Why Goldeneye 007 on N64 is Still a Great Game

    Goldeneye 007 still holds up.

    Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo 64 is known as one of the best first person shooter on consoles (rather than on PC where great first person shooters had already been established). It showed that controls could work with first person shooters on consoles. It is a great, fun experience where you can use stealth, and this is implemented really well. The way that the player can change tactics from all out attack, to stealth is done in a really accessible way. I think Goldeneye’s stealth aspects are easier to pull off than Splinter Cell, a game that released slightly later, but was known and respected for it’s stealth aspects.

    Goldeneye 007 has recently released on Xbox and Nintendo Switch Online, so there’s a lot of talk about the game again, it’s almost like we’ve time travelled back in time twenty years. However, some people are saying that it doesn’t hold up to the standard of games today. This article argues that it does, and that it’s actually one of the best first person shooter experiences ever made.

    Rareware Goldeneye


    Goldeneye 007 was developed in the mid nineties by a team at the legendary British videogame developer, Rareware. The story of many hit nineties game’s development from Rareware is something interesting. Titles like Goldeneye 007Banjo Kazooie, and Donkey Kong Country have their origins from loads of artists, coders, and game designers working hard from facilities in a sleepy little village in middle England called Twycross. The team that developed Goldeneye 007 had never all worked on a game together, but as a first project, smashed it out of the park, especially when you consider how accessible and satisfying the game is as a shooter.

    Originally, Goldeneye 007, was going to be designed as an on-rails shooter, but only if there were time constraints which meant that it couldn’t be molded into an explorative, stealth based, first person shooter. Luckily, there was enough time, and a great game was the end result. Body capture suits were used to create the enemy reactions to being shot, and this is probably why this aspect of the game was so good. This was ahead of it’s time.

    Goldeneye 007

    Mission Structure

    The structure of the mission design in Goldeneye 007 is formatted in a way that represents a real life secret agent receiving files for missions. It looks really cool, and adds to the immersion that the player is literally an MI6 agent. The difficulty level is set by choosing either Agent, Secret Agent, or 00 Agent. Each difficulty level has progressively increasing objectives, and there are more enemies, and the enemies require more shots to take down. 

    Some of the missions themselves are iconic of 90’s gaming. The Facility level, where Bond travels through vent shafts to reach a soldier in a toilet where he can shoot his hat off is well known. The mission structure and difficulty levels work so well, and in my opinion are just more fun than in modern shooters like Call of Duty. The way that you play the same missions with increasing difficulty allows you to refine how you play the game. It makes the game so playable and accessible. 

    Goldeneye Screenshot

    Enemy Reactions and AI

    The enemy reactions when shot are unique to what part of the body you shoot them. This was novel at the time, and makes Goldeneye 007 such a great game. The AI is clever enough, but seems hilarious at times in how they team up, react, and fall when shot. This is what makes Goldeneye 007 so good, and it’s more satisfying than modern shooters. Near the time of Goldeneye’s release, games like The World is Not Enough, and 007 Nightfire didn’t use this feature of unique reactions, and even now, where most first person shooters use this feature, it’s not as good as in Goldeneye 007. The only games that use this feature as well as in Goldeneye 007, are in my opinion the Timesplitters games, which had some of the same developers as Goldeneye 007

    With the re-release of Goldeneye 007 people have said that the controls are archaic. While twin stick controls are probably better than the one stick control method of Goldeneye 007, the controls in Goldeneye 007 are still accurate and once you master them, you wouldn’t want to use a modern twin stick method (in my opinion). The subtle auto-aim is a great feature and is just about refined enough for you to still feel in control.

    Goldeneye 007 screenshot

    Cheats and Style

    Goldeneye 007 has a great cheat system that is based on merit because you unlock cheats when you achieve obscure mission targets like finishing a level under a certain time. There are loads of cheats that you can unlock, and this adds more replay value to the game. Many serious modern first person shooters don’t have fun extras like this. Goldeneye 007 doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s inadvertent humor and dumb AI make it a more fun experience than games like Call of Duty. 

    The N64 classic Goldeneye 007 was ahead of it’s time in many ways including enemy reactions to being shot, mission and difficulty structure, and stealth elements. To this day, the stealth elements in Goldeneye 007 are some of the most easy to immerse yourself in, and make for a game with great options with which to complete missions. While the games controls may be dated, they work really well when you master them. Overall, I think it’s the choice (stealth or attack) that the game design allows the player to complete missions in, and the funny dumb AI that make Goldeneye 007 the classic that it is. For these reasons the game holds up today.

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