GoldenEye 007 (1997 video game)
American box art
|Release date(s)||25 August 1997|
|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, stealth|
GoldenEye 007 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Rare and based on the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye. It was exclusively released for the Nintendo 64 video game console in August 1997. The game features a single-player campaign in which players assume the role of British Secret Intelligence Service agent James Bond as he fights to prevent a criminal syndicate from using a satellite weapon against London to cause a global financial meltdown. The game also includes a split-screen multiplayer mode in which two, three, or four players can compete in different types of deathmatch games.
GoldenEye 007 was developed over a period of two and a half years by an inexperienced team. It was originally conceived as an on-rails shooter inspired by Sega's Virtua Cop, before being redesigned as a free-roaming shooter. The game was highly acclaimed by the gaming media and sold over eight million copies worldwide, making it the third-best-selling Nintendo 64 game. It also received multiple year-end awards, including the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Games Award, and four awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences: Console Action Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, Interactive Title of the Year, and Outstanding Achievement in Software Engineering.
Retrospectively, GoldenEye 007 is considered an important game in the history of first-person shooters for demonstrating the viability of game consoles as platforms for the genre, and for signalling a transition from the then-standard Doom-like approach to a more realistic style. It pioneered features such as atmospheric single-player missions, stealth elements, and a console multiplayer deathmatch mode. The game is frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. A spiritual successor, Perfect Dark, was released in 2000, while a reimagining of the game, also titled GoldenEye 007, was released in 2010.
GoldenEye 007 is a first-person shooter that features both single and multiplayer modes. In the single-player mode, the player takes the role of James Bond through a series of free-roaming 3D levels. Each level requires the player to complete a certain set of objectives – such as collecting or destroying specified items, rescuing hostages, or meeting with friendly non-player characters (NPCs) – and then exit the stage. Some gadgets from the James Bond film series are featured in the game and are often used to complete particular mission objectives; for example, in one level the electromagnetic watch from Live and Let Die is used to acquire a jail cell key.
The arsenal of weapons includes pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, grenades, and throwing knives, among others. Guns have a finite magazine and must be reloaded after a certain number of shots, but the player may acquire and carry as many weapons as can be found in each mission. The player's initial weapon in most missions is James Bond's Walther PPK, called the PP7 in-game. Most of the game's firearms are modelled on real-life counterparts (although their names are altered), 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, degree of penetration, and type of ammunition used, and inflict different levels of damage depending on which body part they hit.
Stealth is a significant element of the gameplay; frequent gunfire can alert distant guards, and activated alarms can trigger infinitely-respawning enemies. Therefore, to avoid gunfights with numerous opponents, it is advantageous to eliminate soldiers and security cameras before they spot or hear the player. Certain weapons incorporate suppressor or telescopic sight attachments to aid the player in killing enemies discreetly. There are no health-recovery items in the game, although armour vests can be acquired to provide a secondary health bar.
Four save files are available to track the player's progress through the game's twenty missions, each of which may be played on "Agent", "Secret Agent", or "00-Agent" difficulty settings. Higher difficulties increase the challenge by altering factors such as the damage enemies can withstand and inflict, the amount of ammunition available, and the number of objectives that must be completed. 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 gameplay. Upon fully completing the game on the hardest difficulty setting, an additional "007" mode is unlocked that allows the player to customise the challenge of any mission by manually adjusting enemies' health, reaction times, aiming accuracy, and the damage they inflict.
The multiplayer mode allows two, three, or four players to compete against each other in five different types of split screen deathmatch games: Normal, You Only Live Twice, The Living Daylights (Flag Tag), The Man With the Golden Gun, and Licence to Kill. Normal is a basic deathmatch mode in which the main objective is to kill opponents as many times as possible. It can be played as a free-for-all game or in teams. In You Only Live Twice, players only have two lives before they are eliminated from the game, and Licence to Kill is a mode in which players die from a single hit with any weapon. In The Man With the Golden Gun, a single Golden Gun, which is capable of killing opponents with only one shot, is placed in a fixed location on the map; once the Golden Gun is picked up, the only way to re-acquire it is to kill the player holding it. The player with the Golden Gun is unable to pick up body armour while opponents can. In The Living Daylights, a "flag" is placed in a fixed location on the map, and the player who holds it the longest wins. The flag-carrier cannot use weapons but can still collect them to keep opponents from stocking ammunition. Aspects of each gametype can be customised, including the chosen map, class of weapons, and winning condition. As players progress through the single player mode, new maps and characters are unlocked in the multiplayer mode.
