Review: Pac-Man Party

Platform: Nintendo Wii

Developer: Namco Bandai

Publisher: Namco Bandai

# of Players: 1 – 4

ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)

Official Site

Score: B+

30 years and counting on the video game scene still shows that Pac-Man's got legs (pun intended) and can stand up to pretty much whatever genre he's added to. Namco Bandai's latest Wii game featuring the character and his cohorts is a fun party game that's part Mario Party, part Dokapon Kingdom and all Pac-Man, offering up over 50 mini-games and a few arcade classics in a well-rounded package. Granted, this is a game that's very strictly geared toward the casual family market, so hardcore gamers “expecting” something resembling an actual challenge can slap their cranky sourpuss caps on as they bypass this in favor of the latest arcade shooter or ultra-violent action game. If you're in the mood for a consistently and intentionally silly game where actual gameplay is secondary and a pure sense of fun soaks the atmosphere, read on.

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Review: GoldenEye 007 (DS)

Platform: Nintendo DS/DSi

Developer: n-Space

Publisher: Activision

# of Players: 1 (2 – 6 via Wi-Fi)

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: B+

While GoldenEye for the DS isn’t quite as spectacular as the Wii version, it’s an extremely solid, well-crafted FPS that’s great for some on the go action. Veteran developer n-Space is back on the case with another fun bit of portable FPS campaign (and multiplayer) that features fine visuals and gameplay plus some great music and voice work. Like the developer’s other shooters on Nintendo’s handheld, you’re getting a scaled back yet faithful recreation here, so don’t expect to see all sorts of new standards set. Of course, on its own merits, this one’s a total winner from beginning to end and a pocketful of great Bond thrills at a decent price point. Continue reading

Review: GoldenEye 007 (Wii)

Platform: Nintendo Wii

Developer: Eurocom

Publisher: Activision

# of Players: 1 (2 – 8 online)

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Official Site

Score: A-

In my opinion, Eurocom’s stellar reboot of the classic N64 game GoldenEye not only surpasses the original in terms of overall presentation, it’s one of the best Wii shooters to date. As I’m NOT one of those folks nostalgically joined at the hip to Rare’s original (and brilliant) game, I can tell it to you straight as a gamer who understands the difference between a a mere rip-off and a true relaunch. As the back of the box says: “GoldenEye is Back – Grab Your Friends” – that’s all some of you need to know. This revival of the classic FPS brings both the story as well as James Bond into the current era and it’s important to look at the game in this manner, NOT as an attempt to remake the original exactly as it was back in 1996. You’re getting not only one of the best-looking games on the Wii, but one with an extremely customizable control layout, fantastic online play and a solid, lengthy campaign that can be played a few different ways depending on the difficulty level selected. Continue reading

Goldeneye 007 Launch Trailer

It’s here. BUY it. PERIOD. Seriously. Single or multiplayer, this is the Bond game you’re going to be playing for a long time. Blood Stone rocks as well on the PS3 and 360, but Wii-only owners now have a remake that to me, surpasses the original in every way.

Goldeneye 007 "Reimagining" Trailer

Yet another excellent look at what just may be one of the best Wii titles of 2009 as well as one of the best game remakes to date. Yep, this one’s going to be quite a blast in single AND multiplayer.

New Goldeneye 007 Multiplayer Trailer

And here you go – note how the trailer asks and answers that obvious question for you? Yeah, this one is looking like it’s going to be a winner no matter which mode you choose.

Gallery Update: Goldeneye 007

More nice Goldeneye shots, this time from the game's multiplayer modes and maps. As a bonus, click below for some great-looking screens from the DS version (which means I also need to put that one down on my want list!) – enjoy!

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Goldeneye 007 Classic Edition Hardware Bundle Revealed

I figured that there’d be some sort of peripheral tie-in to Activision’s upcoming revamped version of Goldeneye and yup, Activision has indeed delivered a cool gold Classic Pro Controller. The pad will ship bundled with the game for a very affordable $69.99, making it an absolute must for those who want a great collectable (or an extra official Wii controller that’s going to work flawlessly right out of the package).

