There was once an idea – the idea of making great games. Before increasing demands on financial success and capital returns was the impetus to make great games. This idea was spearheaded somewhat by a games developer you may have heard of called Rareware. Rareware were the brilliant minds behind some of the greatest games you have ever played; Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong Racing, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Killer Instinct, Banjo Kazooie, Battletoads, Blast Corps and so many more. So after trying and succeeding in all these different genres of gaming, why does one title in particular stand out? It stands out because it is possibly still one of the best First Person Shooters ever made despite being released in 1997. Sure CoD has raised the bar somewhat, but without GoldenEye 007 to set the benchmark, I don’t think FPS games would have ever reached that level.
GoldenEye 007 on the N64 is one of the few movie tie-ins that was both successful and an enjoyable game. Anyone who is a gamer will know this to be true; it is a flawless, fast paced FPS that was put together so perfectly that it has stood the test of time.
GoldenEye is a single player campaign story that was in fact originally slated to be a 2D side-scroller released on the Super Nintendo, but was put on hold and re imagined as a rail-based shooter for the N64. The decision was later made to develop a free-roaming shooter; which in this reviewer’s opinion is the best decision ever made. I hope the guy who decided this got a massive bonus for his choice as it paid off – GoldenEye sold over eight million copies worldwide.
You play as 007 agent James Bond (played by the ever-suave Pierce Brosnan), the British secret agent tasked with stopping a criminal syndicate from using secret satellite technology to cause global financial disaster. The story starts in 1986 in the Soviet Union where MI6 have discovered a chemical weapons facility. James Bond and Alec Trevelyan (006) are sent in to set explosive charges and destroy the facility before it gets out of hand. This doesn’t go exactly to plan when Alec is apparently executed, leaving James to flee in a typically ridiculous Bond of old sequence including a stupid – yet amazing – light plane stunt. Queue Music. Five years later and regular attacks are destroying Russian Satellites, stealth helicopters are being stolen and randy sea captains are being crushed to death by the deadly and beautiful Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen).
With twenty missions at your disposal, GoldenEye 007 supplies hours of gameplay with your choice of difficulty setting giving even the most inept gamer a chance of completing it. You have a variety of objectives to complete per mission, giving the game some real depth – this adds a lot of replay value to the whole experience and stops the game feeling like a linear trudge through muddy-boxville. You can access your objectives by pressing the pause button which brings James’ wrist to the screen, showing off his special agent watch with all the information you need; a health bar and armour meter. On top of the objectives, each level had the added challenge of completion within a set time. Succeeding in this unlocks all kinds of cheats from paintball mode, big heads and eventually the option to adjust the enemy characters’ stats giving them the accuracy of an Empire Storm Trooper. Achievement points show off how well you’ve done these days – in my day it was how many cheats you’d unlocked on GoldenEye. GoldenEye has four save slots on the cartridge which means you can have multiple files – this might not sound impressive now, but remember that this was before the time of online cloud-based gaming and built in-hard drives.
It’s worth mentioning that for the time, GoldenEye’s visuals were excellent. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how a console of decidedly-limited power could handle them. One thing that helped was a whole lot of fogging – which is considered ugly these days but at the time of release was an amazing way of getting extra crunch from the machines. You simply don’t notice the 3D arenas popping up because everything you need to pay attention to is always close enough for it to not be an issue – brilliant level design can cover a multitude of sins. GoldenEye’s appearance is still very polished and graphically outstanding, all things considered. On top of that, the N64 joypad is perfect for what you need; navigating your character through the environment using the analogue stick and using the C-buttons to strafe; the Z trigger provides a realistic shooting feel and the shoulder button grants an easy targeting system. These factors combined give the gameplay a fluid and accurate feel – GoldenEye is also one of the first shooters to include a zoomable rifle scope and to offer the stealthy alternative to all-out shooting.
Alongside the mega-impressive campaign mode, GoldenEye 007 boasts a great multiplayer mode too. Team deathmatches, two on two or free-for-all are good ways to use your level knowledge to your advantage and also to organise with your teammates ways to place proximity mines and blow your opponents to smithereens without them even seeing you. Other modes include The Man with the Golden Gun where the titular golden gun (capable of a one-shot kill) is placed somewhere in the arena. Once collected by an opponent, the only way for the player to get it is to kill him. He has the advantage of one-shot kills, whereas everyone else has the advantage of collecting bullet proof vests. The Living Daylights mode is a flag-based game. The person who holds the flag for the longest time wins so it promotes a frantic blood-filled slaughtering experience – everything you could wish for in a multiplayer game! And finally You Only Live Twice, where you only have two lives; once they are gone, you are out of the game until there is one man/woman standing.
On top of all of this, you can unlock characters and arenas from numerous Bond films and use them in your multiplayer game.
James Bond did return in GoldenEye 007, a remake released in 2010 for the Nintendo DS and Wii and GoldenEye Reloaded on the Xbox360 and PS3 – all were a poor attempt at living off the fame of an already perfect game. This is without mentioning the abortive GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, which kept the GoldenEye name, but was a terrible game. GoldenEye changed the way FPSs play. It is consistently voted as one of history’s greatest games and here at The Game Show it is no different.
For England, James.