Resident Evil 4 – PS2, Game Cube, Wii

 

RE4 - Garrador

Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same talent for music as Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles

After nuking Raccoon City and moving Resident Evil games to exotic locales—like the frozen wastes of Antarctica—Capcom decided it needed to up the ante and asked themselves “What’s more disgusting and repulsive than a zombie caused by a virus?” Then, presumably after pulling a worm out of a dog, they had their answer: zombies caused by parasites.

RE4 - Chainsaw

I get that the parasites control their hosts to spread to more hosts, but why do they put sacks over their heads and reach for the chainsaws?

Resident Evil 4 takes place in a small Spanish village that unearthed some bad prehistoric sushi. Despite being locked in fossils since the time of the monsters from Tremors, one particular parasite has his sights on global domination. This granddaddy hookworm takes up residence—presumably evilly—in the brain of Osmund Saddler, and founds an oppressive hierarchical cult, complete with its own mindless followers, fanatical zealots, and a militant branch that would make even the strongest banana republic dictator shit his pants. You know: everything a good cult needs—assuming Jim Jones had mixed his kool aid with malaria instead of cyanide. Essentially, Capcom got tired of using a tyrant as the boss for every previous game and instead chose to make the boss of RE4 a tyrant.

RE4 - Ashley

Because we all want to play as a whiny, helpless teenage girl.

But they still spend the entire opening sequence recapping the events of the original game for us, even though it has about as much to do with the story as a solid understanding of offshore drilling safety regulations. I actually found this backstory narration hilarious, as they expect us to believe that the American government would even consider shutting down a major corporation for something as minor as a zombie apocalypse that resulted in the deaths of nearly 100,000 people and the complete obliteration of the city. Hell, realistically they’d let Umbrella write off the whole affair as a deduction on their taxes.

RE - Gun

Why get up when you still have a bullet in the chamber?

They seemed to get everything else right about America, though: our constant need to meddle in foreign affairs, the president’s potential for becoming a parasite who makes everything he touches feel like they need a long shower in hydrochloric acid, and even Leon’s preference for applying firearms to otherwise simple tasks, like pulling a necklace off a hook a half a meter in front of him.

RE4 - Ashley Armor

I don’t know…including this costume in the game seems like an admission of guilt to me.

I don’t actually have much else to say. It’s a famously good game, and I really have no comp—quick time events. FUCK quick time events! Oh, and constant baby-sitting missions. If they didn’t know that was obnoxious, why did they put an alternate costume for Ashley that stops bullets like a concrete wall and prevents crazy plagas monsters from carrying her off?–Anyway, like I was saying, it’s a great game and I have nothing to complain—actually, you know what? It’s a little too linear. Minor complaint, yes, but I’d like the option to return to old areas to look for items. But other than that, I have—actually, the unlockable weapons. I honestly don’t like how overpowered they are. You play through the game two or three times trying to purchase these things, and suddenly the game is boring.

But really, it’s a pretty good game.

Resident Evil Zero – Game Cube, Wii, PS3, PS4

re0 billy rebecca

Rebecca’s hot, but you have to take Billy too if you want the handcuffs.

“Traaaainnsss! TRRRAAAAIIINNNS!” God…a zombie game that starts on a train. What’s next? Fighting ghouls in an open field of grains? Perhaps being stalked through a hospital full of the creatures hungry for sprains. Oh! I got a good one: Resident Evil 8, opening on the Raccoon City Stock Exchange, where the living dead are on the move for capital gains.

Hey, Capcom took my idea for Resident Evil 6 starring a grown-up Sherry Birkin.

reo train

Zoinks! I sure hope we don’t get lost in this creepy train, Scoob!

My favorite thing about the first section of this game has got to be picking up a map for the train. I mean, it’s a train. Who maps a fucking train? It’s practically a one-dimensional vehicle. You know what? Let me draw a map of the train right now: ————— Mischief managed, there, Harry Potter. You know where everyone is? On the train. Right there. Look, not to be judgmental, but if you’re the kind of person who needs a map for a train, maybe we should just chalk up your being slaughtered by leeches as nature taking its course. Survival of the fittest.

Anyway, Resident Evil Zero: Aptly named because that’s how much ammo I had by the end of the first section. Have you ever tried going after a shambling hoard of corpses in one of the old-school RE games with just the crappy knife they give you? I’ve never felt so much like a post-op hernia patient than when I’m systematically trying to plunge my arm into those fetid, rotting garbage disposals.

reo train 2

Step one: work together to find a way around a train. Step two: team up to fight leeches.

