Review GoldenEye 007 (N64) | Nintendo Life

This review was originally published in 2011 and we are updating and republishing it to celebrate the introduction of the game to the Switch N64 library via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.

GoldenEye 007 is highly regarded by countless N64 owners and is often credited with starting the first-person shooter craze on consoles. Not only did this show that a good first-person shooter could be made for a machine other than a high-end PC, but it also arguably created the FPS multiplayer phenomenon on consoles. In fact, were it not for GoldenEye, it’s possible that franchises like Halo and At the call of duty perhaps never would have experienced the kind of hype that made them enter the gaming lexicon.

However, the gaming industry is evolving and moving faster than perhaps any other entertainment medium, and gamers are also most often fickle. Aside from some games that somehow manage to retain freshness and vitality beyond their years, a game that was cutting edge in 1997 might not necessarily be more beautiful than mustard when put side by side with today’s games. So, after all these years, should you still be in awe of GoldenEye?

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Visually, Rare’s greatest opus of the 20th century is difficult to classify, oscillating precariously between impressively “realistic” for the era and polygonally past its heyday. Naturally, its production values ​​are primitive these days: blurry textures and characters with permanently clenched fists in the shape of a cube were fine in 1997 on a CRT TV, but today it’s an amateur.

However, low-poly aesthetics have blossomed in popularity in recent years, and if you can ignore the obvious limitations, this is a clean game with a muted palette that complements the realism of the environments, the enemies, and their superior quality. animations. Sound-wise, it’s still worth a look, with the classic Bond theme reworked in various ways that feel true not only to the series, but also to the GoldenEye movie. Of course, there is no speech here, except for a strange grunt or groan, but the sound effects and appreciation here go against the sonic limitations of the original platform’s cartridge format. GoldenEye still sounds great.

Fortunately, the game has always had more to offer than flashy graphics and Hollywood style. Over the years, the FPS genre may have degraded into linear shooting ranges where players were given spoonfuls of goals that never went astray anyway, so playing GoldenEye with its more open, realistic levels would be quite a shock. for many young players. Rare also developed a brilliantly balanced difficulty system that not only affected the amount of damage dealt by the player and AI enemies, but also added additional mandatory targets at each of those levels depending on the difficulty set.

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So, whether you’re an FPS newbie, a veteran, or something in between, GoldenEye has difficulty settings to suit you. This formula encourages you to improve your skills and gives you an incentive to play the game multiple times, leveling up a notch each time you play. Indeed, you can play the GoldenEye campaign three times, and each playthrough will be significantly different from the previous one. Rare continued to take this refreshing approach to difficulty with Perfect Dark and Perfect Dark Zerobut the system was largely unused by other developers until GoldenEye 007’s “re-imagining” for the Wii in 2010.

While this is indeed a shame, GoldenEye nonetheless clings to other, less favorable old-school game mechanics. Holding down the shoulder button for more precise aiming comes at the cost of zero agility (except for stepping to the side) – while the innovative addition that preceded “iron sight” aiming now feels too archaic. It could be argued that GoldenEye is meant to be played at a more methodical pace than other shooters, and many missions require the player to remain completely undetected. But doing so is a lot more difficult than it should be, as this stop/start aiming system seems somewhat counter-intuitive if you’ve been living on a diet of two-stick first person games for decades now.

Of course, for many, the above criticism will consist almost entirely of controversial points, because for many GoldenEye most fondly remembered for its extremely enjoyable split-screen multiplayer suite. Those outdated visuals and less-than-friendly aiming take a backseat once you’ve recruited three friends. GoldenEye’s multiplayer doesn’t boast the dizzying array of modern death shooter options, but its five distinct modes and their team-based variations bring unique gameplay mechanics to each one to keep them relevant for a long time to come.

“Normal” is your standard deathmatch, while “You Only Live Twice” and “License to Kill” shake things up a bit; in the first mode, players only have – yes – only two lives before they are out of the game, while in the second mode, one shot from any weapon is enough to kill you (or a karate-style strike if you are caught without a firearm or play in the unarmed “Spanking Only” mode.In Living Daylights, players struggle to hold the flag for the longest time, but “The Man with the Golden Gun” is by far the most interesting and insane mode in the game.

Only one Golden Pistol is available in a match – a weapon that kills with one shot and once the player grabs it, the only way for his/her opponents to get hold of the legendary firearm is to kill them for it. This leads to some frantic action where fragile alliances can be forged to defeat the Golden Gun wielder, after which any cooperation is thrown out the window as a three-way gunfight begins. Wielding it successfully takes precision and skill, but when that single shot hits the target, you really feel like Bond in the gun barrel opening sequence as blood flows across your opponent’s screen.

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Combined with a generous helping of arenas, weapons galore, and an extensive roster of characters from the Bond universe, GoldenEye’s inspired variations on the standard idea of ​​four people trying to shoot each other in the face go a long way towards keeping its multiplayer modes extremely entertaining even now. It’s very simple compared to modern offerings, but the core is strong – a mood that actually sums up the entire game neatly.

Some will adore GoldenEye the day it was launched. Others may appreciate his accomplishments on a more intellectual level, or find enough fuel in familiarity, nostalgia, and beautiful memories to overlook aspects that seem a bit rough at the moment. Many others, however, will struggle to understand this many years later. It’s, like the classic character itself, a product of its time with a trick or two, but it’s also a game that has had a profound impact on the entire video game industry and evokes priceless memories with legions of fans. we are included. GoldenEye deserves our respect, if not our love, and can still impress given the right context.


As a history lesson on how things used to be done, and as a split-screen multiplayer game, GoldenEye 007 still delivers value where it counts, though some aspects aren’t aging as gracefully as you might hope. Its precise aiming mechanics are fiddly and slightly impractical on any controller that isn’t the original (and divisive) N64 tablet, and to be honest, like most 64-bit games, the old-style CRT is much more flattering on its visuals. than today’s HD displays. However, after playing for a while, you will quickly find evidence that in 1997 the game made a real revolution in design that changed the rules of the game. reminds us that nothing else enough like gloating and showing off with three friends gathered around one screen.

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