Maybe I Liked GoldenEye For Weird Reasons

Maybe I Liked GoldenEye For Weird Reasons

Earlier this week, we published an intelligent takedown of the beloved Nintendo 64 James Bond first-person shooter GoldenEye. Maybe, our guest writer wrote, this game was a little bit flawed. Maybe the campaign was monotonous and the multiplayer map design was weird. Maybe we can still love the game despite or because of its flaws.

All well and good, but it got me thinking: why did I like GoldenEye so much? Why or why, considering that, when I had the game in college, I didn’t play its famous multiplayer much, yet replayed its single-player mode again and again.

So, as best I can muster, this is why I liked that game:

You Could Shoot The Glass

First level of the game. You can walk up the the sniper tower and shoot through the glass. Maybe you could do this on PC first-person shooters since the 1950s or whenever, but I was mostly a console-gaming teenager and uni student in the age of GoldenEye. It was mind-blowing to me that I could see a guy on the other side of the window and shoot the glass out… and shoot the guy in the process. Very cool. +10 points of Metacritic right there.

You Could Shoot A Bad Guy In The Hand A Few Times And He Wouldn’t Die

GoldenEye was one of the first video games whose enemies had location-specific damage, meaning that if you shot them in the foot, arm or head, they’d react differently. This was about as impressive to me as an automobile would have been to a caveman. I had not played many shooters before this… Turok and uh, not Doom… not many! But I did formerly believe in the gaming truism that if you stomped on a Goomba’s earflap it was as good as stomping on the crown of his head, and that if you shot your Contra enemies in the legs, it did them as much misery as if you shot them in their faces.

GoldenEye played by other rules. You might see a guard’s elbow jutting out into an open doorway, but shooting that elbow would just make the guy flinch and then turn and fire — or run and set off an alarm, which was also a cool touch I’d never seen before. So you’d really want to make sure you got a bead on the guy’s head. Awesome stuff. Creepy, when I spell it out like this, but awesome in the virtual world.

You Started One Level Unarmed, In A Gaol Cell

In a first-person-shooter, you begin a level trapped without a gun? How the hell is James Bond supposed to get out of that predicament? That’s what we call clever level design.

The Fascinating Death Cam

After you’re killed, at least in the campaign, you get to see yourself (well, your James Bond), dying from multiple painful angles. Was that not new either? It fascinated me nevertheless.

Difficulty-Specific Mission Objectives

The wonderful difficulty levels of GoldenEye rendered the game as a run-and-gun, perpetual-aggression shooter at its easiest setting. Notch it up to medium difficulty and you had to deal with tougher enemies, and you had to complete additional mission objectives (heading off the main path to find secret plans hidden in a room, for example). Notch it up again and you’d have even tougher enemies and even more objectives.

With each increase in difficulty you’d re-discover the game, because you’d be forced to play it more thoroughly and more carefully. You’d be forced to find new areas in the levels in order to tackle these new objectives, and you’d have to hatch new tactics to stealthily defeat a now-overwhelming infestation of enemy guards. As the game got harder, it transformed; but those easier difficulty levels proved to be your training sessions, teaching you basic level layout and getting you ready for playing the game as it probably was meant to be played. Most games don’t work this way, not before then and not since. Their difficulty levels just make the game harder, but they rarely require you to do specific new things.

The Amusing Way The Enemies Were Stupid

If you shot off too many bullets while playing through the game’s levels, you’d trigger alarms. Enemies guards would emerge from the recesses of the hallways, pouring at you with no remorse. At some point in my GoldenEye-playing life, I discovered that the game was counting bullets. If I triggered an alarm and then retreated into a room — stood to the side of a doorway to have a straight shot at the cheek of anyone running through it — all I needed to do to stop the flow of enemies was slowly, carefully, diminish the number of bullets I was expending per bad guy.

I think that’s how it worked. Eventually they’d stop coming, but only if expended my ammo carefully. For some reason, this fascinated me. Probably because it was so laughably illogical in this Bond-o-verse for the bad guys to stop coming after me just because I was shooting at them with slightly less but still-murderous abandon.

There Was A Level With A Space Shuttle

I felt like I was in on some awesome Nintendo 64 in-joke when I unlocked the space shuttle level in GoldenEye. This was a year-one game for the same system that had already given me Pilotwings 64 and Blast Corps. Both of those games were amazing, and both of them had space shuttle appearances, too. For some reason, I thought this was cool. If only Super Mario 64 has a shuttle level.

Laptop Gun

No, wait. The Laptop Gun was in Perfect Dark, which I liked even more than GoldenEye. That game was packed with even more interesting design ideas than GoldenEye. Man, that studio that made those games… Rare. What ever happened to them?

You can take your love for sticky mines and big-head mode and paintball cheats and whatever else you may have loved about GoldenEye and write your own article. I’ve just told you why I was gaga over the game. I admit that my reasons are weird, but, let’s be honest, we like lots of things for strange reasons. Good on GoldenEye for its oddball charms.