Here’s an idea, guys: everyone on the planet has seen zombie movies—they’re not going to bleed out if you slash them enough. GO FOR THE GODDAMNED HEAD! They’re zombies! For the love of all that is Rebecca Chambers fan hentai, they TELL YOU WHERE TO AIM! “Braaains! Braaains!” (You ever see a zombie movie where they actually, specifically eat brains? No!)

Knife combat seems to be less a thoughtful inclusion in the game and more some rogue coder’s attempt to overcome the deep-seated scars after a childhood encounter with a drunken mohel.

re0 ammo

The innovative partner system allows you to waste ammo at an all new rate as your dumb-ass partner blasts a bird with a grenade launcher you forgot you had equipped.

Ahem. Anyway, I suppose if I’m going to play through all the RE games (give or take), I ought to say something about each one specifically. Okay, “Resident Evil Zero is Capcom’s first attempt to introduce a partner mechanic that no one ever asked for or wanted.”

The plot follows Rebecca, the hot, kid-sister type who serves as Chris’s sidekick in the original, as she works her way to the Spencer Mansion. She teams up with Billy, the mistaken-criminal with the heart of gold. He pulls a daring jailbreak, cleverly spying his chance to escape when his guards are devoured by monsters. It turns out Umbrella was pulling experiments on prisoners and he was likely on h is way to be given the full Albert Wesker beauty makeover. That was kind of a cool element.

re0 leeches

Ah hell yeah! Who could say no to free leeches?

The villain is obviously auditioning for a better role in a Final Fantasy game. Picture the standard disgruntled employee type. Except when you work for a grocery store and your boss shortchanges your time card, you steal a few grapes and walk out with a few office supplies. When you work for Umbrella, they assassinate you, and you get revenge by stuffing a few dozen genetically engineered leeches into your pockets and wreak bloody havoc with a biblical-style plauge.

Seriously…I wish I could wreak bloody havoc when I was mad.

The game follows the series’ usual formula in Capcom’s unerring, Mega-Man-style manner. However, they do get rid of the magic boxes to store extraneous items. Instead you just scatter your junk on the floor like some redneck family’s lawn.

Final Rank:

Wait…what? Did I miss something? I didn’t get a grade. What the hell!

Metroid: Other M – Wii

 

Metroid2

I know I live an awesome life of adventure as a kick-ass space bounty hunter…but maybe I’d be happier taking care of a whiny shit-factory who won’t develop a reasonable circadian rhythm for up to a year.

At the end of most video games, characters are pretty powerful. That poses a problem for direct sequels. If you want to go through the process of growth all over again, the game has to do something to turn back the clock, wipe out all the progress, experience and common sense, smash all the items, cancel the credit cards, take out a second mortgage on the house and smash the headlights on the car, just for good measure. And yes, developers might get a little bored with cliched catastrophes, I get that.

Metroid5

Ridley is confused as fuck as to what he’s doing here and why Samus is suddenly interested in his potential as a father.

However, I’ve never had a story line interfere with gameplay quite so bad as in Metroid: Other M. Coming straight off her adventure on Zebes, Samus starts to question whether using an infant as a meat shield between her and mother brain might have crossed some sort of line—you know, the kind that gets you put on an FBI list. She intercepts yet another distress call—because Nintendo isn’t tired of all their cliches—and runs into her former commanding officer intercepting the same distress call, thus beginning a whole, wacky will-they-won’t-they scenario like some sort of outer-space sitcom.

Metroid4

i gotta be honest, faults aside, this is exactly how a 3D Metroid should play.

So here’s the catch: Samus still has all the equipment from Super Metroid. She just decides not to use it unless Commander Adam tells her its okay.

Where shall I start with that one?

It isn’t as unreasonable as everyone seems to think that a highly trained and competent bounty hunter would, out of either respect or the spirit of cooperation, find wisdom in submitting to authority. But I find it increasingly hard to put faith in her training and competence when she sits basting in a pool of fourth degree burns, waiting for daddy’s permission to turn on the air-conditioning.

Metroid1

Samus, depicted here mercilessly slaughtering a wounded animal, immediately after worried that her biological clock is ticking.

