Cast your eye over anything written about Activision and Eurocom’s GoldenEye 007 and you’ll come across the phrase “for the Wii” more than you’ll care to count. First and foremost, it’s an objective statement – obviously, GoldenEye is exclusive to Nintendo’s console – but you’ll also see it used prolifically as a qualifier: “GoldenEye certainly looks good for a Wii game.”
That’s something that’s given us pause.
GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 goes down as one of the finest console shooter experiences yet, and anyone who lost months – years – to that title is doubtless going to take a very close look at this reboot. Nostalgia can have a strong influence on the minds of gamers.
Usually, we’d measure a game against others in that genre on the same platform (and on that scale, we have no doubt GoldenEye will be definitive), but the thing is, first-person shooter games – in particular, online multiplayer first-person shooter games – are decidedly the province of “hardcore” gamers.
While the Nintendo 64 lost its battle for dominance among the platforms it competed with in its time, it was still considered a “gamers’” console – a competitor for the attentions of that same hardcore set. The Wii is not. No one cares to pretend it is – and that’s what it owes much of its success to.
If you’re a “hardcore” gamer and you own a Wii, you’re very likely to have it in your cabinet next to a PlayStation 3, an Xbox 360, or possibly both. Elsewhere in the room there could be a gaming PC.
That raises a real issue for GoldenEye: Beyond indulging nostalgia, why would FPS gamers choose this game ahead of more graphically capable and expansive first-person shooters on other platforms? Can GoldenEye really pull players away from Modern Warfare 2, Medal of Honor, Halo and Battlefield? If it can’t, are there enough Wii owners prepared to move into the more competitive echelons of gaming? We’re not sure.
So, like everyone else, we’re backed into a corner: GoldenEye looks incredible for the Wii. Eurocom describe two essential pillars of production: divergent gameplay styles and online multiplayer.
Daniel Craig’s less suave, more physical Bond takes the reins (and audio) from the Brosnan model of N64. Bond has two gameplay methods available to him as he completes his missions, covertly and “guns-blazing.” Each level includes multiple routes to objectives allowing players to switch between the two, before funnelling them back into on-rails sequences for plot advancements and set pieces.
The environments are also destructible, meaning that players will not enter into trench warfare with enemy units.
The second pillar, multiplayer, can be done either split-screen for four players, or online. All playable characters are lifted from the long list of Bond movies (and each has their unique gameplay ability: Oddjob, for example, throws his hat instead of grenades).
There are over 200 ways to set up the game for multiplayer, such as Golden Gun and Pistols Only, something Eurocom believes is key to replayability. The game will also feature unlockable content.
They’re all fine features. But we’re still left curious: Does the Wii really need a competitive FPS? Clearly, the folks at Activision and Eurocom think so – and say what you like, but Activision have a very strong pedigree in that genre. We, on the other hand, think Wii games should play to the platform’s (numerous) strengths.
Obviously it’s still far too early to pass judgement and we’ll say it again, GoldenEye for the Wii will almost certainly be the best FPS experience available on that platform, but we’re still not certain as to how it will be overheard in a bloated genre.
We’ll be watching this space very closely.