The game has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and often listed as one of the best games for the Nintendo 64 and sold over eight million copies. It is considered an important title in the development of first person shooters, and has become particularly well-known for the quality of its multiplayer deathmatch mode, as well as its incorporation of stealth and varied objectives into its single-player missions.
GoldenEye 007 was originally announced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System before being stepped up to the Nintendo 64. The intention for the first few months of development was for the game to be an on-rails shooter; it only became a first-person shooter later in development. The development team working on GoldenEye 007 was inexperienced; for all but two of them, the project was their first game.
The game is based upon the GoldenEye film and its novelization by John Gardner, but, as game designer Martin Hollis explained, many of the missions were extended or modified to allow the player to participate in sequences of which Bond was not originally a part, or those in which he only played a minor role. The original sets that were created for the film were first converted into complete, believable environments by one group of game designers; when this process was complete, other designers began populating them with objectives, characters and obstacles in order to create a balanced and fun game. According to Martin Hollis, "many of the levels in the game have a realistic and non-linear feel. There are rooms with no direct relevance to the level. There are multiple routes across the level." Hollis also noted that the concept of several varied objectives within each level was inspired by the multiple tasks in each stage of Super Mario 64.
GoldenEye was developed through two and a half years, but, according to Martin Hollis, only the last year was spent developing the game. During the beginning, the engine was built, art assets were made, and the enemy AI was written and polished. The game was delayed numerous times, partly because during development, the team decided to incorporate a multiplayer feature to the game to demonstrate the N64's 4-player capabilities. In addition to the N64 game, a version of GoldenEye was in development for the Nintendo Virtual Boy, but was canceled before release.
The game was originally more gory. According to Hollis, in reflection, "this was a bit too much red," making reference to The Shining. Towards the end of development, Rare received a fax from Shigeru Miyamoto. He stated that he found that there was far too much killing in the game, and suggested that at the end of the game, the player would shake hands with all of the game's enemies in a hospital. Instead of this, Rare created an introductory credits scene that mimicked a film's introduction, in a move to underline the game's artifice.
Gameplay and design
GoldenEye 007's menu system is presented as an MI6 dossier. Four save files are available to track the player's progress through the game's twenty missions, each of which may be played on either "Agent," "Secret Agent," or "00-Agent," difficulty settings, with higher difficulties requiring the player to complete additional and more complex objectives. M, Q, and Miss Moneypenny provide background information on the chosen mission and its goals.
Once a mission is completed, the player may either continue progressing through the story or choose to replay a previously completed level. Completing certain missions within particular target times enables the player to unlock bonus cheat options which make various changes to the graphics and gameplay, and upon fully completing the game on the 00-Agent difficulty level, an additional "007" setting allows the player to customize the challenge of any mission.
The player's initial weapon in most missions is James Bond's Walther PPK. Most of the game's firearms are modeled on real-life counterparts, while others are based on fictitious devices featured in the Bond films, such as the Golden Gun and Moonraker laser. The weapons vary in characteristics such as rate of fire and type of ammunition used, and inflict different levels of damage depending on which body part they hit. Stealth is an important element of the game: in order to avoid gunfights with multiple opponents, it is advantageous to eliminate soldiers and security cameras before they spot or hear the player. Certain weapons may be powerful enough to shoot through doors and helmets but are very loud, while others incorporate suppressor or zoom lens attachments to aid the player in killing enemies discreetly.
Some gadgets from the James Bond film series are featured in the game and are often used to complete particular mission objectives; for example, 007's in-game watch includes the laser from the GoldenEye film, the remote mine detonator from GoldenEye and Moonraker, and the electromagnet from Live and Let Die.
The multiplayer mode was added late in the development process; Martin Hollis noted that the setting was "a complete afterthought". According to David Doak, the majority of the work on the multiplayer mode was done by Steve Ellis, who "sat in a room with all the code written for a single-player game and turned GoldenEye into a multiplayer game."
The multiplayer mode features all of the characters in the game, including enemies and civilians. At first, only 8 characters are available, with 25 more becoming available as progress is made through the game. A button code allows players to temporarily unlock another 31 characters, all but two of them likenesses of the programmers. Variations between characters' heights and builds can affect the challenge of shooting them; for example, there is a significant difference between defeating Oddjob, who is oddly short in stature, and Jaws, a giant.
