Sometimes when I review games I have to buy them if the outlet I'm reviewing for doesn't have an extra copy, or doesn't have the time to send me one. As a freelance game reviewer, I'm accustomed to playing the crappy games. I mean, it's only fair. The guys doing this full-time get the big games, and they should, it's their job. I know I won't be asked to review Gears of War 3, and that's fine.
Usually when I buy these games and they end up sucking, or worse, they're purely mediocre (it's harder to write a review about a mediocre game than a terrible one), I just return them for store credit. I get reimbursed for the purchase , so it's like free credit.
Every now and then, I get assigned a game that surprises me, a keeper. My latest keeper is GoldenEye 007 for the DS. My review for GamesRadar should be going up soon, so I won't spoil much. I'll just give my recommendation and this paragraph from my unedited review:
"If you're at all familiar with the original movie or game, you'll experience more than a couple of moments of déjà vu. Fortunately this works in the game's favor. Let's be honest, most Nintendo 64 games have not aged well, GoldenEye included. Instead of mucking up your happy memories with cold hard reality, GoldenEye 007 scratches your nostalgia itch, while offering a new experience with modern shooter mechanics."
I came at this game with a critical, almost cynical eye. I thought the idea of remaking GoldenEye was dumb, to be honest. The Bond license isn't what elevated that game to legendary status, it was the multiplayer. I was afraid this was just going to be a cash-in on the name. As it turns out, it's a respectful reimagining that captures the essence of the movie and previous game, while offering a better, more modern experience. Also, the online multiplayer might be the best thing the DS has seen from a shooter since Metroid Hunters.
I think it's all the more impressive to me because the DS and Nintendo 64 have very similar technology, so they could have just ported or remade the original and left it at that. Instead, they made a game that takes into account all the improvements the shooter genre has seen in the last 15 years, and crams them into a tiny DS cart. And they did it with the same technical limitations of the old game. Did they need to reimagine GoldenEye? No, it was totally unnecessary. But lucky for them, and us, it turned out well. I won't be taking this one back to GameStop.