It has been nearly a week since Activision’s new GoldenEye for the Wii was announced and the concept still remains too nebulous for me to fully digest.
The E3 debut video would try to make you think otherwise, with members of a focus group reacting to GoldenEye’s return as though the world was bringing back sliced bread, only now cut by lasers. And really, from a marketing perspective, there’s no better way to go right now.
But will pushing this line continue to prove effective down the road? The truth is that Wii GoldenEye will not be the N64 GoldenEye 007. Activision may have access to the movie’s property rights, but they don’t have that privilege with Rare’s. This means Activision will be able to provide an experience largely reminiscent to the 1996 game, but can’t issue an updated replica. The differences certainly won’t be as bad a thing as some diehards may believe, but there’s a mixture of potential benefits and drawbacks that need time to play out upon the target audience.
First of all, the good news: No matter how you feel, you don’t want the old GoldenEye back. There is no denying the title was a powerhouse for its time and deserves a spot among the shapers of video game history, but everyone who has wished GoldenEye 007 would make an appearance on Virtual Console has wished for $10 of disappointment.
The incredible memories and all-night playing sessions remain valid, but your eyes and brain have acclimated to more than a decade of advancement. GoldenEye 007 today is jaggey, slow and cumbersome. Really, just look at the character models. They’re now the angular abominations of legend. Sorry, but it’s true. GoldenEye 007 is the prom queen everyone had the hots for in high school, only to come back at your 15-year reunion as a 225 lb. Avon lady.
Even if GoldenEye 007 received the Perfect Dark treatment and was revved up to smooth, HD quality, would its gameplay and multiplayer still stand up to the legion of shooters we have today? It could certainly be worth $12 or so for the nostalgic value, but a full release it could never be. There are simply too many games now that have improved upon and evolved the very elements GoldenEye 007 brought into the console shooter business.
That brings us back to the new GoldenEye. It will not be a mere clone of its namesake, which is good. What it may become, however, is a clone in the saturated modern shooter market. What does GoldenEye have to be, if anything, to stand out? Will it be able to rely solely on its brand and pedigree to succeed, or will the excitement expressed now quickly fade once the game is released? I don’t think choices such as using Daniel Craig over Pierce Brosnan (*coughBrosnan’sbettercough*) will really matter as much as whether the game can pull of that magic blend of “glory days” nostalgia and a fresh experience. Name alone means nothing. Just ask That Other GoldenEye I Didn’t Want to Mention.
It will be fascinating seeing how the game progresses and seeing what inspirations the developers have chosen to emphasize. Yet for now, even though I hope for success, I must be forgiven for possessing a safe amount of skepticism.