As with the selectable characters, only a few arenas are available at first, with more becoming available as progress is made in the game. There are eleven arenas, not counting levels that can only be accessed with a GameShark, and a "random" button that chooses the level randomly. The multiplayer-only arenas are: Temple, Complex, Caves, Library, Basement, and Stack. Several arenas are taken from the single player mode, with alterations such as restrictions on which sections of the map can be used - they are the Facility, Bunker, Archives, Caverns, and Egyptian.
The multiplayer mode features five general scenarios, within which options such as weapon schemes may be altered. Weapon selections in the multiplayer mode are grouped by type, such as pistols, automatics, and explosives. Other selectable weapon schemes focus on weapons not frequently found in the single player mode, such as laser guns, throwing knives, or the one-hit kill Golden Gun. The "Slappers Only!" setting removes all projectiles, limiting players to hand-to-hand combat.
- A basic free-for-all deathmatch mode, in which players attempt to kill their opponents as many times as possible within a set amount of time. This mode can also be played in teams of 2 versus 1, 2 versus 2, and 3 versus 1.
- You Only Live Twice
- Similar to Normal mode, except players only have two lives before they are eliminated from the game.
- The Living Daylights [Flag Tag]
- In this adaptation of the playground game "Tag", a flag or "token" is placed in a fixed location on the map. The player who holds it the longest wins the match. A player cannot use weapons while holding the flag (although it is still possible to slap), but can still collect them to keep opponents from stocking ammunition.
- The Man With the Golden Gun
- A single Golden Gun is placed in a fixed location on the map. Players must locate and obtain the Golden Gun, which is capable of killing opponents with only one shot regardless of where they are hit, even if they are wearing body armor. After a player acquires the Golden Gun, others are able to see him or her indicated by a blue dot on their radar. The player with the Golden Gun is unable to pick up body armor while opponents can. The only way to obtain the Golden Gun after its removal from the spawn point is to kill the player holding it and retrieve it from the corpse.
- Licence to Kill
- All attacks, including "slapping", will kill opponents in one hit. This mode cannot be played in teams, unlike the other scenarios.
Several references to James Bond films exist in GoldenEye 007, the most apparent being the titles of the various multiplayer modes and the Bond Girl names for the game's control schemes. The CCTV tape found in the second Bunker mission features the cover of the VHS release of the GoldenEye film.
Several members of the game's development staff were featured in the game as generic character faces. Bond's double-agent contact "Dr. Doak" in the "Facility" mission is named after and bears the likeness of David Doak. The "Klobb" weapon (originally "Spyder"), is named after former Nintendo employee Ken Lobb.
Like the movie, GoldenEye 007 starts in Arkhangelsk, USSR during the mid-1980s, where MI6 has uncovered a secret chemical weapons facility at the Byelomorye Dam. James Bond is sent to infiltrate the facility by bungee jumping from the dam, then join his friend and fellow 00-agent Alec Trevelyan in destroying the factory. During the mission, Trevelyan is apparently killed by Colonel Arkady Ourumov, but Bond escapes by commandeering an airplane.
The following missions depict 007's investigation of the satellite control station in Severnaya, Russia where Natalya Simonova and Boris Grishenko work, a location he did not visit in the film. Entirely new to the game is the "Silo" mission in which Bond investigates an unscheduled test firing of a missile in Kyrgyzstan, believed to be a cover for the launch of a satellite known as GoldenEye. This space-based weapon works by firing a concentrated electromagnetic pulse at any Earth target to disable any electrical circuit within range; from its orbit, it would be a threat to any city on earth.
Bond's visit to Monte Carlo and investigation of the frigate La Fayette and the Eurocopter Tiger (referred to as the "Pirate" in the game) were featured in the film, but here they are expanded, with Bond rescuing several hostages inside the ship and planting a tracker bug on the helicopter before it is stolen by the Janus crime syndicate. Bond is then sent a second time to Severnaya, but during the mission he is captured and locked up in the bunker's cells along with Natalya Simonova–this meeting takes place much earlier than in the film. The two escape the complex seconds before it is destroyed, on the orders of Ourumov, by the GoldenEye satellite's EMP.
As in the film, Bond next travels to Saint Petersburg, where he arranges with ex-KGB agent Valentin Zukovsky to meet the chief of the Janus organisation. This is revealed to be Alec Trevelyan–his execution by Ourumov in the Arkhangelsk facility was faked. Bond and Natalya escape from Trevelyan, but are arrested by the Russian police and taken to the military archives for interrogation. The player must escape the interrogation room, rescue Natalya and communicate with Defence Minister Dimitri Mishkin, who has verified Bond's claim of Ourumov's treachery.
