Goldeneye Coming Back, Followed by a Collective Yawn
Activision (Scion of Darkness Activision, excuse me) registered the domain goldeneyegame.com. Now, either Activision is trying to make a really bitching fan site for one of the classics of gaming that they didn’t make, or else the rumors are true and they’ve discovered yet another franchise name in their stable they can shake and shake and shake until all the money falls out.
I’m betting on the latter. Apparently I missed the memo which said that Activision had to ruin at least one thing a day, and they were behind on their quota.
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking a sequel to Goldeneye is a phenomenally terrible idea. Let’s take a gander at the various James Bond games released over the years:
Seeing a pattern here? Developers seem to be figuring out James Bond, and by figuring out I mean they’re realizing he doesn’t make a great game protagonist. The lure of Bond is in his ability to go into a really bad situation and pull it out. Think of all the movies, and how most of them involve him getting captured, put into a deadly trap, and pulling it out with guile and gumption. This doesn’t work in a video game, because either there is an obvious, contrived solution that removes the illusion of being in a bad situation, or you die a million times and the game stops being fun.
Goldeneye worked for the precise reason that it didn’t play like a James Bond game. It played like a horrible mash up of Doom and a huge joke draped in a James Bond suit. Playing Goldeneye now is like stepping back into a fever dream where first person shooters we myopic and more based on luck than twitch. And honestly, that was a good time, and it’s why I still enjoy the occasional proximity mine multiplayer match in Goldeneye. It’s decidedly more chaotic and terrifying than modern first person shooters, which depend on (scoff) skill and strategy, rather than dumb luck.
Why would you make a sequel to that, though? How would you make a sequel to that, without creating another generic Splinter Cell like stealth shooter? James Bond in video games has proven that it’s very hard to create a suave badass game, and really easy to create a game with explosions and the proverbial lols. Goldeneye had soul, but it didn’t have James Bond’s soul. It had the soul of someone completely ludicrous, who blew his friends up with proximity mines because he had nothing better to do. And he controlled like a boat.
Could you make a good Bond game? Sure you could. This isn’t going to sound like a ringing endorsement, considering how bad the prospective game is shaping up to look, but Alpha Protocol is on the right track. The lure of Bond isn’t shooting, or stealth, but rather the suaveness, the finding the right place to go, infiltrating it, and being a badass. To go back even further, a Bond game in the style of Deus Ex would be phenomenal. Something where a problem is put in front of you, and you have all these neat gadgets, tools, and your own charm to solve the situation. Imagine, for instance: you end up in a small fishing village in the Dominican Republic. There’s a big drug lord living in a massive manor at the end of town. You are given x number of tools, y connections, and have to infiltrate the manor and steal, say, plans for a nuclear device that the lord is selling to terrorists. Or something. What’s important is, you’d have all these different options. You’d be deciding how Bond was supposed to play, whether he shoots the place up Goldeneye style, whether he sneaks his way in, whether he charms his way in the front door. You’d have the choice, and you’d be defining how you want to go about things. Doesn’t that sound so much more enthralling than a linear shooter through an insipid Bond knockoff plot, coupled with a generic multiplayer mode inferior to every other game of the type?
But when Activision makes a soulless Splinter Cell clone out of one of film’s greatest leading men, don’t say we didn’t warn you.