Pros: Good stealth. Good multiplayer.
Cons: Poor storytelling. No multiplayer chat.
Should the new GoldenEye 007 for the Wii have simply ported the design of the original 1997 classic N64 game of the same name, or was it better to create a new game with more up-to-date gameplay? I don’t know, and more importantly, I don’t care.
I never played the N64 game and cannot say whether, as some claim, it is a classic that shouldn’t be tampered with or something that was great fun at the time but would now be hopelessly outdated. For me, the question is only, did I have fun playing the new game? And the answer is, yes.
Story: Blah Blah Blah
Both games are based on the 1995 movie GoldenEye, which starred Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Part of the game’s modernization is replacing Brosnan with current movie Bond Daniel Craig. This neither helps nor hurts the game, since the script gives Bond no discernable personality anyway.
I don’t know how well the original game told the story, but this game does a piss-poor job of it. A mix of extrapolation from from M (voiced, as in the movie, by Judi Dench) and muddled cut scenes fails to clearly convey what is going on. I simply did what the game told me to, but rarely had a clear idea of why, and never particularly cared. The story has a high tech helicopter, a dangerous satellite, a distressed (but tech-savvy) damsel and a whole lot of people who want to kill Bond, but I only have a vague notion of how these things intersect.
While failing to tell the story well, the game still manages to hit all the standard clichés of action films, such as a hero who continually gets caught and yet always manages to escape due to the bad guys unerring stupidity.
Gameplay: Fun Mix of Stealth and Action
While the story is a waste of time, the gameplay is quite entertaining. GoldenEye is a mix of stealth and action, unless you don’t like stealth, in which case you can just keep shooting people. I didn’t even realize for the first couple of missions how much of the game could be played stealthily, but once I realized that it was possible to go through entire levels by sneaking up behind people, shooting them with a silenced revolver or sniper rifle, or simply sneaking past, I played as stealthily as possible. I liked stealth mode so much that if I couldn’t kill a guard before he alerted someone I would just load the last checkpoint and try again rather than go into battle and kill all the reinforcements.
At times stealthy play is not an option, as the game simply tosses you into big firefights where you run around shooting and being shot at. Many of the bad guys are conveniently located near barrels full of gasoline: shooting the barrel takes out a few enemies explosively.
Enemies are actually pretty stupid, standing out in the open firing while you mow them down. When they kill you, it’s not because they are smart but just because there are so many of them. Towards the end the developers turned the game into nothing more than Bond taking on wave after wave of bad guys, which I found disappointingly conventional and uninteresting.
Controls: Great With a Little Tweaking
Controls are quite solid: as with many shooters, you aim with the remote and move with the nunchuk. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the default configuration, which felt a little off in shooting, and was terrible when using a camera to take pictures, where movement was agonizingly slow. Fortunately, GoldenEye offers incredibly detailed customization, and I was able, with the help of these instructions, to make GoldenEye play just like Call of Duty, which has a better default setup. The only real problem I had was with the nunchuk, which can be used to hit enemies with your gun if you shake it. It was so sensitive that every little hand movement caused me to hit the air. You can also play GoldenEye with the “classic controller,” but personally I prefer the remote/nunchuk set-up.
Multiplayer: Above Average
The N64 GoldenEye is particularly famous for its multiplayer mode. Once again, I cannot compare the original with this version, but I can say that I found GoldenEye’s online multiplayer particularly fun. There’s nothing all that new or different, although the Golden Gun mode, in which there is one super-weapon players can battle over, is an ingenious holdover from the original.
I thought some of the maps were especially well designed. In some multiplayer games I’ve felt that the various maps were more different in scenery than in effect, but in GoldenEye I noticed the way I and others played the game had to change from one map to another. Some maps are very open, with a lot of mad running around, some are tight and claustrophobic. Some offer more places to hide than I’ve found in other maps.
A complaint some reviewers have had is that there is no way to chat with other players, which is important in team play. While I am more of a death match player, where chatting mainly involves trash talking and whining, it is unfortunate that the option is not offered, as it is another place where the Wii’s online play compares poorly with the other consoles.
Over all though, I really like GoldenEye’s multiplayer, which is actually one of the most enjoyable multiplayer shooters I’ve played on any platform.