A couple of weeks ago I went to the cinema to see a film I have watched many, many times before, but never on the big screen. It was an adventure which breathed new life into a decades old character, bringing him smashing and quipping his way into the Cold War era. I enjoyed it on a whole new level but in a different way thanks to the cinema experience. I am, of course, talking about GoldenEye.
Nearly two years after the release of this fan favourite James Bond film, Rare brought the videogame adaptation of Pierce Brosnan’s first mission to the Nintendo 64 in GoldenEye 007. And rather unusually for movie tie-ins, the game was pretty good. In fact, it was ruddy brilliant.
Following the events of the film fairly closely, GoldenEye 007 put the player squarely in the shoes of Bond. Several iconic moments from the movie were brought to life with exhilarating detail, such as navigating the Byelomorye dam, escaping through the military achieves building and battling your way through the old Soviet missile train.
It wouldn’t have been a Bond outing without some good old fashioned firepower, and even more so than in the film, the gadgets took a backseat to the weapons. GoldenEye 007 boasted more than twenty weapons, with some variants enabling you to proceed with a more stealthy approach. Health couldn’t be replenished, but armour pickups were sparingly scattered across each level.
What was striking for its time was the game’s realism and skill in bringing the FPS genre to the home console market. Beforehand this was a type of game rarely seen anywhere but on PC, but that was changed forever thanks to GoldenEye 007. Other details such as enemies taking location specific damage depending on where you shot them felt cutting edge at the time. This was a game with lots of ideas that Rare were not afraid to try out. The brilliant gameplay wrapped in the immensely popular James Bond skin made the combination irresistible.
Despite the single player campaign being hugely enjoyable, my fondest memories of GoldenEye 007 sit firmly with the multiplayer. Four player split-screen showdowns with your mates around the telly felt innovative and exciting along with numerous game modes that were affectionately named after previous films from the franchise.
The best of these, The Man With The Golden Gun, pitted players against each other in a race to grab the one shot wonder. The only way to claim it for yourself was to eliminate the player holding it, which wasn’t easy given that they only had to hit you once to kill you. Every single time. This mode was so much fun, and yet another example of how innovative and fresh GoldenEye 007 was for its time.
As well as somewhat impressive visuals for the time, GoldenEye 007 also boasted an incredibly faithful soundtrack that was impossible not to like. Its interpretation of the James Bond score added the finishing touches to a bona fide Bond game that was a loyal, honest but individual take on the film of the same name. This was the real deal.
You may be wondering how such a well thought of, revered game hasn’t been remastered yet. There were those speculating that we may hear something from Gamescom this year given it’s been twenty-five years since the original’s release, but I’ll be very surprised if we do. So surprised I’m putting it down in writing, here, that we won’t. I do hope I’m proved wrong.
However, there have been a couple of attempts to breathe new life into the game. Way back in 2008 it transpired that a remaster was indeed in development, but Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare made things complicated. As recently as this year, many are still hoping that this Xbox 360 build would see the light of day, but reportedly the war in Ukraine has thrown a further spanner into plans to finally release it.
Otherwise, something rather special (even more so for Bond fans like me) found its way onto the Nintendo Wii back in 2010. This was a reimagining of the original game, told as if Daniel Craig was starring as 007. It even secured the man himself, Judi Dench and Rory Kinnear as voice actors whilst making some pretty bold changes to the storyline that came off brilliantly in my opinion. The port over to Xbox didn’t fare too well however. Also in the same year GoldenEye: Source was released by fans, created using Valve’s Source engine. But that’s a story for another time.
The history of James Bond games is a chequered one at best. Goldeneye 007 is (quite rightly) regarded as the best entry, and one of the greatest games of all time. It stands up so well even after all these years, which is why a remaster is still in such high demand by gamers across the community.
The rights to the franchise now sit with IO Interactive (they of Hitman fame), who are working on the mysterious Project 007. Little is known, but one thing is for sure. They have a job on their hands if they hope to reach the dizzying heights that Rare hit with the magnificent GoldenEye 007.
Nobody does it better.
But what about you? Let us know your GoldenEye memories down in the comments. Do you think a new version will be hitting home soon?