Preamble: I would like to personally kick off and introduce you all to our new line of editorial articles that we would like to call “The Underrated”. These are games we feel the gaming press and most of the world have looked over for particular reasons. We as gamers on Mash Those Buttons would like to redeem these titles and give you all an idea as to why we feel they are well worth a second look whenever you’re game shopping. Our opinions are our own and our series of “The Underrated” editorials are like a devil’s advocate to you. We hope you will enjoy our editorials and hope that you may reconsider some of the games we talk about in this series.
Let’s start with a quick history lesson. GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 (N64) is probably one of the most iconic console first-person shooters (FPS for short) I can remember from my days of youth. Back then, I wasn’t much of a Nintendo fan save for a few of the major Nintendo trademark franchises. PC was the reigning king for FPS games like favorites Quake and Doom, but Rare somehow managed to create a quality movie-related video game that would entertain many gamers around the world while receiving awards for an innovative console game experience. Many gamers consider it one of the early pioneers in console gaming to prove that a FPS for the masses can work as long as it is made thoughtfully. Rare would use GoldenEye 007 on the N64 as a foundation for their later game Perfect Dark (N64) and its future evolution Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360). At one point, there was a proposal to bring back the N64 version of GoldenEye for both the Wii and Xbox 360, however Nintendo and Microsoft couldn’t find a middle ground for the financial divides. There has even been a PC based Source Engine mod called GoldenEye Source which had finally debuted for public download as of recently. For many gamers, GoldenEye 007 (N64) brings warm nostalgia of parties with 4 players on 1 TV trying to kill each other in brutal ways. I will say personally it makes me remember how many weekends I’d be sleeping over at my cousin’s home just to play multiplayer just for fun or toggle some of the bonus cheats and play the single player missions in a remixed way.
I’ll kick things off by declaring this truth outright: I personally hate movie based games with a passion and feel that it’s the fault of a greedy Hollywood producer preying on the wallets of the ignorant. There have been many movies that are great on the silver screen yet in the translation to a video game they somehow find a way to completely miss the mark. The result that’s typically seen is a parent buying the games thinking just because the movie was great that the game should be just the same. Reality’s bite proves bitter through weak game play and shoddy design served with a side of shame over a pile of corporate marketing dollars. As with any truth, there are always exceptions to the rule. GoldenEye 007 (N64) proved that in the past and Eurocom’s reimagining of GoldenEye 007 stands just as strong with a quality game supporting a heavy movie experience.
GoldenEye 007 plays unlike its predecessor on the N64. The player is put into first person perspective of Her Majesty’s Secret Service MI6 Agent 007 (James Bond) and you play through the story of Bond saving the world from evil. One change that is immediately noticeable is how Bond now heals by cover in this version (a la Call of Duty), unlike how he previously had to pick up Kevlar armor to “heal” himself by obtaining a secondary health bar. Overall, it plays very similar to games like Call of Duty: Black Ops than its own ancestor with a great story and action that’s on par with the James Bond franchise movies. Another, much more interesting change is that the game has been coded to accept various control schemes depending on how you like to play. From the Wii Remote + Nunchuk, Wii Zapper, GameCube Controller, and Classic Controller (Pro), the control maps are all very well thought out and allow every player the chance to fight on fair ground no matter their choice. There is one perk for those who choose to use the Wii Zapper and that is a lean mechanic that allows you to peep out of corners to pick off enemies.
The difficulty modes are pretty fair and well rounded out as you decide to climb higher along the ranks. The more difficult the rank, the more extra objectives you will be given in a mission which is very similar to its predecessor. The maps are pretty linear in form, however there are opportunities in areas with wide open spaces that allow for range of options on how to fight through the situation. The enemies are thankfully much smarter than they were from the N64 era and offer a good challenge for the veteran gamer. A properly good game needs to be a fair challenge with good controls to be a fun experience, and this one delivers on both accounts.
While there is no remake of GoldenEye 007 from MGM, that doesn’t make the game any less significant. The plot of GoldenEye 007 (Wii) is essentially the same as the original movie (1995) and game from 1997. James Bond and Alec Trevelyan investigate a chemical weapons plant that MI6 intelligence has uncovered and the job becomes a nightmare. After various twists and turns, Bond finds out that the Janus Group is behind a series of high profile heists and must save the world again. The guns have the same predicament as they did in the N64 version where they are based on real world guns, but named with fictional spin-off names (ex: H&K G36 is called the Anova DP3). GoldenEye 007 (Wii) recasts the role of James Bond to match the current “Bond Man” Daniel Craig and keeps the traditional novelization of James Bond as being brutal, cunning, and clever. Some of the levels and plot were remixed to keep the “new” style Bond by none other than Bruce Feirstein who was the original screenwriter for the GoldenEye movie from 1995 (according to the official Activision site)! This is amazing as there are many games that are based on movies, but have little to any involvement from the folks behind the original movies.
The real charm of the N64 version of GoldenEye was its fantastic multiplayer mode. Eurocom has taken the multiplayer of GoldenEye and brought it to the modern age. The game does have online internet play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service to play with users around the world. Unfortunately, sometimes the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service can be a little slow on connecting you to a game. For those who want to take the journey into nostalgia, local split-screen multiplayer is enclosed in this version and you can once again relive childhood sleep-overs once again. The modes aren’t quite complete yet due to a “Cheat Code” function that has yet to be tapped. Eurocom has rumored there are a number of them but has yet to confirm or deny a specific number. So far only 3 cheats have been found by the community, and they are strictly multiplayer modifiers. As far as overall thoughts on the multiplayer side of Goldeneye 007 Wii, the game is definitely very tight and solid with good mechanics for a very balanced feel that is pretty fair overall.
GoldenEye 007 (Wii) is a game I feel was overlooked by most of the video gaming press and I have a few guesses as to why. The first is the release date of November 2, 2010. Eurocom was the developer for the Wii installment, but the publisher was Activision and not EA Games. I can only presume that EA gave up on the Bond franchise games from not being profitable and selling the rights to Activision. Then again, I experienced the EA-produced Bond games from 2001 – 2004 being terrible first-hand. Activision would lock the date of 11/2/2010 for the release of GoldenEye 007 (Wii) but they also had Call of Duty: Black Ops being released 11/9/2010 as well. I feel that the adjacent release to Black Ops had a major impact on sales in the wake of the Call of Duty juggernaut’s newest makeover. My second reason for the lackluster sales is partly due to some folks expecting a 1:1 high definition (HD) remastering of the N64 game for modern day consoles in the same vein as Rare did for the HD remastering of Perfect Dark on the Xbox 360. I feel if anything, Eurocom honored the N64’s verson of GoldenEye 007 better than any remastering could have done by making a great game to revitalize the franchise with some fun tidbits like including history facts from the original movie and updating Pierce Brosnan’s 64-bit rendition to today’s Bond, Daniel Craig.
If you loved GoldenEye 007 on the N64 and you miss FPS games with good story telling, I urge you to consider this GoldenEye remake. The game can be found at local retailers for $49.99 and copies that include the limited edition matte texture gold colored Classic controller are $69.99. It will really make you wonder what happened to FPS games with a good story. It really is a sad shame that Activision just lined up GoldenEye 007 for the Wii like a lamb to the slaughterhouse with a (depending on perspective) lukewarm or depressing debut.
[Images taken from the Activision GoldenEye 007 Wii site]