Posted by John on October 15, 2011

Three Observations from GoldenEye 007: Reloaded

Activision is heading back to the well for their retro revamp. Is it just as charming in high-definition?

  • Kat Bailey

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    Kat Bailey
  • October 14, 2011 10:24 AM PT

Earlier this week, I went to go and check out GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, the high-definition remix of 2010’s Wii game–itself an update to the seminal N64 shooter. Jumping to the Xbox 360 and the PS3 means that it has to contend with a glut of shooters on both systems, but Reloaded has a few tricks of their own. Here are three quick observations.

1. It Looks Quite Nice in HD… Mostly.

The original GoldenEye for the Wii was quite a nice looking game; and in certain areas, it really shows in this high-definition port. Most of the textures are smooth; the character models are quite acceptable, and some of the snowier areas really look great.

But then I got to one of the multiplayer maps, and suddenly the graphics were like something right out of 1997. The lighting and textures ended up reducing the level to a muddy brown mess of bunkers and watch towers that didn’t measure up to Reloaded’s single-player, let alone any other multiplayer shooter.

Is it fair to call out a remastered Wii game for it graphics? Especially when its appeal is heavily reliant on nostalgia? Well no, it’s not fair, but neither is the marketplace. The fact of the matter is that GoldenEye Reloaded is a double dip that has to compete with much stronger competition now that it’s made the jump to Xbox 360 and PS3. Like it or not, it’s going to be held to higher standards.

2. What a Twist!

One of Reloaded’s new multiplayer modes is the appropriately named “Escalation,” which is there to offer a slight twist on the traditional deathmatch model.

I began with a simple pistol, but it wasn’t long before I was wielding an AK-47, a sniper rifle, and other exotic weapons. These new weapons were earned by collecting kills, which seemed to come in bunches. Every time I turned round, there was someone new to shoot in the face.

That was the nature of the map, which crammed more than a dozen players, a bunker, and sniper towers into a postage stamp sized locale. I think the design is intentional–an attempt to recapture some of the manic action of the original game. It limited at times, but it nevertheless managed to achieve its goal of encouraging frenzied shooting.

Aside from Escalation, there are other modes–such as the hot potato-like Detonator Agent–that add more variety to the standard multiplayer options included in the original Wii game. Together with the huge cast of characters that include Oddjob and Jaws, it seems that Reloaded aims to separate itself from the pack by offering an old-school shooting experience, which is appropriate given its pedigree.

Three Observations from GoldenEye 007: Reloaded

3. The Original GoldenEye Still Can’t Be Replicated, Even in HD

The original GoldenEye was a very good shooter that also happened to arrive at the perfect moment in videogame history.

Awkward as the controls could be at times–looking around without a second analog stick was a protracted process, to say the least–the N64’s analog stick was still leagues ahead of anything that had come before it. And GoldenEye’s odd array of selectable characters, abundance of weapons, and well-designed maps made it an exceptionally fun local multiplayer experience.

Who even cared that the frame rate dipped into the teens in four-player matches? I know I didn’t. We were too busy blowing each other up with trip mines, remote detonation mines, rocket launchers, and laser rifles. Compared with the measured, highly polished experience of the modern shooter, it was definitely a game from another era.

The moment in history that GoldenEye encapsulates can only be imitated, never duplicated. In that regard, solid as it might be, I don’t expect GoldenEye 007: Reloaded to be anthing more than a fun novelty.

But hey, it still has split-screen multiplayer, so I bet it’ll be absolutely amazing at parties. In that regard, at least, GoldenEye Reloaded really is faithful to the spirit of the original.

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