Acknowledged to have revolutionised first-person shooters, Goldeneye 007 was a pillar for crazy multiplayer action, playing a huge role in the popularity of FPS today.
However, can it compare to the games it helped innovate? This week we take a trip back in time to a classic and take a look at just a few older but similar games that encapsulated the genre and its developer, Rare.
Goldeneye 007; The New Kid on the Block
First introduced into our lives back in 1997, Goldeneye took the first-person shooter genre and sent it into a frenzy of action packed goodness.
Shooters were rising in popularity, especially on the PC, with games such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Marathon enjoying good receptions. Once 3D graphics advanced on the next generation of consoles, Goldeneye took centre stage on the N64.
Based on the legendary James Bond of the Ian Fleming novels, the story mode had you going commando with tanks, bombing practically anything and escaping exploding trains using laser watches; a rather different take on the standard FPS at the time.
Though tough to think of it, Goldeneye pioneered simple features taken for granted in this day of age:
•The inclusion of scoped sniper rifles
•Multi-objective missions depending on difficulty
•Context-sensitive shot damage
It also combined stealth and action sequences brilliantly, requiring some degree of thought before rushing into battle and spamming the trigger button. Add in a atmospheric soundtrack that completely rocked (the Facility soundtrack was immense) and you have a game that shattered gaming boundaries.
Though ground-breaking in its day, its graphics are a sight for sore eyes for those used to the fire-fights of today; with blurry textures, blocky heads and fists and guns that bore no resemblance to something that’s supposed to blow your brains out. Hell, it even made a badass KF7 Soviet gun, look like a pencil.
Let us all rejoice that they had the auto aim setting too, otherwise many of us would have struggled to reach double digits for shot accuracy percentages. The reliance on it became absolutely necessary when not aiming manually, despite the clumsy AI of the guards, who rolled around somewhat unnecessarily.
Perfect Dark; The Jaja Vu Shooter
The spiritual successor to Goldeneye on the N64 was Perfect Dark, created by the same Rare team. Substitute in alien-destroying Joanna Dark, add a frenzy of guns which shoot through walls or confuse your enemies and throw in some training activities and firing ranges extras and the Goldeneye gameplay was there to see.
It kept to the same manual aiming system and location-based damage, but expanding on its predecessor with improved enemy AI and weapon-specific loading sequences.
A major criticism was the low frame rate, making higher difficulties unnecessarily difficult. The level design, which at the time was held in a high regard, now looks outdated and rather basic also.
Though despite being well received by critics, especially for its multiplayer, Perfect Dark never became as successful as Goldeneye, mainly due to being released at the end of the N64 life cycle.
Timesplitters; Fast and Furious
Developed by Free Radical, a company founded by many ex-Rare employees, Timesplitters’ centred on throwing all caution to the wind, sabotaging an alien race from dismantling human history back in time.
With some crisp cartoon graphics, cheeky humour and guns spanning all centuries, Timesplitters caught the imagination on the sixth generation gaming.
Its frantic multiplayer was a throwback to the Goldeneye days, with a huge assortment of deathmatch modes, from virus modes that usually resulted in 10 zombified bots after your guts, to ‘monkey assistant’ modes that gave the last-placed player a much appreciated army of monkeys to help with matters.
Even though Timesplitters contained what seemed an endless list of arcade modes and challenges to satisfy single player, its story mode was criticised for lacking any emotional depth and having a scattergun approach to things, as well as lacking online multiplayer that is so critical to the first-person shooters of today.
These games have inspired games achieved cult following among fans, with their fast paced nature and frantic multiplayer elements that shooters of today build their games around.
Maybe Goldeneye hasn’t aged well, but no one can argue the importance it has had and still provides a template that first person shooters still follow today. And for split-screen multiplayer, it really is unmatched.
We’ll be looking at other classics it inspired very soon. From Halo to Call of Duty, its effect has been pronounced on many FPS. Though just one cog in the grand scheme of things, you can thank Goldeneye for shooters love-in of today. Cheers Rare!