Goldeneye 007: Reloaded

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded

The idea of judging a remake for its “faithfulness” to the original always seemed odd to me. It took playing Goldeneye 007: Reloaded for me to realize that what was being judged is faithfulness to the spirit of the original…because Reloaded is quite lacking in that regard. On the plus side, it recognizes that Goldeneye was ground-breaking for more reasons than just its presence on a home console, and subsequently devotes significant time to stealth, sniping, and optional non-combat objectives. On the other hand, someone (likely the publisher – it’s Activision after all) has clearly associated the technical advancements made between 1997 and 2010 with the design evolution of popular FPSs during that time. One of these changes is objectively an improvement; the other is polarizing, to say the least.

Personally, I can take or leave the concepts of regenerating health, limited weapon loadouts, realistically fatal weapons, and experience-based multiplayer progression. But redesigning a seminal example of classic-style shooters to incorporate modern trends that most of its established fanbase can’t stand feels downright disrespectful. It also leaves the game with a bit of an identity crisis. Call of Duty was notorious for becoming increasingly ludicrous around 2009, so making Goldeneye more like that series made some sense. But then they redesigned the tone and aesthetic to match the more grounded Daniel Craig incarnation of the franchise, and the result is a lame middle ground where the silliness and grittiness are constantly at odds with each other.

The controls are functional, and the visuals are excellent, and that’s about the extent to which I can judge the game on its own merits. The level design is certainly a highlight, as its more of an expanded remix of the original environments, rather than a direct recreation. On the other hand, while it’s not surprising that the music sounds nothing like the N64 release – whose soundtrack is one-of-a-kind to this day – it’s disappointing that it doesn’t even particularly sound like James Bond. The multiplayer is fairly entertaining, though it comes with a host of balance issues. Not that the original was a bastion of competitive equity, but what’s the point of a remake if not to fix these things? Lastly, the customizable-difficulty MI6 Ops mode is a great inclusion that elevates Reloaded over the Wii version, but once again, I get the feeling it wouldn’t exist if Modern Warfare 2 hadn’t included a similar mode.

5.5/10
5.5/10

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