James Bond has more than one objective this November. The secret agent plans to hit not only Wii but also come to Nintendo DS, courtesy of developer n-Space. Publisher Activision showcased the portable version of GoldenEye 007 at a press event for the title last Wednesday in San Francisco.
The title looks to be the best Bond on a portable system yet. As in the Wii version, Daniel Craig is James Bond and Judi Dench reprises her role as M. But this DS game is not just a port of the console experience, according to Ted Newman, creative director at n-Space.
“[GoldenEye 007 DS] is basically a companion title, so it follows the same story points and same plot beats as the Wii version,” explained Newman. “All of the levels, though, are built from scratch with the DS in mind — the gameplay, the weapon choices. There are going to be some similarities [to the Wii version], but [GoldenEye 007 DS] has its own entity.”
My experience began with a snow level, in which Bond must use stealth to discreetly take down foes. The 3D engine showcases some impressive models and particle effects (with snow drifting down) for DS, with the action running smoothly. Newman pointed out that sprinting through the locale is not the way to go, though, as enemies are able to hear the secret agent. As such, I crouched and crawled with Bond to successfully sneak up on adversaries.
After disposing of a couple of foes, I noticed a snowmobile that a few soldiers were converging around. This scene led to my first opportunity to interact with the environment, blowing up the vehicle to kill the enemies from a distance. This process was made easier by the stylus controls, which are smooth and accurate. Many players are most likely familiar with the layout from Call of Duty for DS, which also comes from n-Space.
But the developer hopes to please people who may find the stylus controls a bit uncomfortable. As such, Newman informed me of the ability to play with buttons, with the D-pad maneuvering Bond and the A, B, X, Y buttons acting as a reticule.
“I personally am such a fan of the stylus that I wasn’t sure how I would feel about [button controls],” Newman said. “But you really can do a good job [with buttons], just running through the levels and playing as you would with the stylus.”
Newman is right. I tackled the Archives level with the button controls. While the aiming is bit clunky, a clever aim assist mechanic targets foes by aiming down your sights. (The camera impressively zooms behind the scope, showcasing great detail on the player’s weapon during the transition.) Thus, hitting the L shoulder button locks onto the nearest enemy, and then all you need to do is unleash some ammo. I still lean toward the stylus layout, but the button controls work fairly well. Newman said that when n-Space focus-tested the controls, it “ended up almost being a 50-50 split.”
Along with the new control option, the game also proffers single-player awards by replaying levels, according to Newman.
“Basically, whenever you beat a single-player level, it opens up a time trial,” said Newman. “Thus, you go back to try to beat a level in a certain time to gain experience, which you then use to spend on different cheats.”
Though I figure more people will spend time killing each other in multiplayer. GoldenEye 007 for DS supports up to six people locally and online (no single-cart play, unfortunately) and includes more than 70 awards and a mod system to mix things up.
“For example, [one modification] has all the players moving constantly and not able to stop,” Newman elaborated. “Another modification] has a bonus [for the player], like you’ll gain armor when you kill an enemy. These modifications really change up the modes that we have and just add that much more replay to the multiplayer experience.”
After a quick local multiplayer match with Newman (which worked well and was fun), I left the play session with only a few concerns. First, I am a bit wary about the emphasis on exploding objects in single-player levels, where you constantly blow up barrels and computer monitors. The interaction is a nice touch, but hopefully not taken too far. I also worry about the straightforward nature of the second level, in which I ran from room to room, shooting enemy after enemy.
However, Newman reassured me that this title captures the spirit of the classic Nintendo 64 game from Rare and Nintendo. He believes GoldenEye 007 for DS will not be just run-of-the-mill shooting, but that the game will actually put you in the shoes of the secret agent.
“I really do feel like this is what a James Bond game should be — it’s the right mix of action; it’s the right mix of stealth. The mantra [the development team] kept using throughout the project was that [the game] is the thinking man’s first-person shooter.”
GoldenEye 007 for DS hits store shelves Nov. 2 with a MSRP of $39.99.