GoldenEye 007 closely follows the plot of the movie, though with some minor alterations. The game starts in Arkhangelsk, in the Soviet Union (now Russia) in 1986, where MI6 has uncovered a secret chemical weapons facility at the Byelomorye Dam. James Bond and fellow 00-agent Alec Trevelyan are sent to infiltrate the facility and plant explosive charges. During the mission, Trevelyan is apparently killed by Colonel Arkady Ourumov, but Bond escapes by commandeering an aeroplane. Five years later in 1991, Bond is sent to investigate a satellite control station in Severnaya, Russia, where programmers Natalya Simonova and Boris Grishenko work. Two years after the Severnaya mission, in 1993, 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. As Bond leaves the silo, he is ambushed by Ourumov and a squad of Russian troops. Ourumov manages to escape during the encounter.
The remainder of the game takes place in 1995. Bond visits Monte Carlo to investigate the frigate La Fayette, where he rescues several hostages and plants a tracker bug on the Eurocopter Tiger 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, who has been betrayed to Janus. The two escape the complex seconds before it is destroyed, on the orders of Ourumov, by the GoldenEye satellite's EMP. 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. Bond eventually manages to 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 recaptured by General Ourumov, and Bond gives chase through the streets of St. Petersburg, eventually reaching an arms depot used by Janus. There Bond destroys its weaponry stores and then hitches a ride on Trevelyan's ex-Soviet missile train, where he kills Ourumov and rescues Natalya. However, Alec Trevelyan and his ally Xenia Onatopp escape to their secret base in Cuba.
Natalya accompanies Bond to the Caribbean. Surveying the Cuban 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 centre to disrupt transmissions to the GoldenEye satellite and force it to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. He then follows the fleeing Trevelyan through a series of flooded caverns, eventually arriving 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, but Bond ultimately destroys machinery vital to controlling the antenna and defeats Trevelyan in a gunfight on a platform above the dish.
GoldenEye 007 was developed by an inexperienced team; eight of its ten developers had never previously worked on video games. As programmer David Doak recalls, "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 naïveté." Due to the success of Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007 was originally suggested as a 2D side-scrolling platformer for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but Martin Hollis, the director and producer of the game, proposed "a 3D shooting game" for Nintendo's in-development "Ultra 64" console.
The intention for the first few months of development was for the game to be an on-rails shooter similar to Sega's light gun game Virtua Cop; GoldenEye's gas plant location was modelled by Karl Hilton with a predetermined path in mind. Although GoldenEye is controlled with a pad rather than a light gun, Hollis credited Virtua Cop as an influence on the developers' adoption of features such as gun reloading, position-dependent hit reaction animations, penalties for killing innocent characters, and an alternative aiming system that is activated upon pressing the R button of the Nintendo 64 controller.
The development team visited the studios of the GoldenEye film to collect photographs and blueprints of the sets used in the movie. Silicon Graphics Onyx workstations and Nintendo's NINGEN development software were used to create the geometry for virtual environments based on this reference material. However, many of the missions were extended or modified to allow the player to participate in sequences which the film's James Bond did not. Hilton explained, "We tried to stick to [the reference material] for authenticity but we weren't afraid of adding to it to help the game design. It was very organic." Initially, the designers' priority was purely on the creation of interesting spaces; level design and balance considerations such as the placement of start and exit points, characters and objectives did not begin until this process was complete. According to Martin Hollis, "The benefit of this sloppy unplanned approach was that 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 mission was inspired by the multiple tasks in each stage of Super Mario 64, a game whose 3D collision detection system was also influential for Hollis.
Final Nintendo 64 specifications and development workstations were not initially available to Rare: a modified Sega Saturn controller was used for some early playtesting, and the developers had to estimate what the finalised console's capabilities would be. The final Nintendo 64 hardware could render polygons faster than the SGI Onyx workstations they had been using, but the game's textures had to be cut down by half. Karl Hilton explained one method of improving the game's performance: "A lot of GoldenEye is in black and white. RGB colour textures cost a lot more in terms of processing power. You could do double the resolution if you used greyscale, so a lot was done like that. If I needed a bit of colour, I'd add it in the vertex." At one time, developers planned to implement the reloading of the weapons by the player unplugging and re-inserting the Rumble Pak on the Nintendo 64 controller, though this idea was discarded at Nintendo's behest.