So maybe I could ignore a shitty storyline that turns one of my childhood icons into a weak-willed gender stereotype drowning in her own Vagisil, as long as the game play is good, right? For the most part, it’s a good game, after all. And when she’s not crying about her biological clock in a cut scene, she is literally tearing the limbs off monsters with her bare…er…power suit. Except Metroid loses something by removing the scavenger hunt aspect. Knowing she has the brains, heart, and courage all along has two obnoxious side effects: one, either she gets to an obstacle that we know full well she can overcome, but we have to file it away for later, or two, the good Lord Adam giveth what Samus needs as soon as she needs it. Either way, it actually makes the game a little less fun to know you’re not going to find anything really useful or powerful as you scuttle back and forth on the ship.

Metroid3

Um, excuse me guys, I can’t use missiles unless I’m rooted to the spot and I need just a moment to get the wii remote to figure out where its…no fair! Time out! Time out! I should have bought that Pip Boy!!!!!!

Okami – PS2, Wii, PS4

OkamiTitle
Sweet Jesus’ dildo, do you know how exhausting it is to write about every damn game I play? Here’s my latest: Okami. The story of how the great Shinto goddess, Amaterasu, transcends to the corporeal plane to cleanse the evil plaguing us, and chooses a form that immediately gets scolded for dragging her butt across the carpet. Okay, okay. I get that Okami is a pun that both means “great god” and “wolf” in Japanese, and I also get that I’m coming at the game from the perspective of someone who is so much a cat person that you might expect my closet to be lined with white linen hoods with whiskers and double peaks for ears, but still, in a game renowned for it’s beautiful art style, why would Capcom so prominently animate Amaterasu’s sphincter? I guess the trail of flowers that bloom in her wake sprout up less as a result of her divinity and more from the constant spray of Miracle Grow, warning you to watch where you step as you traverse the fields of Nippon.

OkamiOrochi

The first step to solving your drinking problem is for all eight of your heads to admit they have a drinking problem.

The game opens in the most engaging way possible; a 30-minute long epic showdown between the great hero, Nagi, his lupine astral companion, Shiranui, and their arch-nemesis, the octocephaline serpent, Orochi. It’s such an exciting scene that my only real complaint with it is that instead of thrusting the player into a high-stakes tutorial level, they decide to narrate it with still-images in the style of traditional Japanese sumi-e and text that crawls slow enough that even Dick and Jane would get bored, read something else to pass the time, and learn how to discuss the finer points of Herman Melville by the time the cut scene ends. In all fairness, though, by the end of the game the last thing I wanted was yet one more identical boss fight with Orochi. Okami knows it has excellent boss fights and forces you to replay them over and over, much in the same way that the pretty girl who knows she’s pretty will constantly throw you into picking a fight with the manager of the restaurant; in both cases, they know if you leave, you’re not likely to get something quite as attractive on the rebound.

Okami2

Yeah, it’s a beautiful game, but it KNOWS it’s beautiful. Just look at that dog sitting there, watching it.

At the very least, Okami can pacify some of the hardcore jackassery that associates video games with violence. Amaterasu doesn’t level up by fighting monsters. Instead, she earns experience by feeding animals, doing favors for people, and bringing dead things back to life. Pretty much the only thing fighting monsters is good for is looting their corpses for spare change, and since money in Okami is as useful as the brown chunks of ice you kick off your tire wells in the winter, enemies are little more than minor obstacles to dodge as you rocket through the world map. Combat is relatively simple—no matter your level of experience or the amount of skills you purchased, half the time all you have to do is waggle the Wii-mote until carpal tunnel sets in and the battle is as good as won. Most of the weapons and items I collected along the way went unused, and are now probably just gathering dust in the sun goddess’s basement, along with a dozen boxes of ammo from Silent Hill, a small habitat of jinjos from Banjo Kazooie, and an old Triforce that I lost the instruction book for and can’t figure out how it works.

Okami4

Amaterasu teams up with Japanese Popeye

Funny though that I should bring up Zelda, as the game feels very much like a unique take on Nintendo’s tired old formula. Instead of Hyrule, it’s set in a fairy-tale version of Japan. Instead of a Peter Pan cosplayer, it stars a dog that moves forward via the power of foliage flatulence, and instead of collecting a small hardware store full of junk, you carry a magical paintbrush and work on becoming the Van Gough of cell-shaded canines. Before I continue, you may have noted that I played the Wii port of the game, not the original PS2 version. Makes sense, right? A game with a painting mechanic should let you take full control of those natural brush strokes, only possible through the Wii’s motion control. Now let’s just take this game that requires precision technique and put it on a system that emulates the feel of being an epileptic toddler in a 7.2 earthquake.