Natalya is captured by General Ourumov, and Bond gives chase (he can use a tank like in the movie, though he has the option not to) through the streets of Saint Petersburg, eventually reaching an arms depot used by Janus — the player must destroy its weaponry stores, then hitch a ride on Trevelyan's Soviet missile train. This section features many departures from the film storyline, where Bond does not reach the depot, and only enters the train after stopping it with the tank. Bond makes his way through the train, killing Ouromov and rescuing Natalya. However, Alec Trevelyan and his ally Xenia Onatopp escape to their secret base in Cuba.
Natalya accompanies Bond to Cuba. Surveying the jungle aerially, their light aircraft is shot down. Unscathed, Bond and Natalya perform a ground search of the area's heavily guarded jungle terrain, but are ambushed by Xenia, who is quickly killed by Bond. Bond sneaks Natalya into the control center to disrupt transmissions to the GoldenEye satellite and force it to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. An original mission shows Bond following the fleeing Trevelyan through a series of flooded caverns, which conceal a Satellite Dish under water. He then arrives at the antenna of the control centre's radio telescope. Trevelyan attempts to re-align it in a final attempt to restore contact with the GoldenEye. Bond destroys machinery vital to controlling the dish and kills Trevelyan in a precarious firefight high above the dish.
Two further missions unrelated to the GoldenEye film were included as bonuses for the completion of the game on higher difficulties. The first, "Aztec Complex", is partially based on the James Bond film Moonraker, and is unlocked when the player completes all 18 missions on Secret Agent difficulty. During the mission, Bond is sent to the Aztec complex in Teotihuacán to investigate the Drax Corporation's unlicensed space exploration in which at least one space shuttle was stolen from NASA. Although Hugo Drax was killed by Bond in the movie, it has seemed that his corporation still existed after his death due to remnants and fragments that were still active. MI6 believes their intentions with the shuttle in space are militant in nature and authorizes Bond to reprogram the shuttle's guidance computer so that MI6 can take control of the craft once it reaches orbit. During the mission, Jaws makes a return in an effort to stop Bond from completing his mission. Many of the rooms in the mission were from the movie and included several new features, such as the launch room for the Moonraker shuttle.
The second bonus level, "Egyptian Temple", blends elements from the films The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Live and Let Die. To access this level players must complete all 18 missions on 00 Agent difficulty. Prior to the mission, M informs Bond that a person claiming to be Baron Samedi is in possession of the deceased Francisco Scaramanga's legendary "Golden Gun" pistol. Samedi has invited James Bond to the El-Saghira temple in the Valley of the Kings to retrieve it. Knowing it is a trap, M sends Bond regardless to take possession of the Golden Gun and eliminate Baron Samedi. Although the player "kills" Samedi three times during the level, he can be seen laughing in an end-of-level cut scene, similar to the ending of Live and Let Die.
GameShark users found several text references to a level called "Citadel" in the game. Rare explained its nature, and joked about players' speculation that multiplayer-mode Bond characters could be seen in the single-player game: "'Citadel' was a very rough test level designed during the early stages of multiplayer mode. It is not in the finished game in any shape or form, and Oddjob and Mayday would not be in it if it was." It was thought that a few textual references were all that remained of the level. In 2004, GoldenEye 007 fan sites uncovered an unplayable but viewable single-player version of the level (with implemented sky and water textures).
In 2005, the website GoldenEye Forever revealed that it was possible to access a fully playable multiplayer version by linking a GameShark to a computer. The codes to access Citadel in its fullest state totaled nearly 10,000 lines. The test map is largely a mass of shapes and ramps that the players can climb upon, thus giving players many opportunities for sniping and for hiding.
Before GoldenEye 007 was released, Rare had placed a feature in the multiplayer mode of the game, known as the "All Bonds" option. This would allow players to choose four of the five actors (at the time of the game) who had portrayed Bond in various films: Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. George Lazenby was not included. However, before the game was released, Rare removed the feature for unexplained reasons. It is assumed that Rare had every intention to release the game with the feature, but was later forced to remove it. In response, Rare said "Yes, it was the hope of the team that [all Bonds] would be available to play, but for various reasons they weren't."
In addition, the actors' portraits were at one point used to illustrate the four single-player save file dossiers; this was also removed, with Pierce Brosnan's portrait appearing on all four in the final version.
Not all remnants of the All Bonds feature were completely removed from the GoldenEye software. One major clue was the fact that the portraits of the four Bonds in the selection screen for multiplayer mode were accessible by using a GameShark. Also, various screenshots in the game manual, such as one from the multiplayer selection screen, show traces of the former Bond portraits.
