Remember how great GoldenEye 007's multiplayer was? It seemed like all my friends and I would talk about in fifth grade were Golden Guns, remote mines, paintball mode, Oddjob, dual-wielding, and Moonrakers. Most people I know around my age still speak fondly about the game, but I doubt many of them have revisited it over the last decade. Otherwise, all they would talk about now is circle strafing, unbalanced levels, obsolete weapons, a left-handed trigger, and that creepy way characters slide around when they're crouched.
People credit GoldenEye with helping to establish first-person shooters as the dominant multiplayer experience on consoles, but it can't stand toe-to-toe with today's gun games. Naturally, developer Eurocom had a serious challenge updating the Nintendo 64 classic for the Wii (confusingly named GoldenEye 007 as well). Unfortunately, Eurocom chose to emulate the Call of Duty experience and abandoned the one element the original GoldenEye still has going for it: a unique and fun single-player campaign.
I didn't think much of it at the time, but the original campaign's distinct arcade feel made the game extremely accessible. What little plot there was never got in the way of the player's fun. In most levels, you were free to explore and experiment as you saw fit and were rewarded for it with cool weapons, rewarding objectives, and fun cheats.
Meanwhile, 2010's GoldenEye features two mission types: stealth and non-stealth. Both take place in the familiar streamlined corridors every FPS seems to employ today. A single path guides you through each level, where dozens of armed henchmen are either completely oblivious to their imminent deaths or totally aware of your exact location. In the stealth sections, enemies constantly have their backs toward you. How else would you be able to pull off those flashy takedowns the game overuses by the end of the first level?
As in 1997, each mission begins with a list of objectives determined by your chosen difficulty level. But unlike the original, the new GoldenEye relegates objectives to small road bumps. You rarely have to go out of your way to complete these tasks (remember, there's only one path), and you accomplish most by pointing at objects with Bond's smart phone. The process is very similar to using The Conduit's All-Seeing Eye — it's a shallow attempt at dressing up boring missions and level design.
What's worse is that GoldenEye's campaign never benefits from copying Call of Duty. It's one of the more impressive-looking Wii titles, but there isn't a single interesting setpiece in the entire game. Call of Duty's iconic scenarios make the experience worthwhile, but with nothing comparable in GoldenEye, the campaign just feels like a waste of time.
Eurocom did succeed in recognizing the original GoldenEye's outdated multiplayer, however, and replaced it with Call of Duty-lite. Players equip weapons, attachments, and perks (er, gadgets) that they unlock with experience points earned through kills and challenges. It's actually a very competent imitation — the most fun of its kind I've had on the Wii — but a number of clumsy design decisions and technical issues drag the mode down. It clumps weapons together in a single messy column. There's little reason to stray from using automatic weapons. It's never clear how far away your next rank is. Games end abruptly and permanently when hosts quit. A multiplayer mode riddled with such small yet pesky issues shouldn't represent the best a console has to offer.
It's great we can acknowledge that times have changed since GoldenEye ruled console multiplayer, but it's a shame this update fails to capitalize on what still makes the original worth going back to.