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Critical Reception: Activision's GoldenEye 007

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines the reaction in online reviews to Eurocom and Activision's GoldenEye 007, which one critic describes as "one of the best first-person shooters on Wii."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Eurocom and Activision's GoldenEye 007, which reviews describe as "one of the best first-person shooters on Wii." GoldenEye 007 currently earns a score of 79 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. IGN's Craig Harris scores GoldenEye at 9 out of 10. "There's no doubt that Activision has brought GoldenEye back for Wii first and foremost because of its familiar namesake, ensuring that more gamers would plunk down money because of the original N64 version's popularity than a fresh game name would," he admits. "But here's the kicker: Activision and developer Eurocom really cared about the GoldenEye Wii project, and it shows." Harris continues: "What could have ended up a game that cruised on autopilot and simply relied on a name to sell it has turned out to be one of the best first-person shooters on Wii." "GoldenEye has a fantastic single-player campaign that feels both fresh and familiar, and the multiplayer attention – something most GoldenEye Nintendo 64 fans hold near and dear to their hearts – is incredible and something rarely seen on the Nintendo console." Fans expecting a remake of the Nintendo 64 original should be aware that this new edition is a very different game, however. "Other than being a first-person shooter, this game bears little resemblance to the Nintendo 64 design," Harris notes. "It's pretty clear that Eurocom looked at the current generation for inspiration, namely the Call of Duty and Halo franchises, so GoldenEye has been updated to appeal to today's gamer than those latched onto dated decade-and-a-half gameplay." The resulting gameplay mechanics work well within the context of the Wii's hardware. "The Remote support is second only to The Conduit's crazy OCD level of customization," Harris praises, "but in GoldenEye you have full input on pointer sensitivity, rotation speed, invert look, and other options, and everything you adjust is saved and applied to individual profiles that you can utilize in multiplayer." "The multiplayer focus – the portion that's more than just a wink and a nod to the classic N64 experience – is just as fun and satisfying as the single-player campaign," Harris continues. "It's here where a lot of that Call of Duty influence comes into play. Every kill, headshot, and kill streak you pull off here is recorded and rewarded via experience points that unlock additional modes and modifications. Again, it's nothing new to first-person shooters but it works awesomely in the GoldenEye design." "Things might have changed in the last 15 years, but at the very least Activision and Eurocom have done wonders to capture the essence that the original Nintendo 64 game grabbed a decade and a half ago," Harris concludes. "I don't think the Wii game will change the FPS genre in the same way the Rare design did, but as a standalone, original experience, it's hard to deny this game's greatness." Matt Clark at 1UP.com gives GoldenEye a B+ grade. "On one hand, those who played the original back in 1997 would likely thumb their noses at a remake that totally abandons its predecessor," he admits. "Conversely, an untouched port of the aged GoldenEye could potentially alienate a younger audience. The good news is that developer Eurocom has managed to craft a new GoldenEye that, despite a few hiccups, makes a valiant effort to straddle the divide between nostalgia and a new generation of first-person shooters." Some gameplay changes are more successful than others, according to Clark. "The game begins with the familiar (albeit much improved visually) dam level," Clark explains. "Bond can storm the guard tower, guns blazing, or take a stealthy approach to avoid a firefight. "The level is instantly recognizable to anyone who's played the original game, but it quickly diverges as Bond enters a nearby truck with Agent 006 and begins dispatching Russians in an on-rails sequence. The change is drastic, and for any old-school GoldenEye fan this new cinematic approach will initially feel difficult to accept." Clark finds the inclusion of quick-time events to be even more jarring. "I'm pretty sure the videogame industry reached its quick-time event quota a few years ago," he says. "Quick-time events within boss fights don't belong in this type of game. And during one boss fight in particular, you never take a single shot -- when playing a first-person shooter, you usually want to shoot things." However: "Beyond the unnecessary button mashing, GoldenEye's missions are well structured; combining the forerunner's smaller (at least by today's standards) level design and missions that frequently pay homage to the original game while adding new elements," Clark assures. "Not every original mission is represented, but the developers did an admirable job of evoking GoldenEye's most memorable locales." "The truth is, GoldenEye for Wii isn't as good as the original we all played until our thumbs hurt. That's not to say this new GoldenEye is a poor game; in fact, it's actually quite enjoyable," Clark writes. "If you're willing to strip away all the pretense, there's a fun, entertaining first-person shooter here." Game Informer's Tim Turi rates GoldenEye at 6.5 out of 10. "Activision's re-imagining of Rare's GoldenEye is an attempt to scrub the tarnished franchise clean," he begins, "but what we're left with is a lackluster game that fails to hit the same high notes of the original, or keep pace with modern shooters." Though Turi finds GoldenEye's basic mechanics to be serviceable, poor design decisions drag down the experience. "Playing with the Wii remote and nunchuk feels tighter than The Conduit's touchy controls, but you'll want to go the dual-analog stick route with the Classic Controller Pro," he advises. "While using a Wii peripheral that emulates the average controller makes sprinting, meleeing, and ironsight aiming easier, nothing saves you from the ridiculous blur effect that happens with every reload. This gimmick makes the fuzzy graphics looks worse and punishes gamers who like to reload often and line up their next shot while doing so." GoldenEye's local multiplayer mode suffers from similar problems, but the experience is more enjoyable online. "Local four-player splitscreen is a blurry mess that can't even be salvaged by good friends and a high definition TV," Turi writes. "Fortunately, the worthwhile eight-player online experience delivers the best FPS multiplayer experience available on the Wii. My favorite is Heroes mode, in which one player from each team can transform into a powered-up Bond character, but at the risk of giving the enemy more points if defeated." "GoldenEye 007 doesn't feel like the retro dream it's meant to be," Turi concludes. "This Bond game is lost in limbo somewhere between last generation and modern day shooters. Only diehard Bond or FPS fans with nothing but a Wii should bother picking this one up."

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