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Eurocom re-imagines Rare's dearly loved classic with a new Bond and very different Nintendo...
Facility, Lasers; Golden Gun, Temple. For scores of gamers, these phrases will evoke 'nam style flashbacks of entire weekends consumed by the original GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64, such was the impact of this classic. It proved that first-person shooters could work on a console; that ventilating your friends in split-screen multiplayer provided limitless fun; and that film-licensed games could be as dramatic and as competent as their Silver Screen counterparts. In fact, it's still arguably the best game based on a movie, ever.
So this time around, Eurocom has some impossibly big boots to fill with its Wii remake. Wisely then, the single-player mode plays more like a homage to the original than a flat-out remake. Pierce Brosnan's suave mannerisms and over-the-top gadgets (the laptop gun was a stroke of genius) have been replaced with Daniel Craig's Bond, full of thuggish violence and equipped with modern, practical tech (one very smart smartphone). The original author of GoldenEye's screenplay, Bruce Feirstein, has even tinkered with the story and characters to bring them more in line with the most recent Bond films.
The overall effect of all these changes is that the game feels completely fresh to fans of the original and relevant to those who have never played it. There's even a smattering of references to the original to keep diehard fans sniggering - my personal favourite being where Bond descends upon an unsuspecting guard sitting on the bog from an air vent. Though it has to be said that Daniel Craig's straight-talking, no-nonsense dialogue lacks the charm that made Brosnan so much fun to play in GoldenEye.
The gameplay has been similarly reworked. Bond can now look down his gun's sights to quickly lock-on to an enemy and fire more accurately - a feature that will feel familiar to anyone that's played the Modern Warfare series. This becomes such a prominent feature of the gameplay that you can't help but be constantly reminded of the Call of Duty franchise. Add to that the grenade markers, custom weapon loadouts and a multiplayer XP system, and the game does start to feel a little like Call of Duty: GoldenEye.
That said, Modern Warfare isn't exactly a bad game to emulate. In the end, the core gameplay is hugely satisfying with brilliant sound effects (the silenced PPK is particularly good). There's also a massive armoury waiting to be discovered, with each weapon feeling markedly different than the next. And somehow, Eurocom has managed to make every single weapon fun to use. The gameplay is only ever really let down by the lovably dim AI that will perch behind cover with their heads out, walk in predictable circles and just run about pretty aimlessly in general. This effectively means that you're only ever in danger of dying when you're massively outnumbered - Bond can regenerate health when not under fire in the easier difficulties.
Just like the original GoldenEye, sneaking your way through a level will mean you'll run into fewer bad guys, and generally make life easier for Bond. A more heavy-handed approach will set alarm bells ringing, sending a flood of henchmen your way. On the easier settings either approach will do, but on return playthroughs your spy skills become imperative. This happy balance between the two styles means that you're never forced to play one way or the other, which effectively takes the pressure off both. The stealth mechanics are also easy to pick up and well paced so you'll never find yourself sitting around twiddling your thumbs or feel hard done by when you're caught out.
In fact, the game is brilliantly paced throughout. Gunfights and stealth sections are interspersed with cinematic chase scenes and the kind of dialogue you'd only find in a Bond film. Overall, this is a very hard game to put down between chapters. Once you're finished, there's plenty of alternative corridors and avenues to explore as well as side missions that will keep bringing you back for more.
The multiplayer side of the game fails to live up to the high standard set by the single-player campaign though. Without the Bond storyline, online play quickly starts to feel like any other FPS, only with poorer graphics. Although there are fun tributes to Bonds of Olde in the shape of the Oddjob character model and the Man With The Golden Gun game mode, GoldenEye suffers from a serious identity crisis online. The XP system and custom loadouts do add some depth, but there's nothing really new here to convince you to invest your time in more than a couple of games. Even the novelty of using the Wiimote to aim (you'll want to switch to the Classic controller for serious online play) wears off pretty quickly. That said, it's still one of the best online experiences the Wii can offer.
Nevertheless GoldenEye for the Wii does its name proud. The single-player is a breakneck ride through classic Bond territory that makes you feel every bit the spy. It's filled with cinematic touches - like music in a club scene drowning out the sound of gunfire - that help you to forgive the less immersive graphics. The multiplayer meanwhile will have Wii owners finally putting their console to good use. It would have been easy money for Eurocom to simply remake the original frame for frame. Instead they've dared to create a modern interpretation of a classic that will inspire nostalgia of its own.
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