Despite games such as James Bond: The Dual for Sega Genesis and the James Bond Jr. games
for Nintendo and Super Nintendo, it was GoldenEye 64 that finally introduced video game
players worldwide to Bond, James Bond. In the years since it's release, the game has achieved a
sort of cult status, where all new Bond video games are compared to GoldenEye 64. This
Nintendo 64 classic is unanimously declared the best Bond video game ever, mainly due to its
simple gameplay and highly-addictive multiplayer mode. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the
game is that it has held up to the test of time. While the graphics may no longer be
cutting-edge, one can still pick up an N64 controller and put in a few solid hours as Bond,
Trevelyan or any of the other hidden characters.
GoldenEye 64 is a perfect example of the old adage, "a minute to learn, a lifetime to
master." While one can easily pick up a controller and start firing away, there are countless
nuances and other ways to go about accomplishing your mission. Also, the different skill levels
and added objectives keep even the most advanced video game player coming back for more.
The weaponry is very impressive. As the levels get harder, Bond gets bigger and better
guns. Bond's primary gun of choice is the PP7, which is essentially a renamed PPK. Bond can
later pick up shotguns, knives, mines, magnums, sniper rifles and most other guns that you
could ever think of.
The game's also was one of the most realistic shoot-em-up games of the era, in that an
enemy's reaction to a gunshot wound was different depending on where he was shot. For instance,
in games like Doom, which was the other popular first-person shooter at the time, no matter
where you shot the person, they would die. GoldenEye 64 introduced the idea of realistic
reactions to gunshot wounds. You can shoot a soldier a few times in the legs and he will still
shoot at you from his knees. In addition, when discharging a machine gun or similar fully
automatic weapon, the game takes into effect the recoiling of a real gun.
Another great feature of the game is the compatibility with the Rumble Pak. Every time you
discharge a weapon the controller gives a little kick: just like the recoil of a real gun.
When you are being attacked and hit by the enemy, you feel Bond's pain. It may seem like a
gimmick, but after playing the game for a few hours with the rumble pack, playing it without
was a different and lacking experience.
The game follows the GoldenEye movie to the letter. Every scene from the film is
represented in amazing detail. Locations that have minimal screen-time in the movie have been
expanded to full levels including the frigate, the outside of Sevranya and the missile silo.
Furthering the realism is the fact that the levels are based on actual blueprints used to build
the movie sets. Basically, if you enjoyed the plot of GoldenEye in theaters or on DVD,
you will enjoy the story of this game.
While a modern gamer would scoff at the graphics of GoldenEye 64, when the game was
released in 1996 they were among the best on the market. To evaluate them on the same level as
one does today would be unfair, so what follows is my original review of the graphics, written
"In most areas, the graphics looked almost cinematic. However, there were a few areas
that were lacking; namely, levels that took place at night. Although their graphics were still
quite good, it was really hard to see through all the black. As for the people, that is where
the game fails. True, it is better that any previous Nintendo game in making the people look
realistic, but when you get close to them the faces look very fake and the bodies have too many
right angles on them. But aside from that, it is a perfect game in every other way. The
graphics are intense and most of the polygon-hiding fog is at a minimum."
The music of the game has truly withstood the test of time. It is just as good today as it
was when it was released. The classic theme is prevalent in most areas' music, while each area
has a different tune, many of which are reminiscent of previous movies' themes. Perhaps the
only problem with the sound is that there were no "spoken voices." All speech had to be read
on-screen, but seeing as there was no room on a Nintendo 64 cartridge it is understandable.
Arguably, the main reason GoldenEye 64 is regarded as the best Bond video game ever is
its multiplayer mode. No Bond game since has come close to reproducing the fun experience of
blowing away up to three of your friends in locations such as The Temple, The Library,
Sevrenya and more. Whether you are a fan of going in with guns blazing, laying down mines and
waiting for unsuspecting victims, firing grenade launchers or taking up an aerial position to
snipe out your enemies, the multiplayer mode has something for everything. The game even allows
for balancing out different ability levels through the handicap feature, which allows novices
to play right alongside the pros. My personal favorite gameplay option is "Licence to Kill"
with pistols in the Basement.
Almost a decade after its release, I would still highly recommend this game to any and all
video game and Bond fans. It has withstood the test of time, is still very entertaining, and
you will never have a problem getting people to play the multiplayer mode with you. Unlike
other Bond games, this one is here to stay.
MIDI Sound Files:
Screenshots supplied by Electronics Boutique
MIDIs provided by Sam Mortimer