This year GoldenEye 007 returns to a Nintendo console with Activision's reimagining of the original classic for the N64. The game is being treated with great respect, says Activision, with the company's largest-ever Wii development team of 125 staff at Eurocom. The studio promises modern gameplay with some nostalgic twists. The game takes place in the new James Bond universe, meaning Daniel Craig as 007 and less gadget-driven action.
Who's making it? Eurocom comes with some serious James Bond heritage, having previously worked on Nightfire for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. The developers also have tremendous Wii experience; they produced last year's underappreciated Dead Space: Extraction. GoldenEye 007 actually runs on the engine created for that game.
What it looks like: GoldenEye takes many visual cues from the classic N64 first-person shooter. The dam level begins with a sweeping camera shot identical to the one in Rare's original GoldenEye game, and the first part of the level takes place in an area that is equally familiar, right down to the location of weapon pickups. As the mission progresses, though, the layout becomes less familiar, as Eurocom has developed new sections and objectives. These are well suited to Daniel Craig's roguish approach to Bond and his brand of gadget-free espionage. Other objectives simply serve to extend the experience beyond the relatively short levels from the original. The graphical fidelity is mightily impressive for a Wii game, though there are still some rough edges that need to be addressed.
What you do: There are a number of control schemes on offer, including a Wii Remote and Nunchuk option, which simplifies the game so that all movement is handled by the analogue stick while shooting is handled by pointing the remote at the screen. The game also supports a more traditional console FPS control scheme on the Classic Controller and GameCube Controller.
How it plays: As Daniel Craig's 007, you must infiltrate the weapons facility of the rogue Russian general Ourumov alongside fellow agent 006. You are free to approach combat scenarios any way you see fit, using silent takedowns and hiding in shadows, or simply wading in with all guns blazing, though the latter will result in triggered alarms and much tougher resistance. Several new mechanics are also layered on top of the classic GoldenEye gameplay. One intense sequence in the dam level involves a slow-motion door breach that wouldn't have looked out of place in Modern Warfare 2. There is also an on-rails section where Bond attacks enemies from the window of a truck being driven by 006. In the original game, Bond simply follows the truck through security checkpoints on foot. It is interesting to see how Eurocom has taken familiar gameplay sequences and spiced them up with new cinematic action to help them feel both fresh and nostalgic.
One of the most surprising elements of the demo was just how similar the AI behaviour was to that of the original game. Guards will often perform theatrical rolls and dives before engaging you in combat and will foolishly take refuge behind explosive barrels and crates. There's also a new destructible cover system which helps to keep the gameplay fast and forces you to concentrate. This makes finding cover in which to regenerate health particularly challenging. If you play in 007 Classic difficulty mode, though, health doesn't regenerate at all. Instead, hardcore fans will be able to use the original system of health packs and body armour, right down to the classic HUD design.
What they say: GoldenEye 007 is a modern FPS with touches of nostalgia that will make it accessible to fans and newcomers alike.
What we say: This should be a good FPS experience for Wii owners who want some more traditional games for their collection, as well as an awesome trip down memory lane for those who remember the original.