To fit with modern FPS conventions, GoldenEye does away with the now-primitive mechanics of the N64 game and replaces them with the current standards in FPS. That means aim-down-sights shooting, smart use of cover, and sadly recharging health. Admittedly the game borrows a lot from the recent Call of Duty shooter design, but if you’re as sick of CoD as I am, don’t let that deter you. GoldenEye is, for lack of a better word, a much “smarter” FPS than either of the Modern Warfare’s. It takes the loosely cover-based action from CoD and adds some desperately needed cover mechanics, like the ability to pop and lean out of cover for quick shots, and the fact that protective structures are quickly destroyed under sustained fire. Simply put, GoldenEye takes a design that has become rote and stale and adds the features that it’s really needed for a couple years now, creating a more organic and complete experience. Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch would do well to follow Eurocom’s lead in the future CoD titles.
Shooting is just the half of it, though. GoldenEye is a surprisingly competent stealth game too; in fact, about 70% of it can be played with stealth tactics if that’s how you want to do it. While there are certain sequences and some levels that can’t be stealthed (the archives is almost exclusively action) the rest is up to you. Combining shrewd area surveying and a close eye on your radar, you can predict enemy paths and empty out entire rooms using silenced shots or melee takedowns. Daniel Craig’s more brusque hand-to-hand style comes into play here, with some truly brutal melee finishers and surprise attacks. There’s nothing like sneaking up on a guy and taking him down with a quick neck chop, Judo throw or fist to the back of the skull.
What I really liked, though, is that failing a stealth section doesn’t screw you for the rest of the level. If you are detected all local guards converge on you and some reinforcements arrive, but once you’ve mopped them up you can go right back to stealth for the rest of the level. This also lets you play the whole game as a straight action shooter, or a mixture of both action and stealth, as Craig’s Bond probably would. Waking up every guard in the game certainly makes the harder difficulties even harder, but it’s really up to you. GoldenEye takes the best stealth elements from more frustrating games like Metal Gear Solid and somehow seamlessly mixes them with the typically mindless action of CoD, tweaked and refining it all into a dynamic experience that is truly the thinking man’s FPS.
The ever-present stealth element happens to introduce another feature I really, really like. Throughout the entire game you are armed with your trusty Walther P99, Bond’s trademark sidearm since the mid-Brosnan days. The P99 comes equipped with an attachable suppressor, so you have a silenced weapon whenever you need it. The best part is that you ALWAYS have it—you can’t drop it, in fact, but the game lets you pick up two additional weapons that you can swap out with new ones at will. It’s a much more flexible and natural system than the irritating “two guns, no exceptions!” policy that Halo ground into FPS design a decade ago. Apparently 007 is smart enough to keep his compact sidearm with him at all times, while the Master Chief and his innumerable imitators can’t carry more than two guns on their bulky power armor at a time, regardless of the weapons’ sizes or dimensions.
The remaining arsenal is pretty robust and borrows Modern Warfare 2’s concept of attachments. You’ll run into all sorts of rifles, pistols and automatics with varying accessories, including laser pointers, reflex sights, scopes and even under-slung grenade launchers. It’s a healthy selection that’s decently balanced between solo and multiplayer, although a couple, like the Walther WA2000 sniper rifle and the auto shotgun are incredibly overpowered in multi. Strangely, grenades feature prominently in multi but I never picked any up during the story campaign.
The game’s more realistic arsenal also leads to some unfortunate omissions. You won’t find any Moonraker lasers or silver PP7s, for example. I also can’t find the Skorpion vz 61, AKA the infamous Klobb. This is a mystery to me because in pre-release demos Eurocom had ingeniously renamed it the Klebb, after Spectre agent Rosa Klebb of From Russia with Love. You can even play as Rosa Klebb in multiplayer—she’s one of the classic villain characters—but the notorious “suck” gun is conspicuously absent. As of this writing I haven’t unlocked all the extras, though, so hopefully the Klebb is hiding somewhere in there.
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