Quite a few years ago, an addictive first-person shooter made its mark on many gamers’ lives. Goldeneye 007 became more than a game after it was released on the Nintendo 64, turning into a split-screen phenomenon and a dorm room addiction. It was the game to play with friends, especially for the type of gamers who loved to compete against each other. If you were the best one in the bunch at its exceptional multiplayer, then it was something to brag about while the rest of the guys whimpered. Mention the title these days and you’ll have a lengthy discussion about great memories spent huddled with friends, in front of a tube television and a colourful console.
Just last year, Eurocom and Activision worked together on a revitalization project under the same name. It revamped the game’s campaign and multiplayer, adding in extra story content, new maps and some more advanced gameplay designs. Available only for the Wii at the time, it became one of that console’s more popular releases, and one of my most-liked titles from its library. Now, that game is back in high-definition and sixty frames per second, with Goldeneye 007: Reloaded – available now on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
It’s interesting to think about how this all started with a theatrical release. Normally, we gamers associate licensed products with rushed development times and poor quality results. However, one of the most prominent games in digital history was actually based on celluloid. The original Goldeneye 007 game focused on the plot from the big-budget blockbuster of the same name, following everyone’s favourite secret agent as he tried to stop nuclear warfare. Its storyline dug into themes of betrayal, conspiracy and terrorism, with some exceptional action scenes and a quality script. Due to these reasons, the movie became a benchmark for more modern Bond films, making actor Pierce Brosnan a household name. Though, due to licensing and popular opinion, Daniel Craig has jumped into the role for both of the current generation video game revamps.
Looking back over my own childhood, it’s hard to even consider how many hours were spent in front of 007’s most popular digital adventure. Hundreds? Easily. Perhaps more. I knew the ins and outs of the game, could hold my own in multiplayer and have had absolutely zero issues jumping right back in today. The facility level and its amazing design for both single player and multiplayer, became a favourite amongst my group of friends. Still, to this day, it’s something that flashes into my cranium when I think about multiplayer action.
When Goldeneye 007 was released onto the Wii, it brought with it expanded missions that featured additional content plus interesting new takes on fictional events. Classic sections from the game and film were re-done with extra elements and stages, which felt more fleshed out than before. The feel was still there, but the release had certainly received modern upgrades in order to make it become hip with a new generation of console enthusiasts. The result? A quality game which did its inspiration proud, containing a lengthy and challenging campaign which felt both modern and retro at the same time. Written by Bruce Feirstein (co-writer of the film’s script,) the new segments fell into the plot without issue, creating extra reason to shoot guards in the name of good.
With the ability for online multiplayer instead of couch-based split-screen, the team at Eurocom made sure to do their best to turn a classic split-screen romp into a cyberspace hit. They brought back the fan favourite facility map, though it was given a digital makeover. Accompanying it were some quality maps that lent themselves well to the arcade-style shootouts that the classic title was well-known for. Interesting new modes and great customization support added fuel to a quality fire full of eight player shootouts.
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is essentially the same game as last year’s Wii-exclusive release, with its biggest changes found under the hood. Built from the ground up for a second time, it employs the use of a brand new engine, which can run the action at a crisp sixty frames per second. Having played both versions, this change in fluidity certainly stood out. Everything seems faster, more precise and a bit more chaotic. The entire game also looks better with the move to high-definition, with the brand new engine receiving commendable credit. It still doesn’t look like the cream of the crop from the past year or two, with some dated textures and character models, but that’s okay. It certainly adds to the retro feel of the game that we were all hoping for.
Let’s move away from the technical side of things, in order to dissect the new gameplay elements which find their way into this revamped release.
The most notable addition is a brand new mode known as M16 Ops. It brings rank and file to the shooter, with eleven tough but fun challenges spread out across some of the game’s more recognizable maps. The list is comprised of events in three different categories: attack, defend and stealth. All three are quite different from each other, adding some nice variety to the proceedings. They all feature the same ranking system however, where players’ completion times are ranked on a visible four-star scale. Leaderboard support is included for the scoreboard-watching types.
Attack: Digital 007 is placed into a multiplayer arena, where waves of enemies continually drop in. Time is of the essence as the player must take out each and every one of the grunts in the shortest amount of time possible. You’re looking at around thirty different baddies, so it’s important to move around quickly, using your wits at all times.
Defend: Players must use three consoles to download files. While the computers take their time transferring the bits and bytes, enemies will swarm the arena, attempting to blow up said technological behemoths. If you’re not quick in introducing the foes to rounded lead, it’ll be a game over for you.
Stealth: This one doesn’t need an overly lengthy explanation. The goal is simple: Take out every single guard without being detected. Silenced weaponry, stealth takedowns and intelligent maneuvers are a must here. Also, remember to take out the laptops associated with each level’s sentry guns. If that last task is missed, your run will be brief.
Not only did Eurocom add in a completely new mode to its already lengthy and robust title, but the team also revisited its multiplayer creation. The move to this generation’s high-definition consoles, where Goldeneye 007: Reloaded feels at home, brought with it the chance to make some technical upgrades to the title’s cyberspace competitions. New modes (such as escalation where each kill grants you a new weapon) were added, as were a host of different playable characters. There are almost sixty of them now, with unique standouts such as Oddjob and Jaws. Let the angry comments about height-based ‘cheating’ resume.
Additional maps are a notable plus, but the real news comes via the upgrade to sixteen-player lobbies, with the added inclusion of four-player split-screen. Due to technical limitations, the Wii version was only able to support eight people online last year. However, it certainly deserves credit for doing that with quality connections and some fun and competitive options. I was quite impressed with the online modes last time around and have noticed that Goldeneye 007: Reloaded does nothing but improve on those positives. It’s fast, fluid and very difficult, with levelling and loadout creation systems that resemble what is found in a Call of Duty title.
Whenever a new James Bond video game is released, there’s one thing fans can take for granted: Its presentation being top notch. This is one of the most popular franchises around, both on the big screen and in digital space. Due to that reason, a lot of money is spent on every single title which bears the brand. Goldeneye 007: Reloaded continues this trend with excellent presentation elements, all of which do a great job of portraying the vibe of the mid-nineties film. Its visuals are quite good, though a couple visual glitches were noticed along with occasionally dated textures. The standout feature found within this department would certainly have to be the audio, however. Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and their peers all did a great job on the voice acting front, accompanied by some classic sound effects and an excellent score.
The team at Eurocom have done a great job of upgrading what was already a quality re-imagined take on one of gaming’s sparkling gems. With Goldeneye 007: Reloaded, secret agent fans can expect the definitive version of the remade experience, with a lot of content to shoot through. The original classic still retains its title as being the best Bond game thus far, but Activision‘s latest release is a quality take on the established fiction. If you’re itching for a good first-person shooter or a chance to bring fond competitive memories back to life, this is the game to check out. Not only is it shaken and stirred, but it’s also polished and fun. Get some friends together and have at it, James.
This review is based on a PlayStation 3 copy of the game which we received for review purposes.
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is the definitive version of a quality re-imagined game. It has a lengthy and expanded single player campaign, a robust multiplayer offering and quite a few additional challenges that will please any and all fans of the franchise.