Okami3

Just your average sun goddess dog flying around on a sword to fight an evil nine-tailed fox. God, I don’t know what they smoke in Japan but I want some.

The celestial brush techniques take the place of Zelda’s items, and had the potential to make the game great, but as it turns out, most of the thirteen techniques you learn are some form of draw-a-circle-around-a-thing or connect-the-thing-to-the-thing. It’s a bit of a letdown to realize you’re going to be granted lightning power, to hope that you’ll get to draw a zig-zag to rain down the wrath of Raijen upon your unsuspecting demon foes, only to realize that all you do is find a source of electricity, then draw a line to what needs to be powered like some sort of divine Shinto electrician. The fact that this is exactly the same as your water power (divine Shinto plumbing) your earth power (Shinto gardening) and your fire power (apparently Amaterasu moonlights in arson), kind of gives the impression that you’re less of a holy being and more of a hardcore DIY-er on a fixer-upper spree through feudal Japan.

After a while I did figure out a few tricks for brush techniques (draw spirals to activate the wind, rather than loops, and the Z-button helps drawing straight lines, albeit with the practiced grace of a seasoned drunk driver), and the game actually became pretty fun. Boss fights used techniques well, and didn’t hold you to repeating a technique ad nauseum once you’d figured out the trick, even if it did somehow ask you to repeat entire boss fights as though Amaterasu was a transfer student whose transcripts got lost in the mail and had to repeat entire grades on a technicality. The final boss, I though, was exceptionally brilliant, in that it asked me to utilize every single technique I picked up throughout the game, while still giving me a few options to feel like I was fighting creatively. Granted, this doesn’t mean I want to get to the end of a Zelda game and have Gannon checking off my report card to make sure I can bludgeon him just right with my boomerang, fishing pole, and spinner, and to make sure I’m not blowing any flat notes on my spirit flute.

Okami1

Dog.

I enjoyed Okami. Maybe not to the point where I think it deserves to be polished by critics until its steaming dog droppings sparkle like a pearl, but it was pretty good. The game did suffer from pacing, most notably the text speed which said “I have a five-year-old reading level” even while the sexual overtones said “I have a seventeen-year-old’s hormonal lust” to the point where the comically cartoonish women said “I’d jack off to a mannequin I found in the dumpster behind the Gap if one were available.” However, the more people I meet, the more I suspect Okami may have finally nailed the U.S.A. as a target audience.

Lego Lord of the Rings – Wii, 3DS, NDS, PS3, PS Vita, XBox 360

helms-deep

They’ve reigned in Legolas’ showboating. A little.

By now, these Lego game reviews are becoming somewhat of a crisis for me. What do I talk about? A licensed game? A corporate tie-in? A movie parody? A series of games so identical they make the Republican National Convention look like a celebration of diversity and globalism? A chance to play with Legos as a grown-up without having to worry about cleaning them up when I’m done? A series of relatively short games I can play when I need to write about something quickly? Probably a combination of all of those. The Lego Games are a lot like Will Ferrel DVDs in that respect—short, easy to get through, with a few humorous parts here and there, and something I’ll put on my shelf without looking at the extras and knowing that I’ll more likely than not never have the urge to come back to it.

rohirrim

Let’s mow down some motherfuckin’ orcs!

What then, if they adapted the best movie of all time? No, not Revenge of the Nerds IV. Not Ghostbusters either. Nope, not Cool Runnings. Or Back to the Future (although…). Or Star Wars…wait, yes on Star Wars, but no on this game. I’m talking about Peter Jackson’s epic take on J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, the beautiful modern-Medieval epic metaphor about the loss of our relationship with the natural world due to the effects of ambition, politics, and the desire for control over others. Yeah, it turns out it makes a pretty good game about plastic toy blocks.

plastic-lave

So if the lava is 1300 degrees, how hot does the air have to be to melt plastic?

