What We Already Know:
Rare's 1997 N64 shooter GoldenEye 007 was the first FPS to achieve distinction outside of the genre's PC stomping grounds, educating a whole generation of stick-twiddlers on the finer points of devastating headshots. Demand for a true sequel has raged ever since, and now-finally-GoldenEye is getting a proper second outing.
What We're Seeing Now:
GoldenEye 007 is not the sort of literal "remake" anyone expected, but I think that's actually a good thing. The new GoldenEye treats the classic shooter as a source of inspiration rather than a strict template. Games have changed immeasurably since 1997, and the new GoldenEye will reflect this with modern trappings like destroyable cover, atmospheric weather effects, and a cell phone with augmented reality display capabilities (this'll serve as your main info screen).
But perhaps the largest change comes in Bond himself: Pierce Brosnan is out and Daniel Craig is in. According to the producers there can only ever be one actor embodying Bond, so right now that's Daniel Craig. Using Craig also frees the developers to further craft the game around the distinctive personality of Craig's Bond. He's a dark, brooding, troubled character, so the revamped GoldenEye's storytelling will play to these qualities. The basic storyline's been changed for a similar reason, as Cold War spy tales feel a lot less relevant today than they might've in the mid-'90s. As the developers put it, they're trying to create a new GoldenEye experience for 2010.
So far it looks like they're succeeding-I was pretty impressed by the E3 demo. For starters, it looks great for a Wii game. It has a bit of that full body awareness thing going on, and the fluid first-person camera movement really sells the idea of physically sneaking around the stormy environments. The rain effects are very believeable and the atmosphere is appropriately tense. The developers are aiming for high production values, and look to be well on their way to achieving them.
The demo map (which looks to be the game's first level) was clearly inspired by the iconic first level of the N64 game. As with the original you'll have many opportunities to favor stealth over more direct approaches. Activision's demo player snuck capably up to a Russian guard tower, taking out key patrols with stealth takedowns and silenced headshots. Eventually a guard spotted Bond and triggered an alarm, prompting the arrival of a squad from another checkpoint. Bond
returned fire with an AK-47 as the enemy plinked away at the guard tower's metal wall, eventually degrading it to the point that Bond had to run for his escape vehicle, which lead to an excitingly staged on-rails shooting sequence. This, in turn, lead to a very familiar-looking dam complex. I'll be honest, I was smiling by this
Last but far from least, GoldenEye will enjoy robust multiplayer features, supporting four-player split-screen or eight players online (alas, only on separate Wiis). You'll recognize a lot of the modes from the classic game-You Only Live Twice, among them-and a new XP-based progression system will hopefully keep the addiction going strong. The developers seem to understand just how important the multiplayer experience was to the original, and are planning
accordingly. It's unclear if souped-up GoldenEye multiplayer will be able to differentiate itself amid today's high-quality competition, but it's certainly going to try.
Likewise, I'm certainly going to try this game the next time I get the chance. While GoldenEye 007 might not be the exact remake the fanboys wanted, I'm getting the feeling that it may well be better for it.