James Bond heeds the Call of Duty in this impressive, action-packed shooter.
I really didn't have any idea what to expect going into this game. I knew it was a remake of a beloved N64 shooter that doesn't really hold up today. I knew that Daniel Craig was replacing Pierce Brosnan, that the game was being hyped for its strong focus on multiplayer, and that almost nothing was known of the single-player campaign. That last part had me a little worried, honestly. During my time with the game for this review, I was able to rock the local multiplayer and the solo campaign. Impressions of the online multiplayer, which, judging from the match settings, looks surprisingly robust, will have to wait until I get to experience it with a gaggle of people. As of this writing, the game has not actually been released, after all.
It wouldn't be entirely fair to call GoldenEye a remake. It's more like the writers took the overall GoldenEye storyline and completely rewrote it to take place in the Daniel Craig Bond universe. This is a GoldenEye for the modern era, with modern gadgets and weaponry, and a James Bond who forgoes witty one-liners for fisticuffs and assassinations. It's not just Craig's face in the game, either—the man has extensive voicework, as does Dame Judy Dench. The campaign takes the big benchmark sequences from the original game, but connects those dots in very different ways than you remember. Whenever you do find a scene that tickles your nostalgia bone, it feels more like homage than anything else.
The gameplay is straight out of the recent Call of Duty games, right down to having an on-screen icon to remind you whether you're crouching or standing. Most of the time, it's Bond vs. The World, but there are occasions where he's got some backup. There are also times where he's driving a tank, which is still a blast. The vast majority of gameplay involves you, as Bond, shooting fools and collecting intelligence for MI6 with your Smartphone. The phone can also be used to hack certain pieces of electronic equipment.
The game adds a nice stealth aspect, too: Bond can assume a crouched walk, sneak up behind dudes, and quietly break their necks so that nobody raises an alarm, which would produce more guards.
There is a plethora of control options. You can use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro, or GameCube Controller. All of these have unique default button layouts that can be customized to an extent. Of course, each one has its own pros and cons. The Wii Remote, for example, isn't as responsive when it comes to aiming. For me, the best option is the Classic Controller Pro, but there's something for everybody. You can even flip between the Remote itself and both Classic Controllers during the game without any hiccup.
Local multiplayer is pretty fun, but not because of the maps, which are quite small. Even with two people playing, the maps felt claustrophobic. The few open-air maps still felt very limited in dimension. What saves the local multiplayer is the fact that it is just plain fun in the first place, but also you can customize matches to your heart's content with unique game types and modifiers. There is no shortage of multiplayer content here; it's comparable to Smash Bros. Brawl in its sprawling scope.
GoldenEye looks great, and not just for a Wii game. It really does look good, with atmospheric outdoor areas, moody interiors, and great-looking character models. Enemy AI is pretty amazing. They find cover, run to safer places, call for backup, and eagerly use the butt of their guns whenever possible.
The sound design is similarly excellent. In addition to the voice acting, Eurocom and Activision were able to get David Arnold, who has scored every Bond movie since Tomorrow Never Dies, to provide an epic soundtrack. The game's script is penned by Bruce Feirstein, who wrote the original GoldenEye film. Finally, the theme song is a cover of the original film's sung by Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls. These guys spared no expense.
With high production values, an impressive solo campaign, and fun multiplayer matches, this GoldenEye certainly evokes the feel of the original while offering a modern take on the beloved game. Frankly, I haven't seen a more impressive Wii shooter. Old and new fans alike will find much to love, and I encourage everyone here to give it a shot.