Good graphics, good music, timeless GoldenEye locations
Sluggish controls, poorly designed weapons, lousy online functionality
One of the biggest hits on Wii this year has been Goldeneye 007, which released to both critical praise and apparent commercial success. The title is a reimagining of the 90s-era N64 classic, channeling both old and new with its blend of Daniel Craig, four player split-screen, online deathmatch, and Jaws. In the shadow of the massive Wii marketing push was the DS version of the game, which, while similar in many respects, also boasts a different developer and some inherent DS limitations. The end result is a portable title that is adequate but also notably inferior to its bigger brother.
GoldenEye 007 for DS is, like other iterations, a first-person shooter patterned after the hit 1990s Bond film of the same name. Players make their way through multiple levels staged across the world in a tale of high tech theft and global domination. Levels reflect a variety of world locales, where Bond is ordered to perform reconnaissance, collect information, and otherwise kill a lot of bad guys. Game modes include single player, local wireless multiplayer, and online multiplayer, with a spate of extras — mostly concept art — to pad things out.
The game certainly has the right pedigree. In addition to the franchise’s tradition, there is also the matter of the developer, n-Space, which has developed several other Activision-published DS shooters, including several Call of Duty titles. (n-Space also crafted the obscure but innovative GameCube classic Geist.) The developer is certainly familiar with the platform, and it shows through, most notably with a graphics engine that exceeds the N64 version and a musical score that somehow manages to cram an orchestra inside. Even the star-laden voicework is reasonably hi-fidelity, although the delivery can be a bit flat.
Even with those advantages, the DS’s limitations are evident. Bond looks fine from a distance but is pretty nondescript in his up-close shots, and the same can be said for other characters. The game’s AI is pretty forgettable, too, with enemies who are generally disposed to running directly into Bond’s gunfire.
Combat as a whole feels lacking. Controls come in either stylus or button-only flavors, although the former is far more responsive. Even so, the stylus never feels really swift, even at the highest sensitivity setting, and turning around to face an opponent feels like an exercise in continual dragging. This is a real challenge in open areas when enemies can come from any direction. Those who have used a similar setup with the Call of Duty titles might better adjust to the system, but newcomers will find it a letdown from Wii’s more responsive controls.
Targeting is also a major pain, a consequence of horrific weapon design. Most weapons have deplorable aiming, with the result that a player might unload an entire clip, only to barely scratch the target. Bafflingly, the default P99 handgun is much more accurate and proves to be the optimal weapon in most circumstances. This serves to undermine one of the central features of any shooter.
There is an online component, but it is largely a bust. Getting online is a chore, with long waits and frequent disconnects, and once on, the competition is sparse — not once did we play in a full room. Even with limited numbers of opponents, a few hackers managed to rear their ugly heads, showing up with outrageous weapons or impossible win-loss records, despite having never shown up in the arena. There is a way to play with friends only… assuming the player knows others who own the game.
GoldenEye is one of the more storied franchises in Nintendo system history, and Eurocom did a stellar job of revitalizing the franchise on Wii. Sadly, n-Space (an eminently competent developer in its own right) was unable to achieve the same feat on DS. The game, while technically sound in some ways, is also quite under-performing where it counts, especially with respect to the weapons, the targeting, and the online play. Those looking to relive the glory days should stick to the Wii version.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.