Lego games are starting to remind me of my time among in Korea. If you spend enough time with them and give them the proper attention, you start to wonder how people have trouble telling them apart. The earlier games were more combat-intensive, if you can consider a hunk of plastic the size of a ping-pong ball to be capable of combat. These games, most notably the Lego Star Wars games, had boss fights reminiscent of a poorly lubricated rock-em-sock-em robot set, whereas the boss fights became somewhat more complicated as the gameplay shifted more toward puzzle solving. At the extreme other end of the spectrum is Lego Jurassic World, a thrilling man-v-nature fight for survival against vicious predators in which the dinosaurs calmly stand by as you set up convoluted Rube Goldberg contraptions that will lead to their untimely re-extinction, sufficing to snarl kindly if you get off-track from your mission.

nazgul

No, I am your father.

Lego Lord of the Rings meets these halfway, with perhaps a bit more emphasis on puzzle-solving than is healthy for a story that lists “Medieval Combat” at the top of its resume. Characters have skills and abilities which help you solve logical, intuitive puzzles such as catch-a-fish-to-throw-at-the-bird-to-distract-the-nazgul, catch-fish-to-throw-at-gollum-so-Sam-can-tie-the-rope-around-his-neck-so-Frodo-can-stab-him-with-Sting, and gather-fish-to-throw-at-the-wall-to-open-the-gate. And if you’re not into piscine-themed puzzles, enjoy such classics from the movie like Galadriel’s gift to Frodo. “I give you the light of Earendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light to you when quest items are hidden where other characters cannot access and need your help to get to.”

mt-doom

You know what protects your ring better than a smooth, unguarded pathway leading to a ledge over the only thing hot enough to destroy the One Ring? ANYTHING!

One think I thought novel of this game was that it told a more fluid rendition of its source material, rather than the Greatest Hits parade of other Lego games. You begin in the prologue, fighting against a Sauron that makes 300’s Xerxes look like a member of the Lollipop Guild. Once completed, you begin a long, arduous climb up Mt. Doom realizing that Sauron, the Ancient and Most Powerful of the Maiar, Lieutenant to Morgoth the Valar of All Things Corrupt, Fell or otherwise Evil, Etc, actually did very little to protect the One Weapon of All-Power and item that housed his mortal essence, and was easily outdone for security by a Dutch toy company. From there, each film seems to play about six levels to the usual five, and the traditional hub world for Lego games is replaced by a completely open map of Middle Earth that the player can travel to go from level to level, receive side quests, buy characters and items, and get completely turned around in despite the trail of phantom Lego studs leading you to your next destination. Levels are segmented and shorter than in other games, and often give you the choice between groups of characters, offering a timeline with a little more control and reason than the books give you.

mumak

That still only counts as one!

Puzzle-solving aspects alternate between the overly simplistic “stand here and push Z” (and during a handful of boss battles, just “stand here”) and “Throw fish at the wall to move forward,” which is about as intuitive as scraping a hedgehog across your keyboard to restart your computer. For those of you hoping for clunky, plastic Medieval warfare, there’s still a fair amount of that in the game, although it handles like old men swinging their walkers at each other, Legolas’ arrows have all the force behind them of an old Nerf dart blown out of the end of a wrapping-paper tube, and most of the battles come down to puzzle solving anyway. The humor starts out strong, but withers up like a dead orc near the end, and the game is riddled with glitches. So what reason, if any, remains to play the game?

It’s a scenery smasher. And in the end, don’t we all just want to hulk out and take revenge against all those Legos that refused to separate, even when we had the special separator tool? Take that, Lego environment! When I’m finished with you, you’re going to wish Climate Change had gotten to you first!

New Super Mario Bros Wii – Wii

new-super-mario

I know you’re probably reading this in February, but you have to understand that I’m writing in November. As it stands, we’ve just elected a new president who A) Lives in a tower, B) Enjoys grabbing maidens, C) Has legions of robed followers who call themselves wizards and D) Wants to rule the world for his own personal profit. As interesting as it might be to live under the rule of a dark sorcerer, no chosen one has come forth to end his reign, so life has been a little stressful. On top of trying to get Obamacare to pay for a four-to-eight year supply of Xanax before it’s repealed, I’ve also had to spend the semester student teaching, which basically means I’m spending all my time learning how to do a job I’ve had for ten years, and paying for the privilege of teaching someone else’s classes for free. But under Trump’s new education secretary, that may become the new norm. So in short, I haven’t had a lot of time for games lately. Here’s a Mario review.

