Video Game Review: ‘Goldeneye Reloaded 007’ Reboots Classic Hit

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CHICAGO – “Goldeneye 64” was one of the most influential games on my life. Not only did it redefine shooters for this hardcore gamer but it took away hundreds of hours from my college education. Who’s to say what I could have become if not for this addictive shooter, which, along with “Doom 2,” opened the world of multiplayer action? It’s impossible to know but perhaps Activision’s “Goldeneye 007: Reloaded” will have a similar impact on some more prospective students. Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0

Last year, Activision notched a respectable hit by reconfiguring and re-releasing “Goldeneye” on the Nintendo Wii. Personally, I wasn’t a fan. I found the controls unresponsive to the quick trigger requirements of a James Bond game. I got slammed for it by loyal fans of Nintendo and the Bond game series (as you can see in the comments on my initial review and maybe one day I’ll share some even nastier emails regarding my 2.5/5.0 review) but I stand by this statement — “The game tries to replicate the fast pace of PS3 or Xbox 360 games but when you’re constantly trying to find your bearings and merge movement with the control stick with the direction you’re aiming with the Wii-mote, it can ruin your good times.” And I think the lack of adult-oriented action games on the Wii proves that fans just aren’t interested in shooters on this dying platform.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Photo credit: Activision

So, by virtue of moving the action from Wii-mote to PS3 controller (although the game is also Playstation Move compatible if you want to stick with that style of play), the game should be improved, right? Absolutely. And it’s not just a control scheme improvement. The graphics and gameplay are significantly more refined than they were on the Wii, making for an overall experience that’s simply less frustrating. When one is trying to balance hand-eye coordination in a multiplayer environment, the last thing they want to be held back by are the controls and that’s not the case here. It’s the classic PS3 control scheme and it’s responsive and instinctually easy to use. If you’ve played any shooters on the console, you can pick up and play the new “Goldeneye” pretty easily.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Photo credit: Activision

And what will you find if you do? A single-player campaign that has been radically reimagined since the original Nintendo 64 game and the film on which it was based. There were moments early in the campaign when I was trying to reconcile my memory of the Pierce Brosnan film with the action in front of me but I quickly gave up in that futile venture. The stories have settings and subplots in common but don’t expect a note-for-note adaptation of either the original game or the film. In fact, the game even has a different lead as Daniel Craig’s likeness and voice were used for its production, although given the ridiculous amount of time between Craig era Bond movies (bankruptcy problems have held up the third Craig movie, “Skyfall,” but it’s now finally in production) one wonders if kids will recognize him.

The storytelling in “Goldeneye 007: Reloaded” is paper-thin, especially when compared to the glut of spectacular action games recently like “Batman: Arkham City” and “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.” The levels are all remarkably straightforward with little choice or sense of danger. Enter room, kill wave of enemies, leave room. Sometimes there are buttons to be pushed or intel to be found, but the storytelling here falls somewhere between that of the original game’s era and 2011. It’s not awful, but it’s also nowhere near as memorable as it could have been.

As if to enhance what they know is an average campaign, the biggest addition to this release are the MI6 missions, a series of new challenges for the solo player. Sadly, they’re not as exciting as that might sound. They feel rushed and sometimes haphazardly developed, as if they needed a bit more time in the refinement process.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Photo credit: Activision

Even more so than with the Nintendo 64 version, “Goldeneye 007: Reloaded” is all about multiplayer action. It was the strength of the Wii version as well, but it has been seriously enhanced here with new modes and much-smoother gameplay. I love that Activision has not forgotten the days when college kids loved playing the game split-screen. While most developers have made multi-player online-only, this one still allows people to get into one room together and shoot it out.

What’s most attractive about the multiplayer portion of “Reloaded” is the variety. There’s the classic Golden Gun mode (one hit and you die), Paintball, and much more. Of course, anyone near my age will probably just spend most of their time in classic deathmatch but it’s nice to have the variety of options for people with different gameplay needs.

And what will you find there? Some impressive map design with a variety of styles from open spaces to close quarters. The graphics can be a bit frustrating and the response time isn’t perfect, but this is an enjoyable multi-player experience for those who need a break from “Battlefield 3” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.”

There’s no way to replicate that feeling of the original “Goldeneye 64” in a remake. It’s never going to have the same magic. And one can’t deny that this title could have used a bit more polish — it looks ancient next to the two highly-anticipated wartime shooters of this season. But there’s something about the experience, especially multi-player, that’s just, for lack of a better word, charming. It’s not perfect. It’s not as refined as it could have been. But it’s fun. And that used to be all that mattered.

“Goldeneye 007: Reloaded” was developed by Eurocom Entertainment Software and released by Activision on November 1st, 2011. It is rated T (Teen). The version reviewed was for the PS3 but the title is also available for the Xbox 360. content director Brian Tallerico

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