As the official teaser trailer for the latest Bond film, Skyfall, hits the internet it seems fitting to re-evaluate his latest outing in the videogame arena. For those who have been playing games for decades (well, at least since 1997), the name GoldenEye will bring back a wave of welcome nostalgia; happy memories of whole weekends spent (my mother would say ‘wasted’) huddled around the TV killing and being killed by up to three of your mates or long evenings wandering around seemingly endless corridors looking for the switch that turns off that damn alarm you tripped earlier on the Nintendo 64’s greatest first person shooter. Based on Pierce Brosnan’s debut as 007 on film, GoldenEye was the benchmark fps of the genre, and laid the groundwork for all the multitude of fps games that followed.
When the game was re-energised with an updated version for the Wii in 2010, you could almost hear the audible gasp from old school gamers as they experienced the joy all over again. Now the Wii’s GoldenEye 007 refit has been ported to the Xbox 360 and PS3, been given a next gen facelift, had some new game modes included and had ‘Reloaded’ added to its moniker.
Those aren’t the only changes though. N64 purists take note, the new GoldenEye has been changed considerably from the original, with all-new dialogue added and characters’ likenesses altered, most noticeably for the game’s main protagonist; Brosnan has gone, with the character now modeled on current Bond, Daniel Craig, replete with new vocal track. The gameplay, originally only loosely based on the film’s story, has changed too, bringing the challenge more into line with what’s expected from current shooters, while there’s also the addition, welcome or not, of quick time events.
Despite all these changes, or perhaps because of them, Reloaded’s single player is a mixed bag: with a greater emphasis on stealth, the game is often frustrating, occasionally challenging (the last level is a bitch on higher skill levels) but mostly rewarding. The new graphics are, on the whole, very good, a few glitches aside, and work well with the new gameplay, while the sound (particularly the music) is excellent throughout.
The most annoying addition is the palmtop handheld device, which has replaced the original game’s wristwatch and is used to locate secondary objectives on each level. Using the device’s screen, you scan the surrounding area and use beeps to locate said objectives, but because these are often in hidden areas and can be on the floor above or below you, they can be ridiculously hard to find and you can spend ages wandering around aimlessly.
However, like its originator, it’s in the game’s multiplayer where Reloaded really comes to life. You can still play four-player split-screen if you like, but it’s online, via Live or PSN, that the game shows its metal. There are a myriad of options to choose from, including Golden Gun mode which proved so popular in the game version of Quantum Of Solace, and the intricately detailed levels can be either expansive or more claustrophobic, depending on the number of combatants taking part (up to 16).
In addition, there’s also the all-new MI6 mode, which is a collection of objective-based missions similar to the likes of Horde and Survival. As challenging as these are, MI6 is not as enjoyable as it could be and is overshadowed by the more entertaining single player and multiplayer options.
GoldenEye Reloaded has its faults and it is certainly a very different experience from the original N64 version, but it’s also probably the best Bond game on the market. Let’s hope Skyfall, the film, is equally as entertaining.