GoldenEye 007 is a first-person shooter (FPS) developed by Rareware (now Rare) and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 console in 1997. The game is based on the James Bond film of the same name and follows the film's story, taking key plot points, scenes, and locations and creating levels based on them. It was a huge critical and financial success and proved to be one of the most popular N64 games ever released, with over 8 million copies sold. Today the game is still widely remembered, and is without a doubt the most popular video game in the James Bond franchise.
Originally envisioned as a light-gun rail shooter like Sega's Virtua Cop, the game was later adapted into a first-person shooter (FPS) like Doom during production, along with incorporating influences from Super Mario 64. In turn, GoldenEye paved the way or most first-person shooters that followed on consoles. Some of the innovations it introduced and/or popularized within the FPS genre include the dual analog control scheme (now standard among console FPS games), zoomable sniper scope aiming, Virtua Cop inspired mechanics such as position-dependent hit reaction animations and the headshot, deathmatch multiplayer on consoles, and stealth elements. GoldenEye 007 is widely regarded as an important milestone in the FPS genre, particularly among console FPS games.
GoldenEye 007 follows the story of James Bond as he tries to stop his old partner, Alec Trevelyan, from hijacking a secret weapon, codenamed GoldenEye, and using it. The story starts with James Bond and Alec Trevelyan infiltrating the Byelomorye Dam in Arkhangelsk, USSR, to destroy a secret chemical weapons facility. During the mission Alec is supposedly killed, but Bond manages to complete the mission and escape. Bond later discovers that Alec faked his death to begin work on a plan to steal the weapon called GoldenEye. He intends to steal money from the Bank of England and then activate GoldenEye, creating an electromagnetic pulse in the upper atmosphere which would destroy all the evidence and level the British economy. Bond tracks down Trevelyan with the help of Natalya Simonova, and together they stop him and destroy the GoldenEye.
GoldenEye was one of the first games to demonstrate that FPS's could work well on video game consoles and be just as enjoyable and commercially viable as they had become on the PC. Key to this breakthrough were the N64 controller's analogue stick, which allowed for a continuous range of motion, unrestricted to axes as a D-pad is, and implementation of an auto-aim feature to soften the demands for precision aiming. The auto-aim defaults to on and scales with difficult level selected in-game (with the easiest difficulty providing the most generous aiming assistance). An overriding option to disable auto-aim altogether is offered as well for both single-player and multiplayer.
The in-game menu system is notable as an example of contextual menus. The player may access the menu at any time during gameplay by pressing Start, prompting Bond to raise his wrist watch to the camera. While the game is obscured by the watch, the action pauses, allowing the player time to adjust game options, view mission objectives, check his/her health and armor, and change weapons and gadgets. The menus are displayed in style with their context of being on a spy gadget: the screen occasionally flickers as though recalibrating and the health and armor bars are curved to fit the circular watch face.
Also notable for its time, GoldenEye's missions are often relatively open-ended in allowing players to take varying routes through them and opt for a more or less stealthy approach on the fly. Although the game never requires stealth, many missions can be made easier by silently dispatching or evading enemies, shooting out surveillance cameras, and killing enemies before they can reach and trigger alarms, as the sound of gunfire and explosions will quickly alert nearby enemies and bring them rushing to the action. Additionally, there is no means of recovering lost health during a mission; only lost armor can be recovered by finding body armor power ups.
The singleplayer game is divided into 20 discreet missions: 18 story missions and 2 unlockable bonus missions. Once a mission has been unlocked by completing all mission leading up to it, it can be selected and played again freely without having to replay any other missions. The following is a list of all mission in the order they become available:
* Aztec is unlocked by completing all 18 story missions on Secret Agent or higher difficulty.
** Egyptian is unlocked by completing all 18 story missions and Aztec on 00 Agent or higher difficulty.
The Citadel Level
Textual references to an extra level named "citadel" were discovered in the game's internal data by GameShark coders, prompting many rumors and hoaxes. Rare eventually confirmed the existence of the level, but said it was merely an early multi-player testbed used during development. In 2005, a GameShark hack was revealed that allowed the level to be accessed after entering nearly 10,000 lines of codes. Despite having its own unique music track, the level is very crude and mostly broken or absent.
