The news today that a new version of Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye 007 was met with cheers at today's Nintendo E3 press conference. I played the game. It's good but it's not the remake you may have thought it was.
The James Bond game is being developed by Eurocom and Activision, not Rare and Nintendo, the companies that made the original Nintendo 64 GoldenEye. That's not a surprise and not necessarily a problem. Eurocom can make a good game.
It is a first-person shooter, based on the fiction of the 1995 Pierce Brosnan movie. But the story of that movie has been changed. GoldenEye is now the adventure of the Daniel Craig version of James Bond and plays up an international banking crisis angle rather than a Cold War problem. Both games, however, send the player, as Bond, around the world to locations important to fans of movie and games: A dam, a statue park, the streets of St. Petersburg, where a chase involving a military tank will occur.
The levels of the new GoldenEye are not necessarily recreations of the original game's. The locations have been changed in some cases the developer told me. Happily, the game's opening dam level gets some loving care in being updated for a modern audience. It opens in similar fashion with a camera swoop that brings us into Bond's point-of-view. It starts with a scramble past some guards into a guard tower (which contains a sniper rifle, of course) and then through a tunnel inside a truck. That's the spot where differences become abundant. Did you play the original GoldenEye dam level and hide behind that truck? You'll be in it, riding shotgun (Alec Trevaylan is behind the wheel), getting stopped by guards and suddenly in an on-rails shootout. You'll be shooting your machine gun through the front window as guards try to run you off the wall. You'll be blowing up a tanker truck that is in the way and out to the dam you'll go, as a rocket launcher flips your truck.
As with the original GoldenEye, the game will require players using harder difficulty levels to complete more mission objectives. New to the game will be forking options to turn the game more into an action shooter or into a stealthy hunt.
Many of Bond's classic weapons are back, including the Klobb, which has been renamed the Klebb. The health system has changed, now using the same regenerative system seen in most shooters.
Multiplayer is presented in four-player splitscreen or eight-player online, with an experience points system that unlocks perks. Maps will be drawn from familiar locations, but the layouts will not be the same as they were in the Nintendo 64 version of the game. After watching the dam level, I was able to play a round of four-player split screen. In the mode we played, the first player to 10 kills won. I got seven and found the gameplay to be smooth. I used a Wii Remote and Nunchuk set-up which used the pointer to aim and mapped a melee move to a shake of the Nunchuk (probably will be changed to a button press, I was told). Other players used the Wii Classic Controller Pro.
I didn't see but was told that sticky mines will be back. I think people will like that, yes?
GoldenEye will be out exclusively for the Wii in November. It was fun, but for better and worse it is not a slavish remake of the original GoldenEye. They are doing the reinvented-for-modern-times thing. Let's hope that is the right thing. The re-imagined dam level had enough callbacks to the original game to make me smile and just enough high-action set-pieces to remind me that we are not in a 90s video game world anymore.
Be optimistic about this one, but pay attention to the pitch.