Never Say Never Again
If you know me, you know how I’ve gone on and on about the travesty that’s keeping a port of the N64 classic, Goldeneye 64 from ever seeing life on a current generation console. Today, it’s time to tell a different story. The story of my experience with Goldeneye Reloaded (2011).
Now first, I need to give you a little back story. Through the years, whenever I would go to the real sources for info on a Goldeneye port, such as Microsoft, Nintendo, or Rare.Ltd they always told me they were looking into it. Then one day, Nintendo answered one of my numerous emails and confirmed that Goldeneye 007 was coming to the Wii in 2010. I was excited but cautious. E3 came and went, and what we were shown was this:
Now I didn’t have a Wii at the time but I knew I wouldn’t be interested in this. It looked like Call of Duty and as more and more information released it was clear that this was a remake of the N64 game, disguised as a “retelling of the classic story from the film”. No thanks. Not buying it. You lose, good day sir.
So a year or so ago I finally broke down and bought a severely discounted Xbox 360 version of the game that came out a year after the Wii version. Just to come full circle and see the worst Activision and Eurocom had done with the Goldeneye 007 name I had to check it out.
So now, with regret, I’m going to review, level by level, Goldeneye 007 Reloaded for the Xbox 360. Here it goes…
First off, all the levels start out with this little cinematic explaining the mission very similar to the Microsoft Surface demo scene in Quantum of Solace (2008). Replacing the dossier from the original game, there is no reading required here. Actually, I like this change. It’s just too bad it’s explaining a story I already know and was told better 20 years ago. It’s skippable though, which is a big plus considering all in-level cut-scenes are NOT skippable making sitting through them more than once a bore to say the least. Now, onto the game proper.
Jumping right into it the game has you go through a tutorial in the vein of the very first level of Call of Duty 4. You use a few different weapons, gadgets, etc. to take down some targets. Necessary only for the biggest noobs to the genre but nice to have none-the-less. I just wish you could skip it, when considering the on-screen hints that pop up during normal gameplay, an entire tutorial level just seems unnecessary. Also, I don’t know if Eurocom meant for the entire level to look black and white but either they were going for the Casino Royal pre-title sequence look or MI6 has a crap decorator. It’s just weird. Moving on.
The level starts out with a little fly through the very first section of the level much like the original game and right into Bonds head with Alec Transylvania at his side this time. Right away you take out a couple guards through context sensitive button presses, but not before one guard explains to his friend that they are “soldiers, not guards” and with that, the game establishes it’s focus on action heavy set-pieces instead of gadgets and objectives. The whole level follows a path similar to the original game with you crossing the Dam and eventually going inside it to finally jumping off to complete the mission. Much more action heavy and cinematic than the N64 game. The music video that play at the end of the level is rather bland but the cover of Tina Turners Goldeneye theme is very well done. On we go…
You walk through a door at the bottom of the Dam instead of bungee jumping into a vent like in the movie. From there you crawl into a vent (bypassing a perfectly good set of doors) to replicate (via interactive cut-scene) the toilet knock out scene from the movie. Then it’s down through the facility to blow up some gas tanks. I should mention that every level keeps a bug in your ear so some off-site character can talk you through the game. This level wasn’t as good as the original and marks the last time we see much if any remnants of the original games as well. Set influence such as electric metal sliding doors are a nice touch though. From here on out it’s a modern shooter set in present day. I must say, I actually enjoyed the sneaking around this level had me doing. It was refreshing that pretty much the entire level could be done without a fire fight breaking out, provided you took your time. Still, it makes little sense that these guards arnt on high alert and looking for you considering you went loud on the Dam right above them just minutes before. Oh well!
So this is supposed to pass for the Runway level from the original game. Those bombs you planted in Facility are going off and everything is blowing up around you. I mean this level has you constantly running from enemy solders and exploding everythings in order to make your way to an escape route which just so happens to be a plane that’s leaving without you. So like in the movie, Bond hijacks a motor bike and you reenact the snow mobile scene from Modern Warfare 2 until you catch up with the plane and scene. That’s about it. A stressful escape scene common place in any Call of Duty game. This level could have been a cut-scene for how fast-paced and dramatic it is.
