Review by QXZ

Reviewed: 08/21/02 | Updated: 08/21/02

This review is For Your Eyes Only

Since Sean Connery first appeared as the first James Bond in 1962 (although old enough to be 1862), there is one thing that can be asked: How many men aren’t jealous of MI6 super spy/secret agent James Bond?

Logic: Who else receives free high-tech gadgetry, can drive those fast, $250,000, er, £160,000 cars with unaffordable insurance — curiously covered by the government — and, most importantly, wind up with a hot babe after saving the world?

Multitudes of Nintendo 64 owners have already known the answer for some time. How could MI6 have been bombarded with recruitment applications? And why didn’t anyone notify me about this?!

When Timothy Dalton was relieved of duty in 1989’s License to Kill, there was a six-year absence of the man known as James Bond, agent 007 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The next man blessed with the role of the debonair Bond was issued to Pierce Brosnan, who starred in the movie this game is based on.

The story: Russia, some time in 1986. Under orders from MI6, Bond is sent to meet up with his then-ally and confidant, Alec Trevelyan (006), at a chemical plant that creates weapons of mass destruction. What results is a fiery mass of what was once a building of mass destruction. Ironic, isn’t it? Bond escapes, with Trevelyan getting caught in the blast, left in the rubble, presumed dead by his employers, as well as James.

1995 — nine years later — the world has undergone major changes. The Cold War between Russia the good ol’ USA and is over. Technology improves. Gender-based equality is commonplace — especially when 007 discovers his new boss is a woman — another person known only as “M”. This new M believes Bond is a misogyn... massagenis... mysogenistic dinosaur who only likes cars and women, but still finds him a valuable asset to the British agency.

Within a minute of turning on the 64, the treat begins. It’s just like popping a Bond flick into your VHS or DVD system and hitting the play button, sans the boring previews asking for the fast forward button!

GoldenEye takes you through the course of the movie, with some liberties thrown in. Environments replicate the film to near perfection with atmospheres richer than Goldfinger. If you were to compare the settings in the movie to the game, you’ll notice that Rare did one fine job. For a game company that was given access to the set, you’d damn well better expect it to be nothing less.

Music also plays a pivotal role in the game. Orchestral sounds fit the situation perfectly, even if it starts boring the tears out of you. GoldenEye’s music is absolutely awesome. I even felt a couple of tunes had a beat that I could dance to. If only there were the use of speech during the game, we could hear our favorite stiff-assed Brit making the well-known “Bond... James Bond”. Aside from that, the only thing missing is that raunchy brass section associated with Bond themes.

But all this audiovisual presentation is all for naught if the gameplay stinks, right? GoldenEye excels in many areas, shining brightly as the title gems in Diamonds are Forever.

Bond utilizes the N64 controller in similarity to everything Q issues, just not causing irreparable damage. Important spy stuff, like walking, opening doors, looking around, opening doors, aiming your weapons, and opening doors is a snap. Your method for vertical aim method can be altered, opt to hold or toggle your aim button, and allow for automatically adjusting your view and aim, making for optimal control use.

Under supervision of the default controls, maneuvering is a breeze. Using the thumb stick to walk and the C buttons to aim on the fly, you have optimal control. Should your preference be the Turok scheme, I’m sorry. You can set the controls up that way, I’m just sorry.

Weapons are ample in quantity — roughly thirty, including James’ own Walther PPK. Don’t bother looking for weapons that have sci-fi inspiration. Almost every gun is inspired by a real-life counterpart. They’re unique and interesting because of it.

Enter a room with machine guns pumping several bullets per second, you shouldn’t expect the fire to last long. You gotta reload. Despite magically reloading by dipping your gun into an imaginary box full of bullets to your immediate right, the weapons are practically perfect. Close enough to realism, says I.

Accuracy extends to the guards’ animations. Pop one in the hand, they’ll shake off the pain as if they’d just punched a brick wall. Shoot one in the head, they’ll try to cover up the fatal wound, writhing in pain. When a guard gets caught in the flames of an explosion, they fly and roll with fluid choreography, in the spirit of the films.

Animations aside, the models themselves aren’t nearly as good to look at. Faces are monotonous. Hands are crammed into fists without digits that move freely. Up close, the lacking character designs do detract from the animation, making the Muppets look better in comparison. But I do credit Rare with making Bond’s face looking eerily similar to Pierce Brosnan.

And everyone you see will practically look all the same. Enemies are human guards, human guards, and... well... human guards. No problem; I actually like it; Makes things interesting.

Due to its three levels of difficulty per its twenty levels, length should be of no concern — it’ll easily last a month or two of with dedicated play. Voice exclusion aside, GoldenEye one damn fine game for those who prefer playing alone (like me). And, yes, the ending is what you’d expect from any James Bond film — he always gets the girl. Jealous, guys?

Even after saving the world many times over, Bond’s work is still undone? Apparently. Given the assignment of Live & Let Die, you get to gather three other players in death à la Bond. Does this mean James Bond will lose for the first time since the film version of Casino Royale? Worse, is it possibly the mission that ultimately costs him his life?

In it, options are plenty, including several weapon configurations, a total of nine arenas (only one being a skunk), and scenarios based on James Bond film titles, like the obvious You Only Live Twice. Optimal death-defying excitement comes in the form of License to Kill, where all injuries are mortal.

While GoldenEye’s multiplayer game is thorough entertainment, it falls well short of perfection. Why? Before you bombard me with flames, it’s where the game’s biggest flaws make themselves known. Despite the high quantity of options (at least several thousand different combinations), true customization is a myth.

Control set-up is one concern. Each player is stuck with the default agent’s control scheme. Player A might well find comfort with their aim techniques, an unacquainted Player B will likely wind up complaining to no end.

Not all arenas are available for 3P and 4P games. A sad story, as the one skunk of a level would have been optimal for a quartet.

What GoldenEye’s multiplayer flaws boiled down to weapon section — public enemy #1. I do like the manufactured set-ups, but they also manage to unfavorably tip the scales to whoever gets the prime weapon (ahem — explosives). Discriminating agents, like myself, would opt for further customization — allowing certain weapons only during certain scenarios is wrong.

Yet, none of these flaws shave much from the excitement. Long since accomplishing the mission, I still find GoldenEye one heck of an experience, wanting to play for a spell every once in a while — either wanting to reexperience of the sheer thrill of the game... or just the sadistic urge to kill some people.

Ignoring James Bond’s first N64 appearance is a massive no-no. Don’t procrastinate any longer: The world is counting on you! Buy it, and you can relive the James Bond ending over and over again — getting the girl as many times as you want!

If you only rent it, or decide to get rid of it, listen to Q for once, and “please do return the equipment in pristine order”.

Player advisory: Even though GoldenEye contains some realistic violence, it is fairly clean. Blood stains show upon the characters’ uniforms, but dying characters all remain in one piece.


Rating: 8

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