The original GoldenEye 007 game on the Nintendo 64 was a runaway success with Bond fans and game lovers around the world. Widely praised as one of the best examples of the first-person shooter genre, GoldenEye 007 leaves an enviable legacy and has a place in the hearts of generations of gamers.
Activision and Eurocom’s much anticipated 2010 re-imagining of GoldenEye 007 promises to bring the game bang up to date on Wii. The story is set in 2010 and stars today’s Bond, Daniel Craig, rather than Pierce Brosnan who played the famous agent in the original 1995 movie. While the game is still a first-person shooter, Eurocom and Activision have worked hard to create a complete re-imagining of GoldenEye in a modern setting, with new challenges, features and controls.
We had the opportunity to ask Dawn Pinkney, GoldenEye 007 Producer at Activision, a few questions about this exciting new take on the N64 classic.
Read on for the first part of our behind the scenes Q&A session…
Nintendo of Europe: First of all, how do you feel about re-imagining GoldenEye 007 for Wii?
Dawn Pinkney: We are very confident about the potential for GoldenEye 007 on Wii: not only is GoldenEye well known due to the success of the original film and N64 game, but the Bond franchise itself still has a huge and loyal audience. Without a new Bond film out anytime soon, GoldenEye 007 for Wii is one of the only places fans can get a true James Bond experience this year: we see it as the Bond event of 2010.
NoE: Can you tell us a bit more about the ‘hands on’ feel for players? Were you aiming for a specific audience, such as fans of shooters, or did you incorporate options for other players?
DP: We worked really hard to make a game that core gamers will enjoy while allowing a wider, more casual audience to get into it too; a portion of this came down to the controls.
We were fortunate enough to work closely with Nintendo to make the game accessible even to ‘first time’ shooter players by providing different control schemes for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Some of the control schemes use auto-aim (like the original N64 game did) and there’s one where you don’t even have to point at the screen with the Wii Remote.
We’ve also developed the game to be played with the Classic Controller, Classic Controller Pro or Nintendo GameCube Controller so fans who may not feel comfortable playing a first-person shooter with motion controls can use something they are more familiar with. We wanted everybody to have an option that made the game the most fun for them.
Fans of classic controls can check out the GoldenEye 007 Classic Edition, a game bundle featuring an exclusive gold Classic Controller Pro.
NoE: David Arnold (composer on the recent Bond films) wrote the game’s soundtrack. Can you tell us a little about Mr. Arnold’s “mission” for scoring the title and the challenges he faced?
DP: David Arnold and Kevin Kiner both composed and arranged the music for our GoldenEye game, I posed your question to them and here’s what they said:
“Our very first discussions about it conceptually were to develop the sound and music as though it were another movie in the Daniel Craig series. Then after thinking about that a little bit, we realised two things: firstly, it’s a part of the Bond world, but it’s a completely different experience from a film and secondly, you can’t ignore the fact that the original film dates from 1995. We thought it would be nice to cover the ground between the original film and the current series.
Stylistically, it’s almost like a greatest hits adventure or a little bit of a retrospective: you travel along with the music through all the levels and it carries you through to the Daniel Craig series. That’s the great thing about a game; it offers you a lot of opportunities to cover a wide range of music.”
NoE: You got Bruce Feirstein (screenwriter of the original movie) on board and updating the setting of GoldenEye to 2010 obviously requires certain changes to the plot. Was there a process applied to updating the story? Did you only make changes if the new time period required it or did you permit other changes if they benefited the story?
DP: The process of updating the GoldenEye story to suit 2010 was very detailed and complicated by the fact we didn’t want to break way from Daniel Craig’s perspective. We didn’t want the player to see or experience something Bond wouldn’t.
We initially broke down the plot, locations, technology and characters, exploring possible updates with the question ‘Would this change GoldenEye too much?’. We updated the script slightly to reflect modern times but the main beats of the storyline remain the same.
The threads of the story are very tightly woven - change one and it can unravel others… We re-sequenced some levels, Zukovsky’s Club and Statue Park for example, to enable the narrative to be seen from Bond’s perspective; which in turn forced the final Trevelyan ‘reveal’ into place directly after the Train level.
This change alone resulted in hours of discussions which were necessary to resolve the problems it presented. How does Bond know to go to Statue Park after the Train level if he is not meeting Zukovsky prior? How can a trap on the train be set if Trevelyan is not in that level; since Bond is not aware of him at that point? Why would Natalya be able to get information on the train to lead to Statue Park if the train is not Trevelyan’s base? Lots of challenges to work through, but we got there in the end!
NoE: It’s been mentioned that the modern GoldenEye 007 will offer different mission objectives when playing on higher difficulty settings, just like the original. Do you follow a similar approach as in the classic game, or have you also modernised the kinds of additional objectives a “00 Agent” must complete?
DP: We ensured our additional objectives are tied into the main storyline and we’ve also taken the interaction forwards. In our Statue Park level, one of the additional objectives is to use Bond’s smartphone to record enemy conversations – but you can only do this if you maintain a covert presence. As such, setting off a firefight would result in you not being able to complete this objective.
NoE: Modern shooters have largely dispensed with health pick-ups, but finding carefully hidden body armour in the classic GoldenEye could also be rewarding. Did you include these kinds of pick-ups or do this in some other way?
DP: We have four different difficulty settings; three of them use regenerative health and one of them does not. It was important to include the 007 Classic difficulty with non-regenerating health so fans could enjoy a nostalgic experience. At Eurocom this is the favourite difficulty because it really forces you to think about your tactics – coupled with the additional objectives in this mode it really provides a challenging experience for core GoldenEye players.
Imagine in the Carrier level trying to rescue the hostages from their captors but accidentally shooting the explosive barrels we’ve positioned nearby: you would fail and have to go back on this difficulty and play again – and for this very reason we love it! I guess we are suckers for the frustration but completing the levels on this difficulty is really enjoyable and rewarding!
NoE: Daniel Craig brings a more physical Bond to GoldenEye. How is this presented in the game? Can you give any examples?
DP: You can vault through glass or melee attack glass and other physical objects to really interact with the scenery; you even use your melee attack to interact with switches! Daniel Craig’s Bond is much more physical so it would not do to have him simply ‘press’ a switch - much more satisfying for the player to be able to punch them!
NoE: Dawn Pinkney of Activision, thank you very much for your time!
Our Q&A with Dawn Pinkney will conclude next week in Part 2 where we talk AI, Boss battles and weapons.
GoldenEye 007 will be in shops from the 5th of November for Wii.