Activision certainly took a huge gamble when they announced last May that they were remaking the classic N64 first-person shooter GoldenEye for the Wii. A GoldenEye purist like myself (both as a fan of the original and the film it was based on) was skeptical of the idea of remaking a game that is still played in some shape or form today. I assumed that this would be a quick cash-in for Activision and developer Eurocom, but after finally sitting down and playing through the campaign and richly-deep multiplayer, I'm glad I was wrong...dead wrong.
Hit the jump to see if this re-imagination has earned its license to kill.
GoldenEye for the Wii is not necessarily a remake per se, but a re-imagining of the original game and film as a whole. Developer Eurocom really did their homework in order to bring a pleasurable and engaging experience to a console that is low on decent first-person shooters. The makers of last year's on-rails first-person shooter, Dead Space: Extraction, have continued their unique storytelling methods while not straying too far from GoldenEye's original intent; that being a first-person title that balances its campaign and multiplayer for an experience that pleases both crowds. Indeed, Eurocom was wise to evolve the game for today's standards rather than copy it shot-by-shot.
Instead of former Bond Pierce Brosnan at the helm, Eurocom has decided to use Daniel Craig's likeness for this iteration of GoldenEye. Now, this sounds like the game's major misstep, but it isn't. Eurocom made the right decision to use Craig to coincide with his persona and the current time period. For example, there's a handy smart phone that Bond can use to hack turrets and photograph blueprints for MI6.
Aside from the shift from Brosnan to Craig, subtle changes in level design, story and pivotal events are numerous in this classic adventure. Sure, you will be climbing through air ducts and taking out a lone guard in a bathroom stall in the popular level Facility, but beyond that you will be unfamiliar with what's around the corner. For example, remember Bond bungee jumping off the dam early in the game? Well, to keep in with Daniel Craig's Bond persona, Eurocom pulls the rug from underneath us by having the secret agent swan dive freely into the abyss. These are only a few of the surprises that await longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Visually, GoldenEye's presentation owes a lot to Eurocom's previous work on Dead Space: Extraction. During the game's several in-game cutscenes, characters show off excellent motion-capture work and facial animations that take advantage of the Wii's limited processing power. In addition, environments are filled with detail upon detail that can be both beneficial and a disadvantage to the player. That is, breakable objects are prevalent for easy cover, but can be destroyed as quickly as you can take down an enemy in the game.
Gameplay was always the second major aspect of GoldenEye on the N64. It was a mix of action and objective-based gameplay (a long one in fact) that evolved the standard when it was first released. GoldenEye for the Wii surely will not set any benchmarks with its gameplay, but it helps to have a familiar game that's loved cross-bred with the standards set forth in today's shooters. What you have here is a standard first-person shooter that takes what was established in the N64 original and what has been presented so far with the likes of Call of Duty and Halo.
Now, this re-imagining wouldn't be complete without a stellar multiplayer component; the same mode that has dragged many GoldenEye fans back to their N64s. Split-screen multiplayer offers four modes for you and three other friends to dismantle and trash talk each other with. These include Conflict, Team Conflict, Golden Gun and You Only Live Once. You're given the option to use many classic Bond characters, including Odd Job, which I'm sure his unpopularity will increase in the coming months.
Each mode has its hours upon hours of fun, but shows its age considering it's split screen. Now, don't get me wrong, but in an era where online multiplayer rules, cheating can become a habit. In retrospect though, Eurocom could have added a few more modes to further depth. For those wanting to revive the thrill of split screen mayhem, Eurocom's team has you covered. Just don't be surprised if it feels different while behind the wheel of this edition.
GoldenEye's online component fairs a little differently this time around. While warming up your trigger fingers, one can battle in eight player online death matches. After hours of online play, matches were quick and easy to jump into and delivered on Eurocom's promise of developing an equally satisfying multiplayer experience for GoldenEye fans. It may not reinvent the wheel for first-person shooters, but adds to a thin list of great online experiences for the Wii. With such a short single-player campaign (clocking in at around eight hours), this re-imagining could have been hindered by poor multiplayer that not only mocked the N64 original's legacy, but some fans' faith in handling such an iconic property. When looking back at what Eurocom has done with GoldenEye's multiplayer, it shows that anything is possible; plus, it showcases Eurocom's talented staff of designers and programmers.
Without a doubt, Eurocom has made one of the most enjoyable first-persons shooters on the Wii to date. It may not scream game of the year material, but it's certainly one of the year's best on the Wii. f you're a Wii owner who is eager for a rich online experience and a short but sweet single player campaign, then do yourself a favor and dive into Eurocom's take on GoldenEye. Activision and Eurocom certainly had a love of the original and know what you were looking for in this game.
Score: 4.25 out of 5