"No, no, no," Brosnan's slicked Bond smugly shakes his head as a petulant Xenia Onatopp shrieks, straddled on the sauna's floor. The hint of a smirk creeps around the right of his mouth before giving way to a stony stare. "No more foreplay," he intones.
As I gaze upon the menagerie of Bond memorabilia laid outside Activision's event, ranging from casino chips to two shiny Aston Martins, I find myself sharing Bond's sentiment. I have ever since that tease of an E3 reveal trailer.
What will Eurocom, an experienced developer of Bond games such as The World Is Not Enough and Nightfire, bring to Rare's classic N64 shooter? Will the multiplayer do justice to one of the defining console experiences of the 90s? And will Oddjob still be a pint-sized, game-breaking git? Some of the foreplay finally gave way to meaty action at last week's London press event, where I got to see the game's opening five minutes and spend some hands-on time with the current multiplayer build.
Firstly, the E3 trailer didn't do GoldenEye's visuals justice. At a cursory glance, it's easy to belittle the remake's graphics as a stone's throw from the N64's, but getting up close reveals canny Wii visuals. The game lives up to system standards - whatever your thoughts are on that - but still evokes the original by keeping certain structures simple. The opening level's first guard tower, for example, is very similar to the N64 one, and yet not visually backwards. There's the same thing with sniper rifle you find on top of it, except now it has a new excellent-looking thermal mode to dispatch guards with. And maybe most importantly, the game runs great in four-way split screen. Animations are smooth, compression not coming at the cost of clarity.
More on the multiplayer later, but first the single-player's opening five minutes. We rejoin a now Daniel Craig-shaped and sounding Bond as he traverses through the thin Arkhangelsk snow and sidles up by a familiar barrier, ready to infiltrate the chemical weapons facility. The same defence tower is to his left, and the same large tunnel to his right. Except this time his mission partner Alec Trevelyan joins him - a little confusingly, albeit understandably, not played by Sean Bean. New Bond, new Trevelyan.
After a quick exchange, the pair perform a synchronized knocking out of unsuspecting guards ahead. Bond is then left to make his way to the tower and secure it. Our ghost player indulges, dispatching the first guard with a perfect, silenced headshot and taking out the second with a button press melee move that rewards his stealthy entry. Players can certainly expect more melee in the new GoldenEye as to fit Craig's Bond the better.
And there it is, the sniper rifle, sitting patiently in wait for the last 13 years. Bond duly picks it up and immediately takes advantage of its new thermal feature,, shooting down 5 white fuzzy blobs unfortunate enough to be patrolling to his far right.
So far, so true to form, but rather than go on foot through the tunnel as he did before, Bond catches a ride on a truck that Trevelyan attempts to drive covertly into the base. After a messy interlude with a couple of suspicious guards, the ride becomes fully-fledged chaos and carnage as one Russian vehicle after another comes gunning down on the agents. Bond shoots them up from the passenger seat, creating a procession of explosions and fiery massacre until the path in front is clear.
This little sequence neatly underlines what Eurocom is trying to bring to the GoldenEye remake. There are definite nods to the N64 game, but beyond that the developer isn't afraid to completely renovate levels and take advantage of new tech. To that effect, certain iconic moments from the film will be making their way into the new GoldenEye, such as the legendary dam jump at the beginning, the helicopter escape pod sequence, and of course the carnage of the St. Petersburg tank chase. Eurocom are particularly buzzed about the last of those, saying the destructibility that it has brought to it will make for an "epic" experience to match the one in the film - a very proud claim.
The philosophy, as Eurocom's primary producer Dawn Pinkney reveals, is that there'd be no fun in simply remastering the original game, and the development team aren't afraid to pick apart what it feels it can improve. "If people want to play the '97 game version of the game, they still can," as Dawn neatly puts it. While Eurocom is certainly mindful of what GoldenEye fans are looking for - just look at the opening of that E3 reveal - the developer is keen to make this GoldenEye as accessible to new players as possible. In short, Eurocom want to treat it like the modern shooter it is.
It's in multiplayer, though, where I expect Eurocom to embellish rather than renovate, and that duly proves the case. Dawn boasts to us of 200 modifier options to customize multiplayer and (so far apparently) a massive 40 playable characters. She then goes on to name drop certain features and modes like "Big Hands" in the Melee Only mode, the Paintball mode, and returners like The Man With the Golden Gun and You Only Live Twice. Eurocom isn't willing to divulge too much on these specific modes just yet.
The multiplayer will feature up to four player split-screen action which can expand to an eight player online game between two Wiis. While today it's being demonstrated with the Classic Controller Pro, players can use the Classic Controller, GameCube controller, Wiimote, or the Wiimote and Nunchuck, and customize the layouts within each one. And what about a special N64 controller to really stir the memories? Dawn coyly replies that she can't say anything about that just yet - watch this space.
It's the online mode that intrigues, though. It wasn't on show at the event, but Dawn tells us that it will incorporate a Call of Duty-like experience system with, perks, ranks, and objective modes, and like the single player it will include the voice talents of Craig and Dame Judi Dench (the latter as M). Hopefully we'll get to see more of the online play in future months. It may prove to be the GoldenEye's dark horse of a hook.
When I do get some hands-on time with the multiplayer, towards the end of the day, it's all a little predictable. Maybe it's because the mode we're playing is just a standard deathmatch, maybe because I'm playing as Jaws against two Oddjobs, or maybe because the Classic Controller Pro bears plenty of similarity to the N64 controller. Nonetheless, it just feels like a prettier GoldenEye deathmatch session. That's not to say it's not fun, because it is. Hmm, maybe I'm just bitter because those puny Oddjobs keep killing me.
And it's Oddjob who best summarizes Eurocom's bold approach to GoldenEye. Right at the top of the presentation, Activision and GoldenEye producer Julian Widdows was asked about whether the diminutive villain would be more balanced this time around. Widdows' response was "yes and no". The new Oddjob will lack as strong a special ability as his foes, but he will stay annoyingly tiny. Widdows threw his arms out, saying, "He's got to be small, right!", producing a mixed response from the murmuring crowd.
Appeasing old and new fans alike is tough, but if Eurocom can pull it off then GoldenEye could be this year's standout Wii title. Until then, we're evermore stuck in the limbo of foreplay, hoping the main event will live up to the fun of the anticipation. It seems fitting to end on a pun about the new Bond game's climactic release, expected in November.