The original GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64 system was a bit of a curious game. It wasn't an original first-person-shooter title, as it copied most of its features from other previously-released-titles. It was a movie tie-in game, which are historically known to be pretty poor in quality. And it was on the N64, which was a cartridge based system with limited storage capacity, as well as a single analog control stick. All of this should have meant that GoldenEye was going to be a turd, but original developer Rare managed to make one of the greatest games ever released for the N64, and in my opinion the best movie tie-in game ever.
Why was GoldenEye so popular? For one thing, as a console game, it had really tight controls and a rousing single player campaign that had a nice mix of stealth and action. Once you were playing it, it was hard to put the controler down. Every scenario was well thought out, and had the level of challenge balanced perfectly. Gamers never felt frustrated with the experience. It was also a lot of fun to play.
However, the greatest strength to GoldenEye, was the four player split screen multiplayer mode. When GoldenEye was released, multiplayer online modes only existed on the PC platform, and cost a lot of money to be invested in. GoldenEye offered gamers the ability to sit down and play an FPS with their friends with a very low asking price of a few extra N64 control pads. A great pick-up-and-play experience that anyone could throw on when friends are over and battle a few rounds. GoldenEye was the defacto party game before there was a Mario Party.
Even today, four player split screen is a rarity in console games. Nintendo and Rare had something really unique that PC players had a hard time understanding. That sometimes it's more fun to sit down with people in the same room and play multiplayer games than it is over the wire. Not everyone has to be so far away. GoldenEye proved that.
Now Activision has released (Or basically re-released) GoldenEye on the Wii. An updated revamp of the classic title with new graphics, a new Bond, and new multiplayer modes including both online and the split screen party mode of before.
To play GoldenEye on the Wii is to invest in a new controller. As it is not really playable with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Oh sure, you can play that way, the game supports that control scheme, but you won't get very far, because it's terrible. The real way to play this game is with a GameCube, Classic Controller, or Pro controller. Once you do that, that's when it starts to feel like the original GoldenEye again. Great control, moments of stealth and action nicely laid out, and a variation on the original story to keep old and new players interested in both the single player campaign mode and multiplayer.
One of the first things you notice when playing GoldenEye on the Wii is that Pierce Brosnan has been replaced by Daniel Craig. This shouldn't be a big deal, because you rarely see Bond in the first person while playing, and it's not like Pierce Brosnan offered you a tap dance and a five spot over Craig's brooding bond. The rest of the cast of characters in the game are animated really well. For a Wii title, this game looks really good. Characters have really good facial expressions, and there are subtle tricks employed to fill rooms (Like a dance club) with bodies that obstruct your way. Eurocom did a fantastic job in making this game feel new and fresh while keeping much of the old in spades.
The game play itself is a mix of First Person firefights, combined with stealth action where you get to decide how you'll approach a situation. If you want to come into a room with guns blazing, there is plenty to shoot at. Windows smash, explosions erupt, and bodies fall (As well as fire back). James Bond has to stay out of direct fire for a limited number of shots or he'll be dead, but if you like to engage your enemy in a curtain of bullets, GoldenEye delivers it. But if you would prefer to sneak in, walk up on an enemy and stealthily take them out from behind, you can do that here. Bond's trademark silenced pistol is back, and you can take out both enemy and cameras alike to get to your next objective. How you get there is up to you.
Bond also carries a camera to which he can operate gun turrets, alarm systems, or hack computers. As well as take pictures and make calls. There are many options here to keep the game open and interesting. Players who choose more advance levels of play will find more objectives and new routes to explore.
The multiplayer modes add a new loadout screen, as well as all new maps not in the N64 game. There is also an online matchmaking feature that allows you to get on the net and play some rounds without the use of friend codes. A welcome change to most of the other Nintendo published titles that require them.
From my play of the game online, things worked really well. A mix of gun fire and grenades flying while both ran around and got shot from campers. If you have any experience with online FPS play, GoldenEye will feel very familiar with a nice mix of modes including the usual classics like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, as well as new modes like Paintball.
Some negative voices have mentioned that this isn't "GoldenEye" but something else, and that Activision/Eurocom just slapped the GoldenEye name on the box, and left the original GoldenEye behind. I think this is incorrect. While it does play different, and has new modes and features, the game is largely the same as the original GoldenEye on the N64. A complete reworking of the game is going to have some changes, and I think they work out nicely here. Purists who enjoy the N64 version will be happy to know that the N64 version still works on their N64 and has not ceased to function with the release of this new version on the Wii. So it's like more GoldenEye but different, the best of both worlds.
The other negative bit is that the game doesn't feel as full featured as many other first person shooter games. I think, for a Wii title, this game is outstanding, but compared to 360 or PS3, it doesn't hold up as well. Its one saving grace is that it does offer the split screen multiplayer, but how many people have 4 classic controllers connected to their Wii? Indeed, Golden Eye may only interest a niche audience that doesn't own a more powerful game system, or one that wants the four player split-screen mode or online play portion. The later being without headsets or communication of any kind between players.
For that reason, I see GoldenEye as a rental. There's enough of a single player mission here to keep your interest over a weekend and you'll have fun, but once you are finished with it, the multiplayer modes will pale in comparison to your other game systems. For that lone individual that just owns a Wii. This may be a purchase title for you (Or your kids). Just know that the rest of us are playing something else.