Platform: Nintendo DS/DSi
# of Players: 1 (2 - 6 via Wi-Fi)
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
While GoldenEye 007 for the DS isn't quite as spectacular as the Wii version, it's an extremely solid, well-crafted FPS that's great for some on the go action. Veteran developer n-Space is back on the case with another fun bit of portable FPS campaign (and multiplayer) that features fine visuals and gameplay plus some great music and voice work. Like the developer's other shooters on Nintendo's handheld, you're getting a scaled back yet faithful recreation here, so don't expect to see all sorts of new standards set. Of course, on its own merits, this one's a total winner from beginning to end and a pocketful of great Bond thrills at a decent price point.
What's here a compact version of the new GoldenEye reboot set in a series of mostly well-laid out levels complete with plenty of enemy opposition. There's a great tutorial mission that ends with a slick intro "movie" and the game has a number of other cut scenes that drive the plot along while adding those choice Bond moments expected of games in the franchise. Some story sequences are told through voice action and single panel artwork that give the game an almost graphic novel look. Of course, comics don't start shooting back at your character once you're done with that mission briefing gone sour. Paying close attention to the mission objectives given as well as the onscreen map can be a lifesaver, as enemies have no qualms about ventilating Bond if you let them.
Some of these guys are already lurking around maps, while others drop in for a fight as soon as you complete different objectives. Either way, in these cases, you'll need to shoot your way out of many a situation with head shots being key to success. Every guard in the game seems to be wearing the latest body armor over two pairs of Kevlar underwear, so aiming for anything below the neck is wasting ammo. Sure, the animations look nice when you put a few slugs in a torso, but enemies tend to pop back up like zombies after a few seconds. In other words, pretend you're playing a game based on The Walking Dead and you'll do just fine. In one snowbound section, shooting out spotlights and taking on patrolling guards one by one is much smarter (and safer) than going in guns blazing. Just as in the Wii version, you'll be down for the count if you try and go all Rambo anywhere in this game.
There are a couple of areas where going in like gangbusters is a poor choice, so you'll need to sneak around from point to point in order to avoid an overwhelming bullet buffet provided by patrolling guards. Creeping behind a guard and hitting the attack button triggers a cool take down move, but even if you blow it and the enemy turns to face you, one sock to the jaw will take him down for good. Once in a while you'll get too close to an enemy and he'll seem to blip to the side or behind you and start shooting, but I only noticed this twice (and determined to take out enemies up close by NOT screwing up and getting seen).Controls are well done with either buttons or the DS stylus used for movement. Lefties can tweak things to their liking as well, but if this is your first time playing a FPS on the DS, you'll absolutely want to experiment and see which setup works best for you. Maps not only contain enemies, but explosives-packed metal barrels or wall-mounted fire extinguishers, ready to blow at the slightest shot or two. Whenever you spy with your little eye one or more of these objects and NO enemies are present, leave them be. As soon as you trigger that nearby switch or locate that key card, you'll be having company that happens to mainly arrive in the vicinity of those barrels, which you'll need to explode in order to have less work clearing out the area.
As far as the presentation, like most of the better 3D games on the DS, GoldenEye looks closer to some of the later era PSOne games (which is a complement, by the way) and the game does a nice job of immersing you into Bond's adventure. Yes, the character models are a bit blocky and elements such as trees and other objects look (well, are) a mass of pixels when you get too close. Nevertheless, some nice explosion effects, subtle lighting changes and other graphical touches help the game where it counts. The music is great and while the voice work is decent (and plentiful), it's a tiny bit scratchy if you happen to pop in ear buds.
I haven't yet tried the multiplayer (as I bought one copy of the game a few days ago and haven't been able to poke around for other live players just yet), so I won't guess as to how well it plays or how it looks. However, I've played a few fun multiplayer matches of n-Space's Call of Duty games on the DS in the past, so I'm expecting things to fall along similar lines (fun Bond elements aside). Perhaps I'll hop back in for an addition to this review down the road (but not any time soon, thanks to the crush of games I have to catch up on reviewing).
Finally, for those wags wondering WHY shooters are on the DS in the first place, I'd say try one or two (like this one) with an open mind and see for yourself. Just like Eurocom on the Wii, n-Space is going above and beyond the call here and this version of GoldenEye is indeed well worth picking up if you want to be Bond no matter where you travel.