Though I’ve never been the biggest James Bond fan (they broke the mould after my namesake, Sean Connery, left the role), I did find the idea of playing a first-person action game in the fantasy spy setting appealing. Eurocom have done a pretty decent game here, though a few issues stopped me from wanting to hang onto it and I never did finish that second playthrough thanks to a really irritating last couple of levels.
The highlights are the controls, superb voice-acting, the fact that there’s an attempt at storytelling at all and the visuals. As with their other Wii highlight, Dead Space: Extraction, the facial animations are amazing and convey even subtle emotion brilliantly (take a look at the intro to the St. Petersburg Statue Park mission for a prime example).
Though there’s only a half dozen actual missions, they’re divided into a few levels each and feel fairly substantial. On the downside, one of the last: “Enter the Cradle,” is a nightmare gauntlet that will require multiple attempts even on the easiest difficulty and is challenging to the point where it’s no fun at all. Ditto the penultimate “defend the scientist” level – honestly why do designers even put these into games; does anyone actually enjoy them? I don’t mind tying mission failure to the death of an ally, but having to defend said ally against seemingly endless hordes of attackers whilst they keep moaning at you to defend them gets really old really fast.
Though the controls are good, they don’t feel as good as The Conduit, it must be said. I don’t get how I can have the “continue tracking movement if pointer off-screen” option checked and yet have attempts to look down quickly stop as if I didn’t have that selected. I suppose I might have been able to get the desired result by tweaking the dead zone more, but without the ability to test settings realtime as I could in The Conduit, it ended up feeling like a chore.
Level design is excellent, making the levels feel less linear than they are, but the AI is a bit goofy and results in some amusing moments. Even when you’re moving ever-so-slowly whilst upright you can cause a guard to turn around as you sneak up on them, but crouched you can practically circle them undetected. Likewise if your weapon is silenced you can cause untold carnage and property damage and so long as you don’t cap the guy standing next to one of his mates no one will know you’re there. In the aforementioned St. Petersburg mission there’s a bit where you can go up on the roof of a building with some baddies inside and look down through skylights at them. Now you might think that shooting out any of these windows would raise the alarm, but if your gun is silenced you can not only rain down glass on their heads but shoot them down in what would actually be plain sight of their mates without anybody so much as blinking twice. It might seem like Yahtzee-style nitpicking, but those kinds of things do tend to take me out of the game a bit.
Being a solo gamer I didn’t have a chance to try out local multiplayer – though having even a 42″ screen carved up into four doesn’t seem like it would be the best multiplayer FPS experience. Despite another concurrent Activision title, Call of Duty: Black Ops supporting the new Headbanger headset for the Wii, Goldeneye has no such support or any other method of interacting with other players during online play beyond shooting them. Playing against the equivalent of clever bots never really interested me in the early days of online multiplayer on the PC; without so much as keyboard texting available I couldn’t be bothered to do more than confirm that the online multiplayer works.
Overall this is a decent game if you’re a fan of the genre, but in all honesty I’d hold out for Conduit 2, which will support the new Headbanger headset, won’t require friend codes for voice chat and will offer both a more substantial single-player campaign, better visuals and on-the-fly control adjustments.
My Starry Night (WiiWare)
I skipped Hudson’s other non-game title, My Aquarium (mainly because I have a real one), but my interest in the heavens combined with the low price made this seem like a safe bet.
You get several fully-voiced and text-based planetarium-style star shows about the constellations and major stellar objects that easily make this worth the meager 500-point asking price, but I couldn’t help feeling like there could have been more content. There’s no DLC, but that just seems like a missed opportunity. Though there is a mode where you can highlight objects of interest to review the matching entry in the glossary it feels like My Starry Night is lacking in visual data beyond a few Hubble telescope images. Being able to view maps of our moon, Mars, Venus and other planets in the solar system as well as information about the human exploration of space would have been great and certainly worth downloading for an extra fee.
You’re getting more information than the average gadget catalogue “home planetarium” at a fraction of the cost – even if it’s not as visually impressive. If you share my interest in the night sky – and also live in an urban area where light pollution prevents you from seeing most of it, it’s definitely worth checking out.