GoldenEye 007: Reloaded Review
I find it kind of funny that a game that's designed to capitalize on nostalgia for the N64 shooter that was a watershed game in the evolution of the console FPS, 1) isn't an HD remake of the original and features a new storyline, and 2) replaces Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond. With regard to that first point, there are touch points and references from the original game in Reloaded for fans of the original to pick up on, but they aren't going to be reliving that game. The overall story arc is similar and some of the locations are the same, but the levels have all been redesigned I think that Activision was a little more concerned with maintaining its return on investment on the James Bond game rights during the movie series' current hiatus than it was with appeasing aging N64 fan boys, but as long as you're aware of what you're getting and the game's still fun to play we can look past suspected motives. As for the second point, I'm sure that there are plenty of rights issues at play behind who is permitted to represent Bond in a new video game release so the change is understandable. As a lifelong Bond fan I have to say that I have enjoyed Craig's take on the iconic hero, so I can live with a more gruff and less smirky GoldenEye protagonist.
Now that we've got all that out of the way, is GoldenEye 007: Reloaded a good game on its own merit? The answer isn't an unqualified yes and the game won't have the same impact on the genre that its predecessor did, but you can certainly have some fun with it � although how much so is undoubtedly dependent on whether or not you're a Bond fan in the first place.
The game opens with Bond and 006 infiltrating a dam in Russia as part of an MI6 mission to locate the source of chemicals being used in terrorist attacks on British embassies. But you know how Bond stories go, and soon it becomes apparent that there's a lot more going on than meets the eye and a simple counter-terrorism mission quickly turns into a globe-hopping quest to stop an evil mastermind from plundering the British financial system. I'll leave it at that not to spoil anything on the chance that you've never seen the GoldenEye movie or played the N64 game - suffice it to say that plot requires the typical leaps of faith that come with Bond stories. And as I mentioned before, even if you are familiar with the story there are some plot and location changes in store for you.
Reloaded is a first-person shooter, but it's not a run-and-gun shooter. Going about your business stealthily is the James Bond way of doing things and by staying out of sight you can take enemies out one by one without them even knowing that you were there. Your silenced pistol is a great asset, letting you take out enemies and security cameras from a distance without alerting anybody to what you're doing. The silenced sniper rifle is an even greater asset when you've got an industrial complex to get through. The levels are designed to let you take a stealthy approach, providing you with vents to crawl through and plenty of things to duck behind. Stealth play in the game is straightforward - stay out of sight, take out cameras, and sneak up behind enemies to do a silent takedown or drop them with a headshot from a silenced weapon when no one else can see. There's not a lot of dead time spent memorizing patrol patterns or a need to hide bodies or any other similar play mechanics that you find in games that emphasize stealth, so you can still keep things moving along while taking a stealthy approach.
When the shooting does start the game won't be too challenging if you've played your share of shooters. The enemy AI is pretty basic, and they like to jack-in-the-box from behind cover and only occasionally run from one cover to location to the other, and don't always make the best choice as to when it is a good time to move to a new cover spot. Add snap-on targeting to the mix and you've got a game that makes it pretty easy to come out on top in a firefight. When the game does have its challenging moments it's more a matter of the number of enemies it throws at you at once, but even when you're on the short end of long ends you won't find it too hard to make your way forward after a false start or two. If you play the game at the highest difficulty level the challenge ramps up due to the fact that you no longer heal automatically when you duck behind cover. You'll be able to don armor to shield you from bullets for a short time, but any lost health won't be restored until the next level. The enemy AI doesn't seem to be any better; it's just that things are made harder for you. Additional challenge at this level is added through the objectives, since objectives that are optional at the other difficulty levels are made mandatory at this one.
The single player campaign is fun, probably more so because it harkens back to older shooters more than it resembles a current gen marque title. I found it to be more of a lighthearted romp than an intense shooter, but I'm sure that my previous experience with GoldenEye back in the day and my predilection towards all things Bond certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the game. If neither of those factors applies to you, then you probably won't have as much fun with it. As a final note I do have to mention that I could have done without the game's quick-time events. This play mechanic is getting tired in shooters, and shouldn't even be in a game that plays upon feelings of nostalgia.
Once you've finished the campaign, there are other ways for you to play the game. The first is a single player challenge mode called MI6 Ops Mode, which is inspired by the Modern Warfare series' Special Ops Mode if you're familiar with it. MI6 Ops Mode provides a number of challenge levels that fall into one of three categories: elimination, stealth, and defense. The goal of the elimination levels is to eliminate all of enemies in the level without being killed, the same for the stealth levels except in those you also lose if you are detected at any point. The defense levels have you defending computer stations from attacking enemies, preventing them from being destroyed before they finish downloading data. Each level allows you to tweak a number of parameters such as the number of enemies present in the level, and the settings that you select will affect the multiplier applied to your final score. When you complete a level and receive your score, that score will determine your star rating for the level (from one to five) and where you land on the online leaderboards for the level. Stars are important because the levels are unlocked in tiers, and you'll need the requisite number of stars to unlock the next one. MI6 Ops Mode is enjoyable, but I definitely preferred the elimination mode to the others. The stealth mode can be annoying because you can spend a lot of time with the level only to lose the whole thing at the end without even being sure how you were spotted.
The game's multiplayer modes have a serious old-school vibe to them, eschewing most of what you'll find in a Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3 for basic "run around and shoot everybody for the fun of it" gameplay with the exception of an experience point system used for weapons and modes unlocks. The one-hit kill Golden Gun mode in which one player gets to wield the deadly titular weapon until killed and a progression mode in which players earn a more powerful weapon with each kill are particularly enjoyable variants on the basic deathmatch gameplay. A unique spin on things is added by the inclusion of Bond villains as playable characters, complete with their own signature attacks and perks. And for those of you who truly want to play the game old school style, the game support local multiplayer with four player splits-screen. That mode will bring back some memories, although this time around you might not have to play it on a small CRT television.
I found the multiplayer to be the kind of thing that's fun in short bursts and worth revisiting on occasion, but not the type of thing that you play the heck out of like you would with a Battlefield or Call of Duty game. The old school gameplay brings back some old school issues such as spawn camping that are better left in the past, and these tend to add a dash of frustration into the mix.
Overall I'd say that I had some fun with GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, but I wouldn't say as much so as with some of the other big games released this season. It's enjoyable enough, but it's not going to have anywhere near the impact on the genre that its predecessor did. Fans of that predecessor and Bond aficionados should definitely give it a look, but shooter fans in general will probably get more enjoyment out of this year's marquee shooter titles.
Final Rating: 78%. It's not going to be winning any game of the year awards, but Bond fans and those who enjoyed the original GoldenEye should have fun with it.