Review by Destination
A tremendous earth-shattering explosion is heard from miles around. Surrounded by towering mountains, the echo is so forceful it feels as if the very fabric of time itself is collapsing. Reality seems to stand still as a bullet train speeds by, all the while slowly being engulfed in a crimson flame. Bodies are hurled across the barren tundra, overshadowed by the ominous night sky. In the midst of the chaos, a shadowy figure rises from the ruined aftermath of fiery scrap, unscathed. Turning off the sensor on his wristwatch and sliding the PP7 into his pocket, the cool and confident agent walks along the tracks where carnage had just ensued. The barely conscious soldier stares in bewilderment, and ponders just who this man is. He is the character who wields an enormous array of weaponry, and courageously participates in missions that take him around the world and back again.
His name is Bond, James Bond.
Goldeneye 007 will definitely take you back. It is the title that took everyone by surprise and defined a genre that had been swirling in a vortex of mediocrity. Putting it into perspective, it was clearly that something I was looking for to draw me into this genre. First person shooters have always been a staple for those multi-player meetings, where friends can blow each other apart for hours on end. However, alongside a monumental party experience is an engaging one player adventure that helps to complete the already remarkable package. Rare took on an idea based on a movie, which nearly always leads to trouble, and transformed it into a masterpiece, with a charm clearly deriving from the brilliant execution.
What also made this little installment tower above the rest was the diverse and ever-changing environments. Unlike most renditions today, which feature overused rooms and repetitive looking hallways, everything in this classic installment seems fresh; due in part to the excellent level design and incredibly balanced stage structure. For example, the missions which took place outside seemed to last far longer than their indoor counterparts. Thus allowing for more freedom and the ability to take in all of your surroundings while you are busy sniping away at those unsuspecting guards. And even after all of this time and playing it alongside far more technologically advanced shooters, the visuals still continue to impress. The great fog effects and view distance all help build, not only upon the scenery, but on the depth that coincides with the engaging campaign.
Nothing more enjoyable than walking into a room full of guards and showing off all the impressive toys you brought along. Now while Bond is usually known for stealth and interrogation, it seems that was knocked aside to bring the full spirit of the first person shooter into account. That is not to say you still cannot creep lightly behind the clueless schmuck and knock him senseless with the end of your rifle. Cheap, yet strangely satisfying. What exactly would a first-person shooter be without the weaponry? Goldeneye certainly doesn't falter in this department, and you have easily over fifty options to use at your disposal. From the spurt firing power of the RCP-90 to the startling DD44 Dostovei, each gun you find along the ground is cooler than the next, with the cream of the crop waiting for those who prove their worth.
The combat is certainly exciting, but will not be the only task you undergo. As you prepare to take on a certain stage, the game will prompt you with three difficulty settings: Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent. As you continue to hone your skills, you will be able to glide past the easy objectives and more into dangerous territories. Thus, the more you move up in rank, the harder the enemies, the less damage you can take, and the more objectives you have to tackle. For example, you may only have to remove the security device on a computer terminal in Agent. All in a simple day's work right Mr. Spy? However, while on 00 Agent, you may have to grab a top-secret video tape, make a copy of a key, and escape within a time limit, as well as completing the previously mentioned task. The challenge is executed flawlessly, and by the time you finish the easier difficulty settings, you will be ready to meet the next surreal obstacle in your path.
What will stand in your way the most in your road to completion will not be in the form of an opposing antagonist or stumping puzzle, but that of a woman. Reminiscing back to earlier titles from the past, computer oriented buddies are a little more trouble than their worth. Constantly getting into tough spots and biting off more than they can chew, thus resulting in you failing your mission. The same can be said here and the woman being referred to is Natalya. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to save someone who thinks they are invincible. Moving from point to point, you will open your mission folder to suddenly find a Mission Failed. How did this happen? Well, almost every time, you will find it to be her fault; with her inability to confront enemies being the most frustrating aspect of all. Though the enemy AI is usually a bit clueless in most cases, it seems that it all comes back to them when you bring an ally along for the ride.
This derives from the fact that the opposing force is always shooting your friends instead of you. And it would seem that they prefer watching you blow your objectives than actually eliminating you. The best example for this scenario occurs in the later Control mission, which is far and away the most annoying level in the history of gaming. You play the bodyguard for the ditsy girl who is trying to stop a diabolic threat from happening, and you must fend off an endless stream of guards for five minutes. Words can't describe how many times you will replay that level, only to see Natalya die again and again. What a pain in the ass. Thankfully, the most stressing levels are late in the game and only appear for a short time. This means it's back to your lonesome again for some more espionage orient missions devoid of annoying sidekicks. For you are well aware you can easily handle those numerous hardships on your own.
Taking a minute to reflect back...
Ah, I can faintly recall staying up past the midnight hour one Saturday night. The room is constantly flashing due in part to the sparks emanating from within the television. Mountain Dew and other caffeine induced drinks being consumed to heighten the already robust adrenaline circulating throughout the room. The sounds of the rocket launcher and dual wield weaponry resplendently shatter the moments of lurking around dark corners. And finally with one false move that trademark red screen of blood folds over our screens. This is truly what multi-player was all about, a competitive madhouse of carnage, all racing toward that winning score. While it may seem like it is lacking in certain aspects because of its age, Goldeneye really is still at the top of its class because of the freshness felt when it first arrived. The classic nostalgia apparent in virtually every nook and cranny reaches even deeper than Bond's predictable charm towards the ladies.
There is certainly no dullness noticeable in the battle mode and the customization you can set up for each event is seemingly limitless. Options such as: the type of weapon selection, allowance of body armor (shields), and the never-ending list of character choices, all surely satisfy if you are a seeker for large quantities of content. Up to four players can throw down at one time thanks to the split-screen display and the level selection is not too shabby either. Though each environment feels and looks different than the next, one thing generally stays the same, the desire of learning the locations of the best weapons and armor. From small corridors to hidden doors which coincide next to familiar wall patterns, each stage has something that makes it unique. Even team battles can be set up if you and your buds want to break from the FFA action for a little bit. There is plenty to do, and grabbing a large party of friends to compete and explore all the possibilities offered, really is the best way to play Goldeneye. And in comparison, nothing even comes close.
Even after all of these years I can still pick up this gem and fall prey to the excellent single player mode or the remarkable multi-player. Despite running through today's FPS giants such as: Halo, Half-Life, and Call of Duty, there is something about Goldeneye that puts it a step above the rest. Maybe its legacy derives from the fact it literally defined first person shooters on the console or it could be that I am poor and have no other games to play. Regardless, if you still have not wrapped your fingers around this little number, you really are missing out on something captivating. Though it may seem a little dated by today's standards, as all Nintendo 64 games do, there is still so much charm to be found it easily bypasses the minor quirks. It truly is a shame that no other Bond installment that has emerged can hold a candle to this one and I can safely say that none ever will.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/17/04, Updated 09/08/06
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