By Drew Wilson
When it comes to first person shooters, it would almost be sacrilegious to consider yourself a die hard first person shooter fan and have never played Goldeneye 007 for some. Granted, it’s not as high on the list of must-plays as the original Doom, but it’s pretty high up there on the list. So, we decided to review this game.
Perhaps one of the most played N64 games is Goldeneye 007. In fact, if you were around in the N64 days, chances are, you played Goldeneye 007 at least once. If not, you at least heard of it. Released in 1997, the game was based off of the movie of the same name. While there is a trend that video game adaptations of movies were almost always a formula for making flops, this adaptation was completely the opposite. It would go on to be one of the most memorable N64 games ever made.
The game starts off with a menu system based off of navigable file folders. You select things with the use of a red cross-hair that is re-used in the actual game play. In your first mission, the Dam, you are given a choice of difficulty: Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent (easy, medium, and hard respectively). While the level remains the same, many other elements change depending on the selected difficulty. In Agent difficulties, mission objectives tend to be fewer and easier to accomplish. Harder difficulties add more objectives that can be much more difficult to fulfil in the mission. Other changes are the enemies accuracy, how much damage they can deal with each hit and how many shots it takes to take an enemy down. I noticed that in the 00 Agent difficulty, you could find yourself almost emptying an entire pistol clip before taking down a guard unless you go for a head shot.
If you complete a level on Agent, the next mission will become available, but only with the option of selecting Agent as a difficulty. So, if you complete the first mission on 00 Agent, you have all three main difficulties become available on the next mission. An additional difficulty, 007, can also be unlocked. The 007 difficulty allows you to play each mission with the full compliment of objectives. The difference is that you are also given a set of options that can dictate how hard or easy it will be to either take out guards or how much damage you take from each shot.
If you complete the level without completing all of the objectives (or failing an objective), you won’t get treated to the end cut scene and you won’t unlock the next level.
Different missions require you to do different things. Some objectives simply involve not killing civilians or scientists. Other objectives get you to disarm bombs or deactivate security systems. Sometimes, you are to rendezvous with another character (like Valentine). Occasionally, you are supposed to protect a character throughout a level while they perform certain tasks for you (which, I found, to be the more infuriating levels).
One unique element of this game is the health and armour gauge. Most first person shooters (and several third person shooters) have a percentage of health and armour sitting in the corner of the screen somewhere. This game simply has a health meter that mirrors the watch. The orange-like meter on the left is your health while the blue meter on the right is the amount of armour you have left. The meters only appear when you take health and disappear again after a moment. The only things that are on your screen are the weapons you are holding and a number for how much ammo you have in your clip and how much ammo you have total. This minimalist approach to a display, I felt, really worked well for this game because all you have is just the action in front of you.
The pause menu is also unique in that it isn’t just a simple menu that appears in the middle of the screen. Instead, it has that famous looking down at the watch and zooming in motion. While it’s great for cinematic purposes, the flaw here is that while you are transitioning into the pause menu, you can still get hit and there’s really no way of avoiding it. So, you are forced to find a more quiet part of the field before pausing. While a flaw, a minor one that doesn’t interfere with your game play that often, I found.
The menu system itself, I found, was very easy to understand. There’s different segments that is depicted by a light-up button along the bottom and it was immediately obvious what you were looking at in each screen. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that customization of the buttons was limited to a pre-set number of configurations and not fully customizable. Still, what you were offered did fulfill many different styles of gameplay with the controller. So, this is a minor downside.
One thing I did notice throughout the main mission game was that when you cycle through your weapons, you skip over a number of items. So, if you wanted to access, say, the modem for the Dam level of the key annalyzer for the first bunker level, you had to use the pause menu and the pause menu only to access it. I’m not entirely certain on why this design decision was made, but there is that in the game.
