Goldeneye 007 (N64)
Ever since Atari foisted 1982's E.T. (The Extra Terrestrial) on an unsuspecting public, companies have used high-profile movie licenses to sell otherwise mediocre games. And at first glance, Goldeneye 007 might appear to be yet another Doom-style shooter in Hollywood clothing. But playing this title reveals Goldeneye 007 to be not only a great license, but a brilliantly innovative game. Kudos to Rare and Nintendo for producing what is probably the best first-person shooter available on any system.
Unlike virtually every first-person shooter that has preceded it, Goldeneye 007 rewards stealth as well as slaughter. In the typical first-person shooter (Quake, Doom, Hexen, etc.), players simply acquire the most powerful weaponry available, and kill everything in sight. But several levels in Goldeneye are best completed by careful, quiet progress, as opposed to brute force. Goldeneye gameplay thus provides a refreshing break from several tired first- person cliches.
For example, Bond's weapon of choice is often the PP7 Special Issue (a pistol equipped with a silencer) instead of say, a rocket launcher. Weapons that make a great deal of noise simply attract more resistance from the enemy. Some levels are guarded by alarm systems; too much noise and a guard will trigger the alarm, ending Bond's chances for a successful mission. The stealth factor adds an extra element of fun and strategy to Goldeneye that distinguishes the title from other games of this genre.
Goldeneye 007 offers a wide variety of realistic weapons, from a totally silent throwing knife to the aforementioned rocket launcher to an extreme- range sniper rifle. The sniper rifle is particularly fun to use, as its scope allows Bond to "neutralize" enemy soldiers from an extended distance. There's nothing more fun than picking off an unsuspecting Soviet guard from half a mile away. The remarkable cinematic effect of this experience must be seen to be appreciated.
In addition to the vast arsenal of weaponry, Bond is armed with a number of cool gadgets (bomb defusers, microcameras, watch lasers, and the like). The effective use of these gadgets is often essential to pulling off a particular mission objective. The gadgets add yet another compelling twist to Goldeneye gameplay that you simply will not find in other first-person titles.
The innovative gameplay in Goldeneye is accentuated by truly breathtaking graphics that surpass even the best PC efforts to date. Remarkably detailed levels are based upon actual movie locations, and convey very believable environments. From the Siberian tundra to Soviet missile silos, the Goldeneye 007 levels are simply the most realistic ever to grace a video game.
The attention to fine graphic detail in the Goldeneye environments is fantastic. Transparent windowpanes that are shot will initially register bullet holes, and if shot repeatedly, will shatter. Bullets ricochet off pavement and walls in a puff of whispy white smoke, leaving behind visible pockmarks. Large explosions produce clouds of dark smoke that slowly dissipate for several moments.
Even more impressive is the incredible variety of enemy responses to the intense fighting action. Wounded enemy agents bleed in the particular area of bullet entry. Soldiers react differently depending on which area of the body is injured, whether it be chest, head, or leg. For minimal resistance, head shots do the trick. It's even possible to shoot the hats off of enemy soldiers without wounding them, while enemies wearing metal helmets are that much more difficult to kill. Again, the typical first-person shooter displays none of this intense graphical detail.
Matching the Goldeneye graphics are excellent sound and Rumble Pak support. Each weapon has a different (and very realistic) trademark sound when discharged. One even hears the sound of expended shells bouncing off the floor. The individual weapons even make the Rumble Pak shake in a subtly unique fashion, an excellent touch.
There is a surprising amount of realistic violence in Goldeneye 007. No other Nintendo game has ever portrayed violence so believably. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter is literally cartoonish by comparison. The bodies of slain enemies, however, quickly disappear into nothingness, thus softening the violent effect.
Rounding out Goldeneye is excellent split-screen multiplayer support. Goldeneye 007 features several head-to-head "deathmatch" and "capture-the-flag" modes which allow two to four players the opportunity to duke it out with high-powered weaponry. While split-screen play remains a poor cousin to networked Internet Quake, it nevertheless is a great low-cost N64 alternative. It's also a promising sign that Nintendo is committed to supporting multiplay in its releases. The upcoming 64DD (disk drive) add-on device is rumored to include a modem, and modem-based Goldeneye would certainly be a blast.
The critic will find a few minor flaws in Goldeneye. The music, while very good, does not meet the cinematic standards established by the sound and graphics. Also, there is occasional graphic clipping; in other words, at times enemy soldiers can be seen through what should be solid doors and so forth. But these complaints are exceedingly minor in light of the overall package.
Goldeneye 007 is an innovative first-person shooter that represents a step forward for the genre. Let's hope that the PC programming wizards at ID Software and 3D Realms are paying close attention to the gameplay of this N64 title. In the meantime, every N64 owner is encouraged to try this one. Nintendo's "quality over quantity" philosophy may remain controversial, but there's simply no denying that it produces great games.
Overall 11 out of 10