Today, there are tons of first person shooter games on consoles. Games such as Halo and Call of Duty dominate the console market with their accessible gameplay and phenomenal graphics. With the run away success of these titles, its hard to believe that a little over a decade ago, it was very rare to have a good shooting experience on a console. It was a genre that was for those that could afford an expensive computer. And, up until now, the only shooters to make it to consoles were mediocre ports of Doom and or Wolfenstein. Now, we move to 1997 and its time for a change!
Game company Rare released Goldeneye 007 exclusively on the Nintendo 64. It revolutionized not only shooters for consoles but shooters themselves. It also stands as the third best selling N64 game next to Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64 a true feat in of itself. But what makes this game so popular and revolutionary? Well, lets find out!
Firstly, there are two different ways to play the game. First there is the single player story mode that follows a plot similar to that of the movie. The game takes some liberties but it has the same plot and scenes as the movie. This is one thing that is neat about this game, its one of the first games with a story and mission objectives. Most games up until this point involved simply getting to the end of the level. Not in Goldeneye! Each mission has several objectives that need to be fulfilled in order to complete it. These range from, hacking a network, killing a villain or even bungee jumping off of a dam. Every mission has unique objectives, which gives it a lot of replay value because it adds more objectives based on the difficulty you play on. I highly recommend playing on either Agent or Secret Agent difficulty as the OO Agent difficulty is brutal. The second way to play will be touched on later in this review.
Of course, on your way to your objectives you will have to do some shooting and some sneaking. Firstly, every level in the game is littered with enemies. They all carry a variety of weapons, some more deadly than others. The neat thing is that they react differently depending on where you shoot them. Shoot their hand and whey will shake their hand in the air, shoot their shoulder and you see it move backwards from the impact. I also recommend shooting them in the crotch or the butt as you will receive some rather comical feedback! While this is fun to play around with, I should also note that the AI (artificial intelligence) of the enemies is rather good. They will swarm you if they hear loud automatic fire coming from you and even their comrades. However, if you are good with a silenced weapon or at firing a loud gun like its a semi automatic, you will be rewarded as the guards wont be alerted to your presence. Its a very fun mechanic to play with. I recommend becoming familiar with it as you need it to complete the OO Agent difficulty.
While on the subject of noise and weapons, Goldeneye offers you lots and lots of options to dispatch your foes. These range from silenced pistols to machine guns to a wide variety of explosives such as mines, rocket launchers and grenade launchers. My personal favorite is the RCP-90. This beast is a high powered machine gun with a whopping 80 bullet magazine. It causes so much destruction that you only acquire it in only a couple of levels, and in one case, its only available on the easiest difficulty. But when you get it, you become a whirlwind of destruction. You feel almost godly when you wield it and it is oh so satisfying. This game also introduced a sniper rifle with an adjustable scope, this is common now and we have this game to thank for that. I must also note that the game has no reticle as you are running around shooting, however, it helps you with aim assist. There are times where James will point his gun directly at an enemy so you dont have to mess around with the aiming. Its rather nice.
Another item worth noting are the secrets within the game itself. Firstly, there are two hidden levels that are unlocked by completing all the levels on Secret Agent and OO Agent respectively. I recommend going for these as they are a ton of fun as well as a decent challenge. To be honest, I didn’t find it too difficult to unlock either of them, sure OO Agent is very difficult but its doable with some practice and a lot of patience. On top of the level unlocks, there are cheats that can be unlocked by performing speed runs of certain levels on certain difficulties. Many of these are fairly easy but some are almost impossible. I managed to do them but I spent days and days working on some. Prepare to tear your hair out if you try these. However, if you want to keep your hair safely in place, there are codes you can use to unlock them as well. Just use your good friend google to help you with them.
The next item of note is the graphics, they are very good for the Nintendo 64. Sure its not pretty by today’s standards but for its time, these were tough to beat. The character models are detailed and varied. You will see way more than just the enemies moving around too. In several levels, you will run into scientists and computer programmers. Make sure not to shoot them. The levels look good as well, most of them are industrial so they don’t require too much detail but its the Jungle level that truly shines. There are trees everywhere and the ground is covered in leaves and bushes. The little details placed into this particular level are amazing.
Finally, its time to talk about the best and most memorable part of Goldeneye 007. The Multiplayer. For many, this is what made Goldeneye so much fun. The game offers intense shooting action for up to 4 players at a time. It may not seem like much today but this was a big deal when it was released and I’ll be honest, there is something to be said for gaming with friends that are sitting right there next to you. Online is fun but I’m a split screen fanatic. But I digress, after you set up number of players, you can chose from the 6 available levels. Each of these are fun in their own way. For example, the Complex is like an industrial building with all sorts of different floors and passageways. On the other hand, you have the more wide open temple that has several large wide open spaces connected by a labyrinth of tight tunnels and corridors. Now you may be thinking that 6 levels is rather pathetic, well, there are several more that you can unlock by completing certain missions in the single player mode. But I will be honest, my favorite level is easily the complex. After selecting level, you choose the game type you wish to play. These are varied as well and include the standard deathmatch as the main focus. However, there are other modes to try such as, “The living Daylights,” which is basically flag tag, the longer you hold the flag, the more points you earn. There is also the, “Man with the Golden Gun,” where one man gets the one hit kill golden gun. This weapon can change hands if you manage to kill the person holding it. Other options that you can choose before you start a match are the game length (time limit or kill/score limit), weapon set, character, control style and aiming options. As you can probably tell, there is quite a bit to keep you busy here and is one of the main reasons Goldeneye became so popular.
All in all, this game is a classic of not only console FPS games but all FPS games. The gameplay is fluid and varied and the multiplayer will always keep you coming back for more. Sure, there are times where you will experience slowdown due to too many bullets flying and sometimes the AI is stupid. But, lets be honest, this game rocks so hard that you don’t even care. I loved this game when it first came out and I love it now. Its a masterpiece