The changes were incredibly apparent right from the start, when the developers guiding the demo sneaked up behind a guard and took him out with the kind of close-quarters combat neck-snap you might expect to see in every bit of pop culture ever (but not the original Goldeneye). Taking out two more guards with headshots ensured that the alarm wouldn't be raised and the game could remain a Splinter Cell-style stealth experience for at least a while longer.
If those shots miss, though, players only have a five- to seven-second window to silence the guards before "firefight mode" and its gun-based gameplay is activated. The developers stressed that players will be able to choose to play the game stealthily or with a focus on action. Choosing different branches of a forking pathway may allow the player to more easily sneak up on waiting enemies, for instance.
The familiar round armor and health display from the original Goldeneye has been replaced here with the kind of regenerative health system like that found in most modern shooters (retro-minded players will be able to unlock a "007 classic" difficulty that brings back the limited health). The newer game also improves the aiming system of the 13-year-old original, using a kind of quick, pop-in-and-out aim-down-sights targeting system reminiscent of another popular Activision FPS.
But lest you go away thinking that the game is just a a scaled down, re-skinned version of Call of Duty (CoDeneye?), know that there are plenty of superspy staples still around. The team said the Wii version will mimic the N64 game's tendency to increase the number of secondary objectives as the difficulty level increases. Gadgets make a modernized return as well -- the demo showed Bond hacking a set of auto-firing turrets with his cell phone, turning them on the enemy.
Without a controller in our hands, it's hard to say whether the single-player experience of the new Goldeneye will stack up better or worse than the original. Either way, though, it's apparent just from watching this single-level demo that it will definitely stack up differently.