Although rumours have recently been inescapable that a remaster of Rare’s landmark N64 shooter, GoldenEye 007, is coming soon, as of yet there’s been no official announcement. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for a remaster of GoldenEye to play that kind of game again. A new Steam shooter, Agent 64: Spies Never Die, is basically the answer to the question: What would happen if the team who made GoldenEye on N64 were given modern tools and tech? The result is a fun, retro shooter that feels different from most other current “boomer shooters” out there.
For those who have been waiting for news of a GoldenEye remaster, this year’s not-E3 festivities were supposed to be where we finally got official news about the long-awaited port. However, that didn’t happen. And while leaked versions of a remaster are out there, it seems that an official port is not coming anytime soon, though some are speculating that we may hear something at an upcoming Nintendo Direct that itself is still only a rumour. Regardless, the lack of a GE 007 rerelease is a shame. I know many folks who grew up playing and loving that game and Rare’s other classic N64 shooter, Perfect Dark, and who generally miss level-based shooters with various objectives and fast-paced gunplay.
So, to those who love that type of console shooter, I’d recommend loading up Steam and downloading the new demo for Agent 64: Spies Never Die, an upcoming indie shooter that doesn’t hide what it’s trying to be at all. This is a game built from the ground up in Unity to recreate the feeling of playing an N64-era shooter.
Technically, this isn’t the first demo for Agent 64 to be released. However, the last one–put out in 2021–was a bit too rough around the edges to enjoy. This new demo is impressive, showcasing just how far the devs have progressed since that last outing. While the narrative is a bit light in the demo, the real reason to play Agent 64 is here. You feel it in the way the game perfectly recaptures that distinctive, auto-aim-powered feel of those N64 classics. It’s the kind of shooter that you can play with a mouse and keyboard, but after replaying the demo a few times, I much prefer a controller as the sticks and triggers feel better suited for this style of action.
Just like in the original Rare shooter, you select a difficulty level in Agent 64. Depending on what you pick, you have different amounts and types of objectives. On harder difficulties, the game also spawns more enemies and changes up the layout of the level, too. It adds a huge amount of replayability to just this one demo level. I ended up rerunning this demo level at least six times, trying to get a faster time.
Something I always liked about GoldenEye and similar N64 shooters is the way they utilised auto-aim. For those who aren’t familiar with it, this might sound like it makes the game easier. And I guess, in some ways, it does lower the skill ceiling, letting more folks play without frustration — at least on lower difficulty levels. But it also lets you focus more on movement, exploration, and your objectives. It feels good when done right, and in Agent 64 the auto-aim works perfectly. It leads to situations where you run into an area and quickly drop three enemies as you strafe by. It all feels very satisfying and badass.
Visually, the game looks much better than a real N64 game, but not too much better. Instead, Agent 64 feels like it fell out of a weird alternate timeline where the N64 was the last gaming console ever released and people just figured out more ways to squeeze power out of it. The game also has some visual settings that can make it look less pretty and even a nice-looking CRT filter, complete with screen warping, so you can relive those classic nights of staying up too late while playing hours of GoldenEye on some shitty old TV with your siblings or friends.
While there are a lot of retro shooters out there these days, most of them are inspired by the fast, twitchy PC shooters of yesteryear like Quake or Doom and not the console shooters that were once popular on PS1 and N64. Sure, I love a good “boomer shooter” but it’s cool to also see this era and style of FPS getting some modern-day love.
Although the new demo is only one level, what’s here has me excited to play the full game, which is planned to launch later this year. Even better, the devs behind the game have promised mod support and plans to add more levels after release. So while that rumoured GoldenEye remaster may not be released anytime soon, at least we will eventually have Agent 64 and possibly a ton of levels to enjoy while we wait.