The first huge deviation from the game. Yeah, I know bond goes to a club/casino in the 1995 film but it’s in the middle of the day for a quiet meeting with Valentin. If you count the scene when meeting Xenia in the film, that also bares no resemblance to this level. Anyway, you meet Xenia whose posing as a waitress and serving counterfeit vodka instead of playing baccarat driving illegally licensed cars as one might expect. Then you use the your smart phone camera to locate a contact in the crowded club. You get a meeting with Valentin just before he’s killed by Xenia and an all out fire fight breaks out as you make your way outside to escape, laying waste to everyone who stands in your way. The whole level again, could have been a cut-scene as opposed to the mind-numbing shoot-out that ensues. There in no reason in James Bonds world why 40 men with machine guns would come out of the wood works to kill him when all that took place was a routine assassination by a lone woman in a crowded club. Moving on…
You guessed it, the Frigate from the N64 game. This level starts out at a maritime museum where you end up chasing Xenia and Ourumov to the frigate as you gun down bad guys. This is another one of those mind numbing shoot-out levels that turns to stealth about half way though but considering your hot on the trail of the main bad guys, there is no encouragement to slow down and take advantage of the stealth sections. You eventually plant your only gadget (a smart phone) to a helicopter to be used as a tracker like in the original game. From there the helicopter takes off and starts nonsensically firing missiles at the carrier as you reenact the end of the first level from Call of Duty 4 by running for your life. Spot on. I should point out that despite the craziness, you never get lost in this game. That sounds like a plus, but with a waypoint constantly on screen, it only hurts any atmosphere the game trys to create by having you essentially following the dot like a rat in a maze. That and frequent checkpoints, means you can speed-run the levels on the easier difficulties by “making a run for it” when you don’t want to bother with killing enemy soldiers.
This ones obviously trying to be Surface. It’s a snowy level that starts out by Bond tracking the heli from Carrier to the satellite dish we all remember from the game/film. If you haven’t noticed by now, this game isnt going in order of the original game or movie. In proving that Reloaded is a remake of the game, not the film, they have streamlined levels that simply weren’t in the film into this story to closer fit the N64 title. At first you need to sneak around “friendly” Russian troops that I can only imagine are guarding this remote satellite for no reason. The difference here is about 1/3 through the level the EMP is fired on the dish and all hell breaks loose. Crap falls from the sky and Janus, and Russian troops alike, become your enemy. That’s right, it becomes an all out war zone and it becomes your mission to shoot your way through it to the Bunker. I guess what happens in this level is important to the story but am I even playing a James Bond game anymore. It feels like, a different game.
Here’s the next big deviation from the previous game. At this point, we arnt even following the movie anymore, but who cares, right? So you start this level out as the camera pans up through the level and I could swear this was supposed to be Silo. Gone are the maze-like hallways and grey/white colors of the original, here to stay, is the the spiraling downward, circular layout of Silo in it’s place. Now I liked silo, but considering Bunker was one of my favorite levels in the original, it’s incredibly disappointing that this level looks in no way, like the Bunker from the original. So you find Natailia and help her escape before the whole thing comes down. Bond gathers some intel on the Goldeneye satellite and whats happened and they makes another run-for-it escape like in the Carrier level. Geesh.
I need to take a break. So what have we learned so far? This is a loose following of the original N64 game that unnecessarily changes many minor (and a few major) aspects of the original story in a failed attempt to accommodate a more modern, brutal, James Bond. Each level is served in chunks of get to a waypoint, watch an unskippable cut-scene, and repeat. The rest is yet to come. Keep it here for part 2 of the review as I take on the counter-parts to Statue, Archives, Cradle, and more when I give you my overall thoughts, later.