If you had to pick a single franchise that epitomises the games industry's endless ability to drop them ball when confronted with an expensively acquired licence, you would surely plump for James Bond. Over the years, Bond games have been plentiful - and uniformly awful, with one shining exception: 1997's GoldenEye 007. Developed by the then-legendary Rare Software, it single-handedly proved that first-person shooters could work on consoles as well as the PC, and blazed a console multiplayer trail in pre-broadband days, thanks to a stonking four-player split-screen mode.
Fast-forward to 2011 and Activision, having bought the Bond licence from EA, has struggled to find a way of using it - the 23rd Bond film should have been out by now, but hasn't even entered production, after MGM was poleaxed by the financial crisis. Last year, it hit on the idea of remaking GoldenEye for the Wii, and now it has teamed up again with that game's developer, Derby-based Eurocom, for GoldenEye Reloaded, another remake, but this time for Xbox 360 and PS3.
All about the multiplayer
It's easy to be cynical about rehashed versions of old games, but GoldenEye Reloaded feels much more like a labour of love than any of the dross developed over the years to support the release of new Bond films. Its single-player game is more or less identical to that of last year's GoldenEye for the Wii - so its story is an updated, lightly reimagined version of the original, with 21st-century gadgets and Daniel Craig as Bond. All perfectly laudable, but, by far the most interesting aspect of the game is how its multiplayer side takes advantage of the possibilities thrown up by Xbox Live and the PSN. Usefully, we managed to get some hands-on play-time with the majority of Goldeneye Reloaded's multiplayer modes.