“In addition to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, GoldenEye will also support the Wii Zapper for ‘point and shoot’ gamers, giving players several ways to experience GoldenEye on Wii,said David Pokress, Head of Marketing for Licensed Properties, Activision Publishing. “We also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to the golden gun with the gold Classic Controller Pro, which looks cool and also gives shooter fans a familiar control scheme to use as they blast their way through the game.”

Goldeneye 007 hits retail this fall exclusively for the Wii – stick around for an actual release date once we get it. Here are four more screens to ogle while you wait…

Focus-Free Goldeneye 007 Trailer

Here’s an updated version of that Goldeneye 007 trailer minus the gushy focus group fanboys. Thanks to those that asked for this version (and thanks to Activision for the update).

Preview: Goldeneye Hands-On

One of the biggest surprises revealed for the Wii at this year’s E3 was Activision’s new version of Goldeneye 007, a complete reworking of the classic multimillion selling Nintendo 64 shooter that set new standards for console split-screen multiplayer action. Seasoned European developer Eurocom (Dead Space Extraction, one of 2009’s best Wii games) had actually been coding the game in secret for close to two years and all their hard work has really paid off. After having the opportunity to see and play the game at Activision’s press event this past Tuesday, I can more than safely say that Wii owners are going to have a high quality game their other console-owning friends just may be extremely jealous of.

While the Wii has been kicked around by too many folks who know not a whit about game programming, quite a few developers have been doing their jobs by diving into the hardware and showing that the system is truly capable of. Sure, Activision is also bringingPC, PS3 and 360 owners are their own all-new Bond game (Bizarre Creations’ Blood Stone) at some point down the road. However, for those that played it back in the day, Goldeneye was (and is) one of those core titles that brings back many great memories of couch-based deathmatches with plenty of trash talking, adrenaline pumping pure fun. From my perspective, the completely revamped Goldeneye single player actually surpasses the original in terms of visuals, cinematic pacing and pure, intense action sequences. As for the four-player split screen play, it’s super tight, fun and manages to be blazing fast and instantly as memorable as the original.

Message board denizens knocking the game based on low-resolution movies or single screen shots can pretty much get a new hobby complaining about some other game they haven’t yet played. Once you actually see the game live (and hell, play it), you’ll be sold thrice over. What’s here shows a developer and publisher dedicated to pulling out all the stops to show that the Wii can indeed do a serious shooter. Rare’s game was indeed great, but times and tech have changed for the better since the cartridge days. From the moment you get your first mission briefing (voiced by Dame Judi Dench, naturally) and the camera zooms into the first-person perspective of Daniel Craig’s harder-edged Bond, the level of immersion is completely believable and yes, makes you feel as if you’re really playing as 007.

For those of you whining about the lack of a pure port of the Pierce Brosnan version of the game, get over it. He’s not playing Bond anymore and has no interest in having his likeness used in the game, period. I could go into a long lecture on how most actors like to move on to other roles and not just be recognized for a character that’s more or less a replaceable template every few years, but I won’t. What I would suggest is some of the more negative folk out there track down and read some of Sir Ian Fleming’s original Bond novels and discover that that Bond wasn’t exactly a Saint (pun intended), nor always the suave lady-killer with a wisecrack for every occasion. For the record, my generation’s Bond was Sean Connery, but as much as love watching Goldfinger or Thunderball endless times even I wouldn’t want to see him pop up as Bond in a new game again any time soon.

If you were expecting the new Goldeneye to be on rails like so many other Wii shooters or a simplistic game with nothing but straightforward pathways through cardboard AI, you’re in for a very huge shock. Right from the start, a few hidden and not so hidden multiple paths tempt you to not quite play follow-the-leader. I happened to look right as Bond jumped down next to the bridge Agent 006 crossed and saw a small tunnel before he hopped up and moved around the back of a sentry tower. I asked and was told that yes, players will be able to freely choose how they tackle parts of certain missions. This should add to the replay value for those that want to go back and see what’s off the beaten path.

