By: Jac Bakley, Video Game Critic
GoldenEye 007: any Nintendo gamer is familiar with that name. Developed by Rare and published by Nintendo, it was released in 1997 for the N64 two years after the release of the James Bond film, and became the life of many gaming parties. However, this was mostly due to the multiplayer, which I will not be discussing today. Hey, I have no friends to play with, what do you expect?
As expected, the game is a first-person free-roaming shooter. The story is set almost entirely in Russia and is spread out across several stages, and each level is based on a scene from the movie. You fire your gun by pressing the “Z” button, and you often automatically lock on to the nearest enemy. You can aim your gun up and down with C-up and C-down. You can also hold R to aim in any direction, but you will need to do it at a standstill. Both of these techniques are useful for shooting enemies in the head, which will instantly kill them.
You can pick up different weapons after killing enemies, including rifles, shotguns, grenades, mines, knives, and extra ammo. Jeez, who does James Bond think he is, Link? Anyway, you can switch weapons by pressing the “A” button, and it goes in a circle in order of the weapons you picked up sequentially. You can also choose not to use a weapon and use your fists to take down enemies Jackie Chan-style (which I do not recommend doing).
Each level has four different difficulty modes, with each one being unlocked after completing the previous one. Throughout each level, you’ll be tasked to complete certain objectives in order to advance, and each difficulty level, aside from being more difficult than the last, will contain more and more objectives. For example, in Frigate, you will need to rescue at least three hostages and bug a helicopter before heading back to your boat. If you leave the level without completing every objective, you will be forced to try again. These objectives are fun for the most part, but here’s one thing that bothers me: the objective checklist sometimes doesn’t give you enough information on how to complete an objective, and you may end up destroying an operative computer or shooting an ally that you may think is an enemy. If you fail an objective by making such mistakes, you will need to start the entire level over again.
The graphics are fine for 1997, and the music is amazing. Each track stays true to the theme of James Bond and almost every song is very catchy. Such awesome tracks include Facility, Control, Cradle, and my favorite, Aztec.
Most enemies carry guns and will immediately shoot you when you are detected. Most of them just carry guns, but other soldiers will throw grenades at you. And let me tell you, you do not want to get caught in one of those babies. If a grenade explodes and you are within its detonation range, you will take heavy damage and will continue to do so until you leave the explosion range, which is actually pretty big. There’s no way to recover health in this game, but there do exist shields. Throughout each level, there will be at least one vest that will enhance your health bar for a limited time. Once its meter is depleted from too much gunfire, you will go back to losing health. And let me tell you, in certain levels, such as Control, you will be begging for one every step of the way.
As stated, nearly all of the enemies are Russian soldiers, but there’s one hazard that really brings my piss to a boil- a hazard worse than the grenades, the Ghost Pirates in Metroid Prime, the Regenerators in Resident Evil 4, and the Zubats in Pokemon combined: the turrets. The turrets operate from the ceiling in some levels, and they will immediately start firing in your direction when you get within shooting range. The turrets are relentless and they almost never miss, meaning you’re going to take severe damage from these bastards. And good luck finding a safe place to hide while you try to shoot them. The best strategy, for me at least, is to hide behind the safest wall, hold R and press left or right to peer out and shoot the turret. This is probably the best strategy to avoid being detected or getting shot.
Now let’s talk about what is probably the stupidest aspect of GoldenEye 007: the AI. Good god, the AI in this game is downright awful. The enemies are often so oblivious to the fact that someone is about to shoot them, and they often never react to a door opening behind them. You can even walk right up to an enemy and they won’t do anything. Sometimes they even have a hard time figuring out where they want to go- either go and shoot you or run for the door. So the enemies are pretty stupid, but here’s the worst offender: if you’ve watched the movie, you know that Natalya Simonova accompanies Bond throughout parts of the movie, and that’s exactly what she does in this game. And boy, is she a chore. She seems to be asking to be killed by the guards, as she doesn’t run when following you, and sometimes gets the way of your target. Either you’re going to shoot her by accident, or a guard is going to kill her trying to kill you. If only killing her out of frustration didn’t result in a game over.
So that’s GoldenEye 007. It’s still pretty enjoyable to play now, and it may have been groundbreaking at the time, but it definitely hasn’t aged well. The gameplay is pretty good and the shooting mechanic hasn’t really bothered me today, but the game sometimes gets too hard to the point of being unfair, and the artificial intelligence is downright horrible. If you’re an N64 fan or just a retro gamer, this would still be pretty fun. However, if you’re used to more modern first person shooters today, I can’t recommend GoldenEye 007, especially with an arguably superior remake on the Wii.
Rating: 7/10, Good