One of the best shooters of the 90s has just turned 20 years old, and Arron Timson relives his childhood obsession with it.
The Nintendo 64 (or N64, if you like) may have been beaten by the first PlayStation – in sales terms, at least – but for me, the N64 was home to best exclusives. GoldenEye 007 sat very close to the top of this list.
James Bond, stiff-ass Brit
Let me take to you back to when I got my young, 12-year-old hands on GoldenEye. It was early September 1997, and a friend of mine told me that a friend of his had gotten hold of GoldenEye from the US. Straight away, I asked him to borrow it. Around half an hour later, he returned with the cartridge and import adaptor, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off Mr Brosnan.
So we popped the game in and I was met with one of the best intros to a game I’d ever seen – and hearing that Bond theme coming from my console was amazing. Now by this time, my friend told me his mate wanted it back in half an hour. To be fair, I couldn’t blame him, so I jumped on the first level – Dam – and again, I’m blown away by what I’m seeing and hearing.
Seeing is believing
The visuals may look a bit pants now, but back then, the best looking shooters I owned were Virtua Cop 1 and 2, which is funny because GoldenEye actually started life as on-rails shooter inspired by Virtua Cop. From this day on I couldn’t get this game out of my mind. I would bug my parents to buy it, but back then we only got big presents on our birthdays or Christmas.
The only way I was going to get to play it again was to rent it from our local Choices video store (Google it, guys!), and with every bit of pocket money I got, I rented it as much as possible. Then finally, at Christmas, my brother and I got our very own copy. Our parents only saw us when it was time to eat.
For England, James…
I can’t talk about GoldenEye without talking about both the single and multiplayer aspects of the game. I think Rare deserve a lot more credit for what they did with the single player campaign in this game; I mean, for a start, it was a movie tie-in that actually did justice to the source material. Granted, the game came out two years after the movie, so there was no tight deadline to meet, but it’s still something game developers haven’t learned two decades later.
The way Rare turned the film’s story into different levels was brilliant. Sure, there was some creativity used to piece them together, but they never felt out of place, or like they were filler. But five levels in particular really stand out to me…
The game’s opening level was a great way to introduce the player to the way the game played and the controls, especially by throwing the sniper rifle into the mix so early. And that ending…
This is probably my number one level in the game. The level design was incredible, especially in how you infiltrated the bunker. What really stood out the most for me, though, was the music: it had a nice, calm tone, but it also felt a little eerie.
A very small scene in the film was fleshed out to create a very Under Siege-esque level, and you finally got hold on the wonderful-sounding D5K Deutsche.
One of best action sequences in the movie, and an equally good level. Going from being under arrest and unarmed to going full Bond and jumping out a window was pure fun.
Control is without doubt a Marmite level, especially when you crank it up to 00 Agent setting. It’s fairly easy going until you have protect Natalya; this part will make you lose your shit, but when you finish it… my word, it’s satisfying.
Better luck next time, slugheads!
If you ask anybody who has played GoldenEye what their favourite part was, I’m pretty sure 99% of them would say the four-player Deathmatch. To be fair, I can’t argue with them. This part of the game ruled supreme between me and my mates; we’d take it in turns to host Deathmatch sessions at each other’s houses, and the day would just disappear into thin air.
The only downside to the split-screen Deathmatch was your opponents could see where you were in the level; to counter this, we purposefully looked at the floor to try and hide our position.
Me and my brother played it so much that we came up with our own Deathmatch scenario. We’d choose the Bunker level, and it would be that whoever shot the other player first would have to go in the jail area and await execution.
One time, I had my brother in jail waiting to be taken out to the helipad to be shot. We got out there, I have him kneel on the H and say “Any last words?” To my surprise, he whipped out a DD44 and shot me square in the head.
For me, GoldenEye will always be my number-one first-person shooter. You can keep your Calls of Duty and Battlefields, because when you combine Rare and Bond, Nobody Does it Better.
Arron Timson will return. Until then, follow him @timson72 on Twitter.
- FPS game-changer
- Great music
- Excellent level design
- Unrivalled multiplayer experience
- It’s BOND!
- Controls have not aged well at all
- Really doesn’t look good on a modern TV
Whatever your experience was with GoldenEye, it’s bound to have been a great one. While it joins loads of other N64 games in the “ageing badly” stakes, those who got to play it in its prime – and those still playing it with their friends – truly know how important it was, and still continues to be, to the FPS genre.