Goldeneye 007 RetroActive Review

Goldeneye 007 Pic

Original Release Date: 1997

Thus far I’ve been very kind to the N64, but I have to admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to Goldeneye 007. While it’s regarded as a classic, and influential in bringing the FPS genre to consoles, it’s also frequently placed on lists of games that have not aged well. Does Goldeneye hold up to modern scrutiny, or is it an antiquated game that is no longer worth returning to?

Goldeneye is an FPS where you take control of James Bond, with the various missions and locations of the game loosely based off of the film of the same name. You collect a variety of weapons, and you are tasked with completing a number of objectives in each level, while killing any enemies who stand in your way.

This game did not make a good first impression, and it didn’t really get any better as the game progressed. The first major issue is the graphics. I know that the graphics will be dated, seeing as it’s an N64 title, but even so, the graphics are just downright ugly and bad. While Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time have dated graphics, they still had good visual design, and are nice to look at. Goldeneye’s graphics, on the other hand, are unappealing. This isn’t helped by the fact that if you stand too close to walls, you can see right through them, and in many cases you can clip through objects, which destroys what little immersion the game might have had.

But graphics aren’t everything. After all, the FPS Half Life has really dated graphics, and it’s still regarded as a classic. The difference, however, is that Half Life makes up for its dated graphics with solid gameplay and a compelling narrative, while Goldeneye has neither.

As far as story goes, it can be summed up as ‘You’re James Bond, and you have to shoot a lot of people.’ That’s really it, and there’s not much more to the narrative than that.

When it comes to the FPS genre, I’ll admit I much prefer keyboard and mouse controls over console controllers. There’s something about console controls for FPS games that just feels off to me. Still, the controls for most console FPS games are tolerable. The controls in Goldeneye, on the other hand, are incredibly difficult to manage, as moving around and aiming at things feels really wobbly and awkward. It gives you the impression that James Bond is both inebriated and has two dislocated elbows, and makes playing through the game a chore.

This is not helped by the rather lackluster enemy selection. You pretty much just fight the same generic enemy soldiers for almost the entire game, and this makes the game feel boring and repetitive. Not helping is the horrendous quality of the models of the enemies. Say what you will about Half Life’s dated NPCs, at least they were somewhat convincing. Goldeneye’s NPCs look like a mess of polygons that tried and failed to escape from the uncanny valley.

Between the ugly visuals, awkward controls, monotonous gameplay, boring level design, and almost nonexistent narrative, there’s absolutely nothing to recommend about Goldeneye. It’s not terrible by any means, but there are so many other games in the genre that are so much better in every aspect. Doom was better, Half Life was better, and despite what some people will try to tell you, there are plenty of modern shooters that are better. When put next to its peers, Goldeneye looks downright embarrassing, and the timeless quality of other N64 games is absent in this game. Unless you’re interested in exploring the evolution of the FPS genre, don’t bother with this one.

How well it holds up        1/4

Personal Enjoyment         2/5

Overall quality                  5/10

Not Recommended

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