A couple of weeks back in anticipation of reviewing this game, I pulled out my Nintendo 64 and GoldenEye 007 cartridge and proceeded to play through the game once again from start to finish, just as I had done literally dozens of times in the late ‘90s. It’s funny, not having played it for at least ten years I still knew instantly where each enemy was, what was hiding in each wooden crate and where each enemy was scripted to walk. GoldenEye on the N64 remains a solid FPS experience to this day.
However, when I plugged the classic console into my 42” LCD TV and switched it on, I actually shuddered at the horrific graphics that sprung up on screen. But then I remembered that the game was designed to be played on the most common TV at the time – the 29” CRT. So off I went to my son’s room and fired up the N64 on the TV it was made for. The difference was astonishing – from there I powered though a couple of hours of retro FPS goodness.
I’m not going to lie to you – when I booted up Activision’s Wii remake of GoldenEye 007, my initial response was a similar one – “eww”.
But we need to check our graphical expectations, spoiled as we are in recent months playing Halo: Reach, Medal of Honor and Black Ops. This is the Wii we’re dealing with here and the Wii is no place for graphic intensive gaming. GoldenEye on the Wii is the visual equivalent of a FPS on a PC perhaps ten years ago.
While I’m on the subject of the graphics, in the pre-game display set-up there is an option to change the brightness (I found the default way too dark). You need to adjust a slider so that a logo should become visible within a black square but when I took the slider to its maximum brightness on my new TV, I still couldn’t make out the logo. Anyway, I left it at maximum and found the game perfectly playable.
I’m a life-long Bond fan – if there’s any movie that will entice me to shell out for a theatre ticket, it’s a new Bond film – but I’m no Bond trainspotter. There are Bond purists out there who will balk at the premise of another Bond actor appearing in a previous Bond storyline (Casino Royale included) and Daniel Craig’s appearance in this version of GoldenEye is bound to raise the ire of a few Bond-bloggers. As far as the game itself goes though, 007 could be played by Dai Henwood and it wouldn’t make any difference.
The story remains faithful to the original game and the movie, but with a handful of changes or improvements depending on how you look at them. For myself, these updates help the narrative flow and link the separate stages together better than the brief text dossiers in the original.
You won’t find the levels to be exactly the same either. They have been redesigned to bring them closer to current standards while still remaining perfectly recognisable. They have even retained the pre-action camera pan of the area. It’s little touches like these that help to cement the air of familiarity throughout the spruced up action.
With only about six hours of single player campaign on offer, your thoughts are going to quickly turn to multiplayer and GoldenEye has it in spades both online and off. The classic splitscreen action for up to four players has made a welcome return and it plays well with a couple of hundred gameplay variations over four modes. These can be modified with conditions such as Melee Only, Paintball Mode, Rubber Grenades, Sticky Grenades, Invisibility, Hot Shot (headshots only) to name but a few. Offline multiplayer modes are Conflict (free for all), Team Conflict, Golden Gun and You Only Live Twice (a last man standing mode).
There are nine online MP modes to choose from – Conflict, Team Conflict, Classic Conflict (play against 8 classic GoldenEye characters), Golden Gun, Black Box (destroy the Black Box while the other team protects it), GoldenEye (protect/attack the base), Heroes (a variation of Team Conflict), License to Kill (more damage, no radar) and Team License to Kill.
All play well enough and the framerate only drops when there’s a lot happening onscreen but – and it’s a big but – there is a total lack of voice chat support for online play, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the importance of being able to talk to your team mates in tactical multiplayer modes. This could be a fatal flaw for some and (knowing what the voice chatter is like in Black Ops) an absolute Godsend for others.
There are four possible ways for you to control the game, three of which I can comment on. The fourth, using the Wii Zapper peripheral requires exactly that, and I’m yet to convince myself that it’s something worth owning.
Firstly the Wii remote and nunchuk: The game has obviously been designed with this default control method in mind and I must say that it works quite well with a handy lock-on feature to aid those with a shaky aiming hand. While I was impressed with its implementation, it wasn’t my method of choice.
The Classic Controller: If you play any first-person or third-person shooters on the Wii then you should have one of these already. It works well with GoldenEye but can still suffer from a touch of lag due to its reliance on being plugged into the Wii remote.
The GameCube Controller: My personal weapon of choice. It’s wired, which eliminates lag and it has the full range of buttons so you can customise it as you wish. I can’t even consider playing GoldenEye any other way and I highly recommend picking a couple up secondhand.
GoldenEye has its flaws – the artificial intelligence is still as thick as two short planks (no AI flanking in this game – just sheer overwhelming numbers), and the lack of voice chat is a significant worry. There’s no chance of this version going on to become a cult classic like the original did – there’s too much water under the bridge for that – but it does succeed in paying homage and providing some fine strolls down memory lane. Is it the best FPS on the Wii? That’s a tough question, but even if it’s for the splitscreen offline multiplayer action – then GoldenEye 007 is a must-own for any Wii gamer.