Release Date: 25 August 1997
Console: Nintendo 64
I’d like to begin this review of the veritable jewel in the crown of first-person shooters with one absolute fact. In this month, I have written for Robot-Republic a total of seven articles. 007. I think Pierce Brosnan himself would see this and be proud.
Unfortunately, yes. I hastily planned all my articles in a taxi ride at the end of August, but it is a nice little fact. Anyway, the majestic game.
If I had the ability to make one thing in gaming happen with a Thanos type snap (although in this scenario, I’d be more like Iron Man), it’d be to get the top brass at Nintendo, Microsoft and DANJAQ to get together and give the rights to let the remake be released. There is an Xbox Live Arcade (much like the Perfect Dark 4J Studios remake. Details of the particular slice of fried Gold can be found here Project 007 Details Revealed Thanks to a Job Listing from IO ...) remake just floating in the ether out there which a few have downloaded and done full playthroughs of. Graphics are modernised (well to late 2000s standards, mouth synch sadly plays no part here) and the gameplay which hasn’t aged terribly well is still present and correct. But for my money, it is not particularly bad. Things like Call of Duty’s endless releases and a second control stick becoming standard make this a bit of a chore but these things do get used to and used to fast.
In the 1997 original, the graphics are easily a weak part of the game. I mean, if Rareware hadn’t gotten the licence to James Bond, they could release the exact same game, slap an original image on the box and few if any would notice. I suppose if you squint enough and look sideways, the in-game model of Natalya looks like Isabella Scurupco. General Oroumov looks less like Gotfred John and more like an eighteen-year-old stole their dad’s vodka bottle then tried drawing after downing it in one. That’s the case for most everyone in the game too.
Seriously, if they paid much for likeness rights, it's a questionable use of money. It might sound like me complaining because I’m spoiled by my Xbox Series X’s 4K resolution giving near photo-realistic graphics. Hell, even in last generation games, things like seeing how close a shave I have given Red Dead Redemption’s Arthur Morgan. Goldeneye was made by a largely new and untested team with limited resources from nearly a quarter-century ago too. But the sheer quality of the gameplay more than saves this.
As is previously stated, the gameplay is sheer incredible. While if anyone tells you it is simply as fresh today as if it was programmed yesterday is a dirty liar (although that is a must-have quality in the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom). This is largely because of the single stick to control issue. I think by the turn of the millennium to this day, we came to expect dual sticks in our First Person Shooter games. Hopping the fence to The Playstation 1 Farm, dual sticks were being utilised with success. But this issue can be overcome with something of ease.
Seriously, I know it is an ask, but please look past this shortcoming. Two or three levels in and you won’t even notice it. It does not stack to modern excellent shooters such as Doom Eternal but that is not to say there is nothing here. I can’t tell you how many run and gun runs I have performed in both Facility and the Frigate La Fayette. Facility more as the level was so absurdly perfect that it exists (legally distinct) in the spiritual successor Perfect Dark’s multiplayer.
Recreating certain parts of the actual film can be tricky. Things like the excellent visceral quality of the fist fight between Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond and Sean Bean’s Alec Trevelyan are entirely absent. However, in this case, it is replaced with a level of extreme difficulty (especially if you play above Secret Agent difficulty like a madman) which is so rewarding to complete, my word it is great.
It is somewhat of a disappointment that the promised ‘multiple Bonds’ feature is absent. I have a feeling this is only picked up on by die-hard 007 heads such as myself. But the 4 files selected have 4 identical pictures of Mr. Brosnan, according to Rare, Brosnan was supposed to only be on one. The others were supposed to be Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. The 4 were also to be multiplayer characters. Apparently Rare were not able to secure the rights to the other actors. Given the aforementioned (lack of) graphical quality, it is perhaps a small mercy it was not a thing.
The final aspect I will touch upon is the game’s realism. Due to what the developers have termed their ‘sloppy, unplanned approach’, levels can and often are, sprawling. This rewards exploration but also means not only replayability abounds, but it lends another degree of realism as unnecessary surplus rooms are not a rarity in levels. This aspect of realism is simply not used much by shooters subsequent to this. This is perhaps one reason why it has lost only a little of its freshness since being released on that summer’s night in 1997.
In summation, the graphics haven’t so much aged badly as they were never good to begin with and the gameplay, while still enjoyable has also aged. But this is in a near quarter-century-old game and frankly, if these not insurmountable problems are surmounted, I truly believe this game in itself is so special that it’s remake would be the unique selling point of any Nintendo 64 Mini release that could happen (much like Starfox 2 was for the SNES Mini). This seems only more likely to me now that Jeff Bezo’s amazon would surely be involved in these negotiations following their acquisition of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer catalogue in 2021.
This is a must-play, it can be completed in around 2 hours only but these will be two of the greatest hours of any gamers time.
Like reading about the man with a license to kill, check out these other Bond articles from RR.
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PLAY, OBEY, CONSUME.