more immersive experience. Some of the musical themes are recognisable from the film of GoldenEye, but extra sections and pieces of music have also been composed, all of which fit perfectly with the original pieces, blending together well. Players of the classic GoldenEye game will also appreciate that some of the little sound effects, such as triggering remote mines for example, sound almost identical to the retro classic. These add to the feeling of fondly looking back at the old game.
GAMEPLAY: Of course, the game plays very differently than the original, but as stated before the old mechanics certainly needed to be brought up-to-date as the old game hasn’t aged gracefully. The new game plays more like other Activision stable FPS titles like Modern Warfare, and both movement and aiming are smooth and responsive. Unlike the original game, you can add silencers and secondary fire features to your weapons, which should be used at different stages of levels to bring the best results. There aren’t any weapons that you haven’t seen in a million games before, and all of the gameplay mechanics are fairly standard for the genre. GoldenEye 007: Reloaded doesn’t re-invent the wheel.
Just like the original game did, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded still elevates stealth above all-out action, with extra achievements being rewarded for stealthy play. You must deploy silenced and sniper weapons when appropriate, and the proper use of the quiet subdue melee attack is necessary at many points throughout the game. If guards are aware to your presence, they will call in reinforcements and set off alarms, as will security cameras, and these are all features that were prominent in the original game, and were things that really set the game apart from other FPS titles of the time. It is still somewhat unique, in the fact that most mainstream shooter games will put emphasis on all-out attack.
You can choose to play that way though, so the game will allow players to go their own way, shaping the experience to their own style of play. Playing a level through stealthily will take you a very different route through a stage, as you head into air ducts and sneak past windows, whereas action leads to a more direct route, but with obviously more resistance from guards. To add to the action side of the game, there are also several driving set-pieces included (as there were first time around), as well as slow-motion door breach sections. These are generally associated with hostage rescue missions, where you must clear a room of guards before they harm the innocents, but they are scattered throughout many of the stages.
You also get to use your smartphone to decode computer terminals, hack certain machines and to capture certain pieces of intel. A logo will appear on-screen when something nearby can be interacted with, but sometimes this can be through a wall or on a different level to the one you are currently on, and finding the exact location can be pretty confusing. A similar issue is present with the objective marker which appears as an “I” in the bottom corner. This is supposed to indicate where an optional objective can be found, but this is really misleading a lot of the time and can actually appear on-screen much too early, long before you actually reach the target. These icons often make things more awkward than when they don’t appear, perhaps a decent map system would have been a better way to go, or simply put the exact location of the “I” logo or smartphone logo on the in-game Radar. It is too easy to miss optional objectives as it is, and can be frustrating when you have to re-play a level because the objective markers are badly positioned.
The main addition to the game is the Mi6 Ops mode. These are challenge modes that are totally separate from the main game, where players try to complete set targets as quickly and efficiently as possible. They all take place on multiplayer maps and take the form of Elimination: kill all soldiers quickly, Stealth: kill all enemies without being detected, Defence: protect a computer for a set time and Assault: charge an enemy base. You can score from 1 to 4 stars, depending on how well you play. You can alter a whole host of modifiers such as enemy accuracy and health, to alter your difficulty modifier and score more or less points, the harder the settings, the more you can score.
The interesting part comes from the fact that you can compare your scores online on leaderboards, and if you want to try to match a particular high score you can download the exact settings that player used, to try an emulate their achievement. This could make for very competitive Arcade-style leaderboards, but will probably just be the reserve of the hardcore among you. They aren’t incredibly inventive though, and re-playing them will get quite tedious as the objective in each challenge are fairly basic. Killing waves of guards in the same small map area as they spawn just tends to get old, even if you are trying to beat high scores.
MULTIPLAYER: Most people will want to play the title to see how the multiplayer modes compare to the classic game too. As well as offering the classic four-player split-screen action, players can now go online with up to 16 players being supported, across 14 maps, both classic and new. Modes featured include Conflict (a basic Deathmatch, both solo or team-based), Detonator (like pass the bomb), Escalation (where you cycle through ever more powerful guns), as well as classic well-loved modes such as You only Live Twice and The Man with the Golden Gun. As you play more on multiplayer, you build up XP which makes a big difference in the new level progression system.
The maps have been designed well though, and this leads to some good old-fashioned multiplayer action. It may not be as frantic as the well-loved original, but it will evoke memories of the old game. The map design is such that you will always be running into opponents, but there are also places to hide and the choice for players to be more strategic about their gaming. Depending on the weapons sets and the game mode, you can be more tactical, or just go crazy, that element is very similar to the GoldenEye we grew up loving. Even a lot of the classic characters make a return, including Jaws and Oddjob, whether you like it or not! Due to this, and some of the maps that were inspired by popular old levels, you do get a good dose of retro fun from the game, while still making for an addictive online experience.
LONGEVITY: It will conceivably take a very long time to complete the campaign across all difficulties, which will entail completing all of the most advanced mission objectives that are only added as you step up to higher difficulties, and in completing every Mi6 Ops mission at four stars. These aren’t easy objectives to attain, and completionists out there could spend a lot of time going back through the missions to hone their scores and try to top the online leaderboards. Many of the in-built Achievements and Trophies are also pretty tough, and will require players to practise the levels and perfect their skills in order to be successful. Persistence and patience are good traits for a super-spy, but the casual gamer is unlikely to return to these modes over and over; it is the old-school multiplayer that is most likely to drag them back in for repeat plays.
VERDICT: The game is far from perfect, but many of the features that gamers loved in the first title all those years ago, have been re-created faithfully for this makeover. The game still emphasises stealth over action, and rewards players for thinking and playing more like a top spy. The multiplayer modes also still seem to capture some of the spirit of the original game, and whilst it is perhaps not quite as compelling, it feels like the old game you used to play for hours on end. The Mi6 Ops are a bit of a let-down in comparison, but are a nice feature for those of you who like to challenge yourself to beat your top scores and times.
In that respect too then, the title is quite retro in its thinking, a mode like Mi6 Ops screams out that it belongs in a game from a bygone era, when topping the high score list was the best achievement you could attain. For those who remember those times, the game is a nice trip down memory lane. The GoldenEye name finally has a sequel that understands the essence of the first title, and whilst you won’t break any new ground in the title, due to its cookie-cutter FPS construction, it brings back many of the much-loved features that made GoldenEye a hit in the first place, and actually makes split-screen Deathmatch fun again. Nobody does it better? Not quite, but this game is certainly a good stab at re-inventing a classic.