Every mission can be played under one of 4 difficulty levels: Agent, Secret Agent, 00 Agent, and 007. The first three difficulties are selectable from the outset, while 007 is only unlocked after beating all 20 missions on 00 Agent. Upon completion of a mission, the next one is unlocked at equivalent and lower difficulty levels (so beating Dam on Secret Agent will unlock Facility, playable on Agent and Secret Agent, but not 00 Agent).
Besides the standard differences between Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent difficulties like how much health enemies have and how much damage they inflict on the player, each difficulty setting requires the player to satisfy a different set of mission objectives. Lower difficulties tend to require objectives that are subsets of those required on higher difficulties. For example, the first mission, Dam, only demands that the player reach the exit point to complete it on Agent; on Secret Agent, it requires the player to destroy all alarms in the level; finally, 00 Agent requires the player to install a covert modem on a communications line, hack into a server to steal data, and then reach the exit point. This feature of varying objectives adds an extra layer of challenge and discovery in playing a formerly-completed mission on a new higher difficulty setting, as not only will enemies pose a greater challenge, but the player is required to do new things and perhaps play the level in a significantly different way to succeed.
007 is not like the other difficulty settings in that it allows certain elements of the game's difficulty to be set manually, like enemy health and reaction speed, via sliders (from 0% to either 100% or 1000%). It is thus possible to make enemies extremely weak--even moreso than on Agent difficulty. One difficulty element that is not customizable is the objectives that are required--007 always requires the same set of objectives as 00 Agent.
Every mission has a single difficulty-specific par time, called a "target time," which, if beaten, will unlock a cheat in the cheat menu. For example, one of the easier target times is to complete is Runway on Agent difficulty within 2 minutes and 40 seconds, which will unlock the DK mode cheat (giving all character models giant heads and lanky bodies). Generally, the easier target times grant less 'powerful' cheats, while the harder ones grant major cheats, like infinite ammo and all guns. Probably the hardest cheat to earn is invincibility, which requires completing Facility on 00 Agent within 2 minutes and 5 seconds. If the player has any cheats enabled when starting a mission, all advancement is disabled, meaning no new missions can be unlocked and no new target times can be achieved.
Perhaps most responsible for GoldenEye 007's enduring legacy is its' multiplayer component. Up to four players can compete against one another in split-screen, with a wide variety of options available to configure the game. Configurable options include: teams, game length (5, 10, or 20 points or minutes, or unlimited), scenario (game mode), map, weapons, auto aim toggle, and aiming reticule toggle. Additionally, player-specific options include: character and health handicap. At the end of a multiplayer match, each player is automatically given up to two awards based on their performance, such as "most deadly", "where's the ammo?", and "most frantic".
- Normal - default mode; the player with the most kills when the game ends wins.
- You Only Live Twice - after dying twice, a player is eliminated; last player standing wins.
- The Living Daylights [Flag Tag] - there is one flag on the map, which players fight over; while holding the flag, a player may not use any weapons; when the flag holder dies, the flag is dropped on the spot for anyone to grab; once time is up, the player who held the flag for the most time wins.
- The Man with the Golden Gun - there is only one golden gun on the map and it always kills with a single bullet; the holder of the golden gun cannot pickup body armor and appears as a blue dot on all other players' radar; when the player with the golden gun dies, the gun is dropped on the spot for anyone to grab; the player with the most kills when the game ends wins.
- License to Kill - all weapons deal instant kills; teams are disabled; the player with the most kills when the game ends wins.
- Facility (*)
- Bunker (*)
- Archives (*)
- Caverns (*)
- Egyptian (*)
* All maps that share names with single-player missions are adapted from those respective missions, with some areas closed off to better focus the multiplayer gameplay. These mission-derived maps are unlocked once their respective missions are unlocked in single-player.
- Slappers Only! - (none)
- Pistols - Silenced PP7, DD44 Dostovei, Cougar Magnum.
- Throwing Knives - Throwing Knives.
- Automatics - Silenced PP7, DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, D5K Deutsche.
- Power Weapons - DD44 Dostovei, RCP-90, Automatic Shotgun, Cougar Magnum.
- Sniper Rifles - DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, Sniper Rifle, Cougar Magnum.
- Grenades - Silenced PP7, DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, KF7 Soviet, Grenades.
