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GoldenEye 007: Reloaded

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Eurocom
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 4 (Split-Screen); 2 - 16 (Online)
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

I didn't play the Wii version of GoldenEye 007, though I did see it at E3 2010. I've been meaning to snag a copy; my Wii hasn't done much other than collect dust, and lately I've been having a difficult time staving off buyer's remorse. I figured that last year's Blood Stone 007 was the next-gen offering, while only the Wii was to get the retooled classic. Turns out, I was wrong. Activision and Eurocom have decided to take last year's well-received Wii game and give it the next-gen treatment. The verdict? GoldenEye 007: Reloaded isn't the groundbreaker the N64 original was, but it is an extremely well-made game that provides white-knuckle thrills online and off. There's a lot of content on this disc, and all is of top quality.

GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is a prettied-up version of a Wii game, but at first glance, it might be a bit difficult to tell. It's no stunner, but it holds its own among other shooters quite easily. It goes without saying that this game doesn't look at all like Rare's N64 game, but if you didn't play the Wii game, you might be surprised to know that it's not a remake of the N64 original. This game follows major set-piece moments of the 1995 film starring Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean, but those moments are completely reconstructed with different environments and different actors. Of course, you'll visit places like Arkhangelsk and Severnaya, but level design has evolved dramatically since the original game. It's also out with the old, in with the new; Daniel Craig is the Bond of the decade, and Elliot Cowan takes Bean's place as Alec Trevelyan (006). The game itself looks great; the action is intense (though bloodless), animations are believable (though canned), the actors' likenesses are accurate, and hand-to-hand takedowns are nice and brutal.

To my knowledge, there is only one "original" original player in Goldeneye 007: Reloaded, and it's a notable one: Dame Judi Dench, whose voice I shall never tire of hearing. To be fair, the game is all the better for not sticking too firmly to its roots; for example, Daniel Craig still makes a fantastic Bond. The voice acting in general is universally superb. The soundtrack may find itself stuck in a loop more often than I'd like, but the music itself is great. Not only is it identifiable and exciting, but it is very much aware of your actions. Things remain low-key, soft, and bass heavy as long as you're operating like a true 00 Agent. If you fail to stay out of sight, the music kicks into high gear and encourages you to let loose with all guns blazing. One mission towards the midpoint of the campaign has you making your way through a dance party. The trance music is catchy to begin with, but it thankfully doesn't turn off once things go south. This, in turn, really sells the cinematic part of the experience.


GoldenEye 007: Reloaded more or less follows the plot of the 1995 film, which deals with a crime syndicate with a mysterious leader that has sinister plans involving the Bank of England and a electromagnetic pulse superweapon. As told in the film, the story is quite entertaining, but that's probably because of the larger-than-life characters. Here, characters that were outlandish and comical in the 1995 film (most notably Xenia Onatopp) are dialed back in terms of goofiness. But we must remember: the Daniel Craig generation is darker and colder by nature, and the story is adapted to these sensibilities. However, the story doesn't take the focus here. The fast-paced shooting and spying action does.

As is the case with its predecessors, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is not simply a "go here, shoot everything" affair. More often than not, there are additional objectives to complete. These are entirely optional, but they add a substantially different dynamic to the gameplay. Most of these aren't engaging on their own, but when combined with the balls-to-the-wall action, they really help you to feel like Bond. The campaign isn't terribly lengthy, but it makes up for the brevity by being consistently entertaining throughout.

Once you're done with the single player campaign, you'll probably want to dig into the multiplayer component. Couch multiplayer seems to be a thing of the past these days, but GoldenEye 007: Reloaded supports up to four players on the same television set. Of course, this opens the door for screenwatching, but let's face it: that was part of the experience to begin with. The online component is surprisingly fleshed out, though it seems oddly aware that it's living in the shadow of a certain omnipresent Activision juggernaut. It takes few risks and seems content to borrow ideas wholesale, but there are a few sparks of originality.

Spec Ops, Deathmatch, Domination, Demolition, and even Gun Game equivalents appear in GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, but offerings such as Golden Gun, Black Box, and Heroes are unique and engaging while identifiable as 007-based ideas.

Golden Gun is almost a traditional Deathmatch mode, but there's one key twist. A single Golden Gun is up for grabs; anyone who gets a kill with it earns several times the points as a single regular weapon kill. However, the Golden Gun and the player who holds it are marked on the map. Additionally, Francisco Scaramanga's weapon of choice features a single shot magazine and a very lengthy reload time, making it a risky weapon to possess.

Black Box is such an interesting mode that it's almost incomparable to anything else. One team seeks to download the information on the black box while the other needs that information destroyed. The team that needs the information must have a player pick up the box and hold it for as long as he can; holding the box progresses the download. The team that must destroy the box only has to concern itself with hitting it with as much firepower and explosives as possible. It's a chaotic and explosive mode that's a whole lot of fun.

Call of Duty tends to value lone wolves over efficient teams; GoldenEye 007: Reloaded's Heroes mode distances itself from that notion. One player on each team is designated a Hero; Heroes are more powerful and damage resistant, but they also give off a defense-boosting aura that encourages team members to stick close. Killing the other team's Hero yields a substantial point bonus.


GoldenEye 007: Reloaded features difficulty design very similar to that in the N64 classic. By that, I mean there are a number of difficulty levels that not only affect Bond's damage resistance and health regeneration, but also mission objectives. Easier difficulty levels often require Bond's survival and little else. But once you crank the difficulty level up, more objectives open up. In turn, the missions become more involving and more challenging. The hardest of these settings brings it back to pre-Halo days, before the advent of regenerating health. 007 Classic can be masochistically difficult, but the sense of accomplishment is proportionate to the challenge.

Game Mechanics:

Very little of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is unique, but in a genre as well-tread as the first-person shooter, that's okay as long as what's there is solid. Thankfully, most everything is more than solid. But what makes GoldenEye 007: Reloaded special is its flexibility as both a shooter and a first-person stealth game. Bond often shoots his way out of situations, but he doesn't always have to; several segments begin with some form of infiltration sequence. There is a clear cut destination, but enemies often wander around, giving you multiple opportunities to sneak by unnoticed (or take them out silently). Not every scenario is built this way, but every now and then you'll discover a particularly Bond-like course of action. For example, it's immensely rewarding to choke out a few patrolmen and then line up a double headshot with your Walther P99. To be sure, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded does the shooting better than it does the stealth, but having the simple option to do things your own way is something to commend.

Controls and functions don't really do anything different. Shooting, running, and crouching are handled in the same way for most FPS games these days. However, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded has its own stop-and-pop cover system. By crouching behind an object, Bond will automatically take cover; aiming down the sights while in cover will have him pop up to take a shot or two. This usually works, but there's one key flaw: sometimes you'll want to shoot someone who's within your line of sight without popping out of cover. This system doesn't have a very good solution to that problem other than backing out of cover momentarily.

One final thing. Melee attacks are fine in single player, but they are absolutely atrocious in multiplayer. You can never tell when you're actually hitting your enemy, and there's absolutely no sense of impact when you connect.

So Goldeneye 007: Reloaded comes to us in a week that just so happens to be flanked by the release of this year's biggest shooters. I'm not going to ask that you put aside Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. However, I will strongly advise against underestimating GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. This is a great game not only by 007 standards, but by any measure.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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