Review: GoldenEye (Wii)

Mar 8, 2011

Like most guys my age, I have many fond memories of late nights playing GoldenEye on my old Nintendo 64 with a group of friends and about a dozen boxes of pizza and soda.  But when the remake was announced for the Wii, I couldn’t help but be skeptical of what might become of the classic. After all, we’ve all been let down by remakes and sequels of our favorite games and movies produced cheaply to make more money off the original. I was eager to read the reviews when the game first came out to see if my fears had been realized but even after reading several reviews, I had no answers. It seemed for every review outlet raving about it, there was another just as reputable to pan it. Now, after completing the game in its entirety, I understand. GoldenEye for the Wii is a polished, engaging game throughout with a few nagging defects that will completely ruin it for some but are ultimately well worth working through.

First the good. The game has excellent presentation. Models of the main characters look great, the cutscenes are very well put together, and the mission briefs at the beginning of each level are a good intro. The graphics are not stunning compared to what we’ve seen on the other consoles and PC, but they’re probably better than most are expecting from the Wii. Some textures look washed out but the environments are well constructed overall; the level layout is a mixed bag as you’ll often go off the beaten path hoping to find some kind of goody but instead meet just a dead end. As for control, I’ve heard of some having success aiming with the Wiimote but I became very frustrated and ended up using the golden controller for most of the game. The golden controller is the best Nintendo controller for playing a first person shooter ever but if you bought the standalone version, you might give the Wiimote/nunchuck combo a try or a Gamecube controller.

The game starts out very slow and the first three or four levels are unfortunately not very entertaining, which will turn a lot of people off immediately.  The real frustrating part of the game, particularly when you first play, is these ridiculous sub-tasks within about 60% of the levels. The sub-task typically involves you finding several weapons crates and taking a picture of the contents or hacking into some defense system nodes with your smart phone, etc. I don’t have a problem with these types of sub tasks (though I think they add very little in any game and are usually an annoying distraction) but the way they’re implemented in GoldenEye might be the most outstanding flaw in a game this good that I have every seen. I would expect the game would stop you from advancing through a particular part of a map containing a sub-task if you haven’t completed it. Or if you were allowed to advance, I would expect the penalty for missing one or two of the sub-tasks to be minimal (like you didn’t get a medal or your percentage didn’t go to 100% or something else that I couldn’t care less about). But in GoldenEye, you’re not forced to complete each sub-task and the penalty for missing a single one is you replay the entire level or continue the game on the easiest difficulty setting. This is particularly frustrating when some levels can take over an hour to complete.  And finally, you’re only alerted to one of the sub-task chores being in the area by an icon that appears on the right hand side of the screen when you’re within 10 or 20 feet of the sub-task.  At times, you’re never even forced to be within range of a sub-task to complete the level so you would never know you missed it until you completed the level and were sent back to the beginning. This turned me off to the game immediately and I would have put the game down for good after this happened on level three had the game not been a Christmas gift from my lovely wife.

The sub-task issue is the most glaring flaw in the game and creates constant needless stress as you progress, hoping you didn’t miss any sub-tasks, but it becomes something you can look out for and manage as you get deeper into the game. I will be honest that it drove me to unashamedly browse a walk-through or two to make sure I didn’t miss anything before finishing a level, but I refused to let one bad design decision stop me from enjoying an otherwise entertaining game. I’m glad I did, because Goldeneye gets better and better as it goes on.

The developers of Goldeneye came up with very few new ideas but were smart to take from good games. If you’ve played a Call of Duty game recently, you’ll be familiar with a lot of the play mechanics and thankfully you’ll also be familiar with the intense pulse-racing action. The AI is just decent, the level design is not well thought out with many areas to explore but few that lead anywhere interesting, and the final boss battle is really lame, but there is at least one 10 or 20 minute action sequence in almost every level to keep you coming back. This is not a must-own game but it serves as a very good shooter on a console with almost no very good shooters.

Purchase @ $20