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GoldenEye 007

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Eurocom
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1, 1 - 4 (Split Screen), 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Shooter/ First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Okay, so let's just get this out on the table immediately: Remaking GoldenEye is a bit weird. Maybe Doctor No, maybe Octopussy, maybe any of the classic Bond flicks that could benefit from a modern update, but GoldenEye? Sure, we know that Ian Fleming's source material was tapped out long ago, and we understand the imperative to do as much as possible with Daniel Craig before either he or his audience moves on to other things. With all that said, we're happy to report that this is a truly great Shooter that gives the original game a run for its money. What a decade has done for us, between this and the Nintendo 64 version, shows especially in the improved blend of player-driven action, scripted cut-scenes, and destructible environments. Perfectly timed interludes, such as the club scene near the beginning of the game, are triggered as you play. The soundtrack swells, a cool remix of Gershwin's "The Man I Love" kicks in, and you're the star character in a movie scene... Even the most staunch resisters will be unable to suspend disbelief during these moments, and GoldenEye 007 is full of them. Another example that reflects inspired design is the breach action. This comes out a bit like bullet time, but requires minimal interaction from the player. All that's needed is one button-press to open the door, and you're immediately pushed into a cool slo-mo sequence where you have to isolate targets quickly and take them out. Stealth take-downs and other custom actions are similarly generous. It's not that the game runs on training wheels, just that the cinematic experience was obviously paramount in the developers' eyes.

Especially notable are the excellent voiced parts, and a wealth of little touches in sound design. Chatter takes place around you as you creep through stealth levels, and enemies broadcast their intentions as they pursue you openly through levels. Some of the enemy taunts get old, but this is an all too common issue. The real stars of the game are the weapons you'll pick up, each rendered well and with outstanding audio. The Wii has probably maxed out its visual capacity by this time, but sound remains an open frontier. Play GoldenEye 007 loud or with headphones and you'll appreciate the craft that went into the game. Whether it's the chatter of machine guns, the crump of nearby explosions, or the angry shouts of enemy soldiers, all aspects of the game are directed toward pulling you deeper into the action. The Multiplayer appearance is obviously more scaled-back in that it doesn't include all the staged action, but in exchange you get a riot of split-screen action that is every bit as engaging.


To play GoldenEye 007 alone is to relive the movie as much as the original game. Many aspects of both are improved on here, thanks to superior technology and game design. The game is its own experience in the sense of how each level is balanced between stealth and action. Your results may vary, but we found that on the easier difficulty settings, we tended to treat each level as a bonanza of run-and-gun action. As you start to dial up the difficulty, stealth play becomes more important, because you simply can't win against any large number of enemies. Each level during the Single Player game comes with a specific objective, and you are led carefully from checkpoint to checkpoint in service to that goal. Playing at a more difficult setting rewards you with side missions, where the "Operative" play-through is a pretty straight path. Player choice is very important, and this separates GoldenEye 007 from much of its competition. Not only can you branch off and complete side missions, but you can choose stealth over strength, and draw on an impressive supply of weapons. The checkpoint system keeps things relatively simple from a navigation standpoint, but the other side of that coin is that GoldenEye 007 tends to feel a bit too linear. Shooting on rails this is not, but it lacks the freedom many shooting games provide now, to explore an open world. Side missions are a nod to this more player-led style of gaming, but GoldenEye 007 is fundamentally about quick, episodic gameplay. It's a game you can finish in one long sitting, then come back to enjoy by dialing up the difficulty solo, or joining in online with friends. The variety of missions, even playing alone, is tremendous. The movie's tank-driving scene has a reprisal here as a mediocre level that would have been better depicted in rail-shooting fashion, but the balance of the game is you on foot. Pure stealth may not be your thing, but Bond's phone has its own gameplay mechanic that lets you hack terminals for both mission objectives and to help even the odds. Hacking powerful gun turrets will result in them turning on your enemies; this certainly isn't a new device, but it remains very satisfying. Levels include some good vertical design, letting you snipe or cherry-pick enemies below while holding cover. Destructible environments can change cover dynamically, both in your favor and against you.

