GoldenEye 007: Reloaded

6 Overall Score

Solid shooting mechanics | Fun customization options

Lacks James Bond style | Misplaced emphasis on split screen multiplayer

Written by on December 14, 2011 in [, , , , , , , , , , ]

I haven’t played GoldenEye 007 since it came out in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, and I haven’t watched the movie in about as long. In fact, I didn’t even play the Wii version of the game. With that in mind, I’ve always said that nostalgia will take a game only so far. Relying mostly on warm fuzzy feelings by perceiving a game through nostalgia-colored glasses does not make a game good. Any game worth its ones and zeros will live and die by its presentation and the actual game play. So I’m going to try my best to leave past experiences in the past and let Goldeneye 007: Reloaded stand on its own.

The much oversimplified premise is a modern re-skinning of the 1990’s era film plot where a rogue MI6 agent steals an EMP device in the hopes of using it to destroy the world economy. James Bond, as expected, must save the day.

Compared to its contemporaries in the genre, the visuals of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded falls short of average by a hair. Character models were only passable with textures that seemed flat even though the faces were done very well.  Daniel Craig actually looks like like Daniel Craig.  The environments had blocky geometry and lacked a level of detail and polish to make them seem believable.

At times, I felt like James Bond must have been the shortest secret agent ever. Standing near a desk, my view didn’t seem that much higher than the table top. There were a few times that I had to hit the crouch button just to make sure I wasn’t already crouching. A minor complaint, but I can’t ignore the times when it took me out of the moment.

Sound design seems just as middling even with my 5.1 system cranked up. The chatter of gunfire doesn’t have any satisfying pop to it. Voice acting was flat, lacking any emotional kick that would have me invested in the story. At the risk of being guilty of blasphemy, even Dame Judi Dench’s performance sounded phoned in.

One saving grace is the gun play. Controls are tight and responsive enough to make the act of shooting enjoyable. Never mind the enemies that tend to stream out of monster boxes and run conveniently toward you. Being able to take them down without having to deal with unreasonable thumbstick sensitivity or input delay kept me focused on having fun.

Probably the biggest strength of the game is the level layout. Much like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, being able to choose one of at least two approaches to the next waypoint is refreshing. For many levels, there’s a choice to either shoot anything that moves or to avoid confrontation by sneaking in spy-like fashion behind cover or through vents. Having choices in a game that could have been totally linear lends much to the sense of immersion in any game.

On the downside, I believe Eurocom tried to evoke fond memories on a part of the game where rose colored glasses just don’t work anymore: multiplayer.  Four-player split screen to be more specific. This is an obvious throwback to the game’s Nintendo 64 heyday and offers a tremendous amount of fun customization. Admittedly, running around as child-sized characters with high pitched voices, or making it so character models explode when they touch each other are good for some laughs. The challenge though is in finding enough people who actually want to play the game online. In this day and age, those times are relegated to special events or parties, but generally not for every day use anymore. People may reminisce about their good ol’ college days when friends would play GoldenEye 007 in their college dorms, but it’s 2011 already and we have better technology that give us a better alternative to sharing one screen with three other people. I’m a firm believer that something like split screen multiplayer is a dinosaur of a feature made obsolete by the internet.

You would think that having online multiplayer would mitigate that complaint. Unfortunately, the game’s release suffers tremendously from bad timing. Coming out between shooter giants Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has rendered the GoldenEye 007: Reloaded online population minuscule to the point of irrelevancy. I had some fun when I was able to get into full matches, but those moments were rare.

Luckily, there’s MI6 Ops, which are objective based missions that award the player points and a star rating for clearing a map of bad guys or achieving specific goals. To keep things interesting, the player can tweak settings like AI levels, damage and enemy numbers. Being able to activate paintball mode or the one-shot-one-kill golden gun mode provides some variety, but MI6 Ops didn’t seem interesting enough for me to come to back often.

When all is said and done, I can’t help but feel that the developers were betting on nostalgia to carry the wrong part of the game. For the campaign, it seems that they tried too hard to steer away from nostalgia as much as possible. Although commendable to some extent, I feel that the James Bond franchise is highly regarded enough to justify some type of homage to the movies. There were a few moments where the player got that strong 007 vibe. For instance, in the very beginning of the game, which you can check out in the demo, James leaps from the edge of dam when faced with would be enemy captors. His death-defying antic smoothly transitions to the montage of iconic female silhouettes gyrating to smooth opening theme music. Unfortunately, Bond moments like those are actually few and far between.

Xenia Onotopp, for one, is a missed opportunity and fails as a main henchman. She comes off as a throw away enemy that, for some reason, they gave lines to and made a boss character. Bond henchmen and their outlandish quirks have always been a staple of James Bond movies. Who can forget the likes of Oddball or Jaws? But with Xenia, without her insane sneer and vice-like thighs from the GoldenEye movie, there’s little to remember her by. There’s also little by way of exotic cars or super spy gadgets outside of his handy dandy cell phone. It’s omissions of these franchise hallmarks that sadden me most about  GoldenEye 007: Reloaded.

I criticize because I care.  I love the James Bond mythos and recognize its impact on pop culture at large, and especially with GoldenEye 007 which came on the scene when shooters on consoles were nothing more than a niche curiosity trying to emulate what PC shooters were so successful at.  It’s a mechanically solid game with modes outside the main campaign to give players added opportunity to enjoy the game. But, I hate to say it; maybe more nods to its roots could have played to the nostalgia of older fans and provided a history lesson to a younger crowd that never got to play a James Bond that wasn’t Daniel Craig. There is a level of panache with James Bond that makes it stand out from the rest, regardless of the medium.  Without that context, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is left to stand on its own mechanics and features in a sea of modern shooters that have more polish and surprisingly, more character.

A copy of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded was provided to The Married Gamers for review.


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Author: John Catuira View all posts by

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