Gaming History 101

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Goldeneye 007 Review

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goldeneye_boxPlatform: Nintendo 64
Released: 1997 (worldwide)
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
Digital Release? No, licensing assures we’ll never see this outside it’s original release
Price: $15.75 (cart only), $29.99 (complete), and $149.99 (new/sealed) per Price Charting

Good old Rare back when you were Nintendo’s second party developer you really did come up with some truly stunning IPs like Jet Force Gemini and Banjo Kazooie. I still defend my Banjo Kazooie review to this day but for those that hated that review be prepared to love me all over again as this entry we’re going to re-visit the title European fanboys (or fangirls) go crazy for: it’s the N64 iteration of Goldeneye.

goldeneye1Goldeneye went through quite the few design choices before settling for the first person shooter (FPS). It was originally going to be a 2D sidescrolling adventure in the SNES inpired by Rare’s other great game Donkey Kong Country. This was later scrapped in favour of a on-rails shooter design for the N64, the game would instead be more like Virtua Cop. During the development of the on-rails version they decided the game would be better if you could move about hence Goldeneye as we know came to being.

If you have seen the film, you will have a good idea of the plot of Goldeneye. You are James Bond (in Pearce Bronson form), there’s a bad guy hell bend on world domination in the form of Sean Bean, and anyone familiar with his film and TV history knows that the prognosis for this actor usually is. Basically be Bond go save the world while flirting with women in the process – I always felt Bond comes across as a classy Duke Nukem with less Army or Darkness references. Before every mission you’re given a text summary of what you need to do. Increasing the difficulty will add additional missions, which is a nice touch, the only issue being the highest difficulty makes the enemies so darn hard it will take you much perseverance to conquer them. You can complete objectives in any order giving the levels a non linear feel. If you die or fail a single objective you have to restart at the beginning of each level, which was a pretty common design choice for games at the time.


Gameplay for the time was solid but the loose feeling controls and single analogue stick use are beginning to feel dated. The controls are fine but it’s quite hard to return to this play style after being so familiar with dual analogue sticks.  Shooting works well and there are a variety of weapons to use in the game. What is always a plus point is even the pistol is a useful weapon in this game as most enemies can be dispatched with a couple of shots at most, or just shoot them in the head with manual aim and its one hit dead.

To the games credit it does encompass some design choices that even today have stood the test of time. For starters the game does a great job with enemy damage. Shoot someone in the arm they hold it in pain with the good arm, shoot them in the leg they will walk with a limp, shoot them in the groin well you get the idea. This mechanic is something even modern developers struggle to get their head round I’ve played modern first person shooters to this day that don’t do this effectively.

goldeneye2The graphics are blocky and certainly showing their age now. The levels though impressively large in scale look mostly grey and not very interesting. With the nostalgia goggles on you may find some love to be had for the blocky sprites. The enemies head are actual photographs of the developers who worked on the game I always found this to be somewhat creepy as many of the static images look like the developer is pulling a funny face. To the games credit it really tries to immerse you as Bond as before each level the camera pans into the back of bonds head and when you pause Bond looks at his watch, though this is slow and if your in the middle of a fire fight its not very convenient

Music in the game is acceptable but due to the poor N64 audio quality it never reaches heights of epic proportions like you expect from the film, but boy does the game try. The same can be said for the games sound effects including the gun shots. The most memorable tune is when you die the Bond theme plays followed by a blood curtain coming down much like the opening of any of the films. Then for some reason the game likes to insult you by watching you die again and again in third person prospective as if to remind you how much you suck. If you can’t bare the humiliation this scene can be skipped. There is no voice acting in the game all dialogue is text based and appears in small subtitles at the bottom of the screen which if you’re not careful you will miss.

So now we come onto the multiplayer and this is where I’ll receive the most amount of hate for this review. It’s worth noting the multiplayer in this game was added six weeks before the game was released, this sorta shows as the experience feels very tacked on and even for the time I struggled to find the enjoyment in it. Yes, it was fun to play four player in the same room until you got angry at someone looking over at your screen. The game looses all the awesome hit detection mechanics like in the single player and its essentially a sprint for the best weapon then stay in that spot and murder everybody else. There are other modes like team deathmatch as well as various weapon sets including slappers only, which ill admit is a great name. The multiplayer lacks depth, sure split screen was huge for consoles for the time but it hasn’t stood the test of time today either. However, that didn’t stop this game being at the top of everyones favourite multiplayer list back when it was released and still to this day recieves a huge following.


Goldeneye‘s single player campaign is not very long you can probably blast through it in two gaming sessions with the highest difficulty requiring a lot more investment. Completing each campaign on the three difficulties will unlock a bonus mission and if your amazing and finish every mission on every difficulty you receive a customizable difficultly that lets you adjust things like enemy accuracy and health which can be fun but only the dedicated will unlock this.

Even back in the day this game felt very average but showed promise for future installments. I love the mechanics of the game and appreciate this game layed the foundations for some truely amazing titles later. The spiritual sequel Perfect Dark hits all the right notes making this game feel just average now. The game still commands positive reviews through its dedicated fan base appreciating it through nostalgic googles and that’s usually because of memories for the multiplayer. If you love this game good for you, take this review with a pinch of salt. It’s hard to ignore this game just hasn’t stood the test of time and has been completely outdone by future installments oddly enough by developers who originally worked on this game. Worth a re-visit for the single player but you may find the experience was better what you thought it was than what it actually is.

Final Score: 3 out of 5  (review policy and scoring guidelines)

Written by jamalais

December 26, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Posted in N64, Reviews

Tagged with , ,

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