It's argued by many a gamer that Activision doesn't always have the best intentions in mind when going about its business. So when the company announced it was working with Eurocom to remake one of the best-loved console shooters ever created – Goldeneye 007 – you can imagine how those people might be feeling right now. Hell, you can kind of sum it up in Martin Hollis' own words when he opined that, "I find it hard to picture Activision's top management being excited about the original and wanting to do it justice".
But let's not pick up sticks and stones so fast. In a special preview event earlier today, executive producer Julian Widdows seemed keen to explain just how much the development team respect the original Nintendo 64 classic, insofar as to constantly refer to Rare's 1997 masterpiece at every step of the creative process. Nintendo's own Mario Club – a testing and consultancy division usually reserved for first-party titles – has had a hands-on involvement with control schemes and level design.
And developer Eurocom has already cut its teeth with past James Bond
titles, as well as proven its Wii development worth with Dead Space: Extraction
. It really doesn't look like Activision are kidding around when it comes to living up to expectations. Eager to prove this fact, SPOnG was among the first in the world to play the introductory Dam and St. Petersburg tank stages in full.
The first thing you notice when picking up that controller is just how different everything is. Obviously, the graphical power of the Wii means that a lot of extra detail has been added to the surroundings, and that comes across nicely in Dam. But a lot of gameplay and narrative elements have also changed – action scenes have been added, new areas have been designed and you'll be tasked with completing missions you've never experienced before.
When the level begins, you're treated to a rendezvous with 006 – Alec Trevelyan – at the top of the entrance gate that usually sits behind you in the N64 original. A non-playable sequence plays out where you use the Nunchuk (or one of the triggers on the Classic Controller) to knock out some guards. From that point on, Trevelyan splits to deal with soldiers in a truck while you're asked to take out the lookouts in the sniper tower.
You can cross the bridge as usual at this point, or you can climb down the rocky surface that separates Bond and the sniper tower – a dingy sewer area that you can then climb back out of to stealthily pass the gap. Sneaking around the back of the tower, your best chance for espionage is to use your silenced pistol to headshot the guards after they have had a conversation with some other truck drivers.
From here, you probably already know about the differences in design – Bond and Trevelyan hijack a truck, attempt to cross a checkpoint and end up having to barge their way through multiple enemy vehicles and explosions before ending up at the top of Arkhangelsk Dam. So we'll skip straight to what happens afterwards.
007 and 006 slide down an elevator shaft and end up surprising several guards – the game goes into something of a bullet time mode here, and depending on whether you kill them all you get a different result. I managed to shoot them all and avoid triggering the alarm, but I'm told if I failed in that particular segment then reinforcements would arrive and I would have had to take an entirely different route through the Dam.
Now, I remember the original Goldeneye 007
Dam. The underground, inside segment amounted to a long corridor. Not so in this update. A twisting labyrinth of rooms present themselves to you, and you have to shoot locks off of doors and take out enemies in underground cargo bays to continue on with your mission.
Handily, an on-screen waypoint marker helps direct you to your next checkpoint, so you never get too lost. That doesn't mean that the enemies won't pose a challenge, however.