IGN Review of GoldenEye 007
N-Space is not new to the first-person shooter genre, and they're certainly not unfamiliar to first person shooters on the Nintendo DS. Every year, this one included, the studio produces a solid portable rendition of the Call of Duty series that gets better with every incarnation. So it made sense that the studio championed a DS edition of GoldenEye while Eurocom cranked out the stunning Wii rendition. I'm not nearly as enthused for this FPS as I've been for N-Space's previous work, and while it sides slightly more on the good scale than bad, I ultimately have to give GoldenEye 007 on DS a pass.
Chances are you've been following the whole GoldenEye reimagining thing on the Nintendo Wii. You know, where Activision has taken the decade-and-change old GoldenEye brand and reworked it for today's Nintendo generation: it features Daniel Craig instead of Pierce Brosnan for starters, but continues on with a slightly changed script and new level designs. The final product on Wii, at least in my opinion, is a real stunner of a first-person shooter and one of the best action experiences of the year.
The Nintendo DS version utilizes many of the same assets: the voice over script from Daniel Craig and Judy Dench, for example, as well as the overarching story that's been tweaked from the 1995 movie script. Even as the Wii version changed things, the DS product shifts things around further – that jump off the dam is a lot more successful for Bond this time around. Because the DS game uses in-engine assets for its cutscenes, the story comes off very lifeless and awkward – as technically advanced as the N-Space FPS engine is, it's not very kind to the low resolution character models with the camera all up in the person's face, so it's almost laughable to see these guys try to pantomime, without lip sycing, with the voice samples recorded for a much more capable Wii production. And Daniel Craig might as well be "generic blonde dude" the way he's poorly rendered in the limited technical assets available to the artists.
GoldenEye on DS is using the same touch-screen control for both aiming and weapon selection as the Call of Duty titles, including the most recent Black Ops on DS. And it introduces a hybrid health system that features the N64 health/armor bars but replenishes lost health when you take cover.
But it's a very rigid first-person shooter with extremely linear level designs and incredibly predictable enemy AI behaviors, and that's something that I could accept if the "shooting" part of the gameplay wasn't so inconsistent. In some cases you can take down a soldier in a single headshot, and he'll hit the ground the way he's expected to. Other times, he'll just flinch and stay standing. But mostly, it's the body shots you have to worry about: I can unload a whole machine gun clip into a bad guy and he'll keep coming back for more.
Then it hit me why the game was so inconsistent: it's the "flinch" animation. It appears that when enemies get non-fatally shot, it triggers a "stumble" animation to give players feedback for when their bullets have connected, but not enough to put them down for good. But while this animation is running, it seems like any additional bullets won't register a hit. The wonky collision detection makes this game more frustrating than it needs to be – sure, once you know the trick (don't shoot anyone who's flinching,wait until they stand back up) it's not hard to get through the game, but this game just doesn't have that same satisfying feel that first-person shooters are expected to.
And there are some truly bad extraneous "hacking" touch screen mini-games that take the place of unlocking doors. These things are so basic that they're unnecessary busywork. Swipe a keycard on a keypad and you'll just tap the numbers that pop up on the screen. Or when you hack into a computer terminal you merely touch rapidly cycling numbers as they freeze in place. Really dumb and completely pointless.
These problems don't translate to the multiplayer support (since, naturally, shot players don't have a flinch animation nor do they have to unlock doors) so if you can find a few DS owners with the cartridge it's a fun time with several of the same modes – conflict, Golden Gun – that's in the Wii rendition. I tested the game online for a few random matches as well, and I've already encountered hackers who have given themselves unlimited proximity mines, polluting arenas with them to the point of causing the 3D engine to come to a crashing halt. Stick with friends you trust and you should do fine.
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