It’s hard to believe that 22 years have passed since the release of arguably the greatest video game in history, and much of what you see in the modern era of gaming is based on the unrivalled success of Nintendo 64’s popular hit.
GoldenEye 007, based on the James Bond film GoldenEye, almost single-handily revolutionized first-person shoot-em-ups and helped provide the basis for a whole host of other console games to follow suit. Typically a first-person shooter game, GoldenEye is mostly renowned for the split-screen multiplayer option in which up to four players can compete in a variety of deathmatch games.
Even in the present day, you’ll be hard pushed to find a 90’s gamer who didn’t sacrifice a large chunk of their childhood to the stylish and addictive game. When GoldenEye was released in 1997, it was like all other games were surplus owing to the realistic and in-depth gameplay the Rare hit had to offer.
What’s the plot?
The single-player campaign mirrors the story of that in the 1995 film, using real photographs from the film set to create the textures of the game. Bond starts off at the Byelomorye Dam in the Soviet Union, tasked with infiltrating a secret chemical weapons facility alongside fellow agent Trevelyan.
After the pair are discovered, Bond manages to escape in a plane whereas Trevelyan is captured and killed, leaving the former to investigate a satellite control station in Severnaya, Russia. Here, we are introduced to Boris, a rather maverick computer programmer. The game jumps forward another two years as Bond is sent back to Severnaya and this time he meets Natalya, another computer programmer, with whom he gets captured with.
The pair manages to escape from the clutches of Colonel Ourumov, before embarking on a drawn out mission that sees them try to stop the threat of GoldenEye, a secret satellite operation that is intended for London.
From here, the game takes you through a series of destinations and obscure settings and you come across characters such as Mishkin, Valentin and Xenia. The plot twist is revealed when Bond liaises with Valentin, who informs him Trevelyan faked his own death and he is the leader of Janus, the group who are behind the GoldenEye satellite.
As Bond tries to track down his former friend and colleague, the game takes you through the ‘train, jungle and caverns’ levels before the great conclusion on the antenna level. The climax will quickly ensue, as Bond and Trevelyan square off in a tense final battle.
Key features, legacy & reception
As previously mentioned, GoldenEye offers a four screen, multiplayer mode which enables players to pit their wits against each other in a series of deathmatch settings. Generally speaking, it’s this feature that captured the imagination of the millions of players across the world and is still widely spoken of today.
The gameplay itself is a joy to behold, using free-roaming 3D levels and providing a series of objectives that keep in check with the game’s tone and realisms. A wide range of guns and explosives are available to choose from and the stealth mode is pioneering in its own right.
GoldenEye offers three difficulty settings and there are a range of cheats and additional modes to find and unlock, making the game more user-friendly. Even to this day, GoldenEye’s legacy continues to enhance and grow year upon year as players recognise the importance for the format it would create for games such as Halo and Call of Duty.
In terms of reception, it was initially thought the game would be a flop but it turned out to be a critical and commercial success. Based on Sega’s Virtua Cop, GoldenEye has sold more than eight million copies worldwide and grossed over $250 million.
It is the third bestselling game in Nintendo 64’s history, only bettered by Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64, and is still praised for its brilliant gameplay, realistic features and continued fun-factor. Even after 22 years, it’s hard to ignore the sheer brilliance of GoldenEye and it will always remain one of the best-ever video games.
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