Review by UltimaZER0
Reviewed: 07/19/01 | Updated: 07/19/01
Quake? Doom? The infamous James Bond can do better!
''THE NAME'S BOND, JAMES BOND''
With the vicious, mindless slaughter that 1st-person shooters such as Doom and Quake has brought the Nintendo 64, it's actually very refreshing to finally get a game that can deliver the same fun as them but with less of the slaughter and more uh, finesse.
Just as the title ''GoldenEye'' implies, the game features Agent 007's 90's revival movie so for anyone who has seen the movie, you know what's going on. There is a secret satellite weapon called the GoldenEye orbiting the Earth. When activated, it fires a highly-concentrated electromagnetic pulse that can severely disrupt any equipment within the radius of the blast, sometimes causing them to explode. Yeah I know. I sound like Q.
Okay. So a few years earlier, James Bond (007) and his companion Alec Travelyan (006) went on a mission to destroy a Russian chemical plant runned by General Ourumov. Unfortunately, after James had planted the explosives set for six minutes, Ourumov ambushed them and he panicked, halving the time to three minutes. In an attempt to get around the ambush, Alec is shot and left for dead while James escapes. The chemical plant blows up and everyone inside is wiped out...almost everyone.
Back in the present, Ourumov and a new operative named Xenia are assigned to capture and test out the GoldenEye down in Severnaya. They kidnap a programmer named Boris while a shakened Natalya escapes their assault.
Meanwhile, James is briefed on another mission, this time looking at a syndicate named Janus, named after the two-faced Roman god of revolution (hence January). He discovers that he is Alec, who was thought to have been killed. Well, now he's back and he's really pissed at him, probably from setting the timer for three minutes. Well now he plans to have him killed. In the meantime, he has plans to hack and transfer money from Swiss bank accounts into his own, using the GoldenEye to erase all trails of his techno bank heist. Of course, James must now confront his old friend one last time and put an end to his misery.
The game plays using a 1st-person perspective with the ability to look above and below you. Quake and Doom's missions are set up so that you can frolic around in the level, blasting away monsters with a small collection of weapons while picking up keys and power-ups. GoldenEye uses a similar system but plays in a more realistic fashion with lots of detail and actual mission objectives. Objects such as cameras and TV sets can be destroyed and you need to actually complete certain objectives before you can leave a level. However, for those who are expecting to blow up everything in sight, you'll need a muzzle for your trigger-happy finger because it won't necessarily help you. For example, in one mission, Natalya will go to a computer and attempt to disrupt the GoldenEye. Blow either the computer or Natalya and you're through.
Just as with most movie-based games, GoldenEye doesn't stay put on the original storyline and has multiple key parts that weren't previously there in the movie. For example, in the movie, Trevelyan drove off into the public streets of St. Petersburg with Natalya, trying to escape 007 riding a tank. In the game, however, one of your mission objectives is to meet up with Valentine hiding in one of the buildings before you tank your way through streets filled with armed guards and dumb civilians.
Rare has a habit of putting in secrets that keep games fresh long after you've completed them and GoldenEye is no different. After the showdown between our two agents, a tough Aztec level is unlocked where you get to meet the monstrosity known as Jaws (for the clueless ones, it's NOT a giant shark). Going even further will unlock the even-tougher Temple level that features the undying Baron Semedi. And just when things seemed finished, you can repeat the previous levels on various difficulty levels to unlock cheats. Finally, completing everything will unlock the 007 difficulty level that allows you to customize the enemy A.I. With all of that in mind, you probably won't get bored anytime soon.
The game also has a wide variety of weapons. While most 1st-person shooters usually has a small variety of high-tech guns, GoldenEye features an enormous collection of weapons that you'll be using. In addition to Bond's traditional 9mm PPK (called PP7 in the game), you'll find various automatics, explosives, pistols, knives, and even a tazer. Each weapon is different in its capabilities but a few weapons just seem too similar (e.g. Phantom and D5K Deutsche). For those who are expecting advanced technological, though, be aware that you're not in the middle of the 31st century and neither is Bond, though you do have the special laser from Moonraker.
Don't think that the game's items consist of all guns. You'll also have access to multiple devices and objects laced throughout the levels. You have stuff like plastique, various keys, data discs, and other little tidbits. Of course, you mustn't abuse them (e.g. wasting the batteries of your Electromagnetic Watch). You'll need to use whatever you find if you're planning on completing a mission. But just as in real life, health power-ups aren't part of the items that you'll be able to find so if you take damage, tough luck. However, you can find armor that can serve as a second set of health.
