Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Review: Goldeneye 007 (Wii)
Platform: Nintendo Wii
# of Players: 1 (2 - 8 online)
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Score: A-In my opinion, Eurocom's stellar reboot of the classic N64 game Goldeneye not only surpasses the original in terms of overall presentation, it's one of the best Wii shooters to date. As I'm NOT one of those folks nostalgically joined at the hip to Rare's original (and brilliant) game, I can tell it to you straight as a gamer who understands the difference between a a mere rip-off and a true relaunch. As the back of the box says: "Goldeneye is Back - Grab Your Friends" - that's all some of you need to know. This revival of the classic FPS brings both the story as well as James Bond into the current era and it's important to look at the game in this manner, NOT as an attempt to remake the original exactly as it was back in 1996. You're getting not only one of the best-looking games on the Wii, but one with an extremely customizable control layout, fantastic online play and a solid, lengthy campaign that can be played a few different ways depending on the difficulty level selected.
For those of you supremely stubborn naysayers (still death-gripping that hand-busting, stiff N64 analog controller) that don't like Daniel Craig as Bond and still pine away for Pierce Brosnan's version of the character, get over it already. In fact, go study the assorted legal issues revolving around WHY you're not playing as Brosnan or seeing a perfect 1:1 remake of the N64 game. Oh, while you're at it, do yourselves a HUGE favor and check out some of Sir Ian Fleming's original Bond novels as well as a few little films called From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. You'll see that these versions of Bond have a few things in common with Daniel Craig's portrayal of the character as a take no prisoners licensed to kill agent, not simply some overly suave martini-swilling gigolo with a corny wisecrack for all occasions and more gadgets than you can shake a stick at. Besides, given that 2006's Casino Royale was the modern era reworking of the Bond franchise, it makes more sense that Goldeneye on the Wii gets the same sort of makeover.
Anyway, the Wii version works extremely well as an update thanks to original Goldeneye film co-writer Bruce Feirstein reworking things to fit Craig's more jaw-busting Bond along with a few nods to current world events. There are a few new locations (Dubai wasn't in the original, but it's a great level here) and the game has some major replay value on the different difficulty levels thanks to multiple paths and tougher challenges. This isn't a straight run 'n gun either. Stealth comes heavily into play throughout much of the game. Running in guns blazing only gets you put down quickly, while sneaking and silent kills or take-downs makes the game much more thrilling. That's not to say there aren't any great "Bond" moments or exhilarating non-stop action set pieces that slap a smile on your face.
What's amazing about the single-player experience is how brilliantly a job it does at placing you in Bond's shoes. Nearly the entire game is played from his POV and the set up sequences throughout the game add another layer of immersion as the camera does its thing before zeroing in on Bind and letting you play the game from his perspective. Characters in story sections talk directly to and interact with you, the music drives the action perfectly and when things are clicking on all cylinders, the game feels just like a grand Bond adventure, huge explosions, fast-paced action and all. Yes, the game does follow the Call of Duty model in those brief sections of white-knuckle intensity where all hell breaks loose and you're more or less on a roller coaster about to fly off its tracks. However, these sections and their breakneck pacing help drive the plot forward and you certainly won't be sleeping during the more chaotic sections.
Controls are fully adjustable and pretty solid no matter what your preferred peripheral. Yes, using the default Wii/Nunchuck setup is a little weird if you're new to the genre, but again, you can plug in a Wii Classic Controller, Wii Zapper or GameCube pad if you've one handy. The Wii Remote is the preferred method, but if you play for extended sessions, there's going to be that moment when your arm gets tired and you get shot up or fail a mission when you forget to pause the game before you shake out that weary appendage. The only other (and not so major) complaint I have is how nuts some sections get when your stealth tactics fail. Granted, in a "real-life" spy game situation, once an alarm is sounded and a parade of armed guards arrive on the scene, you'd be shot to death or captured before you could bust out a snappy retort. The game WANTS you to play it safe where it wants you to, as there are plenty of moments for all out mayhem.
The presentation here is nothing short of spectacular. Eurocom has made one of the best-looking Wii games to date and despite some slowdown in a few spots, their work is to be commended (particularly when you consider the smooth as silk multiplayer modes). Every bit of art and sound blends together for a near-seamless game/movie mash up. If you've never seen the original film or played the N64 game, you'd be convinced that the new Goldeneye was indeed a great licensed movie game. Again, that the game doesn't stick to repeating every element of the original is a huge blessing. As noted above, the updated script references more modern events, David Arnold's score is flawless and the assorted voice actors lend the proper depth and balance to their characters. If Daniel Craig and Judi Dench never do a Bond film again, it would be too bad, but at least gamers will have a few games with their work in them to revisit if the franchise is indeed dead.
Speaking of dead, stopping to take a breath for a hot second during multiplayer will have your avatar pushing up digital daises within seconds. The game blazes in split screen or online (it's been pretty packed every time I've logged on) and between the many classic Bond weapons, familiar characters (yes, Oddjob is STILL a big cheater!) and modes from the original, the game should have a long lifespan at the top of the Wii shooter charts. Judged on its own merits and not against other shooters on PC or HD consoles, what's here is instantly accessible, intensely addictive and a must-play party game whether you like the genre or not. Thanks to the straightforward controls and customization options, this is the shooter for non shooter fans as well as a great "core" FPS Wii owners will go back to again and again.