GoldenEye box-art via


  • I loved Goldeneye at the time mostly for the detail they put in to various aspects. Like Hit detection! You could shoot someone anywhere on their body, and that’s where they got hurt, and where blood showed up. Prior to that, the only game to do such a thing was SiN, and geez they did it well when you consider what they had to work with. The next game to even come close wasn’t out til 3 years after Goldeneye, and that was Soldier of Fortune.

  • I loved golden-eye, but the 64 controls haven’t aged well.

    Also Goldeneye came out a year before SiN.

  • I was expecting some weird, crazy reasons for liking Goldeneye, not the collective things Me and people I know like about it.
    I think the limb specific damage was my favourite part, shooting dudes in the foot never got old. And Shooting peoples hats off, that was the best.

    • Gorram bulletproof berets… that annoyed me to no end (in a good way) , especially if you were using a gun lout enough to alert them to your presence.

  • Wow, so many things to like about Goldeneye I almost don’t know where to begin!

    1. I bought it completely on a whim, having not heard about it at all, and was completely blown away by it. My whole rationale behind the purchase was “It’s JAMES BOND. How could it NOT be awesome!” which looking back is probably the most flawed logic I could’ve used, but it paid off. Big time.

    2. It actually made me feel like James Bond. Spy gadgets, silencers, stealthy approaches actually paying off, being able to pick up and use your enemies weapons, THE MUSIC, the iconic barrel-of-a-gun view, taking out a guy in the toilet from an air vent.. It was all there, and I had never experienced it before. It felt very authentic at the time.

    3. The expert use of the Rumble Pak. It was the first time I’d ever felt weapon kick in a game. The pistols in particular felt awesome.

    4. Having actual ‘faces’ in the game. Sure it looks like arse now, but back then, mindblowing stuff. Natalya looked like Natalya from the movie!

    5. Split screen multiplayer hilarity! Yes it was a bit dodgy, but that made it more fun! We had a rule – no one was allowed to be Jaws or Oddjob. When my mate figured out how to bounce grenades around corners to get kills, it was a game changer. And that’s the mark of any good game or sport – it allows innovation within the rules.

    6. It was a movie to game conversion that did the movie and the franchise justice. Once again, a total first. My previous points of reference were the Ocean Software licensed games on Amiga.

    7. For the first time after buying my N64, I’d finally found a game that was mature in it’s content, which at the time was something I thought would never happen on a Nintendo system. Weapons, blood, storyline. It was something I was proud to show to my non-geeky mates.

    • You just brought up an awesome point…. one of the best games ever made in the history of… ever… is a movie license 😉

  • I only played Goldeneye a little, but got really into Perfect Dark. Even though I didn’t care as much for Goldeneye as many people I knew, I still recognized it as fantastic unlike the previous article guy.

  • Trying to get the invincibility cheat on the facility level is still burnt into my brain, i tried sooo many times. Also the once you see what’s on the cover of the game it can never be unseen… NEVER!

  • Really likes Goldeneye. LOVED Perfect Dark. They introduced mechanics that should have been the standard. Unfortunately a lot of these things have been ignored.

    • Yeah i was the same. Perfect dark just blew my mind when I got it. The different mission types, navigating through the complex before selecting different missions or training, then having an actual mission in the same complex as well. Not to mention the incredible array of weapons, the farsight gun was just too cruel to use in multiplayer though, setup a laptop sentry in a corner then snipe the whole map with the farsight was the quickest way to end up playing on your own agains the incredibly difficult bots.

  • I was sided with Sony, but I did play an N64 and enough games to know that GolenEye was something special, I have respect for this game.

  • I think goldeneye would still hold a lot of ppls total hours record (or is that the nostalgia talking…) – if you switched to the solitaire control scheme you would wipe the floor in multiplayer 🙂 limb specific damage was great too, there was that guy early on in facility you could shoot in the butt and he would leap forward holding it 😀

  • Whenever I encounter a bullet sponge enemy in a modern shooter (and there’s ALOT!) I always think to myself “Man this sucks, Goldeneye had it right in 1997!!!”
    Today, you unlock cheats/unlocks with your credit card, with Goldeneye you had to work your ass right off & it was worth it!!
    Todays shooters aint got nothing on the king, you can cram your regenerating health & 2 weapon limits!!

  • I don’t know why people say “the campaign was monotonous”. The campaign was great! Far more variety in the missions than most modern shooters. I used to love re-doing the missions, working my way up through the difficulties with new objectives. Damn Silo with those easy to destroy mission critical satellites and stuff.

  • Goldeneye’s multiplayer remains my favourite multiplayer experience of all time, and Perfect Dark still has the best arsenal of any game I’ve ever played.

    Combine this with Banjo Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, Donkey Kong 64, and Jet Force Gemini — what the hell happened to Rare?

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