Early thoughts on Goldeneye Reloaded

I wasn’t a fan of the original Goldeneye game.  I played it because I had inherited a Nintendo 64 and had a lot of free time but only a couple of games.  I appreciated that it was innovative; the gameplay was enjoyable enough but nothing great.  Some levels became irritating and the last two were brutally hard.  I’m also not a Bond fan.  Despite forcing myself to watch the films in case I enjoyed them, the only Bond thing I’ve liked has been the Casino Royale novel.  Until I bought Goldeneye Reloaded.

There’s enough of the original in it to be recognisable but is very much its own animal.  There’s a Call of Duty influence in there (a franchise that Goldeneye itself may have inspired) but this is more than a shallow rip-off.  Even for me, never the fan, I get a little fanboy kick from some recognisable moments.

I’m about five levels in and the game seems less like the original the further I go.  And that may be the reason the game has a surprisingly low 72% Metacritic rating.  Gamers loved some Goldeneye.  And nostalgia always adds at least 30% to the quality of a game (ah those retrogoggles).  So when fans found that the game that wasn’t a straightforward re-skinning of the N64 game, they were miffed.  Bear in mind that a lot of the people who rolled with Goldeneye back in the day are now game critics themselves.  I’ve no loyalty to the canon of the original game or the film.  Which strangely might make the perfect audience.

The action is exhilarating, though not to the level of a Modern Warfare.  The stealth moments are tense.  What I’m particularly impressed with are the variable approaches to gameplay.  Depending on difficulty level, the game will offer you a number of optional secondary objectives.  These are more interesting than the typical ‘collect a laptop/file that’s hidden in a bin’.  Also, gameplay can unfold in different ways, something which I already feel like I’m missing out on in the heat of battle.  For example, in one level you breach an office with three armed guards.  Two move to flee, one opens fire.  As my special military training (playing Modern Warfare) taught me, always take out the one who’s aiming.  So in my 5 or 6 demo playthroughs, that’s what I did.  In the full game, after doing this one more time, I realised that the soldiers weren’t trying to escape, they were trying (and succeeding) to hit a nearby alarm button.  I reset to the previous checkpoint and tried again.  This time I dropped them first.  Silence.  All the times I’d played and I hadn’t noticed it was them who sounded the alarm.

Normally, the alarm would bring reinforcements.  The same troops arrived even when all was quiet.  There had been a radio call earlier.  I still don’t know if there was a way to deactivate it or intercept it to stop enemies appearing.  I still don’t know.  But that I even think about it is proof that this is more than a dumb shooter.

Just after this battle, you can open a door and battle more soldiers.  Or, you can shoot the lock off of a side door, head in there and sneak around behind them.  Many shooters promise a stealth option to gameplay but rarely deliver it properly.  Reloaded has a few moments where you’re forced into a firefight, but often stealth is there if you choose to use it.  Most of the gunfights I’ve been involved in began because I messed up the quiet option and had to fight my way out.

The idea of restarting from a checkpoint because you’ve realised there’s a different way to do things is a nice choice to have.  However, because of long load times I’m unlikely to try the same thing repeatedly.  Loading could easily become a problem when the game gets harder.  I’m not very patient at following the gaming process of: load, die within seconds, restart.  I’m even less likely to do so with load times such as these.  Actually timing a long load is pointless.  No one ever times a normal one to compare it to.  Reloaded’s are longer than average, that’s all you need to know.

Outside of the campaign and multiplayer (which I’ve spent little time on), Reloaded has MI6 Ops, a series of standalone missions in the style of Modern Warfare’s Spec Ops.  Only the first three are immediately available.

I’m generally in favour of games restricting your options.  In Grand Theft Auto, for example, I accept that you’ll start your game with only a small area of play.  As you improve and advance in the game the map will expand.  One of your rewards for playing is an increasingly large world to explore.  I was less in favour of a similar idea in the aforementioned Spec Ops.  You had to complete a number of missions before more were made available.  MI6 Ops has taken this idea too far.  There are some 20 or so different options, but you have to get some cumulative score from the first three before the rest are made available.  It annoys me that I’ve paid fully for this game yet I can’t access everything that is included.  A bit of a teaser is fine, motivate me to improve.  But restricting a majority of one sections map is ridiculous.

Bond out.

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