Take a game that, back in 1997, changed everything for first-person shooters, and splice it together with the franchise that currently sits atop the FPS pile. Congratulations, you’ve discovered the formula for videogaming alchemy. Only, as this unimpressive 007 outing will attest, it’s not quite that simple.
In 2010, Activision and Eurocom’s ‘reimagining’ of the N64’s famed Goldeneye for the Wii was pretty well received. It was a loving homage, a fond attempt to recapture a little of the late-Nineties dorm-room magic that saw Goldeneye’s multiplayer appropriate more man-hours than a multinational corporation. “Let’s do that again!” thought the developers as the not-so-bad reviews rolled in. “Only this time, give it a colon and a snappy new title!” Later, when they realized that shoehorning in the mechanics of Modern Warfare and replacing Pierce Brosnan’s Cold War plotline with Daniel Craig’s smartphone wouldn’t cut it on major consoles, the panic must have been of epic proportions. It’s not that the technology hasn’t moved on, it’s that gloss and sheen cannot compensate for a dull, uninteresting game with linear missions and a storyline that, in a bid to remain ‘current,’ has become a pale shadow of its source material.
The campaign is plagued by irritations. The enemy AI is, at times, laughable. Enemy soldiers often flee the fighting, desperately searching for a quiet corner where they can hide. There are clipping issues with some of the NPCs, who think nothing of walking through your weapons. There are even audio problems – during one mission, the music kicked in to let me know I’d been spotted by some guards. Unfortunately, because I was in a nightclub at the time, the dramatic score was forced to compete with the looped electro playing on the dancefloor, which led me to flee for the sake of my eardrums rather than any desire to complete the mission.
One saving grace is the MI6 missions. Basically the Spec Ops from Modern Warfare, this sets you a series of challenges on predetermined maps. Boasting stealth, defense and elimination missions, it at least offers some replay value, as does the online multiplayer, which is sound.
Eurocom have missed the point. The original Goldeneye defined shooters for the decade that followed it. But since then, the industry has come on in leaps and bounds, and it’s not enough to rely on poorly executed nostalgia. The best tribute that Reloaded could have offered would have been to produce something even half as ground-breaking, half as genre-defining. Instead, this flawed game desecrates the original, without offering any inkling of the same spirit of innovation.