Review by Katon
Who says movie-based games have to suck?
I'm sure every gamer out there has been burned at least once by a piece of licensed crap passing itself off as a video game. I am certainly in that boat; deep down, it seems like everyone knows that a game with a big license is going to be garbage, but sometimes we think that just because we love the subject matter so much, then this time, maybe, the game won't suck.
I consider myself to be one of the biggest James Bond fans out there, but basing a game off this storied series of movies could be a risky proposition. There is just so much that could go wrong with the game and detract from the source material, which is what usually happens with these types of games.
Enter Rare with Goldeneye.
To be honest, I never got the hype behind this game for the longest time. Despite my Bond fanboy status, I was reluctant to give this one a go. Ultimately, that was a mistake, for when I finally took the plunge and grabbed a copy of this game, I was immediately enthralled and saw that, for once, all the hype was for real. Rare truly created a gaming gem with Goldeneye, making the impossible seem possible: creating a game which is true to the movie and yet is incredibly fun to play. If you have an N64, you simply MUST have this game.
First-person shooters have been difficult to pull off effectively on consoles. The PC is blessed with a mouse and a keyboard, making for very effective control. The standard controllers of most consoles are not built to handle FPSs. The few times companies have introduced a mouse and keyboard to their consoles has normally been met with indifference. Why pay more for something when you've already got it on the computer anyway? Thankfully, Rare solved the problem of control with a brilliant set-up for Goldeneye. Bond moves responsively, and aiming is very easy. The game features an auto-aim feature which can be turned on or off, but I would recommend that you keep it on. The N64 controller may be much-maligned, but it seems perfect for these types of games. Movement is controlled with the analog stick, and you use the Z-button to fire your weapon or use your equipped item. The A button cycles through your weapons, and the B button opens doors and manipulates objects in the environment.
The levels here are brilliantly modeled after the locations in the movie. The level design makes sense, and they are fun to play. There is also quite a bit of each level which is destructible, meaning you can do some damage to your surroundings if a bullet flies astray or if you just want to for fun. Learning to use your environment to your advantage is key. Since this is a Bond game and not Doom, stealth is important for your survival. You can quickly find yourself in major trouble if you charge blindly down hallways with guns blazing.
The AI of the enemies is also wonderfully done. With a few exceptions, these enemies are not stupid and will use tactics to attempt to take you out. Your opponents will dive for cover and will pursue you if you try to escape. They will lob grenades at you and run for alarms the first chance they get. Occasionally, the enemies will seem comatose, but that is rare, and you will be thankful for the respite when it does happen.
A great feature in Goldeneye is area-specific damage. While not on the same level as that found in the Soldier of Fortune games, the area of the body you hit is important. Shoot your enemy in the hand, and they will react appropriately. Shoot them in the legs, and they will react accordingly. Shoot them in the crotch, well, you get the picture. Of course, the best place to shoot your opponents is in the head. However, it is fun to sneak up behind some soldiers and shoot them in the butts, just to see their reactions.
Picking your difficulty level in Goldeneye involves more than just determining the strength and intelligence of your enemies. There are three selectable difficulties: Agent, Super Agent, and 00 Agent. Depending on the difficulty you chose, you will have more or less objectives. Truly completing the game means beating it on all three levels. Of course, 00 Agent is insanely difficult, but it is very satisfying to complete the game in this mode.
Goldeneye also features a ton of unlockables, giving it off the charts replay value. Instead of finding cheats on the internet, you unlock cheats by completing levels in a certain amount of time. These cheats can then be turned on and off in the cheat menu. In addition to expected cheats like infinite ammo and invincibility, you also have cheats like paintball mode and big head mode. There are also plenty of weapons to keep you occupied, twenty-eight, including the infamous Golden Gun.
Finally, I would be remiss in writing a review of Goldeneye without mentioning the incredible multiplayer. The modes here are just astounding and unmatched on any console FPS, with the possible exception of Perfect Dark. From Golden Gun mode to the Living Daylights mode, there is just so much here to keep you and your friends occupied that you'll still be dragging the N64 out to play even though there are plenty of next-gen games to play. Fun is timeless. There is also a level editor for additional replay value.
Overall, Goldeneye's gameplay is brilliant and unbeatable, period.
The story of Goldeneye is obviously based on the story from the James Bond movie of the same name. James Bond, Agent 007, goes through most of the game seeking revenge for his best friend, Alec Trevayan, Agent 006. The game follows the plot of the movie religiously, although I would recommend watching Goldeneye if you already have not for additional understanding. I don't want to give more away without spoiling the plot, but this game is based on the last truly great Bond movie, in my opinion. The story is mainly told through the mission briefings at the beginning of each level with very little character interaction during the game, which works very well.
Goldeneye is a shining example of what can be done with the N64 when programmers know how to use it. The textures here look great, and the levels look stunningly close to those featured in the movie. The only real problem in this area is that the characters look somewhat weird at times. Rare opted to scan pictures of the characters faces in instead of attempting to render them, and they look odd and blurry when viewed up close. Also, you can encounter some slowdown in multiplayer when you have four people going at once. Still, considering the game does not use the expansion pak, Goldeneye looks great for the most part. It's too bad more effort was not put into N64 games by other developers.
The N64 is not noted for having great sound, but this is an exception. The sound is not CD-quality, but the tunes are excellently arranged and appropriate for each level. The classic Bond themes are here in full force with some music created specifically for the game. The cartridge format causes the soundtrack to lose some of its punch, but overall, you will love the music in Goldeneye. Sound effects are also well-done and appropriate.
As I said at the beginning of the review, Goldeneye is a must-buy for any N64 owner. The game is brilliantly-done and an absolute blast to play. You'll keep playing this one for years. It's a rare game that is just as fun in both single and multiplayer. If you are a fan of Bond, this is by far the best game based on the franchise. Considering this game should be very cheap right now, you would be crazy not to get a copy. In fact, I would recommend buying an N64 just for this game if you do not already own one. You can probably get both for less than the cost of a new PS2 game, and you will probably get more value out of the purchase as well. If you are really not sure, give it a rent, but I do not see any way that you would not fall in love with this game.
Overall score (not an average): 10/10
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