- Remote Mines - PP7, ZMG 9mm, AR-33 Assault Rifle, Proximity Mines.
- Grenade Launcher - Silenced PP7, DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, KF7 Soviet, Grenade Launcher.
- Timed Mines - PP7, ZMG 9mm, AR-33 Assault Rifle, Proximity Mines.
- Proximity Mines - PP7, ZMG 9mm, AR-33 Assault Rifle, Proximity Mines.
- Rockets - DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, KF7 Soviet, Rocket Launcher.
- Lasers - DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, KF7 Soviet, Moonraker Laser.
- Golden Gun - Silenced PP7, DD44 Dostovei, Klobb, KF7 Soviet, Golden Gun.
Initially, 8 characters are available to choose from: Bond, Natalya, Trevelyn, Xenia, Ouromov, Boris, Valentin, and Mishkin. A further 25 characters, including generic enemies, civilians, and famous Bond villains like Jaws and Oddjob, are unlocked after beating the game.
Oddjob developed some notoriety as an unfair character, decreed off-limits by many players because he was significantly shorter than other characters, making him more difficult to hit. Similarly, Jaws developed a reputation as a handicapped character because his tall stature made him a comparatively easy target.
During initial development of the game, Rare intended to include an "All Bonds" option, which would allow for the player to select which actor's portrayal of Bond to play as in multiplayer. In addition to Pierce Brosnan, players would have been able to pick from a model of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or Timothy Dalton. Screenshots featuring portraits of the other actors in-game exist within the game's manual, while a commercial for the game featured brief footage of the alternate Bonds battling each other in a multiplayer match.
Weapons and Equipment
* These weapons are only available through use of the "all guns" cheat--they do not otherwise appear anywhere in the game.
After its release in 1997, GoldenEye became a near permanent fixture on the N64 sales charts as glowing press attention and rave word-of-mouth kept it selling for years. It also appears on several "Best Game of All-Time" lists. For example, GameFAQs users named GoldenEye the 7th best game ever made. ScrewAttack named it number one on their list of "Top 10 FPS Games Ever" beating out other FPS classics like Halo and Half-Life 2.
As a sidenote, the game has never been released in Germany because of the strict laws concerning FPS games. Nintendo feared its reputation could be damaged by releasing a violent game of this sort which then would be banned. Nevertheless it was released in neighbouring countries, and the Austria & Switzerland PAL release (with German text on the box and a German manual) even had a remark on its box saying "Nicht für den deutschen Markt bestimmt", which translates as "Not intended for sale in Germany". Despite the measures Nintendo had undertaken to keep the game off of German shelves, it was imported and soon became very popular all over the country, making it a target for Germany's BPJS (Bundesprüfstelle für Jugendgefährdende Schriften, the Federal Department for Writings Harmful to Young Persons). Eventually, GoldenEye 007 was banned although it was never released in Germany, making it one of very few extraordinary cases.
Perfect Dark is a spiritual successor to GoldenEye, developed by many of the same team members who worked on GoldenEye. Perfect Dark was built on the same engine as GoldenEye, pushing it all the way up to, and in some cases beyond, its limits. The similarities between the two games also extend to having the same cheats, the same control scheme, and updated returning weapons and multiplayer levels.
EA also released the title GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, with the title referring to the main character's literal golden eye rather then the James Bond movie. This title is vastly different from GoldenEye and is considered by many to be a cash-in on the GoldenEye legacy.
Since 2005 a group of modders have been working on a Half-Life 2 mod of the game: called GoldenEye: Source. The game, currently in its fourth beta, recreates the multiplayer aspect of the game with updated textures, models, and additional modes. It has a small online community continues to be updated to this day.
Rumors and even footage of an XBL A remake of GoldenEye floated around the Internet in recent years, but due to licensing and other complexities, a brewing re-release of GoldenEye appears to have been aborted.
In E3 2010, Nintendo announced that Activision was working on a new GoldenEye game for the Wii, using Daniel Craig as the Bond, and a reworked story. The game features split-screen and online multiplayer, as well as a contemporary control scheme and perks system similar to recent Call of Duty games. This game was later re-released as GoldenEye 007: Reloaded for the 360 and PS3.
Retrospective: GoldenEye 007 (N64, 1997)