GoldenEye 007: Reloaded for Xbox 360 Review

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The original GoldenEye was revolutionary and is easily one of the best first-person shooters for the Nintendo 64. Trying to re-create the magic of GoldenEye would be a tall order and Eurocom actually attempted to do that. I remember when the GoldenEye remake came out for Wii. I was really excited because I was waiting for a good FPS to come out for the system. The Conduit was pretty good but it just didn’t scratch that itch for me at the time. I was hoping GoldenEye would be the one. At launch, I got the Limited Edition which came with the gold Classic Controller Pro and I don’t think I used it very often since I already owned a standard variant of the controller. But it’s nice to have and I still keep it in the box. Developed by Eurocom and published by Activision, GoldenEye 007 was released for Wii in November, 2010. The DS version was developed by n-Space and released at the same time. The Wii version was remastered for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and re-titled as GoldenEye 007: Reloaded which was released in November, 2011. For this review, I played the 360 version but I should mention that the PS3 version supports PlayStation Move.

Maybe it’s because I’m big into video games, but it seems to me that GoldenEye is better known for the original game than the film. Casino Royale 2006 got me into the series and I’ve seen all the sequels. As of this review, GoldenEye is the only 007 movie I’ve seen that pre-dates Casino Royale. With that said, I thought it was okay. I honestly thought the game was better. If that sounds weird, it just means I’d rather play the game than watch the movie again. I can’t say it’s because of nostalgia because I didn’t have a 64 growing up but I did play the game a few times at a friend’s house when I was a kid. I’ve played it a lot more in recent years now that I do own a 64 and while the original game reflects the original film, the GoldenEye 007 remake is basically a re-imagining. The game uses Daniel Craig’s likeness and voice for Bond, Judi Dench reprises her role as M, and Rory Kinnear voices Tanner. I don’t really mind the cast since I like the Daniel Craig era of 007 films. You play as James Bond and the story opens with James and Alec Trevelyan, otherwise known as 006, infiltrating a chemical weapons facility in Russia which is believed to be the source of weapons used by terrorists but the mission goes to shit when they encounter General Ourumov. Bond escapes and pursues Ourumov but is unable to stop the theft of a GoldenEye satellite which is an electromagnetic pulse weapon. The theft was masterminded by a dangerous terrorist known as Janus who wants to use the GoldenEye weapon to destroy London. I think the plot, itself, is okay. Some things are changed from the original film but considering I didn’t think the film was all that spectacular to begin with, I didn’t really mind any of the changes. The voice acting is solid for the most part. Most of the performances get the job done but some performances are better than others. If you’ve seen the film, most things about the plot should not really be surprising.

You can walk, run, sprint, crouch, vault over specific obstacles, perform a melee attack, and aim down the sights of weapons. Unless you play on the 007 Classic difficulty, your health does regenerate, and when getting behind cover, you will pop up automatically when aiming down sights. Certain doors will let you perform a breach where you enter the room and time briefly slows down, allowing you to easily pick off enemies. In certain missions, you’re provided night vision goggles to help you see in dark areas. All missions, minus one, are played through the first-person perspective and the outcast is the St. Petersburg mission where you get to drive a tank and blow away enemies. Many missions offer you two ways to get through areas. You can either sneak through or go in all guns blazing. You can sneak up behind enemies and take them out silently. You can also use a silenced weapon to take them out from a distance but if you don’t take them out quickly, that could result in you being detected. If the enemy manages to get a shot off before you can kill him or if another enemy sees you killing one of his buddies, all enemies in the area will be aiming for you. There are cameras throughout some environments and you can either avoid them or shoot them to destroy them.

GoldenEye includes four difficulty modes with 007 Classic being the most challenging. The higher the difficulty, the more objectives you will be required to complete and on 007 Classic, your health does not regenerate and you’ll have to find body armor to help you survive. Bond always carries a cell phone which is used to take photographs, identify people, or hack things like nodes. It can also be used to re-program Drone Guns to fire on your enemies which can actually be quite satisfying. I guess you could say the phone is your primary gadget device but most of the time you’ll be shooting shit to get things done. You’ll always have to complete a set of primary objectives in each mission but you are given the option to complete additional objectives. You’ll have to take photographs of things, gather intelligence, plant explosives, rescue hostages, find supply crates, and other typical stuff you would see in any other shooter. Unlike the original GoldenEye, this one holds your hand so it would be hard to get lost or not know what to do. When you’re near an additional objective or anything that requires you to use your phone, icons appear on your HUD. Trying to figure out how to accomplish some of the additional objectives may require some thinking but the game pretty much babysits you throughout the entire experience.