Multiplayer levels bring this to the fore, and you'll find that all the levels provided during online play take on a new dimension with human players behind each character. You'll have a chance to select characters taken from classic Bond films, including bad guys. There are a wide range of multiplayer modes, including local play for four with split-screen, and online play with up to eight players. Local is smart enough to adjust modes based on the number of players, so you'll only have access to scenarios like "Team Conflict" when you have enough players to actually split into teams. Modes available in both online and offline play include "You Only Live Twice," where you win by whittling down a limited number of lives assigned to other players. "Conflict" is easy to understand in that you play for points alone or with a team, and "Golden Gun" also has you playing for points, but with an additional perk since one-shot kills earn dramatically higher point values. Modifiers in these multiplayer games are fun, like "Hot Shot" where headshots alone score, or "Paintball Mode" where guns shoot paint instead of bullets. If that's not zany enough for you, try either "Sticky" or "Rubber" grenades... Nintendo WFC simplifies the mechanic for inviting friends that you want to join in a "Party" mode for play, but the friend code mechanic remains a weak spot for the Wii. Additional play modes only available to large online teams include "Black Box," where one team is assigned to destroy a black box in the level, while the other is tasked with picking up the box to download its data. "GoldenEye" lets you control the movie's titular satellite, using control-based team competition, and "Heroes" assigns one player from each team to play the role with more health, damage-dealing abilities, and a health boost. And there are still several other modes locked until higher levels...


GoldenEye 007 goes to 11 with its difficulty settings. At the most basic level, Operative, GoldenEye 007 is still pretty challenging. Enemies will take cover, coordinate attacks, and can snipe you or throw grenades with devastating results. You never have further back to go than the last checkpoint, but that doesn't mean you'll be entirely free of frustration. The space between checkpoints can encompass quite a bit of gameplay, and you'll need to learn enemy patterns closely if you hope to operate for long in stealth mode. When you're spotted or interact with an enemy, a few seconds is all you get before the alarm sounds. When the stealth gloves do come off, troop reinforcements will be called and you'll have to switch gears to avoid being crushed. The A.I. has some dumb spots, especially in the lowest difficulty setting, but overall it performs extremely well. Enemies take cover naturally, and will even fire from around cover using a machine-gun spray that can cause serious damage. Snipers and shotgun-toting enemies are a huge drain on health, not to mention the gun turrets that may find you in their sweeping sites. All the health depletion is a non-issue when playing on Operative, where health recharges slowly as long as you take cover. At higher difficulty settings, you have to guard health closely, to the point that in "007 Classic" mode, you'll have only one chance to find armor hidden in each level. New side missions are the reward for increasing the level of difficulty, which also adds to the replay value as you can sample each of four included play-modes. Mastering the weapons you find dropped by enemies is a big part of maximizing your potential in the game. Certain weapons have a noticeable kick or issues with accuracy, but may trade off in power. The ultimate trade-off is embodied in the shotguns, which you will find included here in both single-shot and automatic varieties. The game seems to place weapons strategically where they are most useful, so you'll find sniper rifles tucked in generously at high points overlooking an upcoming section of a level. You can hold up to four weapons, plus grenades and your phone, making it possible to balance long-range accuracy with short-range power. Bond's handy Walther P99 doesn't have infinite rounds, but is generously loaded and a great recourse to powerful rifles that are quickly depleted. The P99 has the added advantage of taking a silencer, useful in situations where you can't afford physical take-downs.

Game Mechanics:

About the only controller you can't use with GoldenEye 007 is one made by Sony or Microsoft. We preferred the feel of the Classic Controller, especially the Pro version, because it felt right with the shooting controls we're accustomed to from other FPS titles. Using the Wii Zapper is a bit awkward, since several important gameplay controls are out of immediate reach and detract from the experience during the heat of battle. Swinging the Zapper to sight is a cool mechanic, and there are adjustments possible on this and all other controllers, so some time spent experimenting might help you get comfortable. We dialed up the default sensitivity on the Classic Controller immediately because of the short throw on that controller's Analog Sticks. Nothing is perfect, but there are enough options to satisfy almost any preference. Special actions triggered by the little shoulder buttons felt a bit clunky, and it was unclear why Bond decides at certain times to push buttons with a flying elbow instead of a good old-fashioned thumb or finger... Aiming and firing weapons is incredibly smooth, as long as you take into account the attempt to recreate each weapon faithfully. Reload times also include a blurring effect that simulations the distraction you face while getting new rounds in the chamber. Timing reloads is a big part of success in the game, as there's nothing worse than setting up the perfect stealth kill and finding out that you were one bullet shy of a silent kill.

The ease with which you can immerse yourself in the world of GoldenEye 007 and get down to solo or team play is remarkable. It isn't that the Wii is lacking shooting games, but the combination of mission-based action and fast online battles will keep you busy for a long while. Considering all the extra missions and amped-up difficulty you'll face alone, this isn't just an excuse to go online. Nintendo hasn't been terribly generous to us with its online services for older gamers, so GoldenEye 007 comes as a real boon to more experienced players looking for something to do with friends that doesn't involve decorating a treehouse. Multiplayer suffers somewhat from the issues endemic to the Nintendo platform, but it manages to emerge with enough depth and fun-factor to keep this game in home libraries through the life of this system. GoldenEye 007 sets a high bar for any shooters to come, and proves again that the Wii can be a platform for serious, mature, online play.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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