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GoldenEye 007: Reloaded

I almost feel insulted by GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. This year, we’ve seen lots of franchises get successfully rebooted, most notably Rayman Origins and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Next year will see Syndicate and XCOM making comebacks, with fresh new styles to take advantage of the myriad of advances in game design that we’ve seen since their original releases. And there, standing out in the middle of them, we have GoldenEye: Reloaded, a game that has no right to stand next to the slew of awesome releases this year.

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Reloaded upsets me most because it plays it too safe. It’s easy. Bizarre Creations took a chance with last year’s flawed James Bond 007: Blood Stone and the staff was met with pink slips, but as disappointing as some elements of that title were, it at least tried to create an authentic and memorable experience. Reloaded follows the footsteps of its N64 predecessor so closely that it feels regressive. Sure, it’s got the linear hallways and regenerative health of all the modern hits, but the game is dumb and only ever hits on one note: shoot goons.

All exploration has been removed. You’ll find some hard to reach supply rooms occasionally, but their presence is so blatantly obvious that it would be a misuse of the word to call them secret. And I’m not just griping about a lack of hidden rooms – there’s very little to do in this game other than simply follow whatever corridor you’re currently in. And don’t think about going backward – trip invisible wires and doors will suddenly close forever behind you.

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Like shooters of yesteryear, you can’t jump (probably to keep you from hopping over those invisible walls). Barriers are the only things that remain invisible, as Bond can never escape the enemy once he’s detected. All alone in a hallway with only one enemy? Should he see you, everyone in the neighborhood will be on top of you almost instantly, even if you quickly and silently take him down and hide. Stealth only remains an option until you should be discovered, at which point enemies will home in on you like bloodhounds on lost children.

Powered by nostalgia, Reloaded will occasionally make you smile. Whatever your favorite area from the original GoldenEye release, you’ll find some nod to it here. There’s something satisfying about the frequent one-shot kills you’ll get on your enemies, though the aggressive auto-aim will make you feel like you’re playing on God Mode if you don’t disable it. But most of the time, the game simply feels dated. The environments are far too boring to provide any impetus for discovering hidden targets scattered throughout. Bond’s famous gadgets appear in the form of a smartphone, but not much thought was put into it. It’s only ever used to complete secondary objectives, which add very little to the experience.

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But Bond is about the multiplayer! Right. Well, you can play the game over Xbox Live, but matchmaking is terrible and absolutely no one is playing. With servers this sparse, there needs to be an option to connect to servers playing any game mode instead of having to select each and every mode to even see if someone is playing.

Normally, I wouldn’t fault a game for not having a multiplayer community, but Reloaded‘s lack of an online following is because it is too high priced for what it is. The game’s price-point is significantly higher than other HD releases and provides less content than the bulk of them. There’s no value here at full price and a significant opportunity was missed simply because of the misguided belief on the behalf of the publishers that this game could stand toe-to-toe with the big blockbusters of the holiday season. You can get your multiplayer fix with local play for up to four players, but do you want to pay $60 for Reloaded when you can get Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and have money left over for Perfect Dark HD and a trip to a local fast food joint to fuel up for a night of great gaming?

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The game is in many ways a perfect example of Activision’s consistent mishandling of the Bond license. It’s certainly gotten a little more polish than your average licensed Activision release, but it’s still not worth your time. Last year’s Blood Stone was a step in the right direction, but a step taken by a studio who weren’t being utilized to the best of their potential. GoldenEye 007: Reloaded isn’t a bad title, but it seems like an obvious demonstration of Activision’s inability to make the Bond license successful. Instead of putting in the muscle to make a Bond game worthy of the canon, we have been given a port of a remake of a Nintendo 64 game. GoldenEye 007: Reloaded isn’t worth your time.

5 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

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