Depending upon the consoles you own, the bad news about GoldenEye: Reloaded may still be the good news. It is most definitely a high-definition remastering of last year's title reboot on the Wii. But given the much larger shooter constituency on the PS3 and 360, and online multiplayer's vastly greater viability on those consoles, that may be all the game needs.
It will still deliver more than its Wii cousin, mostly in a set of singleplayer challenges called "MI6 Operations." But GoldenEye: Reloaded isn't a particularly complicated product: It's the Wii game, coming to the 360 and PS3. That means you're getting Daniel Craig as Bond, and the game's updated take on the video game story of GoldenEye.
Activision's James Steer, the producer overseeing GoldenEye, said work on the HD version of the game was underway concurrent with the development of the Wii version last year. "This was working in the background the whole time while they were working on the Wii game," Steer told me. "But it was very important not to disturb that team as they completed the game." Once they did, work shifted over to the high definition version.
I asked why, if the plan was to deliver GoldenEye to the PS3 and 360 all along, why Activision and developer Eurocom delivered for the Wii first. Steer said the Wii debut was meant as a gesture toward the beloved franchise's history on the Nintendo 64. My speculation is that splitting the release also stoked demand on the high definition consoles, and maximizes sales on the Wii without making the product look like an oh-by-the-way port.
GoldenEye: Reloaded promises 60 fps high-definition visuals, of course, but in what I played of it (about midway through "Outpost," the sixth mission) everything unfolded as I recalled from the Wii game, in set pieces, the placement of enemies and drops, dialogue and other details. There was a sense of muscle memory as I instinctively turned to find a weapons chest underneath a bridge, and shoot off its lock.
Steer said enemy AI will be adjusted to make your foes work more cooperatively. In GoldenEye 007 on the Wii, you had a limited window in which to eliminate all enemies that had spotted you before they would summon reinforcements. This held true on the Xbox 360 version I played, too. But playing through "Outpost" I didn't really perceive any AI adjustments, and this was before my conversation with Steer.
The MI6 Operations can basically be described as multiplayer challenges with bots for opponents. I didn't get to play any of these, but they will break down into games of elimination (deathmatch), assault (capture/destroy the flag), wave defence (protect the flag) and another mode placing a premium on stealth with only melee and silenced pistol available. Global leaderboards will encourage replay by posting not only players' times and scores, but also the set of gameplay sliders they used to pull it off. Steer foresaw bragging rights competitions over owning the best mark on the toughest set of parameters.
Given the title's stature as a seminal multiplayer shooter, Steer realises that some will buy the game primarily for that mode only. There, he said, gamers will find 16-player support, new maps, stealth game modes that call on espionage and spycraft, and a roster of classic characters, all unique to the HD consoles.
"We pushed multiplayer as hard as we can for this," Steer said. "We were focused on delivering the GoldenEye multiplayer that everybody knows and loves."
The game arrives in stores later this fall.