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GoldenEye 007

Let's do the timewarp again...

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

It's not a remake, it's a re-imagining. Dangerous words, as Tim Burton discovered before curling one out all over the memory of The Planet of The Apes. However, while the original version of that film remains eminently watchable, videogames are a different beast. In gaming terms, 13 years is an epoch. GoldenEye may have (yawn) pioneered the first-person shooter genre on console, but anyone digging Ye Olde Nintendo 64 out of the loft for a quick blast would find a bewilderingly ugly game. It might have looked the business when Princess Diana was still warm and Oasis were a fresh-faced Slade tribute act, but time moves on apace.

That said, given the deification of GoldenEye, it's hard to see what Activision has to gain from this nineties reboot (apart from the obligatory wheelbarrow full of cash). Fans of the original will be predisposed to criticise it, and younger gamers will neither know nor care about a game based on one of the more torpid Bond excursions, despite what the game's executive producer says about it being "one of the most loved films of all time".

Clearly, there are a lot of toes to tread on, and one of the original Rare dev team has already dismissively thrown his two penn'orth in. If he's pissed off, how do you think poor old Pierce Brosnan is feeling? Airbrushed from history and replaced by a dead-eyed Chester goon in a pair of powder-blue budgie-smugglers. Of course the argument is that Daniel Craig is currently James Bond, and as such he should be the face and voice of any current Bond project. It's closer to the truth to say he's on the books, along with Judi Dench, Rory Kinnear and David Arnold - who composed the last five Bond themes - one of the set designers, and even Craig's body double, who provides the motion capture.

Pierce Brosnan is out, Daniel Craig is in. Roger Moore is at the Chiswick roundabout.

It all adds up to that crucial essence of James Bond, as the game kicks off with Dench barking the orders in a revised story (knocked out in a week by Bond scribe Bruce Feirstein) about a high-ranking Russian general, Arkady Ouromov, stealing military equipment and selling it on the black market. Dench has reason to believe he's about to ship a cache of hi-tech weapons to a terrorist organisation and your mission is to infiltrate his base, destroy the weapons and optionally take out Ouromov. The upshot is that a cargo plane is arriving in 45 minutes, and your good self (Bond, James Bond) and 006 (Alex Trevylan) need to make sure those weapons aren't on it.

This opening Dam level was covered here previously by my close personal friend Christian Donlan, but this time round we're allowed to play it. Intriguingly, "innovative control schemes for casual gamers" are promised, but we're given a so-called classic controller, which of course wilfully has the a and b and x and y buttons the wrong way round - cue a roomful of seasoned hacks staring at their hands every time they try to open a door.

That aside, it's fairly instinctive, and we start by punching a man square in the face and picking off a few of his mates with a silenced pistol before things inevitably hit the fan, accompanied by a shift in the dynamic soundtrack and a hail of bullets in our direction. Conveniently, a stash of machineguns is near to hand, and you can comfortably end the lives of a dozen strangers via a rudimentary cover and shoot mechanic, with the left trigger bringing up the gun's sights.