In 1997, a James Bond title was released
by Rareware that would
set the gaming world alight. MI6 celebrates the
15th anniversary of Goldeneye 64
GoldenEye 64 - The Legend Lives On
25th August 2007 / 27th August 2012
This week back in 1997, a James Bond title
was released by Rareware for the Nintendo 64 console that
would set the
gaming world alight selling over eight million copies.
That was "GoldenEye 64", and fifteen years on,
it is still the yardstick by which all 007 games are measured.
The monolithic shadow cast over future games would always
ensure the "best game of all time", as it was
touted by the trade press, kept its mantle almost unassailable.
For England, James
Coinciding with the film's theatrical release, GoldenEye 007 was originally
announced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in November 1995 before
eventually 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 similar
to Virtua Cop; it only became a first-person shooter later in production.
this period, many industry watchers cast the game off as
'vapourware' and concerns were being raised over the
success of the Nintendo's new console. The development team
working on GoldenEye 007 was inexperienced; for all but two of
them, it was their first game. As David Doak explained, "Looking
back, there are things I'd be wary of attempting now, but as
none of the people working on the code, graphics and game design
had worked on a game before, there was this joyful naïvety."
The game was based upon the 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 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
GoldenEye was developed through two and a half years, but, according
to 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.
Ultimately, almost everyone who owned an N64,
owned Goldeneye, simply because
it was a
FPS genre. The graphics were a revelation at the
time and still hold up well to this day, being solid and functional.
in-game music and sound effects were great, helping to add to
the tension and overall feel of the game.
hour, capturing players imaginations, letting them be James Bond
and letting them have an immense amount of fun with it. As well
as selling additional consoles (a special GoldenEye pack was
created), it also helped fill Nintendo’s
coffers from the sales of extra controllers. The N64's revolutionary
controller was a hit and perfectly suited with the first trigger
button and Rumble Pak, even a 007 golden controller was produced
for the hardcore multiplayer fans.
When GoldenEye 007 was released in 1997, its
stealth elements and varied objectives contrasted with the approaches
Doom and Quake, and its split-screen deathmatch mode proved immensely
popular. It was considered the first game to break away from
the Doom clones and revolutionised the first person shooter
genre. Along with Shiny Entertainment's MDK, GoldenEye is credited
with popularising the video game convention of a zoomable sniper
rifle, enabling players to kill oblivious enemies from vast distances
away with a single, precise headshot; context-sensitive enemy
hit-locations were also pioneered by the game. In addition
to the N64 game, a version of GoldenEye was in development
for the Nintendo Virtual Boy, but cancelled before release.
Keeping The British End Up
In 1998, GoldenEye received the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment "Games
Award" and Rareware 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
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, GameInformer 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.
Legend Lives On
game continues to be played by fans, many of whom have developed
online communities based around popular aspects of the game.
There are those who enjoy replaying single-player levels
in an attempt to achieve fast times, those who battle others
deathmatch mode, while others use GameSharks and similar
devices to examine and to modify the game's code.
Much to the disappointment of fans and gamers
alike, GoldenEye 64 was the one and only 007 title from Rareware.
Electronic Arts produced some hit
and miss Bond games from 1999 to 2005,
and they then passed
the 007 videogame baton to Activision. Although graphics,
sound and 3D environments have far surpassed the N64 due to
the vast improvement in technology over the past fifteen years,
for many GoldenEye 64 will remain the pinnacle of 007 videogames
- even if those rose-tinted spectacles have collected a little
Activision published a 're-imagined' version
of "GoldenEye 007" for the Nintendo Wii in 2010, and then released
it for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011.
US: August 25, 1997
Europe: August 25, 1997
Australia: August 25, 1997
Japan: August 23, 1997
MSRP: $69.95 USD
Making of GoldenEye 64