Review by 007Ganondorf

"The best of Bond, the best of the N64, and the best of all time."

GoldenEye. Any gamer who was around during the Nintendo 64 era knows how good this game is. Anyone who wasn't has heard rumours. Whispers. It's as if GoldenEye is a legend, with grandfathers and great-grandfathers sitting on a tree-stump telling the gathering young ones of this first person shooter greatness.

The release of GoldenEye is a bit of an oddity itself. It arrived on store shelves August 25th, 1997, almost two years after the release of the movie it's based on. Initially intended to be an on-rails shooter for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, it was pushed back and delayed a number of times. Fortunately for us, the good folks at Rare, or Rareware, as it was then called, knew what they were doing. Not only is this still the best Bond game, but it is the best game on the N64, the best first person shooter of all time, and (this is all in my humble opinion) it is the best game of all time.

You are Bond, James Bond. You have a gun. Usually a large assortment of guns. You have objectives to complete. Usually a large assortment of objectives to complete. The only thing between you and your objectives are Russian soldiers. I think you can figure the rest out.

As I mentioned in the introduction, the game is a first person shooter. (Or FPS for short) For those of you who don't know, in an FPS you control the character through their viewpoint. Meaning on the television screen, you see James Bond's hand holding a gun, so you are watching all the events in the game unfold through his eyes.

Thankfully, the control is simple and intuitive. Granted, it would have been better if there was a second analog stick, but the developers came up with a perfect control scheme given the limitations of the N64 controller. Using the analog stick, you can move Bond forward and backward, and look side to side. Using the four C-buttons, you can look up and down and sidestep. This is very refreshing when compared to the horridness of other FPSs on the console. (I'm looking at you, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter) The A button switches weapons, the B button reloads your gun, and is used to open doors or activate computers/consoles when standing in front of them. The Z button on the back of the controller fires your gun, which is pretty neat because it kind of feels like a trigger. Finally, the right and left shoulder buttons bring up a crosshair on screen. While holding down one of these buttons, the player can aim Bond's gun at specific targets with more precision.

As mentioned earlier, there are objectives that must be completed before the mission can be considered a success. These vary from simple tasks such as “Get from point A to point B” to more complicated and spy-like things, such as rescuing hostages, planting tracking devices and downloading secret Soviet files. One level even has the player rampaging through the streets of St. Petersburg in a stolen Russian tank. Each level has the player accomplishing different tasks, which is one of the reasons why this game never feels repetitive.

If you have seen the movie, then there are no surprises, although it does add in a few extra action sequences and has more guards to shoot, in order to make it more suitable for video game adaptation.

The story begins in 1986. James Bond is sent to destroy a secret chemical weapons facility in the Soviet Union. He infiltrates the facility and rendezvous with fellow British agent Alec Trevelyan, codenamed 006. They are then ambushed by a group of soldiers, lead by Colonel Ouromov. Trevelyan surrenders and is killed, but Bond manages to set off the explosives, get outside and escape in a plane. Nine years later a French helicopter is stolen by the Janus crime syndicate, and James Bond is sent to investigate. There is a major plot twist about half way through, but suffice it to say a lot of people get shot, resulting in a happy ending.

For the N64, and for 1997, GoldenEye was a technically impressive game. But let's face it, it was the N64, and it was 1997. The game has long ago been surpassed in terms of graphics and sound effects, but you should not turn away from this game merely for those reasons. Also, it is worth it to note that the game has excellent music. The soundtrack ranges from electrical to stealthy, but manages to incorporate the James Bond theme in nearly every track. There is one song in particular that comes to mind. It has a sort of Russian military flavour to it, while still being appropriate for stealth, and keeping its distinct James Bond feel.

The game is divided into twenty levels, with the final two being bonus missions having nothing to do with the storyline. There are three difficulty levels, and not only does each provide more objectives, but the enemies require more shots to kill, their accuracy is improved, and Bond is killed in a fewer number of shots. There are also “cheats” to obtain, by beating a level on a certain difficulty within a certain amount of time. Some of these are ridiculously easy to get, and you will probably end up with a couple just from playing through the game normally. However, some of the requirements to get these cheats are devilishly challenging. On top of all this there is a rather substantial multiplayer mode, which allows up to 4 players to go against each other in a “deathmatch” mode. This mode can be played in teams as well, such as 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 1 etc. There are a vast amount of characters and levels to choose from. Unfortunately there are no A.I. “bots”, and obviously no on-line capabilities. Nevertheless, it is very frantic and fun, and if you have friends and extra controllers, it will be a blast.

If you still have an N64 kicking around, but for some reason never tried this game, you owe it to yourself to try it now. It won't cost more than $15, if you can find it at your local game shop. You just have to look past the outdated graphics. (Remember, this was state of the art in '97)


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/05/09, Updated 04/26/10

Game Release: GoldenEye 007 (US, 08/25/97)


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