The plot of New Super Mario Bros Wii opens with Bowser publicly denouncing his criminal ways. To offer restitution for the harm he’s committed in the past, he turns toward philanthropy, building up infrastructure in the Mushroom Kingdom and starting a foundation for the survivors of the Toad army to go to college. Mario embraces this new Koopa King, but Luigi can’t shake thirty years of dogged bullying, and secretly investigates Bowser’s sudden change of heart. Meanwhile, a dark and mysterious force moves in, trying to tempt a seemingly tranquil Bowser back to his old ways and…

…I’m just fucking with you. Bowser kidnaps the princess. Mario chases after him. This plot is Nintendo’s sugar daddy, and they’re going to stick to it like they were walking through Mirkwood and deviating from the path even slightly meant they’d be devoured by spiders the size of SUVs. (Although, they may want to consider a change in formula. I can see how the orange-haired monster grabbing the girl and taking her back to his tower while his magikoopa wizard tries to help him conquer the world might start inducing PTSD flashbacks like Pokemon induces seizures.) Fans are desperate enough for narrative consistency that Nintendo published a Zelda timeline that looks like it belongs in the office of an FBI agent hunting a serial killer. But Mario gets to remain frozen at one point in 1986, basically getting the same free pass as your racist, sexist grandfather. “He’s from a different time.”

hub

Like the hub world from SMB3, but with the added benefit of not having to make as many decisions!

So how does the game actually play? Well, pretty much like Mario 3, with a few cameos thrown in for fan service. You go through the same desert, ocean, ice world, etc, as you did on the NES. You fight the same koopa kids who haven’t bothered to take so much as a beginner’s judo lesson since Super Mario World and can still be taken out by three quick stomps to the head. You still follow a hub map from course to course as though you’ve got a bus pass for the Mushroom Kingdom and will be damned if you don’t get your money’s worth before you walk around the spinning lava-filled battlefield of murderous turtles. The game dishes out free lives and power-ups like Chick tracts, all of which have the stopping power of a broken condom when compared to the fire flower. In fact, they’ve paired up the fire flower with an ice flower that can freeze certain enemies for short periods of time. While it’s more useful than not for stopping your typical fire-proof enemies, and while it’s kind of fun to encase fish in a block of ice and make them float upwards to “sleep with the humans,” it generally slows enemies down about as much as stepping on a wad of chewing gum.

penguin

Penguin Suit. Because nothing says “Take to the skies!” like a chubby flightless bird with a strict black tie-dress code.

It’s a 2D platformer, and although I play platformers with much the same enthusiasm as renewing the license plates on my car every year, I’m glad they made the game. Too often, I think, developers confuse “what’s technologically possible” with “what’s mandatory for a game to include.” It’s the same sort of logic that leads people to confuse “abortion is legal” with “here’s some Vaseline and a plunger. Now get on the exam table or go to prison.”

Goldeneye – Wii

goldeneye

Totally based on the movie. Not based off the N64 game in the least.

As of writing this, it’s December 16th, and I’m still reeling from a year full of people pointing out every old rich person who dies, teaching for free so I can learn to utilize all the newest research in an environment run by die-hard traditionalists, and wrapping my head around the fact that I live in a country full of people who believe that the complete annihilation of all life on earth is a preferable alternative to electing a president who routinely cleans out her Yahoo spam folder. Needless to say, my recreation time as of late looks less like a shelf full of video games and more like a bowl full of Xanax. However, I did manage to make it through a game or two during this time (even if Anne may have hijacked my 3ds), and in honor of increased global tensions and madmen secretly working with Russia to unleash mass destruction on the world, here’s the remake of Goldeneye.

The original Goldeneye for the N64 was, of course, the stuff dreams are made of–the angry, violent dreams of a ninth grader with social issues. Probably the best game on the system other than Ocarina of Time, it was more popular than porn for a year or two, partly due to a multiplayer system that revolutionized ways to passive-aggressively beat the Living Daylights out of your friends. The game was perfect…so remaking it makes about as much sense as a Lord of the Rings reboot with Gilbert Gottfried playing Frodo, Gallagher as Gandalf, and Larry the Cable Guy as Aragorn. No one ever uses their remake powers for good. Why not remake Resonance of Fate? Or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Or Michigan: Report from Hell…actually, that one’s a game that shouldn’t be remade without a vat of sulphuric acid at the end of the assembly line. But still, let’s remake the lousy games and leave the good ones alone, shall we?

