GoldenEye 007: Reloaded Hands-On Comic-Con 2011 Preview -- Vu. Deja Vu.By Kevin Kelly and Nikole Zivalich - Posted Jul 21, 2011
Activision surprised Comic-Con 2011 attendees this week by unveiling the surprisingly soon-to-be-released GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, a graphically improved version of the Wii remake for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Our own Nikole Zivalich and Kevin Kelly were able to put in some hands-on time with the revamped shooter on the opening night of the Con, and both came away with a very clear sense of déjà vu but not for the reason you may think.
Nikole: GoldenEye 007 Reloaded is a "brand-new 007 game built from the ground up for the PS3 and the Xbox 360.” I knew little about the title going into Comic-Con, so I tried my best to put away the nostalgia I had for GoldenEye 007 on the N64 and the disappointment I felt for GoldenEye 007 for the Wii. When I saw the first gameplay footage for the game, I did my best to clear my mind of any preconceived ideas I may have had.
Reloaded is a completely new take on the GoldenEye series. I say series because there has been a movie, several games, and a novel, Operation GoldenEye (after some research, I've also discovered it's a type of duck). Reloaded won't be a remake of any of these. The devs didn't want to remake or upres an N64 game or a SD Wii game, so they built a new game that doesn't pull directly from one source and instead tries to capture the essence of GoldenEye for today's audience.
The level I saw looked great, and it looked like a game that belonged on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The arm of James Bond (it's a first person shooter) holds a pistol, the silent weapon, as he walks up a snowy hill. Enemies are littered along the path. I learned quickly this wasn't a mission I could go in guns blazing. I was reminded James Bond, while being "the man," was still only one man. I decided to try a more stealthy approach by quietly walking up to my foe and breaking his neck. The stealth approach is the best way to avoid waves of enemies. One misplaced, loud bullet and the baddies will alert their friends. Enemies had varied levels of AI with different abilities, like hiding behind cover or seeking you out. While I understood why this was the best approach, it didn't detour me from going in guns blazing as soon as I got around the corner.
The controls felt very similar to your standard first-person shooter. In fact, it felt like one first-person shooter in particular, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I even asked if the game borrowed any assets from MW2. Turns out GoldenEye 007: Reloaded was built on its own brand new engine. And let me be clear, if you're going to be compared to another game, MW2 is a pretty damn good one.
Having said that, I didn't feel like I was playing a 007 game. When I played I found myself feeling like I was Soap MacTavish more than I felt like James Bond. No, I didn't expect to race Aston Martins into the enemies, but it just didn't capture whatever it was I was looking for. Was it fun? Absolutely? Was it polished? Yes. Did the controls work? Damn near perfectly. But the constant feeling I had played this game before was hard to get past.
This was just one level, and to be honest, I hate the snow. I really do look forward to seeing what else Activision has in store for this game. I didn't get to see multiplayer, but I was promised the game would offer four-player split screen. That alone guarantees my attention.
Kevin: When GoldenEye 007 came out for the Wii, my first experiences with the title made me think I'd been transported back in time to when the N64 version of GoldenEye came out, and I was blissfully thrown back into the many hours I spent playing that title. But not long after I picked up the game, I found myself wishing for current-gen graphics on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 levels. It was hard to go from playing something like Modern Warfare 2 into GoldenEye and not feel like you were taking several steps backwards. Yes, the game is a ton of fun, but the graphics are set to "nostalgia."
That's where GoldenEye 007: Reloaded comes in. It's the same game, but with extremely different graphics and an entirely new game engine built by Eurocom, and it owes a big debt to Activision's own Modern Warfare series. Not that it's a bad thing to be compared to one of the best-selling game franchises in history, but it's definitely not your old-school GoldenEye. The weapons, stealthing, minimap and gadget interface all feel very different from either GoldenEye or GoldenEye 007, and it plays differently as well. Although, where it looks like a modern-day FPS title, there's still a heavy emphasis on stealth takedowns.
The game is a retelling of GoldenEye 007 (hence the "reloaded"), which itself was a retelling of GoldenEye, with Daniel Craig in the Bond seat, and that's who helms this game as well. Except Bond in this game really looks eerily like Daniel Craig. The models you'll see are much higher-resolution than the Wii outing, and it's extremely cool (and a little bit creepy) to see such a photorealistic Bond in the game. Of course, most of the time you're driving him, so the only time you'll see his face will be in cutscenes. But, he's in there, as is Judi Dench as M. I'm not entirely sure right now if they recorded new dialogue, or just repurposed from GoldenEye 007, which is something I'll check on here at Comic-Con.
The level we played was in a mountainous, snowbound area, and Bond was tasked with infiltrating the complex where the GoldenEye weapon fires. You're stealthing along mountain passes, taking out guards, and generally trying to avoid detection when the weapon fires and blasts and EMP across the landscape, frying the circuits of everything airborne and sending them crashing to the ground. The level is then transformed into a partially on-fire wasteland, with Bond creeping through wreckage and still trying to avoid detection while finding a path into the complex.
While the gameplay and graphics aren't quite up the MW2 specs, there's definitely a feeling that you're playing that game, especially in these snowbound levels. This was a very early build of the game that we got to play, and some of the AI definitely needs tweaking as there are times when they seem to ignore Bond completely. The multiplayer wasn't in the build, so sadly Nikole and I didn't get to go toe to toe with each other, which is fine because I would have kicked her Zelda-loving butt. Although now she'll most likely read this and kill me in my sleep. Great.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded comes out this fall, and definitely looks like one of the graphically superior Bond titles. We'll have to see how more of the gameplay unfolds and jump into that fabled multiplayer before we pass final judgment, but right now it looks stirred, not shaken. Bond might not approve of that recipe, but we're enjoying it.