Review by Achilles Heel

Reviewed: 08/10/01 | Updated: 11/08/01

Goldfinger... The man, with the golden touch... Wait a sec, wrong movie.

GoldenEye was the game that originally brought me to console gaming; before, I’d been using a PC, and my parents didn’t want me to buy a console (they said the PC was good enough). I pretty much went along with them, since I was having great fun with all the flight sims and such on my trusty computer. However, one fateful day, my friend had gotten a new game (guess which one) for his Nintendo 64, and asked me to come over to play it. When I came over, we decided to play a quick game of multiplayer deathmatch. I was hooked. That quick game stretched hours and hours, ‘til it was time for me to come home. All that night, I thought of GoldenEye, and knew I had to have an N64. I eventually did get one, but not without a great deal of effort. It required me to make a Powerpoint slideshow, which was NOT fun. However, the point is, I got an N64 and GoldenEye for my next birthday. And it kicked ass.

Story: 9.5/10
The plot is exactly the same as the James Bond movie of the same name (which kicked serious amounts of bootay, by the way). 007, James Bond, and 006, Alec Trevalyan, were on a mission to a nerve gas bottling tank is Russia, but everything goes haywire when the General Ouromov barges in, and James is barely able to escape with his life. He is able to destroy the plant, and everyone is thought dead. There were, however, a few other survivors..

Around ten years later, a new organization named “Janus” has popped up. They appear to have been behind the theft of the new Pirate helicopter, and in command of the fearful EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse, for the less techie of us) disrupting satellite, GoldenEye. Janus intends to use this to steal huge sums of money electronically from banks, then wipe out all of their records. The leader of this group has a personal vendetta against James, and it’s up to our favorite spy and a programmer, Natalya Simonova (AKA, the token Bond babe) to defeat Janus and save the day.

This premise is quite tasty, you have to admit. Personally, I’m surprised that no one’s tried something like this yet, in real life! The story itself is mostly told in the mission briefings before the levels themselves, instead of in cutscenes, which is a different approach than usual (though is quite a bit in-game conversation). This is a great plot; of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s James Bond, either.

Gameplay: 10/10
GoldenEye puts you in the shoes of James Bond, the eternal secret agent, so it’s surprise you’ll be downing hundreds of evil terrorists.. GE is a first-person shooter, but don’t get any false ideas. This is, while not to the level of Rainbow Six, a “smarter” shooter. Running straight through the levels while holding down the fire button isn’t going to be a smart idea; you’ll be eaten alive by enemies following you, on all sides. Instead, it’s better to pick the bad guys off at a distance, and not allowing yourself to be taken on my large amounts of ‘em at a time.

The bad guys aren’t rocket scientists, but they’re a hell of a lot better than those in, say, Doom 64. As said earlier, they’ll follow you throughout the level if they aren’t taken care of many times, and they’ll know something’s wrong when the guy standing next to them falls down with an ugly red mark on the side of his neck. They aren’t limited to just running towards you: they often take cover, run for the alarm bell, or sneak up behind you. While the baddies do occasionally seem to fall in a coma, they’re usually fairly intelligent (and if they’re not, it’s just an advantage for you!).

A neat feature that now shows up in many other FPS’s is area-specific enemy damage. What this means is that there’s about six or so areas of the enemies’ bodies (head, arms and legs, feet and hands, chest, crotch, arse). Yeah, it’ll hurt if you send a metal slug going fifty MPH into that sucker’s crotch, but it’d hurt more if it was sent towards his forehead. Because of this, your days of running through FPS’s shooting aimlessly are over. It pays to aim where it hurts. And the bad guys’ reaction show it: when you hit ‘em in the hand, for instance, they’ll grab it in pain; hit them in the neck and they’ll do the international symbol for choking; shoot them in the ass and they might jump up and down while grabbing their bloody excretory device. It’s truly worth to sneak up behind some poor sap and hit their gluteus maximus just to be able to giggle at him in his pain. It’s a guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

At your disposal to hit those baddies where it hurts are twenty-eight different weapons, a truly amazing count. There are explosives, laser ray guns, rocket and grenade launchers, rifles, pistols, knives, slappers (read: fists), a tank; almost everything you could imagine is here. I personally love the Magnum, from the old saloon days: it may be slow to fire and reload, but it packs an absolute hell of a punch. Another favorite is the Golden Gun (yes, that weirdo with the third tit’s gun): while it’s only got one bullet, that single pellet will instantly kill anything it touches. Here’s hoping you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.. Most of these, with the exception of a few James Bond world-specific ones, are real-world weapons, just with different names; for example, the PP7 is a PPK in real life, and the DK5 Deutsche is a dead ringer for an MP5.

