Not talking about E3 – Goldeneye: Source Beta 3.1 Review

3 06 2009

With everyone talking about E3 this week I’ve decided to…not talk about E3 at all clearly. Instead I’m going to do a little first impressions review of what is quickly becoming my favorite Source Mod.

Goldeneye: Source is a mod built in the (duh) Source Engine, the same engine that gives us such wonderful games as Half-Life 2, Team Fotress 2, Left 4 Dead, and Left 4 Dead 2. The mod seeks to recreate the wonderful multiplayer experience that Goldeneye for the N64 game many a player, myself included, only now on a larger scale. As such they’ve not only remade all the maps from the game, but have expanded upon them to compensate for having more than four players. They’ve also remade most of the weapons, and fixed up some of the weapon sets, much to my enjoyment. For example, the Phantom submachine gun that you could use in the single-player mode was noticeably absent from all the multiplayer weapon sets, here it exists both in Automatics and Power Weapons, as it should have. Also they added in maps based off just about every single player level, to increase the variety.

In addition to the obvious graphical and auditory upgrades, they’ve also made numerous gameplay adjustments as well. Servers can now rotate through various weapon sets, as well as gametypes, so that you can spend up to 3 rounds on a map but play with different weapons or even have different objectives each time. Awards now tend to mean something, and achievements have been added in as well. The random tendency of certain objects to be highly explosive has been retained as well, though sadly not as much as it used to be. Individual computer monitors seem prone to exploding, as well as power generators, but the full banks of computers have been rendered blast-proof.

The natural inclusion of havok physics makes the game immensely more entertaining, watching bodies get thrown violently by explosions and bullet hits. This also applies to the classic Goldeneye “death-cam” where you collapse in first-person. Only now you’re basically along for the ride as you slide across the floor in a tangle of limbs. Also this means you get back to the action quicker since you never run the chance of that stupidly slow “oh crap i’ve been shot guess i’ll fall too my knees before slowly keeling over” animation breaking up the flow.

Controls are also vastly improved (quite obviously). You now use shift to switch to aiming mode, and can move around while doing so (albeit slower). It basically has the effect of iron-sights aiming in other games, minus the perspective shift (unless it’s a scoped weapon or certain assault rifles). Yes they left that mechanic in faithfully, as well as the reloading by having your gun drop out of sight for a moment animation. Of course the reloading in the world models is far more detailed.

Now a few complaints. First is sound. Yes I’m very glad they put in new sounds for all the weapons, especially since on the N64 the AR33 and the RCP-90 sounded like someone was shaking a can full of bees in a wind tunnel, but they had to go and ruin my favorite weapon noise of all time: the Klobb. On the N64 the Klobb had a firing noise that sounded like a typewriter being used by someone angrily writing a letter to Valve about how the company had betrayed them by not releasing the L4D SDK and actually making a sequel that would be released on time for once. Here it just sounds like a boring SMG. I miss my Eastern Bloc Typewriter, damnit.

Now for a more serious complaint, characters. There aren’t that many of them right now. Wheras in Goldeneye we could get roughly 64 different people to be, the mod so far only has Bond, Boris, Jaws, Oddjob, Omourov, Dimitri Mishkin, May Day, Baron Samedi, and Valentin Zukovsky. Granted Bond has 3 different-colored suits but that’s not the point. Where the hell’s Trevelyan? Where’s Natalya? Ok maybe I’m being a bit unfair since this is Beta 3.1 and they’re working on Beta 4 right now, but come on. At least put all the movie characters in first before you move onto the ancillary henchpeople from other movies. Or hell, at least give us more faceless mooks to play as so we don’t get a situation with Two Omorouvs and Three James Bonds. Also there seems to be a couple incongruous moments where you have Oddjob’s hat as an object that can be shot off the character but Mishkin’s fedora will stay firmly on his head at all times.

Those silly nitpicks aside, this game is an amazing amount of fun, and I love all the little touches that remind me of the original game. The stage music (which has all been completely redone) sounds great, and there are even some nice musical cues evident as well. For example, getting into an elevator in the Control or Caves level has the music drop out into the “elevator” music, something that was in the original Goldeneye game and brought a grin to my face.

Overall I’m very impressed with this mod so far, and I can’t wait to see what Beta 4 brings.

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