Rare outdoes itself with a truly masterful first-person gem
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Codes & Cheats
With the release of Blast Corps, a game that displayed Rare's newfound sense of innovation and risk, many gamers and critics were unclear as to how the British-based company would approach the two-year old movie-licensed title, Goldeneye 007.
Just prior to the June Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the game suffered at least two unofficial postponements, and no word was heard as to why. In typical Nintendo fashion, Nintendo surprised nearly everyone when the game was announced to be a four-player game that was also Rumble Pak compatible. After seriously playing the game for weeks, N64.com can sincerely say that Goldeneye 007 is a intelligently conceived and brilliantly executed diamond of a game, building its spy-style adventure smartly on the foundation of the first-person genre, and unleashing the full power of Nintendo's four-player capabilities.
The gameplay deftly evolves the first-person perspective action genre, enabling gamers to immerse themselves in spy-style tactics and covert operations, and forcing gamers to think before they rush in to blow the heck out of everything in sight. Goldeneye 007 is built around 18 varying levels that must be played through in linear fashion in the easy mode, which then open up the possibility of playing the game in medium to hard difficult levels, each level afterward fully chooseable in any order.
Gamers will quickly learn that weapons and ammo can be gleaned from dead enemies, and that some weapons are clearly better in certain situations. In level one (Dam), the Sniper Rifle enables gamers to pick off Russian guards from distant towers with its high-powered telescope; while in level 10 (Statue), a high-powered, automatic shotgun is the clear choice. Gamers will have the thrill of double fisting enemies with one gun in each hand in level 7 (Frigate), learning the ancient art of throwing knives, or blasting their way across the level 18 (Cradle) with the awesome ZMG (9mm).
Learning how to use your gadgets, and becoming efficient in learning when not to kill enemies is also part of the game. The interface is absolutely cool as well, and clearly incorporates the most fun Bond elements into the game. Modems, magnet attract watches, camera, data thieves, key analyzers, laser watches, and other classic James Bond-style spy toys all play minor parts in weaving your way through multi-objective-based missions. Discovering how to free yourself (and find a set of knives) in level 9, the second bunker, when you have no weapons at all with your magnet attract watch is just plain cool.
The game's depth come in all shapes and forms. Playing the first-person mode presents levels that range from nearly straight Doom-style play (all shooting and no brains), to search-and-destroy missions (requiring more strategy), to a wide range of carefully designed information-acquiring levels; all blend together to create a satisfying title that will intrigue new gamers as well as hard-core, multi-platform owners. The four-player mode is outstanding and provides tons of options in weapons (at least 10), environments, characters (at least 8), game length, health, control style, and the kind of game you want to play, i.e., a timed match, five kills to a match, You Only Live Twice (two deaths end the game), team play, etc. Slowdown is the multiplayer mode's only weakness, but the fun far outweighs this weakness.
Perhaps the most important part of the game is learning how to think like the enemy before you enter into a situation. The game's artificial intelligence (AI) is very good, and enemies who know you're behind a door won't always rush in to get slaughtered. In essence, the game beautifully blends smart strategy gameplay with fast-action gunmanship, accented with a range of spy weapons and the use of a easily-chooseable siting range. Gamers can shoot through windows and peg their enemies on any body part, though hitting the head will instantly will the enemy, while two or three shots are required for fully killing him.
Movement is excellent, too. The left and right C buttons enable strafing, while the top and bottom enable full Z-axis movement, so Bond can shoot up or down at ease. This configuration thus enables the gamer to move across the screen naturally with the analog joystick, a more intuitive way than Acclaim's Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Enemies walk and run with unusual realism, and each has a set of different death acts, depending on where each is hit.
Graphics and sound effects are superb as well. Fog effects are apparent (but few games nowadays don't employ this effect), while long, slow clouds of smoke from guns and walls, quick sparks, and the zoom view from gun sites, make this game a gem to look at and watch. Various new textures are employed, while pop-in simply doesn't exist. Animated cut-scenes wrap each level in a feeling of elegance and actually provide hints previous to each mission. Transparency (seen in lots of glass environments) effects are clean and believable, and are usually followed by you shattering the glass (another cool effect). Ricocheting bullets, the sound of footsteps, and in general, all of the sound effects are excellent.
Goldeneye's music, as is the story, is based on the movie, and so the classic Bond theme is readily apparent, while similar themes are clear and crisp to the ear. Some of the tracks are a little simplistic, and occasionally annoying, lacking originality. But overall, the music good, and better than bearable.
Finally, Goldeneye is Rumble Pak compatible. This little novelty adds subtle thrill to a very immersive game, and isn't used too often, a nice, smart touch. The game is brilliant in both the single-player mode, opening up new weapons each time a difficulty level is cleared (the cougar magnum in the easy difficulty level), and in multiplayer mode, making it the best multiplayer game on the system (edging Mario Kart 64 by a hair). In fact, we can say with a clear conscience that Goldeneye 007 is the best single-player first-person game on any system.