To match the recent films, Goldeneye has been updated to fit the grittier, earthier, Daniel Craigier Bond. There’s something forehead-slappingly ironic about rebooting an outdated formula firmly entrenched in the Cold War by digging a ditch through the Bush era. The new storyline focuses on terrorism, which has become less of a theme with Bond and more of an indication of tourette’s syndrome. Other than a few shout-outs, the basic plot remains the same; the Janus organization wants to steal all the money in England and disguise it as an act of terror. That level of effort may be as smart as trying to get out of a parking ticket by setting the White House lawn on fire, but hey, it worked in Die Hard. Except, of course, for the fact that Hans Gruber set an Olympic Diving record as the first German to do a 100-meter high dive into a hunk of concrete, but seriously, what are the chances that Trevelyan will go the same way?

natalya

At least the girl is still hot…and you only have to babysit her once.

But aside from the fact that they got rid of Hagrid, Ned Stark, and the douchy boyfriend from Mrs. Doubtfire, how does the game play? Not bad…if you have a plentiful supply of Dramamine and don’t mind Bond glancing expectantly at the heavens for divine intervention every time a small football team’s worth of enemies are trying to aerate your digestive system. Although this game was released on the NDS, PS3 and Xbox 360, I feel like the Wii controls, which handles about as well as a marching band mounted on Roombas, make this version unique—like shopping in the “discount: irregular” bin at Walmart. Personally, though, I don’t think James Bond is the type of spy who’d go on a mission dressed in pants with one leg that stops at the knee and a shirt with a third sleeve and a hole for an extra head.

sean-bean

James Bond isn’t really an action hero (unlike all those guys who do rush into battle with six-fingered gloves and boots with toes at each end)–his movies are spy thrillers. Just like how action is the genre of choice for people who would rather exchange bullets than lines of dialogue, people who watch spy thrillers and play their games tend to want something with a bit more intrigue. The original Goldeneye had that. There were fast-paced battles, but there were also slower, tenser moments, stealthy sections, and mission objectives that required a little more thought than playing “follow the bullets” and “corpse hopscotch.” The new Goldeneye, coming from the same era as Final Fantasy XIII, took all of those classic gameplay features and chucked them out the window…or, rather, down the hallway. While ostensibly, the game gives Bond objectives, most of them amount to getting the player to a certain point in the level, which triggers a cut scene or asks the player to hit the action button, but oftentimes you get credit just for being there, as though the game feels the need to pass out participation ribbons to the special breed of player that now dominates the scene who can’t handle much more than your average Madden or FIFA game.

In addition to being a game where running the gauntlet is less free-roaming than playing Gauntlet, it also gives Bond constantly regenerating health. It may be a little hard to believe that even a super-spy can recover from a shotgun blast to the lungs by crouching behind a cardboard box to catch his breath, but since most good video games and Bond films stretch my imagination enough to be considered a Medieval execution method, I’m okay with that. They even manage to counterbalance Bond having the regenerative powers of a Gecko hyped up on Red Bull and cocaine with enough of a challenge that the game doesn’t feel too easy or too hard. However, they mostly accomplish this by throwing a sizable chunk of the Russian army at you in every level, which again takes away from the suspense and mystique of a spy thriller and turns it into ten hours of the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. There is a classic mode where you pick up body armor and don’t regenerate health, but you still have to face down the entire population of Eastern Europe, so the only thing it balances out is the explanation why each enemy still jumps out at Bond after witnessing him murder all their colleagues.

From Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone to Frasncisco Scaramanga’s golden gun, spy gadgets top off the genre like a cherry on the top of a sundae of political intrigue, murdered diplomats and at least two or three assumed STDs. A lot of a story’s success can be inferred by the covert weapons in unlikely places—who can talk about Goldfinger without mentioning Bond’s car or Oddjob’s hat? So it says a lot about the reloaded Goldeneye equips the player with…a smart phone? My, my, how chic and trendy. Is there really an app for everything? Garroting an assassin in a Finish sauna? Placing explosive charges on the insane billionaire’s secret underground bunker? Is there an app for knifing a bloodthirsty shark when your hands are tied behind your back? Do we now have to picture Bond playing Angry Birds between scenes? Or flipping through an overactive Tinder profile while sitting on the toilet? That may sum up the big problem with this game. It’s not that it deviates from the original, removes Robby Coltraine, Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan, or has Wii controls that alternate between feeling like you’re trying to sketch on a pad three meters away with an extremely long pencil and trying to brush away a spider you just found crawling up your neck tie. It’s that it takes the extraordinary life of a spy and turns it into something commonplace.

multiplayer

There’s a multiplayer, too. I didn’t bother.