Review by TFTRC Narte

Reviewed: 04/29/04

One of the best FPS's ever made

The Nintendo 64 had a slow start with only two launch games and not much variety in its early months. Luckily, Rareware came along and brought a kick-butt action title based on a popular movie license, which is most definitely rare. Goldeneye was a pioneer for console first-person shooters and helped win over a few Playstation and PC fans to the N64 as well.

Few movie-to-game translations turn out to be games that are actually good, and so not much hype was built around this game. The game turned out to be a real surprise and stood out as one of the best first-person shooters ever. For those who have no knowledge of the movie, and do not plan to acquire any, the story revolves around her Majesty’s top spy, James Bond, who has to stop an evil syndicate called Janus stop from firing a detonation of the Goldeneye satellite that looms in the earth’s orbit.

While a bit blurry, the N64 has rarely seen graphics this realistic. The way the game looks as it moves along is exceptional. There are so many animations to the characters you face, from ducking, rolling, and the huge array of various death animations that the game features. There are also a variety of textures to the stages and the objects in them. Crates, barrels, computers, vehicles and more litter the stages and make the levels look really great, especially when looking at the blander levels of other first-person shooters like Doom or Hexen. There are a bunch of different enemy models and faces for each level, so each time you play your not seeing exactly the same guys you see all the time. The weapons look fantastic as the bullet casings fly out realistically and muzzle flashes look very realistic and are different for each gun. Simply put, the levels look great. Not one is similar to the other, and each one looks straight out of the movie. An interesting feature that this game also has is that the actors’ faces from the movie are digitized to their game counterparts, so you not only feel like your Pierce Brosnan, but you look like him too. The frame rate is average, running smoothly overall, but chopping up a bit when things get hectic, especially in multiplayer when the pace really starts to pick up, but thankfully, it never slows down to the point of being unplayable.

The music in this game is arguable the best on the N64, with great remixes of the classic bond theme, and some very original pieces that fit the mood of the game and the levels that they are played in. The sound effects are great as well. The weapons all sound realistic and powerful. Little touches are peppered throughout the game, like the sound of the bullets hitting the enemy or even you can be heard, and this is but a small example of the great ways that this game utilizes its unique sounds effects.

Solid, innovative gameplay is the real kick in this game. Instead of the usual shoot-and-kill-anything-that-moves gameplay of many FPS, Goldeneye actually gives you varied mission objectives, and if you play the game again on a higher difficulty, there will be additional, or even completely different objectives that add a lot of replay value. The game throws you in situations that require stealth, and not just blasting in a room, guns blazing (which is completely alright as well, though certain ways are easier using one method than another.) You even have to watch for mission failures for killing civilians, so you’ll always be on the edge of your seat until the end of the level, making sure you don’t make a dumb mistake. These things make the game extremely enjoyable, and because the levels are short enough that you wont have to worry about save points or anything, you will experience much less frustration if you screw up. A small but cool bonus is that even when you fail a mission objective, the game still lets you go on playing anyway, so if you want to kill all the civilians and make it to the end of the level, you can by all means do that, but will not be able to progress to the next level. This game has some of the best gunplay ever seen in a game. The auto-aim is great and not too forgiving, requiring you to still aim despite the added accuracy it gives you, and a nice little touch is that you actually can see your gun move to auto aim in a certain direction, so then you can make quick decisions at what to shoot at and not waste bullets. The weapon variety is incredible, with pistols, rifles, and the like, and also some varied explosives, some remotely detonated, some proximity activated, and of course, rockets and grenades. And let’s not forget the ol’ Q gadgets that Bond gets to use, like the watch laser and door decoder, just to name a few.

The control is great as well, with accurate manual aiming by holding the R button, and smooth analog movement. Using the C-buttons for strafing movement is a must to dodge the gunfire of the harder enemies and your friends in multiplayer. Opening doors is a cinch, and can be done while running fast so you can make a quick entry and bust a few heads of some surprised guards. Reloading is a cinch, without any long animations that leave you open to hits. Also, being able to hold two guns makes the shooting even more fun, and the damage done even gives even Lara Croft with her dual pistol gameplay a run for her money. There is no jump feature, which may irritate more twitch gamers but it overall makes you feel stealthier. After all, Bond doesn’t go hopping around in the movies when he’s trying to infiltrate an enemy compound.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of the game is in its multiplayer modes. Up to four players can take arms and blast their buddies in the standard FPS modes like CTF and Deathmatch, but the modes are cleverly named after Bond movies. Special modes like ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ features 4 players battling each other and the man with the golden gun can kill in one hit, so it’s a scramble to see who can find and keep the golden gun longer. Or you could make the golden gun obsolete by playing ‘License to Kill’, where all the guns can kill in one shot. The actions chops up a bit when explosions and other effects get a bit heavy but the auto-aim really makes up for it so it is still playable. The multiplayer levels are varied and each provides a different atmosphere for, well, killing your friends. One great and often overlooked feature is the fact that the respawn points are throughout the level and the game makes sure your at a somewhat safe distance from an enemy when you respawn, and if it’s not safe, it goes to the next spawn point and you start there, eliminating a lot of cheap kills where you don’t even get to put up a fight.

Another great aspect to this game is its boatload of unlockable features and codes. Each level, in one of its difficulties, has a secret to be unlocked, and which can only be unlocked if you complete the levels in a time limit. These can be challenging but are definitely worth it, and add TONS of replay value to the game. There are also two unlockable stages, which are just as fun as the main levels of the game, and they provide a lot of fun for James Bond buffs.

Overall this is one of the top N64 games ever made and a total must-own title. Do not let your worry of licensed games sucking keep you away from Goldeneye, because this game will leave you truly shaken, not stirred.

Rating: 10

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