GE isn’t all about baddie blasting, though. In every level, there are several objectives you need to complete; most of them are not kill every chump in sight. Instead, you’ll have to do such things as copying the key to the GoldenEye satellite and disarm bombs. And to do these goals, you get a nice selection of gadgets, like a watch laser or camera. This is a very refreshing idea for console FPS’s indeed. I really do enjoy completing these goals, instead of just having to run to the end without actually doing anything. Plus, the goals actually make sense based on the levels. If you’re on a level in which you’ve been kidnapped and must escape, for instance, it’s necessary to steal the information showing that you were ever there.

Speaking of levels, there are eighteen “regular” ones, and two are unlockable. These take you through just about every locale shown in the movie, and then some. There is quite an amount of varied spots, such as the jungle, train depot, bottling plant, and missile silo. All of these are wonderfully fleshed out, with extra areas just for your viewing pleasure in many to boot. The level design is absolutely excellent in all of them; there’s no true ugly duckling that shows up out of the bunch.

GoldenEye has three very disparate difficulty levels: Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent. Agent is for those of you with developing motor skills; the enemies can’t hit you, there’s less mission goals, and even if you are hit, you’ll take very little damage. Secret Agent is the medium difficulty, as it raises the bar just a bit in all of those areas. 00 Agent is, quite simply, evil. The baddies are excellent marksmen, there’s the most objectives, and being shot hurts like a *****. However, to get the full value of the game, you’ll have to complete GoldenEye in each one.

While the three difficulty levels add a lot of replay value, the earnable cheats are the main bastions of GoldenEye in that respect. How to earn cheats is simple: complete a level on a certain difficulty within a certain time limit. However, it’s going to be harder than that’ll lead you to think. Some of the cheat times will make you pull your hair out in absolute frustration; but it’s worth it. The selection of cheats is myriad, including Invisibility, Invulnerability, extra guns, unlimited ammo, shooting paintballs out of your weapon, and more. It’s completely worth it to earn these, believe me.

Of course, GoldenEye just wouldn’t seem complete without a killer multiplayer mode, and that it has. There’s options galore, including well over ten maps to play on, multiple set of weapons, many characters to play as from the single-player game, and five different ways to play. The five ways to play are as follows: normal (your regular ‘ol deathmatch), You Only Live Twice (only two lives, then you’re gone forever), The Man With The Golden Gun (one Golden Gun in the level), The Living Daylights (capture the flag), and my personal favorite, License to Kill (one shot kills!). This is absolutely fun in every sense of the word! The level design and the assortment guns really make this great. Since it’s possible for four players, much havoc ensues, and tons of destruction. A friend and I played this every night for a whole summer, and we still play it quite often. It’s that good.

The default control method has the stick aiming and moving you forward and backwards, while the C buttons strafe right and left. This suits me perfectly fine, but if it doesn’t, there’s quite a few more schemes to choose from. The best other one is like Turok: the C buttons run in all directions and the stick only aims. And if that doesn’t work, there’s plenty more. Everybody can find something that works for them!

Difficulty: Varies, Leaning to Hard
Since there are three different difficulties to choose from, it varies. However, the cheats are often quite difficult to earn, so the game leans to being hard. Also, Secret Agent, while medium, is actually quite hard.

Graphics: 9.5/10
All of the characters look like real people, since Rare, the developers, decided to use pictures of those in the movie and put their faces directly on the body. This feels a bit eerie sometimes, but it looks very, very good, if a bit blurry sometimes. The only casualty here is Natalya, who unfortunately looks as though somebody dropped her picture in the sink before scanning it. Also, the levels themselves look absolutely astonishing and almost exactly like the scenes in the movie. The textures are amazing for an N64 game; they’re truly head and shoulders above the rest.

Sound and Music: 9.8/10
The classic Bond music is, of course, in evidence, and that’s truly a good thing. I love it, and the rest of the themes are just as action-packed and catchy. The sound effects are also great; gunshots sound realistic, and characters occasionally yell out. Explosions sound cool, too.

Value: 10/10
GoldenEye will take you quite a while to get through, assuredly. Getting through that 00 Agent difficulty is a hard task, to be sure. The cheats are very difficult to get, too. Also, the multiplayer stays fun for a long, long time. I personally love to just screw around in the regular game while invisible in the Facility; I have a great time strapping remote mines to enemies rears and making them fart powerfully, or having them fly like Superman. GoldenEye is long-lasting, if nothing else.

GE is my personal favorite game; I pull it out every few days and have a go. It never gets old..! I can’t recommend it enough. The revolutionary gameplay, the superb music, the fun cheats; it’s all good. GoldenEye is practically a required purchase if you own a Nintendo 64. If you don’t have it, go buy it right now. You won’t regret it. It possibly the only excellent movie-based game ever.

+ Lasts for a long time
+ Revolutionary
+ Excellent music
- Natalya’s face looks like roast beef
- Can be quite difficult on 00 Agent Mode

Overall Score: 10/10

Rating: 10

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