GoldenEye 007 introduced stealth elements not seen in previous first-person shooter games. Doak explained how this was implemented: "Whenever you fired a gun, it had a radius test and alerted the non-player characters within that radius. If you fired the same gun again within a certain amount of time, it did a larger radius test and I think there was a third even larger radius after that. It meant if you found one guy and shot him in the head and then didn't fire again, the timer would reset". Windows throughout the game were programmed so that enemies cannot see through them while the player can. Though decidedly unrealistic, this was an intentional feature made to encourage the player to use windows to covertly spy on enemies. The game's multiplayer mode was added late in the development process; Martin Hollis described it as "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."
Rather than trying to release the game in tandem with the movie, Rare founders Tim and Chris Stamper made sure to give the developers as much time as they needed to finish the game. GoldenEye 007 was developed through two and a half years, the first year of which was spent developing the engine and producing art assets. The game was released on a 96 Mb cartridge on 25 August 1997, nearly two years after the film. Additionally, every cartridge of the game contains a fully functional ZX Spectrum emulator with ten Rare developed games. This function was originally made as an experimental side project by Rare staff and was deactivated in the final build of the game, but has since been unlocked through fan-made patches.
Despite low expectations among the gaming media and an unsuccessful showing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta in 1997, GoldenEye 007 turned out to be both a critical and a commercial success. It received very high critical praise and sold more than eight million units worldwide, making it the third best selling Nintendo 64 game, behind Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. According to a paper published on the website of the Entertainment Software Association, the game grossed $250 million worldwide. With its eight million copies sold, GoldenEye 007 was also one of the most significant titles that helped the Nintendo 64 to remain competitive with rival Sony's PlayStation, even though the console ultimately lost much of its market share.
Graphically, GoldenEye 007 was praised for its varied and detailed environments, realistic animations, special effects such as glass transparencies and lingering smoke, and for generally maintaining a high frame rate even in multiplayer games. The zoomable sniper rifle was praised as one of the game's most impressive and entertaining features, with Edge describing it as a "novel twist" and Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot noting its ability to alleviate the game's distance fog. The game's music was praised for its inclusion of the "James Bond Theme" and for adding ambience to the game. Some levels begin in lifts and feature transitions from elevator music to full soundtracks, which Gerstmann cited as an illustration of the game's attention to detail. However, the omission of character speech was criticised.
The gameplay was highlighted for its depth. IGN's Doug Perry called GoldenEye 007 an immersive game which "blends smart strategy gameplay with fast-action gunmanship". Similarly, Greg Sewart of Gaming Age remarked that players have "a bit of freedom as to what they want to do in any given situation, and what order the directives are completed in". Reviewers also enjoyed the wide variety of weapons and the multi-objective-based missions, stating that they make the game stay "fresh by never having you do the same thing twice". The controls were praised for being more intuitive than Acclaim's earlier well-received Nintendo 64 first-person shooter Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Game Revolution credited the gameplay for being realistic and different from other shooters, but also criticised the campaign for being badly paced. The publication noted that GoldenEye 007 "takes it for granted that you have already seen the movie" and that players may get stuck due to the game's lack of orientation. At the time, the multiplayer mode was considered the best multiplayer game on the system, "edging Mario Kart 64 by a hair" according to IGN. Edge called it addictive and praised the originality of some of the scenarios such as You Only Live Twice.
GoldenEye 007 received multiple year-end awards, including the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Games Award in 1998, and four awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences: Console Action Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, Interactive Title of the Year, and Outstanding Achievement in Software Engineering. Rare was also recognised for its work on the game and won the BAFTA award for Best UK Developer.
GoldenEye 007 is frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time. In 2007, GamePro, placing it ninth in "The 52 Most Important Video Games of All Time", called it the console killer-app of the 1990s and the best game ever licensed from a film. Similarly, Rowan Kaiser of 1UP.com, who placed the game 53rd on "The 60 Most Influential Games of All Time", pointed out that the game "paved the way for the later popularity of Halo, Call of Duty, and more". In 2011, IGN journalists placed the multiplayer mode at 17th in their list of the "Top 100 Video Game Moments", and in 2010 Nintendo Power listed GoldenEye 007 as one of the greatest multiplayer experiences in Nintendo history, stating that it is remembered as one of the finest examples of a first-person shooter.
