Poke him in the Goldeneye (With the Goldfinger)
The Cold War is over, but our pal 007 doesn’t know that. He’s still fighting the Communists who threaten the liberty of Great Britain. Women’s Lib didn’t affect him either, and the sexual innuendos abound. James Bond is one of the few icons of machismo that hasn’t been destroyed by Political Correctness. Case in point: Arnold Schwarzenegger pregnant. Bond, however, has finally made it to the video game format and maintained much of the feel of the movie. Too much in some cases . . .
Goldeneye has been one of the most widely anticipated titles for the Nintendo64. Many N64 users have been longing for the chance to show people what their machine can actually do. Well, it was worth the wait. Goldeneye is one of the best first person shooters ever.
Much like its N64 brethren, Turok, Goldeneye is totally polygonal. The graphics are tight and are sure to impress even the die hard N64 skeptic. All the characters have intricate faces layered on top of their polygonal heads. While up close this looks freaky, you still have to be impressed. Simply watching a guy from the distance is entertaining. He’ll swat at flies, scratch himself, even carry on silent conversations with other guards (then you can shoot him in the head). But certainly the most impressive use of the graphical engine comes when you use the sniper rifle. You have the option to use the sight on the rifle and zoom in on enemies that are really far away. The zoom is smooth and fast, bringing all the objects into sharp detail. The levels with the rifle were always the most fun, it would have been great if you could have used it more often.
There are so many first person shooters out there that each one needs to find something to excel at. Goldeneye chose to try to be more realistic than any other first person game (not a hard task). If you can name one other game that allows you to shoot a guy in the back of the head while he is sitting on the toilet, I owe you a Coke. Realistic settings have been few and far between in the first person genre. Most aren’t even on planet Earth. This sets Goldeneye apart from the pack. Driving a tank through downtown St. Petersburg, running over the occasional pedestrian, definitely has a certain appeal.
The weapons also add to the realism. Although many of the guns you get are complete fantasy, at least they aren’t just lying around (or floating in midair). Unlike other games, in order to get a new gun, you have to kill an enemy and take his weapon. If the guy you kill has a gun you don’t have, you simply take it from his dead corpse. There are only occasional points where you find weapons in a crate, but that’s to be expected when you’re raiding a paramilitary organization.
There are also a wide variety of weapons that you can use, some harder to find then others. Starting almost every level, Bond is equipped with his favorite PP7. Sometimes it has a silencer so you can kill people without letting the other guards know. Other weapons include the aforementioned Sniper Rifle, an Auto-Shotgun, a Grenade Launcher, and, one of my favorites, the throwing knife. Some of these weapons are remarkably hard to find because either one character on the entire level is equipped with it, or somebody dropped it down a grating (HINT!). The only problem with the weapon setup is the apparent arbitrary nature of whether or not you’re able to simultaneously use two of a certain gun. While some levels allow you to double up some guns, some levels will only allow you to carry one. Strange.
Here’s the part of the article I don’t like writing, criticizing a good game. Oh well, here goes: I WANT SPEECH, DAMMIT!!! NOT TEXT!!! ‘Nuff said.
Actually, another problem is that the game adheres to closely to the plot of the movie. While in most cases this wouldn’t be a bad thing, Goldeneye takes it for granted that you have already seen the movie. Character development is simply faked in the game. It would have been better if they had just nixed character development altogether instead of the half assed attempt at it. Also, you have no idea what you are doing on some levels if you haven’t seen the movie. Multiple times, people playing the game at the office were stuck because they didn’t know how the plot was supposed to go. Those that did, tried to jump ahead by killing 006 on the second level. The designers should have done one of two things: either give a full plot synopsis for every level, or drop most of the plot and text dialogue (lousy text..).
It’s good to see that 007 finally got a good game attached to the name. With intense graphics and fun gameplay, this one is a winner. Now I offer this challenge to game designers. Use James Bond in a video game plot that has nothing to do with any of the movies. Make a game where the outcome is unknown. And, for pete’s sake, don’t end the next game with a polygonal James Bond getting some action. Nobody wants to see that. Ouch! Pointy!