GoldenEye 007 Review – Definitive 50 N64 Game #3

Today, we launch into the top 3 N64 games, and you know, there’s something extra special about these last three games – they aren’t “just” the best games for the N64, or even “just” some of the best games ever made. No, these three games were revolutionary. These three titles shaped the way video games were made, and their influence is still felt today.

The first of these three games is GoldenEye.

GoldenEye’s single player story roughly matches the corresponding GoldenEye movie. As James Bond himself, you’ll travel the world trying to unravel the mysteries of the Janus crime syndicate and the GoldenEye satellite weapon, visiting locations as diverse as the frozen wastes of Siberia, the jungles of Cuba, underground bunkers, even a train.

The gameplay diversity is simply stunning. In a given level, you might need to stealth past security cameras, mow down enemy soldiers, recover vital items, and protect allies. Best of all, the game leaves you alone to decide how and when to get it all done.

Levels are anything but linear. Enemies aren’t always going to be in the hall ahead of you, they’re just as likely to be back in the room you didn’t bother checking.Caution, stealth, situational awareness, and straight-up level memorization are absolutely vital, especially at higher difficulties.

And let me explain these difficulties – because this is one of the most absolutely genius aspects of the game. Rather than just making enemies tougher, GoldenEye’s Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent difficulties vary widely in mission objectives. Playing at a higher difficulty level will force you to explore parts of levels you might have not even known existed when playing at a lower level.

Fast completion times in the single player will also unlock fun cheats that can be activated for use in the single and multiplayer. They work as a great motivator for really getting good at the missions too.

GoldenEye helped to establish the N64 as the goto for multiplayer gaming. And this video marks the last multiplayer N64 game on this list. Thanks to its 4 controller ports and games like GoldenEye, along with Mario Kart, Perfect Dark, Smash Bros., and so many others, the N64 stands as one of the all time great local multiplayer machines.

Incredibly, GoldenEye’s multiplayer was actually a last minute addition. That’s right, GoldenEye’s multiplayer, that world changing, time consuming, most famous of famous modes was actually an afterthought in the game’s development.

The 11 multiplayer levels are a mix of layouts lifted from the single player and wholly original creations, but frankly, they’re all classics.

Each stage offers a perfect diversity of branches and looping hallways that generate… this ideal tempo. There’s just something about the layout of GoldenEye’s multiplayer stages, perhaps mixed with the radar, and even a bit of screen looking, that keeps the action rolling, but also keeps players spaced out enough to provide moments of downtime for restocking, planning, and trash talking.

Modes beyond the usual deathmatch include the cleverly named You Only Live Twice, The Living Daylights, The Man with the Golden Gun, and License to Kill.

For character selection, there are, of course, all the major GoldenEye characters as well as many generic characters, but also several classic Bond henchmen, most infamously Oddjob. The little guy was just short enough to sneak under the aim of many players, and as a result “No Oddjob” has become an almost-universal house-rule of GoldenEye.

Weapon sets range from the ridiculous Slappers Only to Pistols to Power Weapons to my favourite, Proximity Mines.

Seriously, Proximity Mines, how fun are these things? GoldenEye’s levels are so well laid out, that dueling with proxies makes for a battle of wits, trying to drop mines where they won’t be noticed on one side, and then ever-so-carefully seeking them out and shooting them down on the other.

GoldenEye’s popularity not only helped drive the N64 as the goto console for first person shooters in its time, it went a long way in establishing FPSes on consoles altogether.

Sure, there had been a handful of others before it, including the N64’s own Turok, but it was GoldenEye that pushed the genre’s popularity beyond PCs, and encouraged developers to take consoles seriously in FPS development.

Without GoldenEye, there’d probably be no Halo, at least as we know it. And other series that have existed across the PC/console divide, like Call of Duty, might never have become the household names that they are today.