No retro game review catalogue could be substantial without mentioning one of the most revolutionary 3D first person shooters of the late nineties. For those who are unfamiliar, GoldenEye 007 completely changed the rules of first person shooters when it was released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64. It proved that not only could first person shooters work on the consoles, but that they could be incredibly fun too.
The game was released two years after the James Bond film GoldenEye (released in 1995) and follows the film’s plot to an almost evangelical degree. GoldenEye 007 was in the bad old days of video-games, when developers seemed to believe that the difficulty curve was directly relational to sales figures. However, while GoldenEye 007 could be tough, it took huge steps in making itself more accessible.
…would add extra objectives…
Different difficulty levels didn’t just change how many bullets you could absorb or how accurate the enemies were, they also added new objectives and side missions. Levels that required you to make it from one end to the other on easy mode would add extra objectives such as destroying alarms and placing secret bugs on higher difficulty settings. Attention to detail such as this is almost unheard of in today’s current gaming world.
It was this fanatical attention to detail that made GoldenEye 007 the success it was. Elements of the film were incorporated whenever they could be: gadgets, karate chops, environments, scenes and even dialogue from the film were all added with an incredibly high and equal amount of attention. No other film to game adaptation has been able to immerse the player as well as GoldenEye 007 did. From the incredible soundtrack and the pre-game credits to the thrilling finale and build up, the game pulled you in and took you on a roller coaster packed with stealth, action, suspense and most importantly: fun.
…time has ravaged and deformed the game.
However, when played today, (after the golden nostalgia dust settles) it is easy to see how time has ravaged and deformed the game. The mechanics it revolutionised, such as the movement and shooting controls, feel awkward and redundant compared to today’s first person shooters. Levels can be needlessly complicated and convoluted when first played. Since the game clings so closely to the plot, it is easy for those who are unfamiliar with the film to be completely lost on what to do. The pre-game briefings can only go so far before the scripted twists and turns of the narrative can leave the average player feeling confused and wanting to rent out the film just to see what to do.
Unfortunately, GoldenEye 007’s multiplayer, after years of improvements to player customisation, movement and game play, just feels unsatisfying. Multiplayer maps no longer project a sense of awe, instead feeling hollow and dead. The game that essentially invented first person multiplayer on the consoles can no longer compete with today’s giants.
Yet, despite all of this, when you play the game again it still feels special. That, surely, is a testament to what GoldenEye 007 did to the industry.
Images courtesy of Nintendo