Goldeneye N64

Developer: Rare Ltd
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: August 25, 1997
Platforms: Nintendo 64
One of the most important and influential console first person shooter games. Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64 was released in August of 1997 two years after the film. The game was developed by a relatively small team headed by project lead Martin Hollis in total there were about 9 core people who worked on Goldeneye.

The game was originally going to be an on rails shooter in the vein of Sega's Virtural cop and later switched to a non linear objective based shooter. The objectives were implemented from playing Mario 64 where in Mario you would do one objective each time playing the level. Hollis and his team decided to have multiple objectives which would needed to be completed to successfully finish a level. Levels would be more difficult and have more objectives depending upon the difficulty.

The games levels had a very non linear quality that most games today just don't seem to have as there were multiple paths to travel and explore. There were different objectives to tackle from breaking out of a cell with a magnetic wrist watch in the Bunker II level to finding Dr. Doak to get a door decoder device to enter a room in a Russian chemical facility and blowing up the tanks remotely before escaping. Finding key cards from guards to proceed in the level, being able to choose stealth or running and gunning all guns blazing and shooting out cameras were all very rewarding. Part of the reason levels felt more organic and open ended is they didn't start with a specific start and end of the level in mind when creating them. Instead they would work on creating an interesting space and then find ways of adding objectives often using gadgets that Bond could use creating more variety and unique gameplay mechanics.

There were several little details at the time that really helped add to the immersion in Goldeneye. Things like body specific damage where soldiers would clutch their arm or leg if shot in a specific area. You could shoot the hat off a guard and then need another shot to put him down. Guards can be also be seen swatting at invisible flies. Scientists in Goldeneye would stand scarred if you approached them, shoot them a couple times in the leg or arm and they might pull a gun on you.

Having to find your objectives such as locating the right containers to put the mines on the Facility. There are multiple rooms and paths one that seemingly goes no where or has any real purpose but adds to the believability giving more areas to explore. Dr. Doak will spawn in multiple locations so it will keep you on your toes in 00 Agent difficulty. Additionally planting the plastiques in the silo, shutting down radio communications, photographing control screens, satellites, copying key cards or forcing Boris the computer programmer to shut down the mainframe at gun point. These were just some examples of objectives you actually had to do.

Most games in recent years have pre scripted scenarios now where soldiers break down the doors. They are often linear where you feel like you are endlessly being funnelled through levels with very little thinking and just shooting bad guys.
Goldeneye was a new benchmark for me as I had occasionally played a little bit of Doom and enjoyed Quake on pc but playing Goldeneye for me was a game changer. It was an example of how games could be, there was thinking involved to progress and the graphics for the time were good. The N64's controller was well suited for the game play even though many today wouldn't like to play a game with one analogue stick. The game is still vary playable although preferably on a CRT TV, it is still fun and how I'd like to see more games made.

At this time I was in my teens and still played my Super Nintendo occasionally but by this time I was starting to out grow video games. Goldeneye was the game that brought me back. The TimeSplitters series is such a pleasure to play as it often does what Goldeneye did. TimeSplitters manages to capture some of that now classic gameplay and pacing, at times in a less serious manner in terms of story but its silliness is part of its charm and it does so with a fast smooth frame rate and unique art style.

For a little perspective on how things have changed it is not uncommon for triple A titles to have teams in excess of 100 or several hundred people. Goldeneye's core team is as follows: Produced and Directed by Martin Hollis, Director of Photography Mark Edmonds M.A. Original Screenplay by Dr. David Doak, Scenic Art Director Karl Hilton, Production Designer Duncan Botwood, Costume Designer B Jones, 2nd-Unit Director Stephen Ellis Original Music Graeme Norgate and Grant Kirckhope.