Review by discoinferno84

Reviewed: 09/03/04

Vodka Martini, please. Shaken, not stirred...

Bond, James Bond. Shaken, not stirred. Those incredibly catchy phrases have been uttered for decades, helping cement the foundation of one of the most famous pop culture icons of the 20th century. For years this suave international man of mystery and espionage has captivated audience worldwide with his charming demeanor, astounding amount of luck, and some pretty cool stunts and gadgets to back him up. Let’s face it, James Bond is still popular even after being in the middle of mainstream American culture for nearly forty years. And when the movie Goldeneye was featured back in 1997, it was heralded as one of the best Bond movies ever made. But the longevity and popularity didn’t end with the blockbuster. The real magic was persevered for all time, in one of the finest video games ever made. The game of Goldeneye is still unparalleled in its excellent gameplay, even to this date.

As a fan of the James bond series, I’ve spent countless hours playing through my Bond collection, analyzing and appreciating both the rich and the occasionally crappy plots. Sounds kind of sad, doesn’t it? However, Goldeneye features one of the best plots to date. And unlike most movie-based video games, this game stays completely true and faithful to the movie, complete with all of the characters, action sequences, and missions. You’re James Bond, one of the elite covert operatives of the British MI6. In the year 1989, Bond is sent on a mission to infiltrate a weapons facility in the Soviet Territory. He meets up with another operative named Alec Trevelyan and attempts the mission. However, not all goes according to plan. While Bond barely manages to destroy the facility, Soviet General Ourumov shoots Alec. Facing certain death, the scathed hero leaves his partner behind.

Nine years later, our trusty agent is still on the job. He’s issued a new mission that could once again bring the world to its knees. Apparently, a high profile and confidential weapon called Goldeneye has been stolen. After some good old fashioned detective work, the trail leads back to Janus, a mysterious and powerful figure in the newly reformed Russia. This ghostly figure has teamed up with General Ourumov with a plot to use the Goldeneye to annihilate influential cities around the globe. If Janus manages to fire off the Goldeneye, all modern electrical machinery will stop working, leaving the world without power and technological advancements. With such a powerful weapon at his disposal, Janus could become the most dangerous and powerful terrorist known to man. Unfortunately, James knows absolute squat about disabling satellite weaponry. It’s up to Natalya Simonova, the latest Bond Girl, to partner up with our hero and destroy the Goldeneye project for good!

Staying true to the storyline of the movie, you are required to complete a series of missions in order for you to progress in the game. You’ll be swept off your feet, only to land in the many varied locales featured in the movie. It starts off with Bond trying to infiltrate the Soviet weapons facility, and the game follows the storyline almost perfectly, going from scene to scene and developing the plot. When you undertake a mission, you must complete a certain list of objectives before your mission is considered a success. These missions usually revolve using a certain computer console, establishing contact with an operative, or destroying everything in plain site in classic James Bond style. Sometimes these objectives will be easy to accomplish, like bungee jumping on the first mission. But the further you progress in the game and the higher the difficulty you choose, the list of objectives gets longer and longer, making you search and consider every nook and cranny of the massive levels. It’s this emphasis on the objectives that make sure that you’re doing something more than just randomly blowing everything up. It can be especially aggravating on 00 Agent difficulty, when you accidentally shoot the wrong person or destroy the wrong machine. However, it’s these objectives that actually make you think about your surroundings and how they influence the game.

Of course, you can’t be James Bond if you don’t have the toys. You have all of the classic Bond weapons, like the standard PP7, the laser watch and the remote mines. Unfortunately for your pathetically AI controlled foes, you’ve got a wide assortment of weapons to dish out some delicious pain and suffering. Not only do you have the basic Bond equipment at your fingertips, but you’ve also got tons of extra weapons just brimming with destructive force. You’ll eventually get grenade launchers, lasers, even a military tank at your disposal. Also, the Bond arsenal comes complete with plenty of classic weaponry, ranging from throwing knives to the mythical Golden Gun to the extremely deadly Sniper Rifle. Also, Rare accidentally left all of the push-button cheat codes for you to find, letting you unlock every single weapon on the Bond roster without any real effort. And since you’ve got such a countless array of firepower at your disposal, annihilating your hapless foes will be one of the sweetest treats of all.

However, the real glory rightfully belongs with the multiplayer. I’ve played plenty of multiplayer modes in my time, but my fondest memories always stem back to the awesomeness of the Goldeneye multiplayer. You and three of your best buddies can choose your favorite Goldeneye characters and duke it out in massive arenas taken directly from the game. You can play with knives, mines, automatics, your bare polygon fists, and a healthy portion of rest of the Bond arsenal. But it’s the strategy of the multiplayer that ensures its longevity. You’ve got plenty of armor powerups to grab, countless secret rooms to discover, long corridors and hallways to have shootouts, and tons of condensed rooms just waiting for a remote mine to be thrown in. Strafing, hiding, and tons of other strategies are hidden and infused with the gameplay. It’s up to you to develop your own strategies on the spot, making you think and react on your toes. All of these elements add up to a truly great gaming experience.

However, the fun doesn’t stop with the gameplay. Any fan of Goldeneye and James Bond will appreciate how this game makes wonderful use of the Nintendo 64’s graphical abilities. James Bond is presented with full stature, with the signature tuxedo always in style. All of the characters have their unique looks and clothes that have been taken straight from the movie scenes. All of the pathetic guards wear their standard issued uniforms, right down to the camouflaged fatigues. General Ourumov still dons his infamous Soviet military cap, and Valentin Zuchovsky still has that wonderfully bushy head of slicked hair. The proportions are done with a fair amount of accuracy, sacrificing a little because of the console’s limitations. Also, all of the levels are portrayed to the finest of the Gamecube’s abilities, from the realistic weapons facility dam façade to the dank corridors of the Soviet train station to the lush jungles of Cuba. And while these levels are blocked off by obvious environment obstacles like trees or walls, it still feels like you’re actually there, trying to be the best Bond you can be.

Also, the audio effects are top notch. You can hear the crunch of breaking glass or the sleek whistle of a silenced pistol. You can almost see the bullets as you hear the ricochet off the walls. You can hear the moans and grunts of the countless soldiers that you’ll kill. Even the annoying alarms can still strike fear into the hearts of veteran gamers everywhere. Also, the soundtrack of the game is meshed perfectly with the gameplay. We’re presented with dramatic mixes that add so much more emotion and dynamics to the progression of the mission. You’ve got everything from the classic James Bond theme to the rushed and frantic tunes as you blast your may through the missions. It’s this wonderful musical score combined with the other elements that make for an outstanding presentation.

And as the years roll on, one question comes to mind: What will become of James Bond now? Even though the last few movies have been pretty pathetic by most standards, the legendary secret agent has little to worry about. As long as there’s a fanbase around and a willing actor, the continuing trials and tribulations of Mr. Bond will never cease. In the meantime, we’ve gotten two or three more Bond games since the start of the next generation consoles. With so much marketing and popularity of these games, we can all look forward to playing bond for years to come. But as we look forward to the next installment of our favorite spy, we can’t forget to take a look back at what made him so popular with gamers worldwide. Despite all the newer movies and latest game releases, Goldeneye still stands as a testament to both a great action movie and outstanding gaming.

Rating: 10

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