Top 10 Best Things About Goldeneye
Playing Eurocom’s reboot of GoldenEye for Wii compelled me to go back to the GoldenEye so many of us grew up with on the N64, and I’ve found a few points which make it stand out, even today. Sure, the title has had detractors for years, and those people have made very good points. The single-stick controls of the N64 (not to mention the inherent flaws of that stick), the choppy graphics and choppier framerate all hurt.
The theme of this article is, fundamentally, about choice. If there is something that has unfortunately slid into obscurity since GoldenEye‘s release it is choice in FPSes. Players are too often forced through war-themed roller-coaster rides, required to take shelter behind conveniently placed crates, and expected to blow up well placed gas tanks.
10. The action
What makes GoldenEye‘s single player so appealing is its sandbox nature. Players in the mood for some action can choose to ensnare hapless Russian guards, convincing them to stream into rooms booby-trapped with explosives and featuring a one-man army equipped with more firepower than Sarah Conner on her craziest day.
To really blow off some steam, players can rapidly move Bond around obstacles and terrain while blasting wildly at the enemy. In order to unlock many of the game’s cheats, this is often a requirement.
9. The stealth
Not every mission requires an explosive solution. Often times, the best course is stealth. On the higher difficulties, it is near-mandatory. Whether it is crouching behind a corner or whipping out your silenced pistol, this N64 game provides plenty of opportunities to feel like an assassin. The game’s dumb enemies play right into the fun, too. Silenced shots are enough to disguise your actions, even when you happen to pop the guy standing right beside your next target.
The fact that the game changes so radically depending upon difficulty is a further testament to its quality. On Agent, GoldenEye can be an arcade-y run-and-gun shooter if the player is inclined, while on 00 Agent, it becomes a strenuous stealth game.
8. Unlocking cheats
In a world stacked with Achievements, it’s refreshing to play a title that encourages players to excel for the sake of something a little more tangible than mere bragging rights. In GoldenEye, you’re encouraged to play, replay, and play some more the levels of the game in order to achieve sometimes extraordinarily difficult completion times.
Meeting these goals unlocks cheats that can be used in both the single and multiplayer modes, altering the gameplay further and providing even more replay value.
7. Popping that guard’s hat in Facility
Much has been made over the years of the joy of popping that fellow’s hat off in Facility. That moment can never be over-hyped. Feeling like a stealthy god hovering over him from the vent is thrilling enough, but plucking off his hat without setting off his suspicion is even better.
An additional layer to this moment has only struck me now, upon a modern replay. Is unleashing the headshot on him after knocking off his hat immoral? Shouldn’t I be hopping down to face him like a man?
6. The Bunker
GoldenEye is a game about doing whatever you want. It’s about experimentation, about play. No level does this better than Bunker (the second time around). It is during this mission that the player is thrown into a sprawling military facility, featuring a complex design with multiple looping hallways that feed into one another. The corridors are laced with turns and offshoots, and the player is left no choice but to explore it all to complete the level. There are stacks of items needed, a host of security cameras to take out, and an army of guards ready to rain bullets down upon your prison-breaking self.
Bunker’s genius, the best realized pinnacle of all of GoldenEye’s many levels, is that it gives you a list of goals, and a tiny push to get started. Think about it: the player begins Bunker with a magnetic watch and an obvious key to grab with it. From there, it is up to you to pluck off guards as you encounter them, to find your own way, and figure out the angles of the security cams. Try finding anything like this in the modern world of direction lines and check points.
5. The Temple
Among GoldenEye‘s bevy of finely designed multiplayer levels, Temple stands near the peak (appropriately for its name). Temple’s genius comes from its openness. Sure, it’s mostly cramped corridors leading to small rooms, but consider this: those paths inevitably go somewhere. Temple’s design is such that it is always sending players towards one another with its looping designs. Bonus points for the shoot-outs that can occur up and down the level’s ramping corridors. Best of all, unlike many modern shooters, a group of four can readily find each other to commence with those shoot-outs.
4. Proximity Mines
GoldenEye isn’t all precision gun work. Some of the best fun comes from the inevitably deadly proximity mines. Loading up the game’s levels with proximity mines ensures screeches of pain from the exploded, and pure joy from the exploder. Proxies can be cheaply placed at spawn points, sure, but they can also be hidden behind doors and on tough to reach spots, waiting patiently for cocky opponents overstepping their ground.
3. The Settings
GoldenEye‘s multiplayer options are something to behold. Weapons come in obvious flavours like pistols, rifles, and explosives, as well as the exotic: slappers only. Even those options are nothing to gameplay settings like The Man With the Golden Gun, You Only Live Twice, and Licence to Kill (even the names of the settings are awesome!). Things really get crazy once you throw some cheats on. DK Mode and Paintball Mode are famous, but Turbo Mode can seriously renew deathmatch gameplay.
2. Circle Strafing in Facility with Pistols
Facility is my favourite multiplayer level of GoldenEye, straight up. The level’s design makes for areas that can be guarded. Players in the bathroom and/or basement can feel like they’re running their own little militarized zones. Bouts are ultimately, however, concluded with violent face-offs. All too often, victory and defeat come down to who can more quickly turn in that room with the pillar that connects the two major zones of the level. It doesn’t matter how many proximity mines are around, it always comes down to an intense round of pistol dueling.
As I’ve repeatedly said, GoldenEye‘s popularity and enduring quality come from the choices it offers. Rare gave gamers options both obvious and absurd. Perhaps no choice is crazier than the playable character of OddJob. This height-impaired man has been reviled by gamers for decades. Playing him was and is tantamount to cheating, ask anyone. And that’s the beauty of it. We are given the choice to play with an utterly broken option, and it is up to the players to figure it out, to decide how to deal with it. “No OddJob” is a phrase that is enshrined in gaming history because no one who picked up an N64 controller made it to the year 2000 without saying it. The fact that no one ever played with OddJob is a testament to how perfect his inclusion as an option still is.