In a world of first-person shooters so packed with incredible properties, one game still stands out as something genuinely special. Released in 1997, Rare's GoldenEye almost single-handedly brought the FPS genre to consoles via the N64, after overcoming some considerable reluctance from Nintendo. The game's magnificent single player campaign, based on the 1995 James Bond film of the same name, and its addictive multiplayer bred a new generation of fanatic console FPS gamers. Bringing the game back to life for a new audience seemed a daunting task, but that's just what Eurocom is doing with GoldenEye 007 on the Wii (a DS version is in development at n-Space). So DS dusted down its silenced Walther PPK to put the game through its paces.
Eurocom - the studio behind the Wii's excellent Dead Space Extraction - is quick to claim that GoldenEye 007 is a "re-imagination" of the original shooter rather than a straight-down-the-line remake. The developer has stuck true to the source material (including a welcome return of the famed four-player, split-screen multiplayer), but also brought the property up to modern standards. Liaising with Bond film producer EON Pictures and series legend Barbara Broccoli, the massive 125-strong development team has worked under the mantra, "If we are going to put GoldenEye on the box, it has to be the best."
Thankfully, the new game sticks with GoldenEye's excellent system of scaling difficulty in its levels, which has yet to be improved by many games. Each level features four main difficulty settings; Operative, Agent, 007 and 007 Classic (plus a Time Trial option). Going up the difficulties not only sharpens the enemy AI, but also tasks the player with fulfilling up to three extra objectives, which genuinely freshens up the levels on additional playthroughs. Choosing the 007 Classic mode removes the regenerative health assistance and returns the player to a health bar and the need to pick up body armour around the levels. Aside from the difficulty settings, there are the usual FPS options of sneaking in with silenced weapons or going all guns blazing. There are also a variety of control set-ups, including the Wiimote and nunchuk, Wii Zapper, or classic controller as in normal console shooters.
The shooting sequence brings into play the game's dynamic cover system, in which shots blow apart concrete blocks and other surfaces, causing the player to keep moving. After dispatching the soldiers, the Dam level switches to a new on-rail sequence as Bond gets in a truck driven by 006. From a fixed position in the cab, the player has to shoot the soldiers outside and blow up trucks by shooting their fuel tanks. There is a moment when a guard tries to enter the cab, leading to another quick-time sequence to stave him off. Eventually, the truck takes one hit too many and flips onto its back. After escaping, Bond and 006 climb down a lift shaft, leading to a bullet-time sequence. After 006 opens the lift door, time slows down and the player has to shoot all three guards before they can hit the alarm.
Graphically, GoldenEye 007 holds true to the original GoldenEye but adds another layer of polish and realism. The work in motion capture has meant that the characters look great and it's pleasing to see an end to the awful 'club handed' models of the original title. The presentation doesn't hold up to the top Xbox 360 or PS3 shooters, but it certainly stands up to the very best examples on the Wii. The guns are well-recreated and the shooting is largely satisfying, but one area of concern is the hit detection, which sometimes feels a bit off, especially with the heavier machine guns. Shooting just doesn't feel as tight and responsive as the likes of Modern Warfare or Killzone 2, but hopefully that will be resolved when the game is released in November.
Matches go ahead on ten different maps, including classics such as Archives and Facility, as well as new ones. A building site map featured multiple levels, pipes and places to hide. The player chooses their gun load-out from over 25 options, before jumping into matches, which are the usual frantic contests, and as addictive and fun as ever. There are also some really nice touches to differentiate the characters, such as Odd Job throwing his metal-brimmed hat rather than grenades (leading to some immensely satisfying kills). There is a slight danger that chucking GoldenEye into today's online multiplayer dominated world could make it seem outdated, but the fact that it's on the shooter-light Wii should ensure plenty of fun moments ahead on the console.
GoldenEye 007 will be released on the Wii and DS on November 5.