In a 2000 poll, readers of Computer and Video Games voted GoldenEye 007 into first place in a list of "the hundred greatest video games", and it was ranked fifth in a poll the following year. In 2001, the game ranked 16th in Game Informer's list of the "Top 100 Games of All Time". In 2004, readers of Retro Gamer voted GoldenEye as the 33rd top retro game, with the editors calling it "the game that sold a million N64s" and "easily the best Bond game to date." In 2005, IGN editors ranked the game 29th in their list of Top 100 Games of All Time, while IGN readers placed it at seventh on a similar list. Video game review site ScrewAttack rated GoldenEye 007 number one in three separate top ten lists: a 2008 list of the "Top 10 FPS Games Ever", a 2009 list of the "Top 10 Movie-Based Games", and a 2010 list of the "Top 10 Local-Multiplayer Console Games". Edge has featured GoldenEye 007 prominently in three "greatest game" lists: it placed third in a staff-voted poll in 2000; 17th in a staff, reader, and gaming industry-voted poll in 2007; and it was also included as one of the publication's top ten shooters in 2003.
Retrospective commentary on GoldenEye 007 in the years following its release included an October 2011 review by Mark Reece from NintendoLife. Reece gave the game a rating of eight out of ten, commenting that although the game's multiplayer mode stands up well, its graphics, audio and "fiddly" aiming system are dated. He noted that GoldenEye 007's approach to difficulty settings provides considerable replay value, but is a system rarely used in modern first-person shooters. On the game's original release, Edge awarded it a score of nine out of ten, but in 2013, with the benefit of hindsight, the magazine concluded that it should have received its highest score. In 2011, the game was selected as one of 80 titles from the past 40 years to be placed in the Art of Video Games exhibit in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Video game journalists have praised GoldenEye 007 for proving that it is possible to create a "fun" first-person shooter experience on a console in both single-player and multiplayer modes; when the game was released, the first-person shooter was primarily a genre for PC gamers. Journalists noted that the game "opened the genre to a completely new market" and that it was "the first big console [first-person shooter] that truly got it right." The game has subsequently become credited alongside Shiny Entertainment's MDK for pioneering and popularising the now-standard inclusion of scoped sniper rifles in video games. The game's use of context-sensitive hit locations on the enemies added a realism that was previously unseen in video games, even though the Quake computer mod Team Fortress already featured locational damage such as headshots. Additionally, the game's use of realistic gameplay, which contrasted with the approaches taken by Doom-clones, and introduction of multiplayer deathmatch on a console are often credited for having revolutionised the genre. Edge stated that GoldenEye 007 set the standard for multiplayer console combat until it was surpassed by the release of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001.
After GoldenEye 007 was released, Rare began development of a spiritual successor titled Perfect Dark. Using an upgraded version of the GoldenEye 007 game engine, Perfect Dark was released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64. Although the game features a setting and storyline unrelated to James Bond, it shares many gameplay features, including a similar control scheme, mission objectives that vary with the difficulty setting, and cheat options unlockable through quick level completions. While Perfect Dark was still in development, Martin Hollis left Rare to work as a consultant on the development of the GameCube at Nintendo of America. He would then form his own company, Zoonami, in 2000. Other members of the GoldenEye 007 team also left Rare to form Free Radical Design. The company would develop the TimeSplitters first-person shooters for the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox. These games contain several references to GoldenEye 007, including the design of the health-HUD, the nature of the aiming system, and the dam setting of the opening level of TimeSplitters 2.
Meanwhile, the James Bond game licence was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1999. The company would publish games based upon the then-recent James Bond films, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough, as well as entirely original ones, including Nightfire, Everything or Nothing and GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Although some of them received favourable reviews from critics, none was as critically and commercially successful as GoldenEye 007. In 2006, the licence was acquired by Activision. The company would then publish additional games, including Quantum of Solace, Blood Stone, and a 2010 reimagining of the Nintendo 64 game, also titled GoldenEye 007. The reimagining features Daniel Craig as the playable character, contemporary first-person shooter conventions, entirely new level-layouts, and an online component.
