Remakes really don’t get any stranger than GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. It’s an HD remaster of last year’s Wii reworking of Rare’s classic N64 shooter, but that’s only part of the story. Instead of remaking GoldenEye, Activision and the development team at Eurocom reimagined it, creating a new game only roughly based on the events of the Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, with Daniel Craig providing Bond's digital likeness, new music, new locations, new dialogue, and – with the exception of Dame Judi Dench – an all-new cast. It even has the Tina Turner theme redone by Nicole Sherzinger, The effect is slightly bizarre, as if you’re playing an adaptation of the movie had it been made after Quantum of Solace and not before Tomorrow Never Dies. Yet it still has something of the feel of the original game and film. All in all, a very odd job.
It’s also a bit unsettling that this is visibly a Wii game that’s been given a polish for an Xbox 360/PS3 release. The visual quality differs from level to level – the frozen forests around the Russian base at Severnaya look far more convincing than the stands and hallways of an arms trade fair in Dubai – but there’s always the sense that you’re looking at an early Xbox 360 game, where developers haven’t quite moved on from the block architecture and low-resolution textures of the PS2/Xbox era. Up close, the character models lack any real detail, and while this digital Daniel Craig is oddly more convincing than the rubber-faced horror of last year’s Bloodstone, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is in every other respect less graphically impressive. Playing on a PS3, it’s hard to believe that this is running on the same hardware as Uncharted 3, Rage or Battlefield 3.
It also needs to be said that the gameplay is dated. Despite nods to cover-based gunplay and stealth, with a nice side-line in creeping and some cheerfully brutal sneak attacks, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is an old-school run and gun shooter. Enemies are thrown on thick and fast, but show little signs of any intelligence and can quickly be dispatched with one or two shots. While some sections of the game work better if you take the quiet approach, it’s generally best enjoyed as a fast-paced blaster, with a generous auto-aim on the iron sights and fast-recharging health encouraging you to take action-hero risks rather than take it all too seriously.
And on this level GoldenEye 007: Reloaded actually works. There’s nothing really amazing or imaginative about the level design, but each one has a nice rhythm of sneaking-blasting-sneaking, with a handful of quick-time-event stunt moments and the odd very lightweight puzzle. Buttons need to be pressed and occasionally networks hacked using Bond’s handy smartphone, and additional objectives on the higher difficulty levels encourage you to move deeper into the levels, just as they did in the original GoldenEye.
There are some nice situations where you’re pushed to use strategy or daring to take down snipers or tackle a busy room full of goons, and some great bits that make you feel like Bond – quick, decisive, a man who can dish out the damage without making a big fuss. As a single-player game, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded is short on imagination, ingenuity and the ‘wow’ factor of a Modern Warfare or Uncharted, but it’s consistently big on fun, and when you throw in the nostalgia factor, that’s enough.