For the demo purposes, we had Bond sneak up and around the back stairway of that sentry post. A great context-sensitive physical takedown led into the first big gunfight as a small group of Russian soldiers rushed the bridge from the right side of the tower. A few well-placed sniper rounds (and an assist from 006) later, both agents headed to a nearby truck which was commandeered and steered up to an enemy checkpoint. The game flows so seamlessly from play to first-person cut scenes that even the “quiet” parts are cool. Inside the truck, a brief dialog sequence blended right into the next action sequence. A pair of guards came over to check out the truck and after they not so kindly asked the 00’s to step out of the truck, things got hot. 006 shoots the guard on his side then Bond’s, puts the truck into gear and floors it through the checkpoint as 007 picks up what looked like an AK-47…

This part was pure chaos out of a Call of Duty car chase with Bond shooting, Russian trucks exploding, rolling over, or in one case, flying wildly off a bridge and into a ravine. The ride came to a nasty ending as 006 rolled the truck and hopped out. Poor 007 seemed to take a few extra lumps as the truck flipped over to a stop, landing in a crunched heap. This made me grin, as Craig’s Bond has gotten his share of realistic bumps and bruises during his brief tenure. Once 006 yanked Bond from the truck, the pair hoofed it to a nearby broken elevator. A bit of button jamming helped open the doors and shimmying down the elevator cable led to an encounter with a few unlucky troops caught off guard once the door was breached. The breach effect led to a great “bullet-time” moment where Bond had a few seconds to target the enemy guards to add a little lead to their diets before an alarm could be reached.

Our single player session abruptly ended here, but it was clear that Eurocom has done some mighty fine work in crafting one of the best-looking Wii games to date. The detailed visuals, destructible environments and solid lighting effects along with plenty of smoke and debris (all running in HD, I might add) were mind-blowing and prove that you don’t need fancy bump-mapping on every surface to make a game work. That the gameplay packs a similarly varied punch to a Call of Duty game isn’t something to knock it for at all. In fact, two of the sheer thrills of this new Goldeneye are the wider variety of interactivity plus those “Did you SEE that?!” moments as you survive some tense encounters. Once you actually see the game up close and personal and get that controller in your hand, you’ll be a believer, that’s for sure.

Speaking of controls, the game not only supports the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, but you can play with the Wii Zapper, Classic Controller Pro and (I believe) Game Cube controller, so finding a favorite method should not be an issue at all for console FPS fans. We had Classic Controller Pros all around, so it was a dual analog paradise party for four player multiplayer action. Our sessions took us to two different maps (one indoor and one outdoor), both featuring four of the over 40 unlockable playable characters. The first map was a straightforward deathmatch set in a two-story structure that had tight turns, stairways and a few choice kill zones. I chose Oddjob, a very fun character to use thanks to his sub-weapon, a deadly razor-ringed bowler that was good for one-hit kills when thrown.

Our second map was an outdoor construction site of sorts with ramps, a giant pipe, scaffolding and concrete ditches plus a train in one part that became quite a setting for close-in shootouts. Here, we played Golden Gun Mode for a few rounds, and fans of the original will be pleased to know that the rules are indeed the same. Whomever grabs the gun gets the ability for one shot kills, but they’re also easily targeted by the other opponents. In multiplayer, Eurocom has dropped some of Rare’s more comical bonuses but has emulated some of the elements from the N64 original such as the red blood effect when you die. Even with the game engine running four action-packed screens, the speed was excellent with no slowdown or glitches. The level of detail in the characters and backgrounds was solid (very slightly lower than the main game), but to tell you the truth, I was too busy having a blast to find stuff to nitpick over.

Of course, you, dear reader are the final part of the puzzle. It’s clear that both Eurocom and Activision are supremely excited about the project – all they need are gamers to stuff away those preconceived notions of the Wii as a “casual” game system that can’t pull off a top drawer title. Although we only had about a half-hour with Goldeneye, it’s definitely one game fans of the original should put on their must-have lists (yes, even if you still don’t own a Wii). We were also told that as good as the game looks, it’ll get even better as Eurocom is tweaking the code even more to add extra visual effects.

Finally, while the complete set of split-screen and online modes haven’t been revealed yet, Activision plans to announce them as the game approaches its Q4 launch. One we get a final release date, mark your calendars and hit your favorite game emporium to pre-order as this one’s definitely going to be a hell of a ride for Bond fans of any console generation.