GoldenEye 007 is often cited as one of the greatest games of all time. While it doesn’t hold up too well today, it still moved the console first person shooter forward in a very real way. Sadly this article isn’t about that game, it’s about the 2010 remake. At first glance this seemed like a great idea, reboot one of Rare's most famous games for a new generation, make a ton of money, and laugh all the way to the bank. The result was a shoddy first person shooter that was initially released as a Wii exclusive. This wasn’t a bad move, it put the game back on a Nintendo platform where it was originally released, but this also meant that it wasn’t the prettiest of titles. Pierce Brosnan starred in the original GoldenEye film, and his blocky likeliness was used in the original N64 title. The remake went with Daniel Craig, the actor portraying Bond at the time, which made the experience feel grittier and more brutal. The development team took great steps to move the classic game into the 21st century, but it made one grave error, the gameplay was a carbon copy of Call of Duty. This made every story mission feel repetitive, contrived, and downright tedious. There were some cool moments and some intense firefights, but with no interesting weapons and no gameplay twists, the entire experience felt like something we could have done without.
The single player may have been a disappointment, but multiplayer was where GoldenEye always shined. While modes like team death match and capture the flag didn’t offer anything particularly intriguing, some returning modes did offer up some fun. I remember being enamored with Golden Gun, the mode that tasked players with finding the golden gun, killing the player who had it, and then stealing it to get as many kills as possible to win the game. The gun killed in one shot but it had to be reloaded after every shot, creating a balance that felt equal parts challenging and liberating, but it was really the only highlight. Other returning classics like paintball mode were fun diversions but never managed to captivate players. Maybe I was blinded by the shiny, James Bond coating on the game, but I remember thoroughly enjoying my time with it. Looking back, however, I can see how wrong I was. One story mission in particular had me running up a spiral tower, shooting baddies on each floor as I made my way to the top. It wasn’t good design, it wasn’t challenging, and it wasn’t fun. It was just a way to funnel the player into a bunch of enemies eagerly waiting to fill them with holes.
After the 2010 remake had come and gone we thought we were done with the title, but Activision had different plans. 2011 saw the release of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded for Xbox 360 and PS3. It smoothed out the edges on the graphics, added some multiplayer modes, and gave us a horde mode, but because the game itself was dull, the horde mode just felt like an excuse to endlessly slaughter throngs of nameless goons. While better than the Wii release, it somehow felt even more pointless on systems that were already dominated by the Call of Duty franchise. Reloaded released to very little fan fair, and even though I picked it up, I remember having considerably less fun with it.
The GoldenEye remake had some good ideas, and paid homage to a great title, but it didn’t manage to do it justice. If Activision had spent more time to make GoldenEye 007 feel like a unique game that was worth of the James Bond license, we might still be singing its praises. Despite all the bad things I’ve said about the game, I am glad it exists. It’s a perfect example of why some games and franchises should be left alone once they’ve left the zeitgeist.