The end of the year is a slow time for new games, so over the next few weeks we’ll look back at notable Fall releases that we haven’t reviewed yet. Today Drew Dixon reviews GoldenEye: 007: Reloaded. No, not the game from the N64, but this year’s HD remaster of the 2010 Wii game.
I was 13 when GoldenEye 007 came out in 1997 and young enough that inviting friends over to spend the night wasn’t weird. Playing “Bond,” as we called it, on my Nintendo 64 with friends into the late hours of the night mark some of my most treasured gaming memories. By 1997 more impressive shooters existed for the PC but I didn’t care about them. I cared about GoldenEye. It will forever be the game that made me love first person shooters. GoldenEye oozed with the style and substance that other shooters I had played lacked. It also offered a robust and unrivaled hot seat multiplayer experience that subsequent games would build upon. Thus, I excitedly stepped into GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, ready to wax nostalgic on one of the most significant games of my past.
The most welcome and natural update Reloaded offers is its cover system. When crouched behind cover, pulling the left trigger to look down your sites will pop Bond up enough to fire at enemies. There is nothing sticky about the way you pop Bond out of cover—it has a very free feeling to it and it makes the game’s battles fluid and fast paced. While Reloaded gives the player the option to take a stealth approach to its battles, the cover system was so fun to utilize that I quickly threw caution to the window and gravitated to open gun fights.
Reloaded’s biggest problem is that the game will not let players simply delight in it’s shooting. It foists unwelcome and commonly abused game tropes onto the player. It’s most challenging shooting sequences end with cut scenes which take the game’s most exciting moments out of the hands of players. Other levels end with frustrating quick time events which make the game’s already awkward narrative more glaringly awkward.
Reloaded shines brightest when it frees the player furiously blast through it’s many enemies or to sneak around levels silently taking them down. Sadly, however, the game has a tendency to force the player to watch the game’s most impressive action sequences via cut scenes or awkwardly participate in them via quick-time events. These moments make me wonder whether Eurocom really believes in their own product. When Reloaded tries to be a game it excels, when it tries to be something else it fails.
Perhaps the game’s greatest feature is the MI6 Ops. These are basically replays of the game’s various missions adjusted by stealth challenges, added enemies or points on the map to defend. These ops can be adjusted in many ways. Players can increase the accuracy, aggression and health of their AI opponents or even make them only killable by headshot. These challenges are so much fun that I almost wish that I hadn’t bothered with the campaign. The MI6 Ops represent the best of what Reloaded has to offer without resorting to needless cinematics.
Reloaded, not surprisingly, offers a fairly robust multiplayer experience in comparison to its predecessor. However, unlike the original, there is nothing particularly ground breaking about its multiplayer features. There are multiple modes and a leveling system both of which follow pretty faithfully in the footsteps of successful shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
While the high definition re-release carries much of the same stylistic impulses of the N64 original, those impulses are not duly updated to reach the current generation of players. The single-player campaign succeeds when it tries to be a game and fails when it tries to be a movie. The MI6 Ops are a welcome addition and add considerable value to an otherwise average single-player experience. Given the success of the N64 classic, I expected Reloaded’s multiplayer to stir my nostalgic affections, but there is very little special about it. Perhaps this is best, as my wife probably wouldn’t want my friends spending the night anyway.
Drew Dixon is an editor at Christ and Pop Culture and writes a monthly column on games for Relevant Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.