Last year Activision released GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo Wii. The game was a reboot of the original N64 game, but with modern graphics and some new plot twists. It was a good game, but its commercial success was somewhat hampered given it was only released on the Wii. This year PS3 and Xbox 360 owners can see what they missed, as GoldenEye 007: Reloaded has been released to the masses with HD graphics, new gameplay elements, and a slew of multiplayer options. So how does this HD upgrade fair?
The story in Reloaded is as cliché and “Bondesque” as they come. International espionage? Check? Evil Russians? Check. Far off locales? Check. As you can see, if you have ever watched any spy-type movie then you have a general consensus of what you are to face. In GoldenEye 007: Reloaded you are tasked with taking on the roll of 007, the elite agent from “Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. As with the Wii version from last year, Daniel Craig, who is the most current Bond on the big screen, takes the place of Pierce Bronsan, who played Bond in the original big screen version and N64 videogame adaption of Goldeneye. I am sure that just like last year, purists of the original game will be somewhat sad, but in the end it’s nothing that won’t stop you from playing.
Although Reloaded is an FPS game, you won’t find yourself just gunning down enemies for the sake of gunning them down. Reloaded’s gameplay has many avenues for you to walk down as you make your way through the single player campaign. You will find that there truly is a spy-like prominence in the way you play. Stealth is key here. Although it is not necessary, if you play as a true spy, and try to get through each level with as little detection as possible, you are rewarded for your patience. Using a silenced PPK or sneaking up and meleeing an unsuspecting enemy is very satisfying. There is something that is just so enjoyable when you make your way from A to B without having to involve yourself in a gunfight.
For those that are worried the game is all about sneaking around, don’t worry, you can take a more aggressive approach and go through with “guns-a-blazing” should you desire. There is a wide array of weapons to choose from too, including different handguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, and even a rocket launcher. This is where the game is more standard FPS affair, but that doesn’t make it any worse of a game that is for sure. Ducking behind cover, and popping up to shoot those in your way, is very satisfying. Each gun definitely has a strength and weakness to it, and you will find a weapon or two that you will prefer to use. I did note that the feeling of the weapons don’t match those of some AAA titles out there, including that of Activision’s own COD series, they do feel pretty good and should satisfy most FPS fans out there.
The enemy AI that you face throughout the game is a mixed bag. At times they put up a great fight, as they hide behind cover and try to flank you on occasion. I for one appreciated the fact that they could put up a valiant fight during battle. That being said, there were a few occasions that the enemy AI would just stand there mindlessly as I picked off their compatriots one at a time from afar. You would think that when they see they fellow a soldier fall to the ground from a well placed headshot they would realize that something is up. This didn’t happen too often, but regardless it did happen and it was strange to see.
Another strange thing I found about the enemy AI was the fact that they could have an uncanny knack of discovering my whereabouts when I was very sure that I was well hidden. I would find myself behind some well-placed cover, peeking out every so often, but when I was fully hidden behind the object they would all of a sudden be alerted to my presence when I was sure I couldn’t be seen. On the flip side of this, I found it just as strange that I could make my way through a room and up behind an enemy who was typing mindlessly away on a keyboard, while I passed others who just happened to have their back to me. This imbalance of being discovered/not being discovered at random times was quite strange and could affect the gameplay now and then given it brings you out of the whole realism of the game.
There is more to Reloaded then just going around from A to B and taking out your enemies. The story has a purpose, as you are out to discover what evil actions are being planned, and you will eventually want to stop the dastardly plot. Each level you play has a series of objectives that you must complete. In order to complete most of these, you are equipped with high tech smartphone that allows you to hack into a computer network, or take a few key pictures, and send off the data off to HQ for analysis. It doesn’t stop here though. There are also some puzzle like elements that are incorporated into your adventure that you will have to solve in order to move forward. Most of these puzzles involve finding an access or to find a way to reach a specific point. What is nice about these is that they force you to analyze your environment to continue moving forward instead of just mindlessly moving along.
I should mention that there are some sections of the game where there are quick time events (QTEs) for you to play through. I found that these were not as enjoyable as the rest of the game. It was almost as if they took me out of the experience so to speak as I was tasked to push buttons that are displayed on screen. Sure, these events are quite cinematic and nice to watch, but to actually play them takes a bit away from the overall game experience.
The single player campaign will last you anywhere from 7-10 hours, depending on what skill level you play on. All but the hardest skill setting allows for your health to regenerate as you take damage. During the hardest skill level, you must collect armour to regenerate any of your health. This adds a level of challenge that most hardcore gamers will appreciate. Should you finish the single campaign and wish to have a reason to play through again, there is more than enough reason here. The harder the skill level you play through, the more objectives you have to complete in order to advance through the story. What is neat about this is that there are more routes for you to take in order to complete these objectives, so if you played through the first time and only had to complete a minimal number of objectives, and you then go through on a harder level, having to complete a larger number of objectives, you have to rethink your strategy and paths, and you will end up seeing different parts of the level as you go through trying to complete the new objectives. It is very interesting to say the least given it can change your play style the second time around.
