For those of us who sunk more hours than we would want to admit into Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64, the prospect of reliving the experience in HD is an intriguing one. The missions were awesome, the split-screen multiplayer was the best of its era, and the feel of Bond was prevalent throughout. Last year, our appetites were only slightly subdued by the Wii remake. It was a great game on the Wii – there’s no doubt about that. But the big question coming in was whether or not the game would transfer effectively into a true current-gen game on the more powerful hardware. This is all apart from the fact that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 released at about the same time, providing plenty of alternatives for quality FPS action.
So – how does Goldeneye 007: Reloaded on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hold up – not only to the standards of the original, but also to the standards of modern gaming?
The answer is it’s a very good game that is a blast to play. In short, it’s a remake of last year’s Wii version, minus the frustrating motion controls, and with improved graphics and online multiplayer. First of all, the single-player campaign is entertaining, tells a good story, and gives you just enough nostalgia to appreciate. However, don’t expect an identical version of the N64 game with updated graphics. This game is it’s own. You’ll still jump off of the dam in the first level, meet a few of your favorite characters, drop down onto a guy in a bathroom stall, and pursue similar objectives relevant to the Goldeneye story, but there is also enough new content to keep you on your toes and keep the experience fresh.
It plays just as it should, too. Controls are smooth and accessible, and there are a ton of new gadgets at your disposal as well, some seen before and some not. Sometimes you’re forced to use them to move on, and sometimes you can play around with them just for kicks. Gunplay is very much standard, but this is not a bad thing. Nobody set out to set any new standards here, so the fact that no risks were taken is more than understandable. The goal was clearly to bring solid, sufficient FPS gameplay into the Bond setting, and in that goal they’ve greatly succeeded here.
We finished the campaign mode in roughly 7-8 hours, so it’s beefy enough to take a few sittings (if you have a life), but not too laborious. What really will keep you coming back for more is the same thing that did so way back when – the multiplayer action. I have to say – even with all of the online features and connectivity these days, the split-screen play is still the most fun to this day. To relive the moments with friends of screaming about screen-watching, waiting around corners, planting mines, and activating paintball mode is simply awesome. It really does feel very familiar, and well worth reliving.
Online play is also here, just as it was on the Wii version last year, but of course better due to the more powerful hardware. However, this is not saying much. I did experience quite a bit of lag and hiccupping in my online experience that was hit or miss. I’m sure the connection quality of the players on the server is a factor, but in my estimation, roughly 30-40% of online games I joined were too frustrating to stick out. Of course, these are issues that can be fixed, and I’m sure the developer will do so. On the plus side, the maps are well laid-out, and the ability to play with up to 16 players is a welcome addition – not to mention Jaws and Odd Job!
An added mode this time around is called MI6 mode. In these games, you’ll have the chance to play short arcade missions such as elimination or wave mode. Defend a position, get from point A to point B, or try to knock down increasingly-thick waves of bad guys coming at you – these are designed to bring some more depth to the game, and if you enjoy these types of arcade modes, then they certainly do the trick.
Visually, the game looks great. It’s done in the same style that the Wii version was last year, but obviously upgraded to HD graphics. Character models are a mixed-bag. Bond himself always looks top-notch, as do other main characters and cohorts throughout the game, but many enemies and folks you speak with in cut-scenes tend to be a bit rough around the edges. The good news is that the characters you see most look great. The environments are a strong point as well. Though you will see a bit of clipping, the world around you does a good job of bringing the game to life. There is a strong gameplay emphasis on stealth, and in this vein the shadow and lighting effects are fantastic. You’ll often be rewarded by using the shadows to stay hidden, and the effect is great to look at.
One aspect of the game that feels just a bit behind the times is the audio – but this is taken with a grain of salt, because I’m certain there was an element of influence from the N64 original. Some voiceovers are choppy, the guns can sound like an arcade machine at times, and the music is a bit muted. But again, it does make you think of the original, and even though it’s not up to snuff with blockbuster titles of this year, you won’t find me complaining.
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is a fantastic trip down memory lane, as well as a very solid shooter in its own right. It controls well, the Bond universe is very much alive and kicking, and the reasonably-long and entertaining campaign is engaging. Though the online multiplayer is very average, split-screen multiplayer is as fun and rage-inducing as ever. If you’re a fan of the Goldeneye series, or had any involvement with the original, you should definitely pick this one up.