The eventual release of GoldenEye 007 has of course been welcomed by many. It’s not difficult to understand why. The game is considered one of the finest of its era, and single-handedly set the template for how single-player FPS games should play on console. Even to this day, its teachings can be felt across a wide cross section of the genre. However, with that all being said, this GoldenEye 007 review is not about nostalgia. It’s about whether or not the game is still worth playing 25 years on.
Before we dive in to the GoldenEye 007 review in earnest, we should clarify the differences between each version of the game. The Xbox release, available via Xbox Game Pass and Rare Replay, is not the leaked Xbox 360 build. This version has never officially been released. Instead, the Xbox edition is a remaster that includes alternative control options, Achievements and native 16:9 resolution up to 4K. Other than that, it’s pretty much a straight port. The Nintendo Switch Online edition features a widescreen remastering and the addition of online multiplayer. Both editions – on paper – seems rather lacklustre.
There have been previous attempts to modernise GoldenEye 007. GoldenEye 007: Reloaded was an ill-fated multi-format reimagining, and the aforementioned Xbox 360 port never saw the light of day. So, failing the acquisition of a Nintendo 64 console, this new release is your best opportunity to play the classic.
That all sounds pretty negative, but in truth GoldenEye 007 is still as engaging as it ever was. Though the graphics have aged very poorly and the AI is abysmal by today’s standards, it’s unlikely anyone will be going in with expectations of anything else. If you play GoldenEye 007 in the way it was originally intended – a slow-paced, thoughtful FPS experience – you will be rewarded. It’s a game that has already left its impression on the industry. This is merely a reminder of why it did so much right. And with that, we’re likely to see today’s designers taking influence once again.
It should be noted however, that there are a number of problems that never existed previously. Issues such as geometry clipping, texture movement and unstable framerate are far more evident here than they ever where on the Nintendo 64 original. Of course, the text being upscaled to 4K resolution without any modification has also resulted in it becoming very blurry.
Outside of visual design however, GoldenEye 007 really shows its age in simple quality-of-life features. There is no melee unless you select ‘unarmed’ as a weapon, for example. There’s no run and no jump. The aiming is far less responsive than modern peers, and even with auto aim turned on it’ll take some to to adjust to the more stuttered reticule movement than would be expected of games today.
There’s also the fact that there’s no waypoint system, though some may feel this is for the better. GoldenEye 007 never holds your hand. It gives you a list of objectives at the start of every mission (increasing in complexity on harder difficulty settings) and lets you discover for yourself what each of them actually requires. It never offers hints or direction information. What’s more, with no checkpointing whatsoever, it’s highly likely that players new to the game will dies several times before discovering the correct solution. Each time having to restart from the very beginning of the level.
GoldenEye 007 will undoubtedly take some getting used to. More than two decades of FPS games being one of the leading genres in gaming has lead to a steady pace of advancements. We wouldn’t say that playing GoldenEye 007 is going backwards as such, but it’s certainly an adjustment. It is, however, still a hugely compelling, unique gameplay experience. Any gamer interested in examining the wider industry and learning where we came from has no excuse not to play, and older gamers looking to rekindle their youth will fall in love again. As long as they can persevere and readjust over the first few levels.
Be sure to check out our GoldenEye 007 Walkthrough Guide to help you complete those extra 00 Agent objectives!
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