Games that define the industry are the ones that really grab attentions. When a developer manages to do something truly remarkable with some totally new ideas gamers stand in unison to applaud this achievement. Indeed the N64 had its fair share of these titles and it was such titles that kept the console alive.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and when an idea is copied again and again for years on end something must be right. A game of this type arrived from a development house somewhere in deepest England and has gone on to be the title on everyone's lips when someone asks you to name the best ever FPS game. GoldenEye is the name and shooting is very much the game, but the tricks on show here were something totally new and outstanding. Never before had moving and shooting been so easy and it was perhaps the biggest leap forward in thinking since Mario 64 that just preceded it.
Where to start with a game that has it all? This game is so well balanced and it simply excels in every area. Its like the person you would really like to put down or have a pick at, but you can't it is just so perfectly, wonderfully and effortlessly superb! Based, rather obviously, on the film which shares its name GoldenEye is often forgotten as a film licence because it doesn't really rely on the movie for too much. This is a game, not a promotional product, well it is that too, but it is a game first. The levels are based around the locations you will see in the blockbuster smash but it is what Rare have done with the ideas given to them from the film that make the game what it is. The inspiration is all there, some wonderfully Bond-worthy levels were just asking to be made and they were supplied to a stunning standard. Everything is perfect, you never feel lost but you always feel challenged and there is that permanent suspicion that you are under danger. You are lead into side-rooms where there could be measly technicians that run about like headless chickens or rock-hard guards who move about with wonderful intelligence and guile to try and get you out cold on the tarmac. Not only do you get Russian-esque military bases but jungles, trains, roads and missile silos. The variety is wonderful and keeps the excitement flowing throughout the game. The way in which it all fits into the movie plot is also quite clever, each thing you do has a reason and the mission objectives are well thought out and enable you to get the most out of each level. For instance you have to scurry about to find a specific part of the level, and on your way there you are carefully guided through all the over objectives. Sounds simple perhaps but there is significant resistance and if you go the wrong way then you could be in major trouble.
So with levels of gold and objectives of diamond what other jewels does GoldenEye hold on its rather bulbous crown? Weapons! What would an FPS be without a few killing sticks? Well it would be a pointless exercise involving a lot of running about without getting anywhere. Indeed the pokers of death are more than potent in Rare's industry shaping shooter. From the simple old PP7 to the meaty duel RCP90's to the quite delightful Rocket Launchers, it is all here, and even the Golden Gun makes a welcome appearance in the title. Whilst some games today have bullets that seem like ping-pong balls and guns like peashooters there are some real meaty beasts here! And just in case you get bored of bullets there are some lovely mines to pass the time with. What better way to eliminate a pesky orgy of guards than with a lovely remote mine? The joy is the versatility; you can use different guns for different situations and the weapons provided to you on each level are there to make it easy for you, but only if you employ the right tactics. With the big guns you can't go about it in a half-assed fashion, you have to charge and pummel, however to do that with mines would be amusingly suicidal. This game is about decisions, make the wrong one and you are dead, the right one, well you still might be dead but the chances of survival are increasing all the time.
Of course the most important factor of the game is how it plays and there should be no worries here. The control system is perfect, it is almost as if the N64 controller is made for it. With the 'z trigger' being almost instinctive and the 'A' and 'B' buttons allowing for simple reload and weapon change you never feel under pressure from a sub-par system. It is all very simple and easy to remember but knowing it well will get you better results in the game. Strafing is very important, knowing how to use the 'c-buttons' will enable you to dash about with more ease and get from one piece of cover to the next. Of course you can't just go about shooting, it would get a bit annoying after a while no matter how well it is done. GoldenEye has various different puzzles to work with. How to get into a certain room by knocking off a guard, getting a key, pressing a button to open a timed door and pegging it to get to the next room. You feel permanently tense and there is a strange feeling that something really is at risk other than your calibre as a gamer that will soon be blown into shatters, literally.
Rare have made this one rock hard. We don't think there has ever been a tougher challenge in an FPS and we don't think anyone will be evil enough to do this to us again. On the hardest difficulty setting on the last level you will start to see claret dripping down the analogue stick as you dig in your thumb so hard following your inevitable downfall all over again. The guards just seem to keep on driving forward towards you, but there is a way to beat it and pure skill and quick thinking will lead you to success, panic and it will all be over. For a game to reward skill so well and so often is very unusual, but when it is done this flawlessly the real toughened gamers lap it up with unrivalled glee.
Being based on Bond we have got out our 'Bond-O-Meter' to see just how Bond-like it is. Gadget wise things shape up very nicely. With the main menu run entirely through your rather natty watch there is a very 'secret agent going under cover and exposed to great danger' feel. With alarms here, Russian military bods there and more than enough modes of transport to please any fan there are many parallels that can be made with the big budget world of the film. What is more Bond than escaping a military base in a plane, or running riot through a public place in a tank? Large explosions and the 'babe' in the form of Natalya (well more of a man, but we give her the benefit of the doubt) finish off the 007 polish and leave us drooling at the mouth for more...
Now we have saved the best until last. Apparently a 'tagged on' extra by Rare during the last few months of development, GoldenEye without multi-player would be like Ant without the Dec or perhaps Orville without the Cuddles, it simply doesn't bear thinking about. This is where the game really excels and amazes. You will spend quite some time attacking the single player mode there has never been anything quite like slapping your mate on the face as you beat them for the tenth time in a row. We have never got some wound up and competitive about a game. There are some real laugh out loud moments and the levels make it what it is. Everyone has their favourite level, and they are all great, but all require different tactics however the only real option for four-player mode is to attack. The embarrassment of defending a specific area for ten minutes only to be blown sky high by a well placed remote mine is one of the most frustrating things you will ever experience in a game, your friends however might just see the funny side. The guns are great, you get what you are given, but with the vast amounts of cheats you can earn by playing the game to a very high standard, or by literally cheating and punching in the codes, when you have the all weapons cheat things can get very nasty, and explosive. The characters are also lovely. From Boris to a helicopter pilot the whole bizarre range is here for you to play with. Whilst it makes no real difference (unless you play Jaws against Oddjob, where the height different makes things very difficult) it is nice to be able to have a favourite player and adds to the depth of the game. There is loads to play with in GoldenEye and you can just carry on going with it for months, nay years on end.
What is a great game without great gameplay? The heart and the sole of any title and GoldenEye is no exception and the drive of the game comes from the simple way in which it plays.
The face mapping is a revolution in itself. For people to look so much like their real life counterparts was unheard of. The guns are a bit on the smart side too, in fact it is all superbly detailed and vast that it is hard to fault. The misting can be a bit annoying, but we can't really complain when everything else is so perfect.
Its all here. Bond themes galore and some truly suspense enhancing tunes accompany some of the game more nerve-racking moments. Gun fire is very good sporting some suitably manic rapid fire effects.
The basic idea may be easy to pick up but this game is very hard. There is quite simply months of entertainment here, perhaps even more than that. And when single player is all done there is a massive multiplayer to be had, and even all those cheats to unlock.
A true classic this one, magic and new wonderful ideas are just roaring from every beautiful point of a title that is perhaps one of the best game ever created. We can't quite explain enough what makes this game so good, what makes this game so good is the game. It is a whole package, all of what has been said are the good things, the hours of unrivalled pleasure and ecstatic joy of completing it are the good things, even dying for the umpteenth time is a good part. You are pushed, challenged thrilled and then elated, all from one piece of plastic coated metal. Buy it, play it, love it, heck, worship it if you have to.