Activision decided to take another crack at the Goldeneye franchise in 2010. After a solid turn on the Wii, the game has been updated and upgraded for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 as Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. I’ve spent a good chunk of time with the single player experience and here’s what I loved and hated about this iteration:
Things I Loved
Throwback Vibe Doesn’t Try Too Hard
Right off the bat, the vibe of Goldeneye is very comforting. Once I grew accustomed to Daniel Craig as the new 007, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded felt like hanging with an old friend who had been abroad for a few years. He still looks the same; just maybe a bit fatter and with more facial hair. Key elements like the weapons, which were a central character in the N64 game, feel perfect even if they’ve grown up too. The gameplay, which I’ll discuss further on, feels perfectly at home in this update. Finally, the pace of the single player, running and hiding, sneaking or blasting away drones, just feels right. It didn’t take much convincing for me to pick this game up again and again for double-0 action.
Some Truly Challenging Fun Firefights
At first, I was feeling that despite the retro vibe, that this game wouldn’t deliver enough challenge and large scale firefights. This feeling was assuaged a couple levels in, after the tutorial sections were completed. Goldeneye 007: Reloaded has several key battles (like those in a building fire and in a disco) that provide a challenge and required patience. These sections were hard enough that I died several times before figuring out an appropriate path to take for success. Along the way, I was definitely reminded of the hours of challenge I had faced playing the 007 difficulty on the N64. While the battles in Goldeneye 007: Reloaded are nowhere near as good as those found in AAA games like Uncharted 3 or Halo: Reach, they entertained me enough to play with a big smile on my face.
One of my least favorite gameplay designs in all of gaming involves complex sneakiness (as perfected in the Splinter Cell games). What I mean by that is the type of gameplay that is so stuck on minutiae of being sneaky that the fun of playing an action game is lost. Fortunately, the developers were smart enough to not try too hard to be super stealthy with this game. They left gamers with two different ways to play the game: sneak around and kill some drones or run in guns a blazing. I enjoyed switching between both style effortlessly, much as I did when playing the original game. Reloaded does not go overboard to punish a player wishing to play in moments of run-and-gun before slipping into an air duct.
An Overall Good Time
The final part of this game that I loved was the overall good time that it provided. It has been years since a good James Bond game, and Goldeneye 007: Reloaded gets most of what I wanted right. It has swagger, simplicity, challenge, and exaggerated firefights. What more could a secret agent ask for?
Things I Hated
This Feels Like a Call of Duty Clone
The first negative thought that came to the fore was that this game felt incredibly similar to a Call of Duty game. And, not one of the more current titles. The checkpoint to checkpoint action gameplay felt borrowed directly from Call of Duty 2 with some spikes of Call of Duty 4 thrown in for a more modern feel. I understand why licensed games borrow from successful titles. It just felt like an easy replacement for innovation.
Weak Enemy AI for this Generation
Considering the advances in enemy AI this generation, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded felt way behind the times. While the decision to dumb down the enemy supported my enjoyment of the games simple stealthiness, there was some particular moments that I would sneak behind an enemy and he should have smelled my Old Spice. It is hard to tell if the decision to have weak AI was a throwback to the N64 or just a lazy answer to handling mindless enemies.
Where Are the Subtitles?
This is a personal gripe that I’ve been having with a lot of games recently. Where the hell are your subtitles? Not all of us get to play with headphones or with ridiculous surround sound systems and would benefit from seeing the dialogue on-screen. I recognize that it takes awhile to get someone to translate all of your dialogue to text. But knowing that this game saw life on the Wii over a year ago, someone could have chipped in a chunk of their budget and paid for some transcription.
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is not intended to be a marquee release like Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3. Still, for the most part, it provides a solid experience and one worth checking out after you’ve burned yourself out on the top-tier games. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised despite some of the game’s problems.