Hello, all! This will be my last post before NY Comic-Con! Last week, we replayed the deepest side-scroller you'll ever play.
This week, we move to
one of the THE most influential first-person-shooter of all time.
Quite a mainstream choice for this series, but nevertheless, Goldeneye remains a classic. The game casts you as, of course, James Bond, and, um, you do stuff.
The game was based on the Pierce Brosnan Bond movie that came out two years earlier. Hence, it's kind of strange to view it as a movie tie in. These days, we're used to shoddy games coming out on the same day as the movie. And we're all profoundly (and justifiably) disappointed.
Seeing as how Goldeneye came out two years after the film, the developers (Rare) had lots of extra development time. And boy, did it pay off.
Just like the movie!
Basically following (and,er, expanding) the plot of the movie, Goldeneye had a lengthy single-player campaign. Also, it had a little multiplayer feature that some found mildly enjoyable.
Just kidding! More on multiplayer in a moment.
Besides featuring the usual stuff worthy of slapping on the box ("Highly intelligent enemies! Numerous Q Gadgets and Weapons!") what Goldeneye really did was reinvent the first-person-shooter. Here's a number of reasons why:
- It was on console. Goldeneye of course was (and remains) a Nintendo 64 exclusive. For a variety of reasons which we'll get to, Goldeneye proved that a FPS could not only exist, but thrive, on a console. Reasons like...
- Level design. Goldeneye's levels are not claustrophobic corridors which you'd see in Doom, Quake, or Duke Nukem 3D. These are (for the time) living, breathing worlds. There's a lab with scientists working. There's a satellite bunker with a variety of rooms, some of which aren't even in use. A dilapidated statue graveyard of sorts. The streets of St. Petersburg. A giant antenna. It goes on and on. Frankly, there's a variety here that dwarfs some games that come out now. And yet, it remains cohesive. After all, this is a Bond adventure; we expect globe-trotting.
- That aforementioned enemy intelligence. While antiquated nowadays, the enemy hurling a grenade at you to force you out of cover was unheard of back then. Yes, the AI did this in Half-Life, PC gamers, but Goldeneye was out over a year before then. Not that the enemies would exactly coordinate much once they engaged you, but they would patrol and guard certain areas. They had line-of-sight. Which brings us to...
- Stealth. Now, Goldeneye is by no means a stealth game. It was marketed as such (a bit) but by and large, you'll be blasting your way through. However, Goldeneye still had those stealth moments. There's your silenced pistol and sniper rifle, the latter of which could be used in the Dam level to take out unsuspecting guards, who presumed they were safe in their towers. You could take out guards before they raised an alarm. You could, in theory, finish a level without being seen. Even if you really couldn't finish a level without wiping out almost every enemy, you had the illusion of stealth, which was great. You felt like you weren't forced into a certain playstyle. There was room for improvisation.
- Bond moments. No, not the Bond Moments™ from this game. Rather, little moments that made you feel like the super spy; moments that, while yes, were scripted and required of you, weren't portrayed as such. There was no "Achievement Unlocked" ding or whatever. You simply got to keep playing. One personal favorite of mine is when you use your watch magnet to grab the key to your cell off the wall. Does it get more Bond than that? Other moments include: watch-lasering the train floor to make a daring escape, that tank level, and figuring out the remote mine puzzle in the Facility level in the picture above.
- Minimal HUD. Why don't more games use Goldeneye's health/armor icons? They'd only appear when you got hit. So simple, yet so effective. I'm a big proponent of minimalist HUD designs; they're more immersive than, say, a crowded, bloated MMORPG HUD.
- Weapon balancing. Goldeneye had a strong variety of weapons, all of which famously had to reload-also something you typically didn't have to do before this game. Although the reload "animation" was simple, the fact that you had to actually do it made you think differently. In addition to that, in Goldeneye, generally stronger weapons had less ammunition available/fewer shots before reloading. Rockets, for example. You'd get maybe one or two rockets for your rocket launcher, and that's it.
That last point-weapon balancing-comes into play most prominently in Goldeneye's defining feature.
Finally, we had a use for all four ports on the front of that curvy N64. Here's something crazy-Goldeneye's multiplayer was developed by programmer Steve Ellis-and only Steve Ellis, over the course of six weeks. Goldeneye's signature mode was an afterthought.
And yet, we all spent hours of our lives running and gunning down friends and loved ones, all in the spirit of fun, of course. It's a really simple mode, when you think about it. You pick a level-some of which are from the campaign, some original-and a set of weapons, rules, and then you go.
What was so great about it? The answer lies in that simplicity. Multiplayer had a decent variety of modes. There's You Only Live Twice mode (only two lives apiece), The Man With The Golden Gun (each player tries to assemble the Golden Gun, which kills in one shot), etc. Then there were multiple sets of weapons you could set for each level.
Now, what people would do with these constraints is, they'd create their own variations of Goldeneye multiplayer. I've seen people play games of tag and hide-and-seek in Goldeneye. A favorite in my house was as follows: 5 minutes, one-hit-kills, Slappers Only (just karate chops-no weapons), basement level. What would follow could only be described as hilarious mayhem.
And it's that kind of gameplay that makes Goldeneye an immortal classic. The multiplayer stands out in people's minds because it inspired creativity. It let you make the game yours. It let you decide how to play. Is it really any wonder this game still lingers in the mind? It's a genius example of game design; one we haven't really seen the likes of too much in the 17 (!) years since it's release.
Also, nothing beats playing a game with friends in the same room. Nothing. That could also be a reason why everyone has such fond memories. Nothing beats a shared experience. Am I wrong?
Goldeneye just does everything right. It might be cliché to talk about how great Goldeneye is, but the thing is, it's probably the most perfect shooter ever created. This article series started out as a spotlight on standout games, and of course Goldeneye is a standout. It's a little dusty, but it stands the test of time.
Thanks for reading! Hit the comments section! Suggest future Game of The Week articles! Tweet me @WingZero351
And, let me know if I'll be seeing any of you at New York Comic Con!
Next week-We move the spotlight to an indie gem, for a change of pace. Have your stamp ready.