Reloaded also offers up a new single player mode separate from the campaign in the form of the Mi6 mode. These are single-player levels that span the varied environments from the campaign. Here you are challenged to complete different individual objectives on the various levels. These individual objectives are Assault, Elimination, Stealth and Defense. What is enjoyable about the Mi6 mode is that you are in charge of everything that happens, from health modifiers, to the strength of the enemies, to certain weapons and the amount of ammo you have. Add to this the ability to turn on special game modifiers such at paintball mode (coloured spatters where the bullets hit) to ragdoll physics. In essence you can play for fun, or get more serious and try to hammer down a more sim-based experience. An added feature is that players can go onto the Mi6 leaderboard, see what people have done in regards to scores, and then challenge that specific challenge and score. You will actually download the settings that the previous player had when setting the record, and then play that same level and objectives, but with the settings that previous player used. Although this is kind of cool, I think that the Mi6 mode could have used a cooperative mode, where at least two players could play together and take on the challenge. This could have added more incentive to play online with friends. That being said, the Mi6 mode is fun and should catch the attention of more than a few gamers.
For those looking for some multiplayer experience, Reloaded has you covered here as well. You can hook up online with up to 15 other gamers for some crazy multiplayer action. There are some great multilayer modes carried over from the last year’s Goldeneye 007 on the Wii, such as Golden Gun, You Only Live Twice (Split-Screen only), License to Kill, Team License to Kill, Team Conflict, Black Box, Heroes, Goldeneye, and Classic Conflict. Most of these modes are also playable in split screen as well, for up to four players.
For those who have played the Classic Conflict mode in the past, Eurocom has revamped this mode and added 8 signature weapons and 20 unique abilities spread across all of the classic characters to suit their skills and personality. The abilities are what really fascinate me. For example, Steel Teeth is based on Jaws’ high tensile steel dentures, which deflect some bullets harmlessly reducing the damage he takes from headshots by 50%. Metal Arms is based on Dr. No’s arms being replaced with cybernetic prosthesis after an accident, making him invulnerable to bullet damage in both arms. You’ll also find Shock Absorber, Long Reach, Teflon Barrel and Rapid Recovery to name a few more. All in all the weapons and abilities play a role in how you choose your character and what you will use to your advantage given how you like to play.
Not one to rest on their laurels, Eurocom has added five new additional game modes to Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. You’ll find Bomb Defuse, where two opposing teams are tasked with retrieving a single bomb and then trying to plant it at one of two designated points on the map. Escalation is a conflict style game where players progress through a pre-set selection of weapons and with every kill you get a new weapon to use. Detonator Agent has one player carrying a bomb with a 60 second fuse, you’ll have to choose from trying to rack up the points as long as possible or getting rid of it to another player. Finally, Data Miner has players trying to download a file while other are out to eliminate them.
Some of the multiplayer modes allow you to play as some characters from the James Bond franchise. What would a Bond game be without any Bond characters right? There are a total of 44 playable characters, and another 14 classic characters on top of that. The 14 classic characters include Oddjob, Jaws, Scaramanga, Baron Samedi, Rosa Klebb, Dr. No, Red Grant, Blofeld, Tee Hee, Max Zorin, Auric Goldfinger, Dr. Kananga and Hugo Drax. It should be noted that Hugo Drax is a PS3 exclusive.
If you read my preview of Reloaded in October, you’ll know that I really complained about the control in the game. I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t get a handle the control to such a level that I was comfortable. Well, after playing the retail copy we were provided, both the single player campaign, and spending some time online with the developers just prior to the public launch of the game, I am happy to report that the control seems much better now. I don’t know what they did, but man it was refreshing that I didn’t feel as frustrated as I did during the preview event I attended earlier as it was much improved.
Visually speaking, Reloaded is a definite improvement over last year’s Wii version. Right from the opening level, which is a definite tribute to the original N64 game, you will see HD upgrades in almost everything. From the character models, the animations, to the lighting and textures, all looks more advanced over the Wii version. That being said, the game is not the quality of other shooters such as Gears 3, or any of the latest COD games. Don’t get me wrong though, it looks good and many should be happy.
Being able to play through so many different levels, such as the rainy Russian base on a dam at the beginning of the game to a the level deep in the jungle that holds yet more secrets, variety is the name of the game here and it helps to make your adventure that more entertaining. I enjoyed the fact that Eurocom put so much effort into designing these levels and bringing them to life. Add to this the fact that the game’s graphic engine has been designed in-house, and you will even appreciate the work that went into the visuals that much more.
Right from the beginning of the game, you will know that you are playing a James Bond game. The music in the opening credits is just like a James Bond Movie and the rest of the music during gameplay makes for a very engrossing experience. The voice acting is pretty good too, and you will instantly recognize Daniel Craig and Judy Dench’s voices. They are the most recognizable ones and add a bit more flair and feel to game. As for the sound effects, they too add to the game, but they are not as prevalent as other shooters I have played; however, guns sound different, explosions pack a punch, windows smash with the recognizable shatter, and everything else that brings the world of Goldeneye alive is well implemented. Of course if you are playing this game through a surround sound setup, you’ll get even more out of it, but regardless you will like what you are listening to no matter what type of set-up you hear the game’s audio through.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is a game that hits the shelves with a lot going for it. The production values are solid, from the visuals to the sound, and the gameplay is well implemented, from the single player campaign to the multiplayer features. When thrown into a blender the final result is a really decent game that I think a lot of people may pass by given the timing of its release. It is my hope that by reading this review that people may just give the game a chance.