You can only carry three weapons at any time and swap two of them out with weapons found in the environments or supply crates. Weapons and ammo will be dropped by fallen enemies. You’ll get your hands on different kinds of pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, and a rocket launcher. One of Bond’s three weapons will always be his P99 which comes with a silencer that can be attached or detached at any time. The weapons you can acquire during missions come in different variants. Weapons can come with silencers, different scopes, laser sights, or even a grenade launcher attachment. But you can’t apply or remove these attachments manually which seems odd. You would have to find the variant of the weapon with the attachment you want. Like much of the game, the gunplay feels like a Call of Duty title. Now that I’ve played Quantum of Solace on 360, I actually think the gunplay in that game is much better. It just feels more satisfying. The weapons in GoldenEye feel different but they lack a sense of weight. But the gunplay is fast and fluid and the game implements an aim assist mechanic so every time you aim down sights, your sights will snap to an enemy. This can be disabled. It does kind of make the combat lean towards the easy side which is pretty consistent until the final missions where the difficulty really spikes. These missions likes to throw a lot of enemies at you at once and certain areas really do border on frustration, especially on the higher difficulty modes. Thankfully, checkpoints are frequent.

GoldenEye will take you to various locations including the chemical weapons facility in Russia and a Nightclub in Barcelona. In St. Petersburg you’ll shoot your way through the Archives building before blasting your way through the city in a tank. And the end of the game takes you to a jungle and power plant in Nigeria. The game basically funnels you where you need to go but there are multiple ways to a destination throughout most of the environments and the path you take will depend on if you want to go in all guns blazing or not. If you want to sneak, you would obviously take the nearby ventilation shaft and if you want to shoot your way through, just go through the door. These are the kind of options you’re given. There’s not a lot of room for experimentation. Explosive objects like barrels and vehicles are everywhere and blowing these up is a good way to kill nearby enemies or multiple enemies at once because of course enemies will be standing on structures that will break or crumble as a result of the explosion. Enemies exhibit basic behavior like shooting at you, throwing frag and smoke grenades, flashbangs, they’ll get behind cover, snipers give themselves away thanks to the laser sights, and every now and then, some enemies will fire rockets. Enemies wearing flak jackets can withstand more damage than your average enemy but a well-placed headshot can drop most enemies instantly. They will do stupid stuff like running right out into the open when under fire or running straight towards you. They will sometimes advance on your position but they only show off basic intelligence. Enemies will be placed in specific spots, sometimes they come pouring out from different locations, and in certain areas, they’ll rappel down ropes. In the Archives mission, they’ll come crashing through windows. As scripted as it is, it’s all very cool and action-packed. There are a few boss encounters which involve melee fights consisting of quick-time events because some genius or geniuses thought this would be fun, exciting, and good game design. Newsflash, it’s none of those things. These encounters are just boring and anticlimactic.

You know how the original GoldenEye had all kinds of stuff you could unlock including more difficulty options? Well none of that is carried over into this remake, at least when talking about the campaign. You can enter some cheat codes but there’s nothing to unlock that alters the gameplay. Throughout most missions are hidden Janus Emblems you can find and shoot and they are a form of collectibles. Evidently, my Xbox Live Gold subscription expired so I couldn’t check out the multiplayer. I don’t know if the multiplayer is still active but I have never heard anything great about it. I played the multiplayer once or twice in the Wii version and remember it being okay but nothing spectacular. However, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded includes an extra game mode called MI6 Ops. In MI6 Ops, you choose one of several maps and must complete an objective. The objective is based on the game type which can be Elimination, Defense, Stealth, or Assault. In Elimination, you need to eliminate all hostiles as quickly as possible. In Defense, you need to defend consoles from enemy attacks while you download data. In Stealth, you need to eliminate all hostiles quietly as fast you can. In Assault you need to reach the extraction point without getting killed. You’ll earn stars based on your performance or score and most of the maps must be unlocked by acquiring a specific amount of stars. Unlike the campaign, MI6 Ops comes with an entire set of modifiers you can adjust that will affect the difficulty rating. You can increase or decrease your health, change the enemy count and enemy health, adjust enemy accuracy, aggressiveness, and grenade frequency, enable or disable infinite ammo, and some other stuff. All of these options are pretty damn awesome and these kind of modifiers should have been unlockable or available for the campaign as well. It’s kind of baffling that they aren’t.