Another feature of this game is the fact that if you die in the game, you get to not only see your character double over onto the ground in the first person, but you also got to see several third person shots of your character doing the same thing. While a cool feature, it was buggy because sometimes you saw the first person version gradually slump down onto the ground while the third person version shows you spinning to the ground instead. Still, in spite of this, a nice feature. If you were in a hurry, you can always skip these sequences which is always a plus.
One of the more prominent features of the game was the target time. If you complete a mission successfully within a limited amount of time on certain specified difficulties, you can also be awarded cheats. Some of these cheats are the obvious invulnerability cheat or having access to special weapons found in the game right away. Other cheats are much more about having a little fun with the game such as paintball mode and DK Mode. Using any official in-game cheat will disallow you to advance through the game any further though.
If you beat the game on certain difficulties, you can also gain access to one of the two secret levels. One is Aztec and the other is Egypt. Both of these contain references to other James Bond Films such as the Moonraker gun and the Golden Gun.
What was a very well known feature in this game is the multiplayer feature. While there were no computer players that could be found in these levels, players could run through various labyrinths based off of the original levels playing a host of different modes like “You Only Live Twice” (two lives) and “The Living Daylights” (flag tag). For many players, the customizability and the interesting mazes would be two really good reasons why this game had such impressive replay value. The music was also randomly selected from the various missions, so music was always variable to help keep things fresh.
One thing I liked about this game was the range of difficulties that were available. The Agent missions allows players with very little first person shooter experience to get a fair way into the game. The player can gain enough experience to attempt the more difficult missions and the higher difficulty levels. If you could beat the Cradle in Agent, chances are, you could beat the Dam on Secret Agent. So, there was a nice difficulty curve as well. If you were an expert first person shooter player, you could always just dive right into the 00 Agent difficulty versions of the missions and find yourself being challenged to complete some of the missions (if not, all of them). Nothing had to be played through to gain access to the harder difficulties.
Another nice feature is the range of weapons you had available to you. There was the standard PP7 handgun, the KLOBB, the AK47, and even the Rocket Launcher (can be found in the Depot level). Some of the weapons even had a silencer variation to cut down noise as you stealthily (or not) move throughout the level. While there was a range of devices available, they can mostly be found in two categories: the kind you simply press the fire button to activate and the kind you throw. Modems and tracking bugs are the kinds of devices you throw while the Data Thief, Key Analyser, and the camera were things you just pressed the fire button or, at most, faced a certain object and pressed fire to complete an objective. Still, a valiant effort to change things up and presented new options for how one can build a first person shooter game.
I had a lot of fun playing this game. I can find moments where I would think that I could get past a certain level after a few days of failing and wonder if doing something differently could allow me to advance further in the game. So, the replay value was very real.
Graphically, there are a number of features that really helped make this game stand out. Things like bullet holes and lingering smoke were nice touches added to the game. The textures were decent enough, but I do note that the models of some of the characters tended to be a bit on the blocky side for me. I also found the different coloured clouds to be a bit odd (like green clouds in the Facility level or red clouds in the Statue level).
The music was really well composed. Just about every level had a memorable sound track. The added bonus is that each level had two versions – a slower version for normal play and a faster paced version for when an action-based thing occurred such as an alarm being triggered or a bomb about to go off. Even the menu had it’s own theme to it as well. The sound effects were well done. Probably the only criticism I have of it is the repetitive grunts whenever a character takes damage. There’s really one small set for a male character and one for a female character. Still, with the added folly sounds of the characters falling down and other things happening, this isn’t too noticeable. One thing I wished was in this game was some voice acting. All the speech that occurs in the game is simply text that appears along the bottom of the screen. That element was a little disappointing.
Overall, this lives up to the reputation of being a classic game. It’s certainly worth playing – especially if you want to get into a little bit of the history of First Person Shooters. This game set a few standards in the genre and, I think, it’s worth looking back and seeing some of the elements that have been reused in other games since produced.
Furthest point in game: Control in 00 Agent. Could keep Natalya alive while being attacked by guards entering the main control room on this difficulty.
General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Overall rating: 80%
Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85