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Review: Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
by Andrew Testerman

GoldenEye 007: Reloaded
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Reviewed on
Xbox 360
First-person shooter
Best price we found in GBP:
Goldeneye. The name alone conjures images of four (often more) warm bodies crowded around a single television set, thrilled by the concept of gunning down their friends for the fifth hour running.

Perhaps this isn’t your experience with the game, and you enjoyed it more as a counterpart to one of Bond’s strongest cinematic offerings, engaging in espionage action as only Ian Fleming’s famous gentleman spy could. Regardless of how you enjoyed Goldeneye back when it was released in 1997 (and Activision is betting that you enjoyed the hell out of it), Eurocom’s new reinvention of the Goldeneye name lives up to the spirit of Rare’s revolutionary console shooter, even if the execution sometimes falls short.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is a high-def port of 2010’s Goldeneye 007 for the Wii, which updated the game’s story and gameplay while staying true to what makes Bond different from other action heroes. Eurocom also overhauled the multiplayer, adding online competition to the first game’s fabled split-screen, bringing new modes into the mix while retaining other established classics. It was a highly praised bit of software when it was released, and Reloaded is a great opportunity for non-Wii owners to experience one the best Bond games in recent years.

Penned by Bruce Feirstein, co-writer of the original 1995 film, Reloaded’s story is an updated take on Bond’s attempts to stop terrorists from acquiring and using a weaponised satellite, the titular Goldeneye. Much of the narrative remains true to the movie, though changes have been made; the plot no longer involves the Soviet Union, for example, and there are many more references to today’s political landscape. It’s a clever remix of the fresh and familiar, and remains a satisfying tale with only a few small holes (Reloaded ditches the 9-year gap present in the original movie, making some character motivations a bit murky).

Gameplay is better in line with modern shooting conventions; Bond uses ironsights to aim his weapons, and only carries two armaments at once, though he also keeps his signature Walther P99 on him at all times. Where Goldeneye 007: Reloaded diverges from contemporary shooters is in its mission structure. Throughout the game, Bond is given objectives to complete, with additional tasks added on higher difficulty levels, ranging from photographing evidence to destroying arms caches. The emphasis on accomplishing more than simple survival helps Reloaded to feel less like a corridor-shooting simulator, and more like an actual secret mission.

Another way Goldeneye 007: Reloaded stands out from the modern FPS pack is in its emphasis on stealth. Bond is a covert agent, after all, and the game gives him many opportunities to use sneakiness over brute force, taking out enemies using silenced weaponry and avoiding detection where he can. It’s a fun way to mix up the bog standard shoot-all-the-baddies scenario, and several achievements and trophies are awarded for completing levels without being detected. In many cases, stealth can be the preferable option; if detected, enemy soldiers call in about half a regiment's worth of reinforcements, all exhibiting much higher levels of AI than regular guards, and more than happy to flush you out with grenades or flank your position. In this way, Reloaded strikes a favourable balance between action and stealth, allowing stealth aficionados a chance to sneak around to their heart’s content, while always offering an option to go balls-out if the player so chooses.

Bond’s mission takes him from Dubai, to St. Petersburg, to the infamous dam from the first game, and most of the areas are pleasing to the eye, though not the best-looking of 2011. Reloaded is never quite successful at hiding its Wii origins, and many levels lack the polish found in today’s graphically heavy blockbusters, like Uncharted or Battlefield. Still, the game's environments often show several nice artistic flourishes, like the constant snowfall in Severnaya, or the mountain overlooks in Nigeria. Goldeneye 007: Reloaded also updates the original game's cast, replacing Pierce Brosnan with Daniel Craig, and Sean Bean’s Trevelyan with, oddly, Ptolemy from Alexander. It seems like somewhat of a step down for me, but the cast is fairly on-point throughout, especially Craig and the ever-reliable Dame Judi Dench, who provides the voice work for M during mission briefings.

The single-player mode is quite good, but the multiplayer is truly what made the first game shine, and while Goldeneye 007: Reloaded doesn’t do anything to dethrone the reigning champions of the genre, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. Four-player split-screen is as addictive as ever, and online has expanded to sixteen-player skirmishes, making every match frantic and intense. Reloaded’s multiplayer eschews weapon pick-ups for customisable loadouts, giving players an incentive to unlock weapons and add-ons, but taking away from the strategy of finding placements for the best guns. Reloaded also brings back old favourite modes, like 'Man With the Golden Gun' or 'You Only Live Twice', placing them alongside game types found in other shooters (King of the Hill, Conquest, etc.). Good luck finding anyone who wants to play anything besides Team Deathmatch online, though.

Reloaded could easily have been a nostalgic cash-grab, using the Goldeneye name to prop up a flimsy game for easy money. Not so; Goldeneye 007: Reloaded is a fun, modern take on the Nintendo 64 classic, and while it's unlikely that this new version will become as infamous as its forebearer, it’s a fun throwback, and a reminder of how satisfying a game protagonist Bond can be.

8/10 [?]

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- Andrew Testerman

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