N64 Review #9 – Goldeneye 007
Welcome to the very first of my N64 reviews here on 1 More Castle! In the event that you missed my announcements over the weekend, I am moving this series of reviews over here where they belong. I’m not quite sure yet how I will give everyone access to the first 8 reviews, but I’m crafty. I’ll come up with something. Anyhow, the idea is to review all 296 North American N64 games. Making it a part of the N64 Connoisseur series will help me do that quicker. That is not to say that the other fun N64 related pieces I like to do here are going away, but they will now share the spotlight with the reviews. So, with the explanation out of the way, on to the show!
Goldeneye 007 is one of those games that irks me. It irks me because many people worship it as the greatest shooter of all time when it isn’t even the best shooter on the Nintendo 64. In my humble opinion, that honor goes to Perfect Dark. [ Editor’s Note: No need for humility here, Tom, as that is not an opinion… that is fact. — E. ] That not withstanding, no one can argue its success and undying legacy, me included. One would also be remiss to not at the very least acknowledge its role in shaping the future of multiplayer gaming. Add in the fact that it is one of the very few games ever to do a movie tie-in well and you do have a formidable piece of software on your hands.
The single player campaign has you playing as Mr. Bond himself. For me that means even though it wasn’t a Connery Bond, I was doing my very best Connery impersonation the entire play through. Each level has a set number of objectives to meet and follows closely enough to the story of the movie to gain my applause. I don’t know why it is so hard to do a good game based on a movie. In order to meet these objectives, Bond must shoot his way through the level while meeting up with various NPC’s who will give him access to someplace or information on something or something else along those lines. In some levels, Bond must be careful not to shoot up innocents because after all, they hate being shot.
Before I go further into the review, I have to pause for just a second and recant my very favorite moment of this game. It’s early on in the campaign, the second level. The very beginning of it, actually. You come down the vent and the men’s room is loaded with enemies in like every other stall. I always laughed at this because I can just imagine what was served for lunch to force them all to be in those stalls at the same time. It can’t be that they were all expecting a lone secret agent to drop from the ductwork into the restroom, can it? Also, they were all still armed. I have never been in the military, but in this situation, would you really take your gun with you to take the Browns to the Super Bowl?
Anyway, the visuals have aged surprisingly well. You are obviously playing a 64 bit game, but really, it still looks pretty good. The enemy death animations are awesome and occasionally hilarious. My favorite being the dude drops to his knees and then his face. Also, my old favorite retro shooter mechanic is here, disappearing dead bodies. Saves me so much time of having to hide the damn things myself. There is some weird collision detection going on sometimes where your gun is literally inside an enemy’s head and you are shooting, but he is not dying. You will have to back up in order to kill him, all the while he is still shooting you. Fairly annoying.
Controls are so so. I’m willing to cut it a bit of slack on the premise that dual sticks have since spoiled me but having to strafe with the C buttons is pretty rough. It also regains points by giving me the option to not have my up/down aiming reversed because I despise that. Why the hell would anyone want to push down in order to push up? Overall though, the controls are pretty clunky and when you do activate aim mode, it is so touchy that more often than not you wind up aiming far over your target anyway so it’s barely worth using unless the enemy has no idea you’re there. In the heat of a firefight though, it has all of the usefulness of a screen door on a submarine.
While the visuals have aged well, the same can not be said for the sound. In particular, the sound effects are dated and while they were likely spot on at the time, now they almost make you sad that we accepted that at one point. Everything is generic, different guns have the same sound, explosions sound weak, opening security doors sound the same as opening garage doors, it just isn’t very good. On the other hand, the soundtrack is quite enjoyable although the looping of it will get on your nerves in a longer level.
Now, on to the multiplayer that everyone loves so much. Again, not even the best multiplayer experience on the N64. Not when Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing, WWF No Mercy, and Mario Party 1-3 exist. That issue with aiming in the heat of a firefight I mentioned earlier? Here is where it gets put front and center. Everyone has that one friend that was just freakishly good at this in multiplayer. Headshot every time. There you are with 3 of your friends and here is that one dude just making it not fun. Additionally, you could simply grab the one super powerful weapon and have your way with everyone, but no because that super good friend has booby trapped it so you die and then he grabs it and has his way with the rest of you. Yeah. Multiplayer Goldeneye is not my cup of tea.
Overall, though, Goldeneye has aged very well. I can honestly say I had a blast playing through the single player campaign again. It was well done all around and other one of those games that makes me really sad that Rare as we know it is gone forever. An original loose cart goes for about $15 nowadays so it is a bit higher than most of us like to spend on retro games but sometimes you just have to treat yourself. Now, a couple of business items. First, moving the N64 reviews here lets me finally ditch the scoring review system that was on my old site. I hate giving things arbitrary scores. So now I won’t. Also, I have opened an account over at backloggery.com. I don’t have everything I own in there yet, but I do have my N64 collection in there. It has a neat feature where it will choose a game at random. That is how the next game I review will be chosen each time. So, with that said, when next you see the Connoisseur, I shall be reviewing: