Posted by John on October 14, 2011

GoldenEye 007: Reloaded for Xbox 360, PS3 multiplayer preview: for those on …

Previews: The granddaddy of console multiplayer is back, but is GoldenEye on Xbox 360, PS3 better than ever?

GoldenEye is the FPS that kicked off the multiplayer craze, and gamers have long clamored for a modern version. Developer Eurocom granted that wish last year when they released GoldenEye 007for the Wii. While it was more “inspired” by the 1997 original than a level-by-level remake, the appeal of four player split-screen and nostalgia for hours lost in parents’ basements and dorm rooms worldwide held true.

GoldenEye was the Wii’s best multiplayer shooter, but how will it fair against the stiffer competition on Xbox and PS3? That’s what I was wondering right before I flew to San Francisco and took GoldenEye 007: Reloaded for a test drive.

A remake, Activision style

With Daniel Craig as Bond, this new GoldenEye isn’t just going after fans of the N64 original, it wants gamers who loved Casion Royale and Quantum of Solace as well. As in the movies, the tux has been passed from Pierce Brosnan to the younger, blonder Craig. Activision got the in-demand English actor to provide Bond’s voice, and his stunt double gave the motion capture performance. However, it was Dame Judy Dench reading the briefings as M that really had me feeling like Bond.

The six-part campaign follows an altered GoldenEye storyline, written by one of the film’s screenwriters. Although it was originally Brosnan’s role, you’re definitely playing as Craig’s bond. Testing out the single-player, I noticed a rougher characterization for Bond, from hard-hitting takedowns to some PP7-aided “negotiations.”

The fleeing lab coat wearers are much better rendered than on N64, of course, but this guy looks just as terrified.

The GoldenEye Mod for Call of Duty

A tad hyperbolic, I admit, but playing the new GoldenEye, I immediately felt the hand of the other most influential shooter of all time: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The game is built on the same Infinity Ward engine, after all. There’s iron sight aiming, one button melee, customizable loadouts, noise-detection radar, and other touchstones of modern shooters.

On the N64 original, high health and less accurate weapons meant you had to out-strafe your opponent and hit him with nearly a clip worth of ammo. GoldenEye Reloaded has the fast and vicious shootouts of more “realistic” FPS’s. Cover, accuracy, and being quick on the draw will win gunfights.

These new mechanics are a reason why it was a good thing no multiplayer maps were taken verbatim from the original. Can you imagine how easy shootouts in wide-open spaces like the Temple would be, now that the AK-47 has a neat little iron sight? Maybe that’s why there’s no Big Head mode; big heads make for easy headshots. Or maybe Craig didn’t like what it did to his jaw line.

PC gamers, while we’re on the subject, if you’ve never tried GoldenEye: Source, the awesome mod for Half-Life 2, now is the perfect time.

Take cover

Yes, the new Bond even has a light cover system. Don’t worry, this is no Gears of War clone. It’s a breezy system that reminded me of the arcade classic Time Crisis. If you’re crouched behind an object, holding the left trigger makes you peek over it and take aim. Release the trigger and you’ll duck back behind cover. It’s a simple way of doing cover without making the player snap to the object, and it works without becoming the centerpiece of combat.

The nostalgia factor

Despite all the modern gameplay elements, there’s still considerable nostalgia factor. The weapons are the same iconic mix of assault rifles, sub-machine guns, pistols, lasers, missiles and mines. Paintball mode, chaotic proximity mines, and Golden Gun matches, with their ever-shifting alliances, all have their classic feel intact.

Playing GoldenEye’s split-screen was a reminder of what’s missing from the modern, online multiplayer experience. More than the familiar “duhn-dun-DA-NAH” musical queue followed by the dripping red screen of death, four players bonding over some multiplayer mayhem triggered some major nostalgia:

Just like in 1997, being one of four on the couch, laughing and trash-talking my way through a split-screen match, was the best thing about Bond. It wouldn’t be GoldenEye without this mode, which has become rare amongst modern shooters. That fact alone justifies this remake, and makes a good argument for the game’s place in your library.

Play your way with MI6 Ops

Next to local multiplayer, the feature I enjoyed best was MI6 Ops, a single-player challenge mode. There are four mission types and eleven maps, but the real replay value comes from all the little tweaks you can make. The game lets you adjust enemy aggression, radar type (classic or CoD style), and fun stuff like Paintball mode and extra Ragdoll physics, in addition to your own load out. You’ll get a challenge rating based on your settings, and your performance is graded. You can post the results online, where friends can try to beat your score.

Check out the MI6 Ops trailer below.

Many compared MI6 to CoD’s Spec Ops, but it made me think of Rare’s other classic N64 shooter: Perfect Dark, with its infinitely adjustable multiplayer. I do wish MI6 had co-op like Spec Ops does. If it did, GoldenEye could give Gears of War’s Horde Mode a run for its money.

The ultimate Bond game

If clothes make the man, then villains make the hero, and Bond has a rogue’s gallery second only to Batman’s. Over a dozen villains from classic Bond movies are available for multiplayer. Some were on the N64 version, like Oddjob, Jaws, and Baron Samedi.

Now we’ve got Goldfinger, Dr. No, Scaramanga, and Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin. Pretty good likeness, don’t you think?

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