Hello all! Last week’s game was a perfect example of a series’ successful transition from 2D to 3D. Nintendo is frighteningly good at that.
This week concerns a remake of a beloved, influential, awesome N64 shooter. It’s a remake that changes everything, and yet, it doesn’t.
GoldenEye is, of course, the remake of, um, GoldenEye, the game that begat the modern shooter, as far as I’m concerned. Everyone knows the game; based on the James Bond movie, you play as 007 and attempt to stop his buddy and former 006, Alec Trevelyan, from firing an EMP satellite at London. Bond shenanigans ensue. Between the amazing campaign and the timeless multiplayer, the original has such a special place in the hearts of gamers that a remake might seem sacrilegious.
That’s kind of how I felt, too, when this new GoldenEye landed. I thought to myself, “Is this another horrible cash-in?” I’d been burned before by EA’s GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (have you ever played that game!? It’s epically bad), and remakes always make everyone leery. Nevertheless, I bought the thing, and I got a neat gold Wii Classic Controller with it, too (yes, I bought the game at launch for the Wii; it would be remastered for 360 and PS3 exactly one year later).
The game made me nervous at the start. GoldenEye 2010 famously swapped Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye Bond) for Daniel Craig (then-current, and also not-GoldenEye Bond), and the story was “updated” to make sense with Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond. Okay. Firing up the game with cool gold controller in hand, I immediately noticed the modern feel of the gameplay. I had regenerating health, a cover system, and a futuristic mobile phone. There were QTEs. Here was something that played more like a somewhat quieter, more compact Call of Duty, in a way. That’s fine, but it didn’t gel with the GoldenEye I grew up with.
But then I started looking deeper. I noticed the level design; the levels themselves are extremely different from the original, but the spirit is still there. There’s objective-based difficulty (harder difficulty means more objectives), which is also keeping with the spirit of the original. There’s the story, while changed, and while more prominent, still hits almost all the beats of the original—’97's GoldenEye had quite an emphasis on plot, for its time. It was based on a movie, after all.
But that’s really what makes GoldenEye 2010 a great remake, to me: maybe it doesn’t exactly follow the letter of the original, but it certainly follows the spirit. Remakes, reboots, etc. are a tricky thing; developers often lose sight of what made the original so great, like, say, Duke Nukem Forever. And GoldenEye is an even harder thing to get right; the developers couldn’t release an HD port of the original due to rights issues, so they modernized it instead. But from playing the game, it’s clear they didn’t dismiss the original outright. To me, it plays as a loving homage to the original; it’s modern, updated, changed, whatever—but it doesn’t feel like a quick cash grab to me (seriously, that EA GoldenEye sucks hard).
Maybe the point is, don’t pass judgement on a remake—or anything, really—before it actually comes out. As I’ve said in the past, you don’t know if you’ll like a game until you play it. That’s how it was with GoldenEye 2010 for me; I was nervous about a remake of one of the greatest games ever made, but I played it and found it great. Just please stay away from Rogue Agent.
Thanks for reading! I have a Twitter and I like talking to people, so follow me!
Next week brings us a Western, and it’s not that one. No, not that one either, or the sequel. Think less cowboys, more monsters.