The feature was brought to the attention of many gamers when the gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly published an April issue with what they called the "All Bonds Cheat", using some fake screenshots "to support" its claim. The magazine reported that to unlock the option in the cheat menu, a player must complete the Aztec mission on 007 difficulty in less than nine minutes with all customisable enemy settings on the highest difficulty. The claim was later found to be an April Fools prank, which the magazine held annually.
In 2005, a program called the GoldenEye ROM Editor was released by The Rare Witch Project. The coders SubDrag and Ice Mario cracked the compression format of the images used by the game, allowing any image in the game's memory to be viewed and edited, by opening up a ROM image of the game. It was then discovered that the All Bonds faces and suits are still in the game; Rare had only removed the ability to use them. By mapping them onto other multiplayer characters' faces and bodies, one can try to recreate All Bonds, although since the body and head shapes do not match the textures, it will not look as it was intended.
When GoldenEye 007 was released in 1997, its stealth elements and varied objectives contrasted with the approaches taken by Doom and Quake, and its split-screen deathmatch mode proved popular. These factors contributed to the game's commercial success, selling eight million copies.
In 1998, GoldenEye received the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment "Games Award" and Rare won the award for "Best UK Developer". It also won four awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences: "Console Action Game of the Year", "Console Game of the Year", "Interactive Title of the Year" and "Outstanding Achievement in Software Engineering". Additionally, it was nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in Art/Graphics" and "Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Design".
In a January 2000 poll, readers of the long-running British video game magazine Computer and Video Games voted GoldenEye 007 into first place in a list of "the hundred greatest video games". In a poll in the next year, the game was ranked 5th. Also in 2001, Game Informer magazine ranked GoldenEye 007 16th in a list of the "Top 100 Games of All Time". In 2005, a "Best Games of All-Time" poll at GameFAQs placed GoldenEye 007 at 7th. In a list made by IGN in 2005, GoldenEye was ranked 29th while the Reader's Choice placed it at 7th.
The game originally received a "nine out of ten" score in Edge, with the magazine later stating that "a ten was considered, but eventually rejected". In the magazine's 10th anniversary issue in 2003, the game was included as one of their top ten shooters, along with a note that it was "the only other game" that should have received the prestigious "ten out of ten" rating.
Video game review site ScrewAttack rated GoldenEye number one on three different Top 10 lists, winning the title of "Best FPS", "Best Movie Game" and "Best Local Multiplayer Game".
On Game Rankings, GoldenEye 007 has been ranked number 5 on the voting average list with an average vote of 9.2.
The game continues to be played by fans, many of whom have developed online communities. There are those who enjoy replaying single-player levels in an attempt to achieve fast times, those who battle others in its deathmatch mode, while others use GameSharks and similar devices to examine and to modify the game's code. On October 25, 2006, a fansite, The Rare Witch Project, released a level editor that allows users to place objects and write AI routines for existing stages on a ROM image, so new stages can be developed.
James Bond license
The James Bond game license was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1999, which published new games based upon the then-recent James Bond films Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. The latter game, along with others published by EA such as Agent Under Fire and Nightfire are similar in style to GoldenEye 007.
In the autumn of 2004, Electronic Arts released GoldenEye: Rogue Agent for Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and later the Nintendo DS. This is the first game based on the 007 franchise in which the player does not take on the role of James Bond himself; rather they control an aspiring 00-agent (named GoldenEye) who is recruited by Auric Goldfinger. The game has little to do with either the film GoldenEye or the N64 game. It was released to mediocre reviews, and was criticized for using the "GoldenEye" name in an attempt to exploit the success of Rare's game
In the aftermath of E3 2006 Activision obtained the rights for James Bond games from MGM and EON, and their first game Quantum of Solace was released on October 31, 2008 which was developed by Treyarch.
GoldenEye 007 ports
Reggie Fils-Aime, the President of Nintendo of America, announced that Nintendo is exploring the possibility of adding GoldenEye 007 to the Wii Virtual Console, despite a complicated situation in which the game's developer Rare is owned by Microsoft and the video game rights to the James Bond franchise are held by Activision. He stated, "We would love to see it [on the Virtual Console], so we're exploring all the rights issues."
On January 11, 2008, 1UP reported that a GoldenEye port had been in development at Rare for several months, but stated that the title would not be released on the Xbox Live Arcade since "Microsoft and Nintendo couldn't agree on the financial side of things."