An Xbox Live Arcade port of GoldenEye 007 was in development at Rare for several months, with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé stating in 2006 that Nintendo was "exploring all the rights issues" involved in bringing GoldenEye 007 to the Wii Virtual Console. However, due to legal issues involving the numerous licence holders with rights to the game and to the Bond intellectual property, the game was not released on either format. In 2010, an independent development team released GoldenEye: Source, a multiplayer only total conversion mod developed using Valve's Source engine.
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- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 1: Arkangelsk, Part i: Dam.
Background: M16 has confirmed the existence of a secret chemical warfare facility at the Byelomorye dam, USSR.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 1: Arkangelsk, Part ii: Facility.
Background: Inside the chemical weapons facility you should quickly and efficiently proceed to the bottling area and place demolition charges on the main gas tanks. / M Briefing: You'll be working with 006 on this assignment, the bottling room is the rendezvous point. / Q Branch: Now listen here, Bond. Be sure to place the mines carefully, otherwise you won't take out all the tanks in the bottling room.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 1: Arkangelsk, Part iii: Runway.
M Briefing: 006 knew this was going to be a risky mission. His sacrifice should give you enough time to find an aircraft.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 2: Severnaya, Part i: Surface.
Background: A spy satellite has detected increased levels of activity at an old observatory complex near Severnaya (62.08n, 102.58e) in Russia. / M Briefing: Penetrate the base and find out what is going on.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 3: Kirghizstan, Part i: Launch Silo No. 4.
Background: MI6 has become concerned that unscheduled test firings from a missile silo in Kirghizstan are being used to cover the launch of GoldenEye weapons satellites. / M Briefing: Infiltrate the silo and ascertain what is being placed into orbit.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 4: Monte Carlo, Part i: Frigate.
Background: A demonstration of the Pirate stealth helicopter by the French military has been unexpectedly postponed. Official channels insist that nothing is wrong but unofficially M16 has been asked to help salvage a very tricky hostage situation on board the frigate La Fayette. It seems that a crime syndicate called 'Janus' will stop at nothing in its attempt to hijack the helicopter. / M Briefing: We need you to place a tracker on the Pirate so that we can trace its movements after Janus steals it.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 6: St. Petersburg, Part i: Statue Park.
M Briefing: I've arranged contact with an ex-KGB agent, Valentin Zukovsky, in Statue Park, St. Petersburg. He claims he can set up a meeting with Janus.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 6: St. Petersburg, Part ii: Military Archives.
Background: Captured by the Russians, Bond must escape their military prison. / M Briefing: Your only chance is to speak directly to Defence Minister Mishkin.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 6: St. Petersburg, Part iii: Streets.
Background: After escaping KGB interrogation at the military archives, Natalya has been recaptured by General Ourumov. She is being taken by car to the Janus operations base in St. Petersburg. / M Briefing: Get after them, 007! We can't afford to let the trail go cold and the chances are they'll lead you straight to Trevelyan.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 6: St. Petersburg, Part iv: Depot.
Background: The Janus operations base in St. Petersburg is located in a disused military rail depot. / M Briefing: We also believe that Ourumov has taken Natalya to Trevelyan's converted missile train in the depot. You need to be on that train when it leaves.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 6: St. Petersburg, Part v: Train.
Natalya: Boris is still backing up his files. I can find out where they're going... He's in Cuba!
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 7: Cuba, Part i: Jungle.
M Briefing: Miss Simonova will be with you on this mission... Jack Wade has given her some basic firearms training and he thinks she'll be able to carry her weight in a combat situation. / Q Branch: You'll know you're on the right trail if you encounter Janus troops or automated defences... Oh, and look out for that Xenia woman, 007. I think she's after you. You lucky devil.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 7: Cuba, Part i: Jungle.
Background: The Janus Control Centre has been located in an underground complex in the Cuban jungle. / M Briefing: Remember that you and Miss Simonova are a team, it's critical that you protect her while she's hacking into the Janus computers. With any luck she'll be able to stop the Goldeneye from firing.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 7: Cuba, Part iii: Water Caverns.
Background: The Janus Control Centre communicates with the Goldeneye weapons system via a large satellite dish which is usually concealed underwater. The pumps which allow Janus to flood the communications dish are housed in a subterranean cave complex defended by crack Janus troops.
- Rare. GoldenEye 007. Level/area: Mission 7: Cuba, Part i: Jungle.
Q Branch: There's another blasted control thingy actually on the antenna cradle. Trevelyan might be able to realign the antenna and get one last firing message through to the satellite. Get out there and destroy it!
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