I really enjoy the MI6 Ops mode. It actually has more replay value than the campaign. During these Ops, you’ll have access firearms and you’ll also be provided grenades, remote mines, and proximity mines. In Elimination, enemies will attack you from all sides so you should always keep moving. You’ll definitely get overwhelmed in the Defense and Assault game types. And Stealth is just a matter of trial and error. You get detected, you fail. You’ll have to engage snipers, enemies will arrive in trucks and by helicopter, and sometimes they have Drone Guns. Luckily, weapons and ammo are everywhere so you’ll never have to worry about scrounging. Because of the modifiers, you can make these Ops as hard or as easy as you want. The harder you make it, the better your score will be if you manage to complete the Op. You can actually download other players’ custom modifiers from the leaderboards and try to beat their score. The only thing I don’t like about MI6 Ops is that you can’t mix and match maps and game types. Each map is tied to a specific game type. Nightclub is a map for both Elimination and Stealth but they’re set in different parts of the club.

Obviously, the Reloaded version looks a lot better than the Wii version. It’s more vibrant, it includes better looking textures, and in general, everything looks pretty good. The lighting is decent, particles will fly through the air during firefights due to bullets hitting objects in the environments, and the explosions look good. Unfortunately, enemy death animations are repetitive and it doesn’t help that there’s no gore effects. There’s one animation where the enemy just kind of falls down and you end up seeing it way too often. Plus, dead bodies quickly disappear which can be somewhat immersion-breaking. The gunplay would feel a lot better if the weapons fire sound effects didn’t sound so weak. Unfortunately, most of the weapons don’t sound powerful. The explosion sound effects could also use a little more “boom”. As expected, the soundtrack is full of classic 007 songs, some intense and dramatic tunes can be heard during firefights, and the game includes a cover version of the “GoldenEye” theme song. I can say the game ran smoothly with the frame rate only dipping when things got really hectic. I didn’t experience any bugs and I would say the game, overall, performs pretty well.

I did have fun with GoldenEye and I thought it was a great shooter for the Wii but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. The Reloaded version released on the more powerful consoles where it’s very easy for a game like this to get lost in a sea of first-person shooters. I like the game but I can’t point out anything GoldenEye does better than any of its contemporaries. In fact, it borrows a lot of gameplay elements from other shooters, mainly the Call of Duty series. And now that I’ve played Quantum of Solace for 360, I do think that hast the better gameplay. Simply because the gunplay sounds, looks, and feels more satisfying. GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is very average. The MI6 Ops mode is the real standout here since it comes with a lot of replay value. But the lack of unlockable content, all the scripted sequences, and the familiar gunplay really brings the game down in some ways. It’s a very “been there, done that” kind of game.

Despite its issues, I would recommend GoldenEye 007: Reloaded to fans of the 007 series and/or first-person shooters. I would also recommend Reloaded over the Wii version just because of the added content. Ultimately, this is a good game. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, and it’s not really memorable either. I don’t think there was any way for this game to ever revolutionize the genre or local multiplayer like the original did but the very fact that the developers copied and pasted a lot of elements from other shooters is what I think hurts the game the most. It really does feel like a Call of Duty title with a 007 coat of paint. Eurocom would go on to develop 007 Legends and that game, too, suffers from the Call of Duty syndrome. And shortly after Legends released, Eurocom would shut down for good. What a shame. If you’re a fan of the original GoldenEye, be aware that Reloaded does not reflect what made the original so excellent but it is fun for what it is. I would recommend you check it out if you can find it for cheap.

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