We’ve seen classic first-person shooters get reissues with slightly sharper graphics and slightly modernized controls. But “Goldeneye 007” represents the first time a publisher has brought a cherished shooter through the nostalgia wall and fully into the present, and the result is an extraordinary mix of old and new that feels startlingly fresh.For starters, let’s be clear: This isn’t a simple cleaning up of the classic Nintendo 64 game. The new “Goldeneye” is a new game that adds new layers to the storyline (now starring Daniel Craig instead of Pierce Brosnan), parlays those layers into new environments, and uses the old set pieces as inspiration for new mission designs rather than for purposes of copying and pasting. Modern amenities, destructible environments, regenerating health on lower difficulties, the customary visual improvements and all they bring make their presence felt, but its the way the game spins revered levels into new experiences that shines brighter.
At the same time, “Goldeneye” does not forsake its roots. Dispatching enemies stealthily, a game-changer back in 1997, remains fun in 2010, in no small part because of “Goldeneye’s” immense gun selection and multilayered level design. But at no point does “Goldeneye” punish players who would prefer to recklessly run, gun and punch their way through. Most modern shooters do, and “Goldeneye’s” ability to retain its old-fashioned values while modernizing most everything else is perhaps its most impressive achievement. Other little touches; neutralized enemies fade away here the same way they did out of technical necessity on the N64 provide undeniable winks without running interference on players who have no connection to the original game.
Technically speaking, “Goldeneye” looks good for a Wii game and certainly covers its bases in terms of controls. The remote/nunchuck combination works terrifically, very rarely confusing the need to adjust the gun’s aim with the need to turn, and the game includes a variant that caters to the Wii Zapper accessory. But those who want to play “Goldeneye” a little more traditionally (albeit with dual sticks, something the N64 lacked) can use the Classic or Gamecube controllers to do so.
“Goldeneye’s” campaign runs roughly twice as long as most of its contemporaries, a nod, intentional or not, to the days when first-person shooters prioritized length and elaborate level design over cutscenes and corridors.
But “Goldeneye’s” legendary status was built on the back of its multiplayer, and Eurocom’s successful replication of that will ultimately define this game as well.
True to form, “Goldeneye” includes four-player splitscreen, and the playable characters (Oddjob, Jaws, Julius, No), modes (deathmatch, team deathmatch, Golden Gun) and modifiers (melee only, tiny players, paintball, invisibility) return from the original.
But “Goldeneye’s” online multiplayer (eight players) elevates this to the arguable top of the Wii’s first-person shooter heap. The lack of voice chat support for Nintendo’s neglected Wii Speak peripheral is disappointing, and the welcome ability to form four-player parties is still hampered on the ground floor by Nintendo’s clumsy friend code system. But players who want to just jump in and play some lag-free online “Goldeneye” finally can do so, and Eurocom rewards those who do with an experience points system that doles out better weapons and gadgets as players level up. Online multiplayer also takes advantage of the higher player count to add some new modes centered around team and objective-based play.