When GoldenEye 64 came out in 1997, it was amazing for its time, but I have yet to see another game show its age the way that classic game does. In today’s world of modern first-person action games, the classic Nintendo 64 console just doesn’t hold up. Sure, we all remember sitting in a basement as teenagers taking on three other friends in a match of “License to Kill,” but if you’ve played it recently you may realize that, although GoldenEye 64 was awesome, it certainly can’t hold a candle to the modern crop of shooters currently on the market. Which is why I think that GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is just the update this classic title needed.
Reloaded is essentially a remake of the N64 classic, but with a massive amount of liberty taken with its design, characters, story, and gameplay. While some gamers may be disappointed with how different this version is from the original, Reloaded is crafted with reverence for the original game but not trapped by what may now be considered archaic design. As soon as you start playing, you’ll begin to notice the differences. First of all, you won’t find Pierce Brosnan anywhere in this game, despite him playing 007 in the GoldenEye film and being the star of the N64 version. Instead, Eurocom has updated the story to fit in better with the modern Bond universe; as such, you’ll be playing as Daniel Craig who lends his likeness and voice talents to the game. Long gone are the allusions to the Cold War typically found among Bond and his ilk; instead, Reloaded is set in the modern world, with terrorism being the main big bad. Most of the characters from the film and original game are there, but have undergone a complete change in appearance.
I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing it is to play a Bond game that invokes such fond memories of its predecessor without being frustratingly hard to control. Reloaded features a control setup that I found very reminiscent of Activision’s Call of Duty series, which made it very easy to get the hang of. But unlike Call of Duty, you may not want to charge in guns a-blazing. In fact, I would recommend that you never do this while playing Reloaded. James Bond is a spy, and therefore it’s a lot easier—not to mention a lot more fun—to sneak around and take out guards silently with melee attacks or your trusty silenced Walther P99. I was actually surprised how well the level design of each stage allows for these different approaches. If you are a great shot with quick reflexes and a decently powerful weapon, you can run straight through the stage and hope to survive, but you can also take one of the cleverly designed alternate routes to flank enemy patrols and move in for that satisfying silent take down.
Reloaded has more to offer than just a decent campaign laden with callbacks to previous versions of the game; it’s also quite full-featured. In addition to the single-player campaign, you can also take your 00 skills online. Reloaded features multiplayer for up to 16 players across 13 different game modes. You can also challenge yourself with MI6 Ops mode, which is exactly like the Special Ops mode found in the Call of Duty series. It’s hardly unique, but still a nice addition.
I must confess that James Bond is one of my literary heroes and I have been a fan of Ian Fleming’s world of cloak and dagger spies since I was a teenager, so it’s no surprise that I liked Reloaded, but it’s far from a perfect game. Actually my main complaint is with some of the scripted action sequences. At first I was really into the scripted action—I like surprises. That was until I got to the final encounter with Trevelyan. The final boss fight is horrible, and was a huge let down for me. I enjoy scripted action, but only as long as it makes sense. During my final confrontation with Trevelyan I emptied magazine after magazine of bullets into the guy’s face without him so much as flinching. Why didn’t he die? Because he wasn’t supposed to die yet. Event scripting of this sort is terrible, unless its goal was to leave a bad taste in my mouth upon finishing the game (in which case I’d say it was successful).
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded started really strong and kept me engaged until the very end, which is where it crashed and burned for me. It was like a pleasant flight on a modern aircraft with all the amenities, except then when it came time to land, the pilot forgot to put the landing gear down and we skidded off the end of the runway. But just because the landing wasn’t great doesn’t mean the flight wasn’t good. Overall I would say that Reloaded is a fine addition to the James Bond lexicon of games, and that it would make a great T for Teen alternative for parents of teenage gamers who may not be comfortable buying an M rated game.