Mercifully, the publisher made the very wise (and legally mandated) decision to carry the franchise forward in name only. Rather than creating a direct remake of the 1997 classic, they crafted an entirely new experience that was surprisingly original while still feeling classically GoldenEye. The new game featured much of the style of the original while reimagining the story and characters and events in the modern day.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is the latest attempt to fill in the N64 classic's sizable tuxedo -- this time in high definition. Unfortunately, while Reloaded fits into the right suit, it seems that it's gotten a bit snug.
What's new this time around?
Obviously, the jump from the Wii to high definition consoles means better graphics. A revamped lighting system as well as some surprisingly stellar water effects make Reloaded's visuals pop in a way that no GoldenEye game has before. The lighting in particular adds some much needed pathos to the more dramatic moments. It's duly unsettling to catch a guard's eye as the lights within go dim as Mr. Bond judo chops his life away.
Those few tweaks aside, Reloaded is by no means one of the better looking games on the market. The extra fidelity is to be expected in this sort of remake, but what is included still leaves the game looking like something from the last generation.
Entirely new to this iteration is the MI6 Ops mode. It's basically Reloaded's take on the challenge room concept. Missions will task you with defending consoles, stealthily taking down opponents or just maxing out the points on your license to kill by eliminating a predetermined of inept guards. Medals are awarded based on ludicrously customizable mission conditions and completion time.
MI6 Ops really should have been one of Reloaded's stand-out features. Unfortunately, this new mode illuminates some of the game's more covert shortcomings, cleverly concealed in the single-player campaign. Enemy AI in GoldenEye was never exactly in danger of being drafted by Mensa to begin with, but when you condense an entire campaign's worth of combat into a single challenge room the its inadequacy becomes painfully obvious.
How's it hold up?
While many modern first-person shooter campaigns maintain all of the subtlety of jumping off a hydroelectric dam, GoldenEye prefers to play things a bit closer to the bullet-proof vest. Combat feels visceral and contained, owing in large part to the character appropriate stealth segments and takedowns. The story is also more poignant than ever; involving elements of economic downturn and technological dependency.
Multiplayer is markedly more grandiose with an array of customization details ranging from player limits to an optional 'paintball mode'. In order to help justify making a brand new game, the developers have also added a new multiplayer match type, Escalation, and a scattering of new weapons to add to the already impressive selection. A newly doubled cap of sixteen players per match and you've got a blueprint for a fine multiplayer suite that manages to drudge up much more of the original game's charm than you might have anticipated.
Unfortunately, when GoldenEye made the jump from the Wii to high definition consoles, it brought a couple of its now redundant limitations along for the ride. Instantly vanishing bodies and blurry textures may be acceptable on the console family's low-memory cousin, but on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 it comes across just a bit too old school for comfort.
While the multiplayer may be a joy to experience, you may be experiencing it exclusively in split-screen for the time being -- at least until someone sorts out the game's servers. When attempting to join a game, more often not your search will end prematurely while the game pops up with every error message you could imagine. Assuming you do find a match, rubber-banding and a miserable frame rate - particularly on the Xbox 360 version - will keep you from the experience that you should be having. Finally, many of Reloaded's match types are woefully under populated. Meaning that without enough friends with copies of the game, you might well just be out of luck altogether, server issues notwithstanding.
There was very little originality that could have been rung out of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. The game is a remake of a retake of a game based on a film inspired by a series of books. While the core gameplay is still here and still fantastic, there isn't much new this time around to sink your teeth into. What new content there is doesn't hold much of a candle to what was already there. What's more, some of what was already there doesn't work as well as in the last iteration. There's fun to be had with the game, but ultimately much of that fun is more of a hassle to summon than it's worth.