If you're through with playing alone, there's also a Multiplayer option that allows you to duke it out with a few friends in various levels. You have several modes such as Flag Tag (seeing how long you can hold a flag unarmed) and Licensed to Kill (every shot is lethal) as well as the traditional 1st-person Deathmatch. You can customize several options including the weapons to be used and individual control schemes and damage handicaps for each player. The levels themselves are well done and can range from simple (Chemical Plant Facility) to just downright confusing (Aztec), each one filled with key secret spots and hiding places. However, a major drawback about Multiplayer is the well-abused armor. In Quake and Doom, armor simply reduced the amount of damage that you took but in GoldenEye, there are no health power-ups so instead of reducing damage, armor serves as a second health meter, which can be replenished by grabbing more armor when it reappears in the level. Players who have memorized the locations of armor can quickly dominate the field, blasting away opponents while keeping a clean bill of health. This can quickly frustrate players who can't get their hands on armor and logically, it doesn't look right when you shoot someone in the head and only the armor gets scratched.
What really screws up your day for such a great game is when you discover that certain things were removed from the game due to space limitations. Using the Gameshark, you can discover that there was originally an All Bonds cheat that allowed you to play as either Pierce Brosnon or one of three original Bond actors, including Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, and Sean Connery. There was a small Czech automatic pistol called the Spyder Gun that was removed. Also, when you're running through the Silo level with Invincibility, you can somehow killed Ourumov and pick up his suitcase but it's useless in the mission. I admit that GoldenEye is a really good game but you just can't help but be angry at Nintendo for not choosing to use high-space CD's (max 700 MB) instead of low-space cartridges.
Well, now let's move on to the capabilities of the game, shall we?
The graphics in the game are gorgeous. You can clearly see the depth in the levels and characters are well done. It seems that everything made a great transaction from movie to game and everything is detailed from the scrolling lines on the computer screens to the giant screen in the Bunker level. Though one problem that I didn't like was the fact that you constantly had body parts sticking through doors like a ghost with half a brain. If you stand against a door, you can clearly see that your arm is nowhere through the door but from another player's point of view, it's as though your arm just phased through it like Kitty Pride from X-Men. Also, it could just be me but Natalya's body seems awkward and boxy.
Another problem with the graphics is the major slowdown that constantly occurs. The game is probably running at 60 fps (decent framerate for that time) and it's usually smooth with such a speed but you have times where you really can't afford to have your timing screwed up (e.g. an explosion with your character engulfed in flames and smoke).
The sounds in this game are music to my ears. Oh no wait. It IS music. The soundtrack in this game is well composed and you don't really get sick of the music in each level, especially not with the famous Bond theme. Most levels even have little sound effects mixed into the music to enhance the experience. For example, while you're moving your way around the outdoor snow levels, the low-tone Bond music is mixed with sounds of icy winds, and while you're sneaking around the Facility, you hear pipes as part of the music.
The sound effects are also a nice touch. You can clearly hear bullets being pumped out of your gun, glass breaking, and other tidbits without any problems. Heck, go into the snowy levels and you'll hear the faintest of flying bullets echoing in the distance.
Unlike the wild control schemes that forces you to use every button possible on the controller, GoldenEye's controls are simplified and are easy to learn. While the joystick does your moving, the Z trigger (obviously) fires your weapon, the A and B buttons cycle through your weapons, the C buttons control fine movement, and finally the R shoulder button allows you to do some precise aiming, sometimes evening allowing you to zoom if the weapon permits. If you don't like the default setup, you can also choose from a good bunch of preset controls to see which ones fit you the best, including control schemes that allows two players to control one character like a flight simulator, one player to move, the other to fire.
The gameplay is very solid and all of the levels are professionally designed with strategies in mind. The massive details in the game makes it even more fun and even if you're not dishing out dumb soldiers in the Single Player mode, the Multiplayer will keep the fun going.
The gameplay itself is not completely perfect, however. Aside from the abusive armor in Multiplayer mode, some Single Player levels have guards that regenerate from key spots within the level. For example, in the Facility, right before you find the famous chemical room, you see several labs with scientists roaming around inside. After Ourumov ''kills'' Travelyan and you blow up the gas tanks, guards will keep coming out of the lab doors as you kill whatever guards you see. It's no big deal and it does add to the strategy in the game but because you can't recover health, the relentless armies of gun-toting soldiers can be big pain in the neck, especially in the Aztec and Temple level.
This game is loads of fun and it'll last you hours, even after you've beaten the game. No N64 owner should be without this game and if you're reading this, you should give this game a go. N64 games may still be very expensive but this game is worth every penny. I guarantee it.
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